Well, here we are – at the end of a year we weren’t sure we would survive. With all the Trump retrospectives that have already been written, we have learned that a faithful chronicling of all 365 days or even month-by-month coverage is truly an excruciating task. Just ask Dave Barry following his excellent, brutally funny review of Trumpistan last month. So let’s limit ourselves to to this January, so far.
Since we have also learned that stories of Trump that spur outrage, shock, and disgust are relentless–bearing down on us almost hourly with hurricane force–it is incumbent upon us to be judicious, and we will be.
Trump takes credit for zero commercial aviation deaths in 2017 without detailing what steps he took to manage it. As you might expect, he failed to take the blame for three deaths in a rail accident in Washington-state last month, nor did he claim responsibility for more than 15-thousand gun-related deaths in 2017.
A Trump tweet: “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.’ Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”
The Washington Post reports that Trump has made 1,949 false or misleading claims in just 347 days.
Trump tweets that he will announce his own personal “Fake News Awards” on Jan 8, and vows to name “the most corrupt and biased of the Mainstream Media.” Stay tuned for all the excitement.
January 3 – Here comes The Fire and the Fury!
Two stories from the book controlled the early news cycles:
- Trump didn’t want to win the election in 2016. He and his entire campaign expected to lose. The implication is he was TRYING to lose. It turns out the joke is on him and the 63 million people who voted for him, and on all the rest of us. Shit.
- Former Trump adviser Stephen Bannon accused Donald Trump Jr. of treason for his role in the Russia scandal. Fallout was quick for Bannon – he found himself an outcast among conservatives and suddenly unemployed after his dismissal from Breitbart.
A larger theme emerged; one that will surprise few of us – Trump is a moron. A columnist from the New York Times wrote that “Everyone in Trumpworld knows he’s an idiot,” and they know he’s wholly unfit for the presidency. Predictably, Trump responded – tweeting that he’s a “very stable genius” and that two of his greatest assets “have been mental stability, and being, like, really smart.”
The international media react to Trump’s Fredo Corleone moment by openly questioning his mental health. The New York Times follows several days later with an editorial asking, in its customarily courteous fashion, if ‘Mr.’ Trump is nuts.
A report surfaces that Trump’s Justice Department is investigating, of all things, the Clinton Foundation. It could be interpreted as yet another sign that the investigation everyone else is watching, the work of special counsel Robert Mueller and his team, is steadily gaining ground on Trump.
While spending the weekend at Camp David, Trump presses the bet on his ‘intelligence.’
Trump begins what will become a raucous week on immigration issues by slamming the door on 200,000 Salvadorans living in the US. He ended Temporary Protected Status for them, a legal standing originally bestowed because they came from a country designated as dangerous. Nearly 50,000 Salvadorans here in California may be asked to leave if the decision is upheld.
Robert Mueller indicates he will likely seek to interview Trump in the scope of his investigation. Negotiations with Trump’s personal legal team are ongoing. Trump later suggests, to the surprise of virtually no one, that he may not cooperate.
Trump attends the college football national championship game in Atlanta and triggers widespread speculation that he doesn’t know all the words to the National Anthem, which, if you think about it, would be wildly ironic, as well as par for the course.
It appears that one of the game’s participants was less than fully enamored of the president, apparently yelling, “Fuck Trump” while walking with his Alabama teammates through a hallway at the stadium.
The Fake News Awards do not appear. Trump postpones them until January 17.
Trump tweets an attack on California senator Dianne Feinstein, calling her “sneaky” for breaking with Senate decorum and releasing an interview transcript to apparently try to debunk a Republican theory that a dossier assembled by a former British spy is what sparked Mueller’s Russia investigation. Trump claimed Feinstein might have broken the law–she didn’t–and called for a “tough primary” during her campaign for re-election. Yeah, Trump, good luck with that.
USA Today reports that Trump made $35 million in 2017 selling real estate, mostly to secretive buyers. Profits from sales of those properties flow through a trust run by Trump’s sons. The president is the sole beneficiary of the trust and he can withdraw cash at any time.
The dam bursts (yet again). It was a shithole of a day. Trump manages to offend damn near everyone by reportedly asking in an immigration meeting with lawmakers why the US must admit immigrants from “shithole countries.” He then suggested we should seek more people from European countries like Norway. The Norwegian reference was no accident – Trump appeared with the country’s prime minister that day and lauded the US delivery of “F-52” fighter jets, which don’t exist outside of a video game, “Call of Duty.”
European progressives were apparently unmoved by Trump’s tacit invitation, and some folks decided to break down several of the significant differences between Norway and the US.
What was most interesting about the events of this day, in a purely academic sense, is that members of Congress were compelled to exit the meeting with Trump and immediately leak his comments to the news media. Not to defend Trump, but it seems there was a time not long ago when a president could be candid and maybe even a little coarse with legislators without hearing about it a short time later on CNN.
The Economist, from the UK, runs a story asking if the Trump presidency is really this bad. In short, it concludes the answer is yes, calling his first year ‘poor’ and worrying that his second year will cause America ‘grave damage.’
January 12 – Welcome to Shitholegate
Trump embarks on an apparent pursuit of revisionist history by suggesting he didn’t actually say ‘shithole,‘ and two GOP senators seem to back him up. But South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham is taking a different position.
In the meantime, people are beginning to wonder if the Grand Old Party is losing the faith. Writer Tina Nguyen pointed out in Vanity Fair that the Republican exodus in Congress was becoming a deluge, perhaps due to the fact that they “all face the political reality of belonging to a wildly unpopular party, led by the most unpopular president in the modern era.”
The Wall Street Journal, yes, the staid, conservative WSJ reports that a Trump lawyer paid-off a porn star to the tune of $130,000 just before the 2016 election to keep her affair with Trump quiet.
A story breaks explaining how White House staff spent 22 minutes trying to mute a conference call with reporters. Priceless. The item reads like a post from the Onion. Tragically, it’s not. The piece begins with a Trump quote from 2016 vowing only to appoint people with “great competence.”
Bringing to mind Richard Nixon’s infamous statement of “I am not a crook,” Trump exclaims, “I am not a racist.”
Newsweek reports that Trump misquoted himself while claiming the Wall Street Journal misquoted him about Kim Jong Un. Read that again.
It’s the annual Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, which has evolved into a selfless day of service around the country for millions of Americans, including our elected officials. Trump spent the day, naturally, at a Trump golf course.
Trump’s ex-wife Ivana backed him up by claiming he is not a racist.
Shithole or not, a report suggests that the so-called alt-right–Trump’s base–loves him more than ever.
Chivalry is apparently dead, not to mention basic human decency, as news organizations share a picture of Trump hogging an umbrella while his wife and son board Air Force One in the rain.
Trump’s boondogglish border wall comes up for discussion in Congress, but lawmakers can’t seem to get past Shitholegate.
A Navy rear admiral who serves as Trump’s doctor discusses the results of his annual physical. While the doc gave Trump a clean bill of health, CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta is reporting that Trump has heart disease, which should come as a surprise to no one. The New York Times contacted cardiologists not connected to the White House who pointed out that Trump’s LDL cholesterol reading–bad cholesterol–is alarmingly beyond the recommended limit, putting him at risk of a heart attack or stroke.
The Navy doc claimed that Trump is 6′ 3′, 239 lbs., and that sent the internet into fits of giggles and snark. Photos of Trump next to guys who are actually 6′ 3″ reveal a man at least two inches shorter, and common sense tells us that the 2 in his listed weight should probably be a 3. Say hello to the #GirtherMovement.
Vox reports that Congressional Republicans think Trump’s sloth and ignorance are features rather than problems. They seem to prefer him fat and stupid.
Trump is said to have a “terrifying plan” for winning the midterm elections later this year. This story, also from Vox, states, “Trump has told advisers that he doesn’t think the 2018 election has to be as bad as others are predicting. He has referenced the 2002 midterms, when George W. Bush and Republicans fared better after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, these people said.”
Another meeting leak – this one involving White House chief of staff John Kelly, who reportedly told a group of Democratic lawmakers that some of Trump’s campaign promises about immigration and the border wall were “uniformed,” which is, let’s face it, totally shocking…I mean, we’re shocked, shocked! Kelly told Fox News that Trump had “changed his attitude” about the wall.
Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, a Republican not running for re-election, takes to the Senate floor to lambaste Trump, to compare him to Joseph Stalin, and to compare the GOP to Stalin’s enablers.
Despite the 130K, the adult film star, Stormy Daniels, er, comes clean, although her confession actually occurred long before the payoff. The magazine In Touch published excerpts from an interview in 2011 in which Daniels confirmed her affair with Trump while he was married to Melania. And Slate is running a similar story based on discussions with Daniels in 2016, before the hush money deal was finalized.
The Fake News Awards are finally announced, with a bit of a dull thud. Rather than a splashy red-carpet event that Trump would have clearly favored, the “awards” were rolled out in something resembling a Republican National Committee news release. It seems Trump doesn’t care for CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post, ABC and others, which in and of itself hardly qualifies as news, real or otherwise. And it’s noteworthy that the most notorious purveyors of fake news—Fox News and Breitbart–were nowhere to be found.
Once again Trump isn’t playing nice with his fellow Republicans. As Congress wrestles with a stopgap funding measure to keep the federal government from shutting down, Trump goes against his party’s negotiating position by opposing the placement of the Children’s Health Insurance Program in the bill. Remember, if a shutdown actually occurs he’ll blame Democrats, and maybe even Hillary Clinton.
Trump denies that his thinking has changed on the border wall and says he’s furious with his chief of staff for suggesting otherwise.
The White House releases a statement claiming that Trump supports the short-term government funding bill – you know, the one he tweeted about earlier.
Gallup issues a poll indicating that international confidence in US leadership has sunk to a new low – China ranks higher.
According to a report in Newsweek, millions of dollars from Trump’s leftover inauguration funds have still not been donated to the charities they were promised to.
The porn star story continues to advance. Mother Jones reports that, according to Stormy Daniels, Trump had her spank him with a copy of Forbes magazine that featured Trump on the cover. Read that again.
So this is what has become of the presidency of the greatest country in the history of the world, the United States of America. The office is occupied by a man with no redeeming qualities – not one. He’s not smart, wise, thoughtful, considerate, respectful, dignified, generous or informed. He’s physically unhealthy and very possibly mentally ill.
The events of any one of these days in January should be enough to send almost every American running in horror for the “Anyone Else – Even Kanye” camp in 2020. However, Trump still hovers at a roughly 35-40 percent approval rating – said to be a historic low but still representative of at least 80 million people who are eligible to vote and seem untroubled and supportive.
On our first Trumpiversary we find ourselves dwelling in a sad and dangerous land; sitting atop a volatile powderkeg that threatens economic stability, national security and world peace. The English newspaper the Guardian put it this way:
The fundamental failing underlying Trump’s presidency is his willful ignorance. His frequently petulant, childish behaviour combines with a staggering lack of knowledge and contempt for facts to produce serial, chronic misjudgments. Trump, in power, cannot be trusted. He has been exposed as lacking in empathy, shamelessly mendacious, cynical and unversed or uninterested in the enduring human and constitutional values his office is sworn to uphold. Trump is the first and hopefully the last of his kind: an anti-American president. He is a disgrace and a danger to his country. The sooner he is sent packing, the better.