Good gracious! David Brooks, a charter member of the Never Trump movement, suddenly raises the white flag in his column today. Brooks is despondent. His efforts to expose Trump’s perfidy have failed. Instead, a very bad man, we are told, reigns supreme.
The catalogue of woe is extensive. According to Brooks:
“We have persuaded no one. Trump’s approval rating is around 40 percent, which is basically unchanged from where it’s been all along. We have not hindered him. Trump has more power than he did a year ago, not less. …We have not dislodged him. For all the hype, the Mueller investigation looks less and less likely to fundamentally alter the course of the administration.”
Really? At a moment when FBI agents on Monday searched Trump’s personal lawyer’s office and hotel room in Manhattan, Brooks’ self-flagellation could hardly seem more wrongheaded. Brooks seems to believe that articles in old school conservative outlets such as National Review are supposed to have a real effect on Trump’s fortunes. But they never have. Instead, it’s actual events that are impinging upon the dream palace of the Trump presidency.
On multiple fronts, Trump has never been more embattled and endangered, as his volcanic wrath at the White House yesterday afternoon about the FBI raid on Michael Cohen made abundantly clear. His grand meeting with the generals, where he was supposed to flaunt his tough guy credentials about Syria, in contrast to the lily-livered Barack Obama, the appeaser of Damascus and Animal Assad, got upstaged by the G Men in Manhattan, who carted away some of Trump’s most intimate secrets about Stormy Daniels and his various other escapades. To add insult to injury, it was the very federal prosecutor, Geoffrey Berman, whom Trump appointed to replace Preet Bharara that ended up signing off on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s referral for criminal activity. Trump fulminated about the weakness of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who recused himself from the Russia investigation, but he only made himself look weak in dissing him.
At the same time, Trump, who had noisily proclaimed that he wants to vacate Syria and leave it to the tender mercies of Russia and Iran, is apparently gung-ho for bombing. A quick strike is supposed to help to serve to divert attention from his domestic difficulties. But it won’t be as easy for Trump to replicate the spasm of shock and awe that accompanied his pinprick strike on Syria last April. The element of surprise is absent. While non-interventionists on the right and left complain that an attack on Syria would be illegal absent congressional authorization, hawks like Senator John McCain are lambasting Trump for having allegedly given Assad a green light for further attacks in the form of announcing that he wants to withdraw American troops.
With the mobilization of Russian forces, Trump also faces the prospect of confrontation with Russia along with his zany tariff war against China. When it comes to the Kremlin, Trump could be lurching into a new Cuban missile crisis. But with John Bolton as his national security adviser, the likelihood is Trump would be more inclined to escalate than compromise. “What could go wrong?” Bolton told the press corps yesterday when he was asked about his first day. A lot. It’s definitely stormy weather for the White House. For Trump, you could even say, life is becoming bare with gloom and misery everywhere.