The Latest Dignity Wraith

Josh Marshall coined the phrase “dignity wraith” to describe establishment conservatives who exchanged whatever meager principles, decency, independence, credibility, etc., they possessed to align with Trump. The theory is these folks believe they’ll be able to advance their personal agenda by signing on with the vulgar conman, whom they flatter themselves they can easily control. But they soon find it’s all a dominance game with Trump. Chris Christie was an early victim.

Trump is a fool and a knave, but he understands primate dominance hierarchies at least as well as an average orangutan, so he follows the instinct to humiliate any presumptuous silverback who strategically submits to his will. Michelle Goldberg in the NYT identifies the latest victim:

Say this for Donald Trump. He may be transforming American politics into a kleptocratic fascist reality show and turning our once-great country into a global laughingstock, but at least he’s humiliating John Bolton in the process…

It’s nightmarish to live in a country where our foreign policy has been reduced to an intramural battle between Fox News reactionaries. And there’s still a danger that Bolton could outmaneuver the isolationists. But right now there is a thin, bitter consolation in knowing that he, like so many others who’ve worked for Trump, sacrificed his principles for power and will likely end up with neither.

Goldberg points out that under Trump, Bolton has thus far been thwarted in pursuing every single war he enthusiastically monged for two decades. After calling for preemptive strikes on North Korea just last year, Bolton was dispatched to Mongolia this weekend while bland-faced Javanka met with Kim Jong Un and Tucker Carlson provided justification for American rapprochement. That had to sting a bit.

I’m too old and cynical to hope that Trump will manage to transform the entire Reagan-Bush neocon-reactionary Axis of Hubris into a heap of desiccated husks that will trouble us no more. As that crew demonstrated by reclaiming their sinecures after lying us into a ruinous, deadly and pointless war, a combination of personal shamelessness and media credulity is remarkably restorative.

Moreover, it looks like some potential dignity wraiths escape their just fate, managing to tick off items on their agenda and then ducking out before being fully slimed by Trump. (I’m thinking of Don McGahn and Nikki Haley here.) The jury is still out on their fates, IMO, and much depends on how disastrously this catastrophic presidency ends.

But I’ll take my “thin, bitter consolation” where I can these days. Open thread.

Open Thread: Crown Princess Dunning-Kruger

From the smirk on her face, absolutely. Eighteen months watching Daddy Dearest in the Oval Office, and she’s convinced she can finish off the important bits of the job — yelling at aides about their inadequate PowerPoint presentations, putting the arm on foreign dignitaries and potential celebrity donors — in an hour or two a day. So if she mindfully curates her twitter feed, she’ll be able to accomplish her “real” work (rigorous self-care, supervising the kids’ and Jared’s nannies) and still have plenty of time for celebrity tuft-hunting!

The Washington Post, “‘Surreal’: Ivanka Trump plays a prominent role in her father’s historic Korea trip”:

The first daughter’s prominence in Japan and South Korea appeared to be by design — a sign of her influence with President Trump and the current absence of influential opponents within the administration.

It’s not clear, however, to what end.

Ivanka Trump shuttered her clothing business after joining the administration, although not right away, and has largely stepped away from her old life as an entrepreneur and social mainstay in New York. She and her husband, senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, let it be known last year that they would remain in Washington and in the White House indefinitely.

Her ambitions are unknown — she demurs on any desire for public office…

Mostly, her prominence on a major foreign trip sends a message about who other countries should listen to or court, said Christopher R. Hill, a former U.S. ambassador to South Korea and other nations.

“It looks to the rest of the world like we have a kind of a constitutional monarchy,” said Hill, who oversaw nuclear talks with North Korea at the close of the George W. Bush administration.

“It’s increasingly problematic in terms of our credibility,” Hill said. “It says to our allies, to everyone we do business with, that the only people who matter are Trump and his family members.”…
Read more

Unhinged (Open Thread)

Trump did a phone interview with a Fox News friendly this morning. It did not go well.

In the first clip below, Trump accuses Robert Mueller of a “crime,” claiming the special counsel “terminated” texts and/or emails between “stupid lovers” Strzok and Page.* Then he bellows about the content of the “illegally terminated” texts/emails, thus indicating that he somehow read them despite their being allegedly lost to posterity. It’s just incoherent.

The second clip is even worse since it pertains to a real issue rather than a demented fantasy: the Trump concentration camps at the border. Trump indicates he may not sign the funding bill from the House, underscoring yet again his intent to use abused children and their desperate families as pawns to get wall funding.

He also repeats the lie about the family separation policy (100% Trump’s) in short-hand fashion since, on Fox News, it’s an article of faith that President Obama created family separation and Trump is the hero who’s trying to end it. Trump then rants that his administration is doing a “great job” at the border and whines about people focusing on “one little site” (where children have been hideously abused!) instead of the big picture, which is also a heinous fail-parade of cruelty and misery by any objective measure.

The clips are almost worth watching just for Bartiromo’s facial expressions. She’s one of the many amoral sleaze-bags at Fox News who helped propel this raving lunatic to power, so watching her failed struggle to shape the interview so that her subject sounds more like a human being in control of his faculties than a semi-sentient YouTube comments thread is almost comical.

I’m past believing that any unhinged public performance by Trump will move the needle with the media or the public and affect coverage or approval ratings. At this point, such a hope is probably as vain as the pundit yearning for a “pivot” in which the lunatic in the Oval Office suddenly starts acting like a president — even a regular old bad, corrupt and incompetent president. But damn!

Open thread!

*BTW, do Strzok and Page have any avenue of redress for their constant vilification and defamation by a sitting president? Trump is so bizarrely obsessed with those two, never failing to use the word “lover” multiple times (and with maximum creepiness!) when discussing them. He apparently derives some sick, hypocritical satisfaction from emphasizing their alleged infidelity.

Trump routinely and baselessly accuses the two of participating in a conspiracy theory to take him down, and I don’t doubt that each renewal of that accusation prompts Trump’s unhinged fans to threaten the two. Trump’s fans have a history of threatening violence, sending mail bombs and amassing weapons and creating “kill lists,” so “irresponsible” doesn’t begin to cover Trump’s treatment of Page and Strzok. It’s criminal, or at least it should be.

Mueller to Testify

17 July.

Like I said- just subpoena him, he’ll how up.

Foreign Policy Open Thread: Jared Kushner Will Bring Peace to the Middle East…

… shortly after I win the Miss America contest. For which, let it be specified, I do not meet the basic requirements. And also, I wouldn’t enter if I *did*. So, context!

The Oval Office squatter and his Repub enablers don’t care about what happens in the Middle East, and even if they did, they haven’t the ability to do anything about it. But if they can skim some cash from the petrostate oligarchs for putting on a heavily PowerPointed dog & pony show — about the money, that, they care.

Long information thread here: