Dan Rather just posted a warning about Donald Trump, and think we are heading into dangerous territory.
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is the most powerful address in the world. It can also at times feel like one of Earth’s loneliest islands.
The nature of the modern American presidency ensures that the Commander in Chief must in many ways operate in a bubble. But when forces outside of that bubble start to swirl, and when they seem beyond the control of an administration, paranoia mounts and a presidency can quickly spiral out of control.
I have seen this happen up close, covering both Lyndon Johnson amidst the Vietnam War and Richard Nixon falling under the weight of Watergate. But there has never been anything quite like what we’re witnessing with Donald Trump.
Both Johnson and Nixon were seasoned politicians and they were surrounded by Washington insiders who knew how the game was played. Both men had pulled off remarkable achievements to their agendas. And there were long stretches of stability in their administrations. We are just over two months into President Trump’s term and already there is civil war in his own party in the wake of the health care debacle. His Muslim travel ban is suspended indefinitely, and then there is always the Russian shadow, which continues to become more serious, now with new allegations of White House interference. We have record low approval ratings and a White House that is understaffed and those who are there do not seem up to the task of governing.
As I wrote before, despite all the defeats, it would be foolish to underestimate the effect Mr. Trump is having on radically reshaping the direction of our nation, at home and abroad. But as he careens from one crisis to another, the chaos and havoc this President creates is engulfing himself as well. We have seen no evidence to suggest that this Administration can stabilize itself. There seems to be no ballast of seriousness or sober mindedness to right the ship. The list of enemies, perceived and real, will almost assuredly grow in Mr. Trump’s mind. His Twitter rantings will likely further fan the flames of division and dissent. An Administration that feels cornered often lashes out in ways that are almost always more destructive to itself than to its targets.
The power of the Presidency is great, but for those who do not use it wisely it can create deep and dangerous self-inflicted wounds.