A Rudderless Ship — Part I

For the second time in as many weeks, I am moved to use the writings of Joe Scarborough as the basis for my post.  Since I wrote this morning’s post last night, one thought keeps nagging at me:  we are a rudderless nation.  We have no leadership, which leaves us vulnerable to onslaught both from within and without.  The administration is so focused on the infighting and trying to fend off criticism and controversy that I do not see how anything remotely resembling ‘governance’ can be happening.  I am sure to have more to say on this topic, but this OpEd by Joe Scarborough in The Washington Post yesterday crossed my screen this morning, and I want people to read this and think about it.  Most of us have long since realized that the man sitting in the Oval Office is unqualified for the position to which he was elected, but I think that even we have underestimated the degree to which he is unqualified.  And so, without further ado, I present to you Mr. Joe Scarborough …


Michael Wolff’s tantalizing takedown of President Trump’s White House is so tightly packed with tales of political convulsion and personal betrayal that official Washington will be buzzing off its sugar high for weeks. But after the shock of Wolff’s account of Trump’s willful ignorance and intellectual incoherence fades, Americans will be left with the inescapable conclusion that the president is not capable of fulfilling his duties as commander in chief.

The GOP’s defense of this indefensible president appears even more preposterous following Wolff’s revelation, in his new book, “Fire and Fury,” of former adviser Stephen K. Bannon’s observation that members of Trump’s team, including his son, committed nothing less than treason. (Disclosure: I am thanked in the book’s acknowledgments and make an appearance in a handful of passages.) Republican politicians who have spent the past year eagerly wading through the slimy political backwash churned up by Trumpism will look even more foolish aping the former reality star’s attacks on the special counsel. Despite their desperate declarations that the Vietnam War hero is dragging his feet, Robert S. Mueller III has proved himself ruthlessly efficient in rooting out public corruption.

In just the past two months, the president’s first national security adviser and most trusted traveling companion pleaded guilty to federal charges; he is now cooperating with Mueller’s investigation. Trump’s campaign manager through the Republican National Convention was also arrested, charged and released only after posting $10 million in bail. A man Trump identified as one of his top foreign policy advisers has also pleaded guilty in federal court and is cooperating with the feds. Another Trump campaign aide was charged in a 12-count indictment. And with the release of “Fire and Fury,” we now know that yet another campaign official for the Republican president — one who subsequently served in his White House — believes that close Trump advisers were “treasonous” to meet with Russians during the campaign.

A cancer again is growing on the presidency, and few know whether the 45th president will survive a single term. Bannon has his doubts. “He’s not going to make it,” Bannon told Breitbart staffers, according to Wolff. “He’s lost his stuff.” But if Trump does escape legal prosecution, Wolff’s terrifying political tome adds weight to a growing body of evidence that the Manhattan billionaire is temperamentally unfit to serve. An email Wolff describes as “purporting to represent the views” of chief economic adviser Gary Cohn neatly summarizes what campaign workers and White House staff have been telling me about Trump for two years. He is an “idiot surrounded by clowns. Trump won’t read anything — not one-page memos, not the brief policy papers; nothing. He gets up halfway through meetings with world leaders because he is bored. And his staff is no better.”

Mika Brzezinski and I had a tense meeting with Trump following what I considered to be a bumbling debate performance in September 2015. I asked the candidate a blunt question.

“Can you read?”

Awkward silence.

“I’m serious, Donald. Do you read?” I continued. “If someone wrote you a one-page paper on a policy, could you read it?”

Taken aback, Trump quietly responded that he could while holding up a Bible given to him by his mother. He then joked that he read it all the time.

I am apparently not the only one who has questioned the president’s ability to focus on the written word. “Trump didn’t read,” Wolff writes. “He didn’t really even skim. If it was print, it might as well not exist. Some believed that for all practical purposes he was no more than semiliterate. Others concluded that he didn’t read because he didn’t have to . . . He was postliterate — total television.” But “Fire and Fury” reveals that White House staff and Cabinet members believed Trump’s intellectual challenges went well beyond having a limited reading list: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin called him an “idiot,” Cohn dismissed him as “dumb,” national security adviser H.R. McMaster considered him a “dope,” and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson infamously concluded that the commander in chief was a “moron.”

We are a nation that spent the past 100 years inventing the modern age, winning World War I, defeating Hitler and winning World War II, and liberating half of Europe by beating the Soviets in the Cold War. But today we find ourselves dangerously adrift at home and disconnected from the allies abroad that made so many of those triumphs possible. The world wonders how the United States will survive Donald Trump. And I ask, what will finally move Republicans to deliver a non-negotiable ultimatum to this unstable president? Will they dare place their country’s interests above their own political fears? Or will they move to end this American tragedy only when there is nothing left to lose?


This cannot be allowed to continue, for, as one reader noted in a comment on an earlier post, if we can see it, so can both our allies and antagonists around the globe.  Sooner or later, somebody is going to take full advantage of the fact that we are afloat in a sea, with no rudder, and no captain for our ship.

36 thoughts on “A Rudderless Ship — Part I

  1. Pingback: A Rudderless Ship — Part III | Filosofa's Word

  2. For any book to gain general public attention and traction there must be a certain perception in the public mind, now sometimes this can be in grained through history, other times the target of the book just invites this and reinforces a perception already there.
    The current incumbent is simply not reaching out to the broad spectrum of people in the way Presidents normally do, there is no sense of unifying or empathy with the overall public. Things are simply not working as they should.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Dear Jill,
    This book was a rush job and so a lot of the fact checking wasn’t up to snuff. No one is denying the overall portrayal of what this book presents is inaccurate. I don;t know if this has been widely reported but Mr. Wolff claims that he recorded many of the conversations that he describes in his book. And he is not the type to bluff.
    But there are bound to be errors.

    The republicans are circling the wagon because they are running scared like the losers that they have become.
    Hugs, Gronda

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, there will certainly be some inaccuracies, but overall I think the book paints a clear picture of the chaos and ignorance in our upper echelons. It would be funny, if only it weren’t the lives of millions of people at stake. As they say, ‘truth is stranger than fiction’. I got the book last night for my Kindle and have not had time to read much of it yet, but I’m hoping to settle in with it for a few hours today. Tell me, Gronda … with all the verifiable evidence that Trump is less qualified than a junkyard dog for this job, how can members of Congress still support him? Yes, I know they are getting money from the big corporations and lobbyists, and that greed is what drives them, but don’t they realize that their bubble is certain to bust one day and their careers will be ruined? Do they truly have so little conscience? We absolutely must make changes in November!!! Hugs!!!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. If he is a genius as he claims to be in latest tweet, why does he not read? As a former educator who spent many years teaching gifted students, it is a laughable joke to to think that he has any clue what genius means.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I fully agree with you. It is said that his staff must condense everything down to short, simple documents before he will even look at them. And what I find absolutely unacceptable is that he has never read the U.S. Constitution, the very document that he swore to uphold! And when an advisor was trying to read it to him and explain it, he said that Trump got bored by the time they got to Article IV and started playing with his twitter machine! But his lemmings see no problem with this??? And members of Congress see no problem with this?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh for certain I am deeply comforted … NOT!

      ““Actually,” the president added, “throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart”. He also said he “would qualify as not smart, but genius … and a very stable genius at that!””

      I don’t know whether to laugh or run screaming to Canada!!! My 22-year-old granddaughter, when I read her that snippet, said, “If you need to say how smart you are, then you probably aren’t smart at all.”

      I’d like to awaken from this nightmare now, please?

      Liked by 3 people

    • That could well be, too, but I prefer to think we are not yet completely doomed. Tell me, the pirate you see … does he resemble Vladimir Putin? That’s once scenario I’ve considered … weaken from within, then step in and re-shape to his ideals.

      Like

  5. Good post, Jill. I heard something on TV. Someone said at the end of Ronald Reagan’s second term he was showing signs of the Alzheimer’s that would eventually totally take over. The reason it could be hidden so effectively was he was surrounded by able people who guided him and the office to the end of that term. We’re in trouble because DT is “not” surrounded by such people. One person interviewed on CNN said this book will make no difference with the DT presidency. I think the only hope is for the elections this year to change the Congress to one with more Democrats than Republicans. —- Suzanne

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Suzanne! I agree! One of the most frightening things about Trump being in the Oval Office is that he is surrounded by advisors who are either as clueless as he is, or have ulterior motives. Frightening times, not only for the U.S., bur also for our allies, for we have proven that we cannot be counted on anymore.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The puppet show continues and DT plays right into the hands of controlling forces that will force America to attack N. Korea and Iran (on false pretenses, of course). Any fallout will be blamed on the administration of DT and America will move on to its next president and more evil acts. Yes, that is how America is being viewed these days…conjuring up problems and then fixing them to look like heroes. DT is just a convenient dumb pawn in an insidious chess game…and lots of the world leaders don’t want to play any longer.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. What I think is most bizarre is the WH commenting that the book is completely false, while at the same time going after Bannon for all the stuff he is reported as saying in the book. Either he said those things OR the book is false. Continually amazing absence of logic and common sense. I know, I know. Nothing new here…

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are quite right. And frankly, not much of what is written is in contrast to what we already know to be true, so while there may be some things that are speculative rather than factual in the book, I’m guessing there is much that is spot on. Trump & Co. would be well-advised to simply not respond, for their response will only add to the mayhem, but when did the word “wise” ever apply to this administration? Same with logic and common sense … they were omitted from the new ‘alternative dictionary’. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Jill, good read. A couple of comments. The book and Bannon’s comments paint a picture that is corroborated by others reporting. There will be a focus on details being untrue, but per David Brooks, very few have come out and said he is not like that at all. They are quibbling over being on the record not what was said.

    As for the economic success, I am thankful it is has continued under this President, but we are well over 100 consecutive months of growth started under Obama and Trump has only been President 11 of those months. Further the stock market more than doubled under Obama. With that said, any President gets too much credit and too much blame for the economy – they provide headwinds or tailwinds. What I find interesting, the candidate Trump used to say all those economic measures were all wrong until he owned them. My worry is the debt and environment and this President pretends they don’t matter. That is highly frustrating and will be costly. Keith

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jill, I wanted to update my comment. The current economic growth period is at 103 consecutive months dating back to June 2009, the third longest growth period in US history. It was bored yesterday that over 2 million jobs were added for the seventh year in a row. When I see these numbers, I hear reputable, nonpartisan groups asking why did we feel the need to add $1.5 trillion to the debt for the promise of redundant economic stimulation? Keith

      Liked by 2 people

      • Good point, and I’ve said much the same … he said he would ‘fix’ the economy, but it wasn’t broken. And … given that he understands so little and has not hired the ‘best and brightest’ to advise him, I suspect that his ‘fixes’ will benefit none but the wealthy. And eventually, once the debt goes higher and higher, even the wealthy will tumble. But what is so frustrating is that if he says it, his base belives it … laps it up like a cat with cream. He tells them the economy is in the sewer … they believe. He tells them he has created new jobs … they believe. But nobody asks why there has been no increase in the average wage.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Keith! While I am sure there are parts of the book that are either speculative or exaggerated, I think for the most part, based on what little I have read, it only confirms an overall environment that we already knew anyway. That said, Trump & Co. would be well advised to keep their responses to a minimum and very low-key at that, for the more noise they make, the more credible the book becomes. But then when has this bunch ever acted wisely. I believe most of what is in the book, because it condirms what we already knew anyway. There used to be an expression … you can’t get a silk purse out of a sow’s ear … or something like that.

      You are quite right about the economy. Trump is taking credit for the past nearly decade of progress, but are we surprised? At the same time he condemns Obama at least once a day, he is riding on his successes and calling them his own. Now, the thing about the stock market is that it is high, certainly, and many are benefitting from that. But I urge caution, for eventually it will correct. I think the tax bill that was just passed will hasten that correction as the national debt increases. I’m not an economist, but I know enough history, and have read enough on the topic, to know that the market cannot and will not rise forever. In 2008, I saw my 401(k) drop by more than 50%. Let the buyer beware. And it should be of great concern that at the same time, Trump is rolling back post-2008 regulations on the banking industry. Is this a recipe for … ???

      Liked by 2 people

  9. People will be people, eh, Jill. Doubt that I ever told you, but we have a dual-citizenship thoroughbred trainer in the west who absolutely loves DT. He went American just so he could vote for DT, who can do no wrong in this trainer’s eyes. Even when he is doing things the trainer used to bitch about! He has delivered his life to DT and refuses to see any problems. These are the kind of followers DT inspires, people who follow at any cost. I hate to say it, but “mindless” people, or at least people who refuse to use their common sense. They will die for DT. It is an incredibly polarized world we suddenly live in, and something is going to have to give, soon. I hate to even think it, but it will not surprise me if Mueller is assassinated, whether at DT’s command on just by some republican crackpot. Hens are coming home to roast, I mean roost. Something big has to happen. I just hope it is nothing too tragic.
    (And on that note, I just wanted to say that I just g-mailed you a copy of the blog I just posted. Hope you like it.)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Mr. Scarborough’s Op-Ed …
    ‘Most of us have long since realized that the man sitting in the Oval Office is unqualified for the position to which he was elected, but I think that even we have underestimated the degree to which he is unqualified.’

    Like

  11. Sadly the republicans in congress are doubling down in support of tRump. The speaker of the house gave his permission for Nunes and his people to continue to attack the DOJ and the Mueller investigation with the idea of negating or discrediting it in any way possible. I am rather worried that the closer Mueller gets the more out right attacks the congressional republicans will mount. Instead of thinking for the good of the country, they are thinking for the good of themselves and tRumpsky. Hugs
    https://www.politico.com/story/2017/12/20/house-republicans-quietly-investigate-doj-fbi-310121

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I don’t believe anything that comes out of this guy’s mouth, nor this new “hack” book. I’ll stick with a guy who gets the DOW over 25,000 and got me a tax break. Good read, as always.

    Like

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