Remember Donald Trump campaigning as the greatest deal maker in human history? Gullible GOPers and Feral Trumpers alike thought that he’d drive a hard bargain. Once again, they were wrong. The Insult Comedian took the first deal offered to him by Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. There was no back-and-forth, no negotiations whatsoever. He didn’t even haggle or allow his Congressional “allies” to have any input. There’s no doubt that the inexperienced Trump was played by the wily Pelosi and the underestimated Schumer. The question is why and as always in Washington there are competing stories.
The Trump administration put its mendacious spin machine into high gear after the meeting. They told Timespeeps Haberman and Thrush that it was a pre-planned stratagem. To say that I’m skeptical is an understatement. Trump’s entire life has been a series of improvisations. One would think that a reporter with a birdie name name would understand that Trump was winging it. In addition to his giant ego, Trump is all id. In fact, he puts the id in idiot.
But the political or ideological manifestations are secondary to the personal one. Trump needs to dominate people. Clearly Trump felt that McConnell and Ryan are not serving him well enough or loyally enough or both. So he lashed out or tried to damage them.
It’s not clear to me whether Trump doesn’t realize that he hurt himself as much as he did Ryan and McConnell or whether he does realize it and simply doesn’t care. The core take remains the same. Trump’s core personal drive is the need to dominate. It’s been clear for weeks that he feels routinely betrayed by these two men. They don’t produce for him. They embarrass. They fail to defend him. The need to dominate runs deeper than any policy agenda or ideological ambition. People who are driven by the need to dominate are also often self-destructive. None of this is surprising.
I think Josh is on to something but there’s a simpler explanation for Trump’s bridge burning with Republicans and movement conservative types. Underneath the bluster, he knows he’s in over his head and going down because of Russia scandal. He’s grasping at any short-term advantage he can think of. Tormenting McConnell and Ryan is merely a bully bonus. If he’s going to be a loser, he wants to take the rest of them down with him. Just call him the Arsonist In Chief.
Another possible explanation is even simpler. That he *is* a schlemiel: a stupid, awkward, or unlucky person. He’s a bungler who thinks he’s a master of the universe. The only thing Trump has mastered in his time as president* is the art of the schlemiel.