Setting the Table

I had the misfortune to watch some of the Sunday morning talk shows this week. A very wise commentator pointed out that Trump is not off message, or raving when he does interviews with the Enemy (aka the New York Times) or rattles off his customary 4:00 AM tweets.  Au contraire.  He is, rather, right on message; the message of the moment.

The message of the moment is the unfair and problematic Russia investigation.  It’s still dripping in the background, unless you’re CNN, then it’s a  waterfall.  It has been six months, people.  We, out here in reality land, are waiting for action.  But action, in the old reality show setup, is only for the grand finale.  Six months into a four-year run is nowhere near the grand finale.

Or, as the TV critics like to say when they babble on about Game of Thrones, Trump is setting the table.  It’s a bit like that nerdy guy who collects dungeons and dragons figurines, paints them and sets them on a table, looks at them, moves them, looks at them some more, moves them some more.  All the better to get that classic, gut wrenching and deeply satisfying final battle: Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort, Gandalf and the Witch King, The Mother of Dragons and the White Walkers, Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker.  We’ve all been there.

Trump is moving the pieces, stepping back, moving them some more, never mind that stuff about actually governing; you know, things like getting financing through Congress to fix the nation’s failing infrastructure, driving a health care plan through a recalcitrant Congress that might actually serve the population, balancing the budget, boring stuff like that.  Nope.  Trump is moving the figurines with his tweets, his interviews, his speeches.

In other words, he’s not governing; he’s setting the table. He’s sitting in the White House or hobnobbing with his casino buddies in New Jersey or Florida, reveling in his table setting.  Meanwhile the world grinds on; out of sight, out of mind.

What will the climactic battle be? At this point, it will probably be a showdown over the Russia stuff, which may or may not clarify any wrongdoing.  It’s gotten to the point where the original scenario is forgotten; now we’re fighting because, you know, it’s fun.  Or so sayeth Trump.

You may think that I am giving Mr. Trump too much credit, that he’s not strategist.  I don’t know if he is or not.  I do know that he doesn’t listen to advice.  That’s why he’s so unpredictable; unlike his predecessors, he does not listen to his staff (who are always known quantities) nor he does keep them around very long (Spicer), or should he keep them around, he regularly demeans them in public (Sessions), thus discrediting them.  Not having advisers who have known ideological bents or hobbyhorse issues, makes Trump an Army of One, an oxymoron if there ever was one.  His grand delusion is that he can run the entire United States government from the Oval Office.  And, that, dear readers, is where the train wreck begins.

The government is already partially paralyzed.  Congress can’t even repeal a piece of legislation it has hated since 2010, to the everlasting delight of the opposing party.  The State Department is being run by the civil service (a la Great Britain), the country experts and the people who provide guidance nowhere to be found.  Secretary Tillerson, the point man on that one, has made it known that this inaction is not his doing – it’s the White House that can’t get its you-know-what together.

The military/Pentagon has funds, yes, but it has no programs to spend the funds on.  This whole business about a mercenary army fighting our foreign wars takes the all-volunteer army a step too far; mercenary forces are never a good idea.  Read up on any of the Crusades, or the 100 Years War, which was won at the last minute through the leadership of the most unlikely person imaginable, a peasant maid by the name of Joan d’Arc, against what was, at the time, considered a superior English force. A mercenary, she was not.

The mercenaries, on the other hand, had a tendency to sack “friendly” cities if the whim so took them.  They were also noted for taking up with the opposite side should the promise of better payment for their services become too tempting.

Our Donald wants everyone in the government and the military to pledge loyalty to him, himself.  After all, he’s king now.  Perhaps in the privacy of his business, he is.  But in the public of government service, we pledge loyalty to the Constitution, not to a single person.  If we go back to pledging to a single person, then perhaps we should petition Queen Elizabeth II and reenter the British Commonwealth.  Perhaps our new national viceroy could be Prince Harry; he’s doesn’t seem to be too busy at the moment.

I can see it now: Prince Harry Windsor, Duke of blah, blah, Count of blah, blah, Royal Viceroy of the United States of America.  Heck, it’s better than Donald Trump, CEO of the United States of America.  Perhaps he’d be able to get something done.

 

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