To understand what happened last week, it is best viewed through the lens of medieval times, which is the domain in which our President/king resides. What House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did by accusing him of a cover-up amounted to what monarchs call “Lese Majeste” — an insult to the sovereign. (For Trump, there is no real issue of constitutionality. The only separation of powers he seems to recognize is that which he has doled out between his advisers, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, and his son Don Jr.)
He is about scoring points, nothing more. It is only fitting that he was the host of the TV program “The Apprentice,” a show about sycophants vying for his favor. Trump is himself a lifelong apprentice, first desperately vying for the acceptance of his martinet father, and later, the nation. Look at his life — he is a success at courtship and wooing; fidelity, not so much.
In many ways, his inauguration was the high point of his presidency. What followed was the bewildering realization that something more was expected of him. He is perpetually on the campaign trail in pursuit of validation, and another win.
Trump, the consummate dealmaker, can always walk away from the table, not because he is a canny and tough negotiator, but because he does not seem to care what the outcome is or what the ultimate shape of the deal is. He has no true investment in the deal (the well-being of our country and its people), only in his ego — it is enough that he appears to have won.
His singular talents span the spectrum from bluff to bluster, which work well enough in inherited wealth and reality TV, but less so for those enterprises requiring actual hands-on governance. And is it not the ultimate expression of executive privilege, the right not to behave as an executive at all? He is drawn to the prerogatives of power, and not what that power can do for others.
So in threatening to eschew all manner of presidential engagement, save the pomp and circumstance for which he lives, he has simply shed all pretense and shown his true self. State dinners, motorcades, the pandering of Fox & Friends and endless ego-stroking were all that he ever wanted. Even on the campaign trail, nothing was further from his mind than finding solutions to the nation’s problems.
He has become a case study in the old adage, “be careful what you wish for.” One can be forgiven for wondering if it had even occurred to him that certain responsibilities might come along with holding office. How utterly inconvenient for tweeting and tee-off times.
And now we have the worst of all possible worlds: an abdication that leaves some 327 million Americans in limbo.
The problem is that Trump, in his own inimitable way, has created a most imperfect vacuum for the nation. For the foreseeable future the presidency will be both vacant and occupied, with the country reduced to waiting out his tantrum and deciphering its future from a fusillade of tweets and campaign-like rants.
Now, freed of such noisome distractions as legislation, budgets, and infrastructure, he, like a child with a giant LEGO set, can concentrate on trying to build that wall to the south and dispense with pretending to care about the nation or its ills.