The news from Washington D.C. is furiously fast these days that the world had no time to mull on the implication of Rob Porter’s departure. He was a man with the professionalism the Trump White House needed to organize itself that the void he left behind was the cause to blame for the near-epic level of incoherence Trump produced last week at the gun-control meeting. Was he for gun control, or not? Was he for taking away the guns before due process, or not? Was he for signing a gun bill that would include Diane Feinstein’s favorite ideas, or not? Not that Trump has no record of hedging, backtracking or diversion—his record has plenty instances of such—it’s just that he never seemed to be off-the-cuff this much on a divisive issue as this.
Gun control is one issue the American public knows by heart. The split here is just not between those living in the metro and those in the rural. It splits parties and cross-sectioning generations as well. It’s a mine field that discourages political charlatans. Trump, without Porter, stumbled recklessly into the debate and angered even his own base when he spit-balled the notion that maybe the government should take away a person’s guns at first sign of suspicion. How could someone argued for due process in the era of #MeToo balance their thoughts with the notion that someone could lose their firearms at the moment someone else suspecting them of being mentally unstable?
The void Porter left behind once again returned to fore when his rumored girlfriend, Hope Hicks, announced her resignation. The president was reportedly scolding her for being so “stupid” when she told the Senate that her job required her, sometime, to tell “white lies.” In away, Trump is right. The role of a White House communication department is to broadcast the president’s agenda loudly above the critics’ noise. To do that is to maintain an aura of credibility. Granted that Sean Spicer, the previous White House spokesman, burned off much of it by pointing to photos and said things that were evidently false. But if Hicks ever did that, the public would never know since she avoided publicity at all cost. Then came the Senate testimony. It put her out front of the limelight and effectively the jig was up. You can’t lie to the Senate. You can only admit.
The fact about Gary Cohn’s resignation announcement this week very much affirm the Trump critics’ suspicion: more chaos is on the way. The steel and aluminum tariffs Trump promised to deliver last week is the latest sign that the president is no longer in the right mind. Trump all but started the next trade war, where many other countries will take turn imposing counter-tariffs to offset their pain, which in turn will provoke Trump to issue his own retaliation, which would then prompted more counters, so on. All is done, he said, because he promised a small slice of the American electorate that he would be there avenger for the jobs loss they endured. If everything goes through, some steel jobs will start while many more jobs related to denim fabric and Harley-Davidson will perish. And that was just a counter-threat from Germany.
Trade wars are easy to win, Trump said. There is a long history of men thinking along the same line the moment before they lunged themselves and the rest of the world into the abyss. But before there can be winners and losers, there will be fields and fields of casualties. No one walks away from a real war unscathed, ever. ♦