Imagine: A real-estate heir with a fake tan and no qualifications invites the viewing public to join him on an unprecedented adventure. He will, he says, drain the swamp in Washington, DC. Over the course of a few short weeks, he selects contestants for his show, prizing style over substance and fealty over independence. Once the work starts, however, he spends much of his time in a gaudy mansion in Florida, where he plays golf, meets with foreign dignitaries, and tweets his angry meltdowns. Contestants are regularly eliminated. He feuds with several nemeses, but the one he hates the most is the one he has known the longest, and the one who nearly stole the spotlight from him. At the end of the first season, he has failed to drain the swamp, but he is making money for himself through tie-ins and merchandising. The second season promises even more twists and turns, with members of his own team questioning his mental capacity, to which his response is that he is “a very stable genius.”
What would have once been merely an exercise in the suspension of disbelief is now our national nightmare. This president appears to have neither the interest nor the ability to govern. He is said to favor pictures and charts over long blocks of text, and White House staff have had to adapt their briefings accordingly. Rather than pore over reports and analyses from his intelligence agencies, he watches pundits on Fox News, then tweets his thoughts. Decisions are made on the fly, and then sometimes unmade or revised in an effort to help him save face. He lies almost constantly, even about matters of no importance, and his lies travel around the world before corrections can be made. He refers to the media as “the enemy of the American people” and bullies or insults anyone who doesn’t fall in line with him. Yesterday’s friends become enemies, as Steve Bannon, his former chief strategist, found out recently when the president dismissed him as “Sloppy Steve.” His views about race are perhaps best summarized by the fact that David Duke and members of the Ku Klux Klan have embraced him.
So where do we stand after a year? Donald Trump’s 12 months in office have been short on achievement and long on frustration. Although his party controls both the House and the Senate, he couldn’t repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, couldn’t make Mexico pay for the border wall, couldn’t prove that “millions” had voted illegally in the last presidential election, couldn’t defund Planned Parenthood, and, perhaps most frustrating of all for him, couldn’t stop the federal investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russian government agents.