When One Good Day Is One Too Many
Donald isn't most dangerous when backed into a corner.
There's a theory about Twitter that is a bit reductive but also instructive:
Despite stiff competition from Joe Scarborough and a late-breaking bid by Max Boot, Nate Silver may be the clear winner of the Tweetstakes today, thanks to this insight in particular.
A lot of responses focused on whether or not Trump had earned the good day, and I mean, the answer is no.
But for me, it's not about what he deserves, but rather it's a question of stark strategic necessity.
A lot of commentators keep warning about how dangerous Trump will be if he feels cornered, but from my observations, we're better off the more trapped and powerless he feels.
Trump, on a good day, is a very dangerous man.
Trump, on a good day, might do anything.
On a bad day, he'll jump at his own shadow, mistrust his closest allies, and second-guess himself into inaction.
On a good day, he'll trust the voice that tells him that every idea he has is brilliant, everyone around him is fools, and he's untouchable. On a good day, he'll believe his own hype. On a good day, he'll listen to his own worst instincts.
The thing about Donald Trump isn't that he's a coward and it isn't that he's a bully, it's that he's a cowardly bully. For all his famous cruelty, he is absolutely at his worst when he feels best. One of the reasons he spent so long belittling Jeff Sessions and trying to badger him into quitting or getting into line is that Sessions's hedging, halting recusal left him feeling vulnerable. He had the gun loaded and would brandish it around, but he ironically lacked the confidence needed to pull the trigger because Sessions didn't have his back.
He fired Comey when he felt like he was on top of the world, and he proved it by immediately bragging about it to anyone and everyone who would listen. He was casual in explaining his reasons because he felt absolutely invincible. The feeling of power led him to exercise his power, which just heightened the feelings of power. It was only when the backlash set in that he started to fumble... the backlash that should have been obvious and predictable, but which wasn't to him, because in the moment he took those actions he couldn't imagine any consequences.
He took them because he couldn't imagine consequences. In his mind, he was acting decisively to remove a problem. How could that create new ones?
On any day he'll say that Article II of the Constitution means he can do whatever he wants. On a good day he'll believe it. On any day he'll suspect that whatever idea happens to pop into his head is a great idea, because why else would he have thought of it? He's got the brain thing and the gene thing. On a good day, he'll be willing to test that.
So a good day for Hair Furor is a bad day for the republic.
Now imagine if he were to learn that the key to a good day is a good death. A kill. A spectacular kill.
Imagine if his critics in the media all gave him a 24 hour reprieve in honor of the death of al-Baghdadi, a man who whatever his significance in the past or today was far from a household name in the US, and probably not particularly significant to Trump himself. Imagine if he had teased the death on Twitter then announced it the next day and then went to a ballgame and the cheers for the military service members hadn't faded into boos when he appeared on the screen but kept going.
Imagine if the whole thing had worked the way he clearly expected it to, wanted it to, needed it to.
Imagine if the lesson he took from all of this was that the way he gets the respect and adulation he's been expecting to arrive any minute now ever since November 8th, 2016 was to kill someone and announce their death with as much fanfare as possible.
The very real danger with a man like Donald Trump is that if you make him feel like a king, even for a day, then he'll act like one. His idea of a king.
He's not just a cowardly bully, but a shockingly utilitarian one. When he finds something that seems to work, he leans on it again and again. If he found a button that lit up the national applause signs, he'd hit it over and over again until it broke, and then keep hitting it and complain about why it wasn't working.
Every time Trump has a moment's peace... he's going to use it to do something horrible. Every time he feels secure and confident within himself, we'll get something like the abandonment of the Kurds or the firing of someone with the power to check him.
And if he ever gets the idea in his head that the quickest path to a free pass is to kill somebody?
There will be blood.
An ISIS leader, if it is convenient.
But blood all the same, if it is not.
That's the price of letting him have one good day.