Money can’t buy Trump love

So how’s that first overseas adventure as president going, Donny? It certainly has been cringe worthy but actually so far not as bad as I feared. It felt good to send Trump overseas for nine days. The country needed a breather from our president, which is why I wasn’t tuning into him as much as I usually do. Still, it’s been plenty memorable if not quite a total disaster:

  • Check out the weird photos of Trump putting his hands on a glowing Palantir in Saudi Arabia
  • His (and Melania’s) short and meaningless handwritten note in a book at the Israeli Holocaust memorial that had nothing to say about the Holocaust
  • His sniping at NATO ministers because he says they aren’t paying their share of NATO’s costs, which is not quite true not to mention his pushing of the prime minister of Montenegro aside so he could be stand prominently in their group picture
  • The pallid look on Pope Francis’ face trying to be nice with The Donald, which must have reminded him of Jesus carrying the cross to Calvary
  • Trump’s calling Germans “very bad” for having a trade surplus with the United States
  • His whining about how exhausted he is, this from a guy who said Hillary Clinton was “low energy” but who visited more countries than any Secretary of State before her and was constantly suffering from jet lag

Trump will wish he were still overseas when he comes home. While he’s been away there’s been more steady news and leaks about the FBI’s investigation into potential collaboration between Russia and the Trump campaign. These include today’s shocker that his son-in-law Jared Kushner sought to establish a back channel with Russia last December. Meanwhile while he’s overseas I confess I have spent more time watching his wife Melania, hitherto mostly hidden in Trump Tower in New York.

Perhaps it’s unwise to read too much into body language, but it is a window into the soul. And what’s abundantly clear is that Melania loathes her husband. In Israel, he tried grabbing her hand deplaning and she reflexively pushed it aside. Take two deplaning in Rome and she finds it convenient to straighten a lock of her hair with her left hand. (She is right handed. Apparently she got the message and found a way to stay true to herself without being so overtly spurning.) I shouldn’t be surprised since actions speak louder than words. What I see is that she doesn’t like him. I’m not sure there ever was real love between them but perhaps there was a little in the beginning. In any event they sired a son appropriately named Barron. Trump got his trophy wife, but all he really got was a very expensive bit of arm candy. He got nothing that turned him into an empathetic human being. Perhaps Melania tried but soon realized he was a lost cause.

I’ll bet you anything they don’t have a sex life. Maybe in his fifties Trump had enough in the way of looks (and less weight) to attract a woman. Reportedly, Melania first called him when he gave her his card. That was about fifteen year ago and probably minus forty pounds and a couple of extra jowls too. In any event, there has been zero chemistry between them while overseas.

Today, Trump is not attractive but remains the mess of a man he has been all his life, just more so. He’s clearly added weight since taking office. He’s not at William Howard Taft levels (Taft was 340 pounds), but oddly enough doesn’t look too far behind Taft. Trump is apparently having problems with the White House staircases and is taking elevators instead. He canceled a visit to Masada in Israel on Monday because they wouldn’t allow the presidential helicopter to land on the sacred site. The real reason: he couldn’t make it up stairs to the site.

Trump does have money, and presumably that was important to Melania when she decided to marry him. It’s true she made a decent living as a model before marrying him, but she wasn’t in high demand mainly because she could not be emotionally expressive like most models need to be. Now that she is married she has chosen to keep her distance from Donald. So far it’s been mostly a geographical distance. That should change if she follows through with a planned move to the White House with Barron this summer. And then she will keep practicing what she has done so well on this trip so far: keeping an emotional distance from her husband. And who could blame her? Even Trump’s fans acknowledge that Trump is barely civilized, but mostly he is impulsive and intensely irritating. He’s no fun to be around, as his staff will attest. So I expect Melania will keep running away from Trump as much as humanly possible.

So much for the natural intimacy and affection we got used to between Barack and Michelle Obama. It was clear that they were deeply and passionately in love. They could hardly keep their hands off each other. I’m not sure what kind of love exists between Donald and Melania but it sure looks like there is no there there.

As we learned from Paul McCarthy, money can’t buy you love, and it sure looks like it hasn’t bought Trump any love. From this trip it looks at best like he got a half-hearted dutifulness from Melania. Perhaps he should start shopping for wife number four. Maybe he already has and that’s why Melania is obviously keeping her distance. It wouldn’t surprise me if before his presidency collapses that Melania discreetly runs for the exit door.

It looks like the Republican Party looks might Bull Moose itself again

And so it has begun. The conventional wisdom was that following Donald Trump’s defeat November 9 along with the likely loss of the Senate and possibly the House, the Republican Party would thrash and moan as they tried and likely failed to pick up the pieces and become an effective political party again. If you read me regularly you will have read this post where I tried to figure out whether this election would cause the Republican Party to just buckle or fall apart altogether.

What I did not expect when I wrote that post was that this would happen well before the actual election. Yes, the Republican Party is already disintegrating and of course you can thank Donald J. Trump for this. He spent most of the day lashing out at establishment Republicans like House Speaker Paul Ryan and Arizona Senator John McCain. Ryan won’t campaign with Trump anymore (while not rescinding his endorsement of him) but authorized any Republican member of the House to tack away from Trump where it makes sense. McCain is just one of the more prominent Republicans in Congress to say he won’t be voting for Trump. So perhaps it’s not surprising that the easily wounded and vainglorious Trump would lash out against these Republicans today. In his usual way-over-the-top tweets, he said these Republicans were actually worse than “Crooked Hillary”.

Ryan’s actions are entirely logical, at least for someone who is trying to maintain the Republican majority in the House. Ryan may be an ardent Republican but he knows how to add up the political math: Clinton will be the president elect, Democrats are likely to retake the Senate and if Clinton wins by seven percent or more the odds are Democrats will retake the House too. If Republicans lose the House, it means he won’t be speaker and given that the Tea Party will form the bulk of the diminished Republican minority he’ll be lucky to end up as minority leader. Being out of power really sucks so it makes complete sense for Republicans to cut their losses if it’s not too late.

Trump though does not operate logically. His feelings are hurt and he is in denial about his impending loss. People in denial go through predictable phases and he’s in the “lash out at anyone who dares to speak the truth” phase, which ironically will make not only his loss worse but aggravate it for all Republicans up for election.

It’s not too hard to predict what will happen the day after Election Day too. Trump is unlikely to concede but he is likely to call the election fraudulent. There may be civil unrest from Trump supporters, as I also blogged about. I do expect on Election Day that Trump “observers” will try to prevent voting or harass voters, at least in precincts with heavily minority communities. While Trump is unlikely to accept defeat, he can’t change the outcome. But what he can do instead is lash out at the Republican Party for not sufficiently falling in behind him. He will make establishment Republicans take the blame for his loss. Why is this not only likely but also almost certain? It’s because Trump never takes the blame for anything.

Clearly Trump commands a lot of loyal followers. They shout themselves hoarse at his rallies when they are not beating up on journalists and Trump protestors. He is the poster child for non-college educated whites. Since he lives for attention he’ll have every incentive in the world to become their champion. And since the Republican Party has failed him, he is likely to “fix” the Republican Party by taking his followers with him. In short, I think he’s likely to go full Bull Moose on Republicans after the election.

If so, this won’t be the first time the Republican Party has nearly cracked up. In 1912 former president Teddy Roosevelt (a Republican) joined the then relatively nascent Progressive Party. His endorsed Republican successor (and running mate) William Howard Taft proved insufficiently progressive after winning the presidency. The Progressive Party became the Bull Moose Party and Teddy became its nominee for president. The result 104 years ago was that Democrat Woodrow Wilson won instead, with Teddy a distant second and Republican Taft getting just eight electoral votes. Teddy got even with Taft, but lost the election in the process.

If this scenario plays out again after this election, Democrats will get yet another gift. It’s not hard to see Trump running again in 2020 but under his own party label, leaving whatever traditional Republicans are left to nominate their own candidate. If this happens Republicans will be in the trenches fighting other former Republicans instead of opposing Democrats, making Democrats hands on favorites in most races to win. The 2020 election might result in a Congress that would look familiar to Tip O’Neill when he was speaker in the 1980s; he commanded a huge majority of House Democrats. It also bodes well for Democrats in 2020 senate races too. This would be good for them because they will be defending more seats than Republicans that year.

The likely outcome of all this probably won’t fatally fracture the Republican Party. New parties face daunting odds and Republicans will still have an infrastructure in place for nominating, supporting and winning races, which is what the Bull Moose Party eventually figured out when they slowly came back to the Republican Party. This infrastructure is not easily duplicated. Given Trump’s poor management skills he would be uniquely ill suited to try to create a winning party under his own brand. While Republican chaos reigns, and particularly if Hillary Clinton and a Democratic Congress can institute real change, Democrats have the opportunity to profit handsomely from the chaos. Given the Democratic Party’s history, their odds are slim, but Democrats now lean far more to the left than they did eight years ago. It’s not out of the question.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed. The next few years could be glorious ones for Democrats, reset the rules of Washington and actually bring about the end to gridlock that Americans want. If so, it will be the Republican Party’s implosion that will make it possible.

Thanks in advance, Donald.