(Tom Toles)

Animal analogy quiz: Is President Trump like a fox who knows many things, or like a hedgehog, who knows one big thing? Is he crazy? Or crazy like a fox? Is he guarding the henhouse, or a fox guarding the henhouse?

Answer: He is like a crazy hedgehog intimidating the chickens.

Trump does not know many things. But he knows what he doesn’t like. He doesn’t like restrictions on his whims. This is the one thing we need to understand about him, too. He will undermine or fire anyone or anything that restricts his whims, whenever he gets the chance.

And don’t let him distract you with the unending clouds of chaos he churns up. The chaos does two things. It draws attention to him, which he likes, but that’s not the important part. The chaos gives him opportunities to weaken the forces that restrict his whims. The restrictions are eliminated, one by one. Only the intimidated chickens remain.

Yes, the policy apparatus of the U.S. government is being unraveled. Yes, the faith in U.S. sanity and leadership in the world is being shattered. Yes, the factual basis for policy decisions is being eradicated. Yes, the wisdom and guidance of good people are being driven away. Are these signs of trouble for Trump?

No. They are signs of progress. He may not think of it in these terms, if he thinks about it at all. What he notices is that his whims have greater space to manifest themselves, and the number of people in the vicinity who will restrict him are fewer. Is he making progress? Let us count the ways. The entire legislative branch of government is run by the Republican Party, which gave up and became the Trump Party with barely a wiggle or a whimper. Intimidated chickens, all of them. The executive branch is slowly divesting itself of honest patriots and becoming Trump’s playpen, populated by opportunists and appeasers. Intimidated chickens.

Trump’s voting base is happy to unload all its blandished moral scruples about behavior, from personal to financial, to make his way easy. They are even just about ready to cast our democracy out into the darkness, and they are neither weeping nor gnashing their hen’s teeth as they do it.

And all these people share, to a greater or lesser degree, one thing in common. Not only do they align themselves with Trump’s whims as needed; they also are increasingly willing to circumvent or eradicate the institutional checks on his whims as well. Witness the GOP record of “investigating” his actions. What will the party’s behavior be when special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation approaches the crisis point for Trump? You know what their proclivity is already.