President Trump has never been good at governing, and has never been able to fulfill the mourner-in-chief role. But wasn’t he a better liar and more clever grifter once upon a time?

His shenanigans now create easy layups for his opponents. The Post reports:

On Wednesday, it appears the White House attempted to retroactively justify a tweet that President Trump issued over the weekend in which he warned, erroneously, that Alabama would be affected by Hurricane Dorian.
In a White House video released Wednesday, Trump displays a modified National Hurricane Center “cone of uncertainty” forecast, dated from 11 a.m. on Aug. 29, indicating Alabama would in fact be affected. The graphic appears to have been altered with a Sharpie to indicate a risk the storm would move into Alabama from Florida.

This is just dumb. People understand something as simple as “He doctored the map?!” It’s both trivial and serious (his followers still pay attention), and so petty, that we are reminded Trump’s ego is more frail than ever. In trying to deny wrongdoing or error, he cannot help but underscore his mistakes — and then double down with a blatant lie.

His opponents can barely contain their glee with the bread crumbs Trump has scattered down the path to impeachment (or prosecution, or defeat in 2020). In a written statement released Wednesday night, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) blasted Trump’s egregious self-dealing:

First, Trump suggested holding the [Group of Seven] Summit at his Doral golf resort in Florida.
Now, the White House is walking back their previous statements that Trump personally suggested [Vice President] Pence stay at his Doonbeg hotel in Ireland, which would be yet another example of the President’s self-dealing.
Vice President Pence promised that their Administration would defend the Constitution and stand by a “strict constructionist” interpretation of the Constitution. Instead the Trump-Pence Administration is ignoring the text itself and selling out the Constitution to line Trump’s pockets.

Pelosi then goes on to list his offenses in a concise terms, perfect for a cut-and-paste into articles of impeachment:

• Violating the Constitution, Emoluments Clause: President Trump is violating the domestic and foreign emoluments clause of the Constitution by accepting and encouraging foreign governments to pay to stay at Trump resort properties without Congressional approval. More than 200 Members of Congress are fighting in the courts to defend our Constitution and put an end Trump’s abuse of power.
• Influence Peddling: Three members of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago inner circle of billionaire donors have undue influence over policy, projects and decision making by VA leadership, including impacting a $10 billion dollar contract.
• American Taxpayers Footing Bill for Trump’s Extravagance: According to the GAO, Trump’s trips to Mar-a-Lago cost, on average costs $3.4 million per visit and his golf outings have cost taxpayers at least $105 million as of July 2019 due to security expenses, travel on Air Force [One] and Marine One and the frequency of his games.
• Trump Exploits Undocumented Workers: For decades, the Trump organization exploited undocumented immigrants to pad its bottom line. It did so in possible violation of civil and criminal law. And yet, the Trump Administration hypocritically attacks immigrants to score political points and refuses to work constructively with Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform that would help bring undocumented workers out of the shadows.
• Suspected Chinese Spy Causes National Security Threat at Mar-a-Lago: Trump’s properties are a national security risk, between a “credible threat” of espionage when a suspected Chinese spy gained access to Mar-a-Lago and Trump’s reckless handling of sensitive information during publicly-attended events at his properties.

And then, Trump goes forward with his unilateral scheme to lift money from disaster funds and Pentagon projects to fund a border wall that will never be built (the litigation will take years): “The Pentagon is defunding Hurricane Maria recovery projects at military installations in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to pay for President Trump’s border barrier and is also taking money from construction projects across Europe designed to help allies deter Russia.” Moreover, the president is also taking money out of Republican states and districts, the perfect fodder for Democratic campaign ads in 2020. (“The details of the 127 military construction projects that stand to lose funding to free up $3.6 billion for fencing and barriers on the southern border with Mexico were made public late Wednesday by the Defense Department. The list features projects in 23 states, three U.S. territories and 20 countries.”)

The list of delayed/unfunded programs reads like a list of “things voters like the military to get money for” — schools on military bases, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., a “cyber ops facility” in Virginia and a missile-defense field expansion, to name a few. Trump’s not even savvy enough to spare Republicans at risk in 2020:

One of the Senate’s most endangered Republicans in the 2020 election, Arizona Sen. Martha McSally, reported that her state is getting nicked for just $30 million from a project that was being delayed anyway. Georgia, where two potentially competitive Senate races loom next year, would be spared entirely, though powerful Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., himself facing reelection, would lose a $63 million middle school at Fort Campbell.

What good is being elected the majority leader of the Senate if he cannot even protect a school for military families?

No wonder so many Republicans are announcing their retirements. On Wednesday, Reps. Bill Flores (Tex.), along with F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (Wis.), the second-longest-serving House member, said they wouldn’t run for reelection. The number of Republican retirements in the House is now up to 12, including two of only 13 Republican congresswomen.

Trump is flailing so he compounds errors, makes new ones at an alarming rate and manages to outrage the Republicans whose support he needs. About the only comparable case of political malpractice comes from Britain, where Trump’s favorite right-wing populist buddy, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, lost control of Parliament and, in key votes, saw his opponents reject a no-deal Brexit and his call for early elections, leaving him a pathetic figure with few cards to play. At this rate, Johnson likely will make his predecessor, Theresa May, look like Winston Churchill — whose grandson Johnson just kicked out of the Conservative Party — by comparison.


There we have the twin populists, full of bravado and short on logic and facts, both in a political death spiral of their own making. If only someone had warned their supporters they were making Faustian bargains with incompetent devils.

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