Donald Trump second government shutdown

On the State of Disunity

How has the president's promise to unite held up one week later?


A small gathering of political reporters enjoyed their lunch inside a D.C. bar on an abnormally quiet Friday. We had a rare moment to sigh and reflect, and this involved a few beers, naturally. Our conversation turned to covering crime—a previous beat for a few at the table, including me—and how covering crime is an excellent way to prepare for covering politics.

“I’ve seen people lie in the worst circumstances and do so convincingly to most people,” one of the reporters said. “They lie about murder. They lie about everything. It’s disgusting.”

One reporter remembered interviewing a man who was in tears. His wife had been found dead after she apparently went to a convenience store to purchase some milk. A toddler tugged at the father’s feet wondering when Mommy would come home.

The next day the husband got arrested for killing the wife. This and other stories led to the further observation that covering crime is excellent training for covering the Trump administration. “You get to know a lie when you see it.”

As usual, the Trump administration doesn’t disappoint when it comes to lying. If you’re looking for one, you need not look past almost any tweet from President Twitter Litter. Rumors about staffers' frustrations are commonplace. Inside the West Wing, the oppressive atmosphere hangs like an overcoat on a hot summer day. The frustration within the White House is tearing at the already tattered administration in ways Trump can't see—mainly because staffers say he isn’t looking or is afraid to do so. Sycophants tell him “all is well” to placate him until the bad news breaks and then the sycophants tell him “all is well” and that pacifies him again.

Trump’s infatuation and mentoring of Kim Jong Un in North Korea is the latest source of dyspepsia among those in the GOP and those who remain in the White House. But there is little anyone can do about it.

“If I could take away his phone so he couldn’t tweet I really would,” a senior official told me. But no one can do that. He hangs onto tweeting like a dung beetle hangs on to a load of crap, and for about the same reasons. Trump, according to his staffers, firmly believes he maintains his base with every tweet of bilious crap he spews.

Last week it came to light yet another in the administration had had enough. Someone leaked the president’s private schedule, which showed he is about as active as an overweight septuagenarian with heart disease and a bad spray tan can be. The communication staff quickly spun those events.

Donald Trump, we were told, has a “different leadership style” that requires “executive time” to “allow for a more creative environment." When I asked KellyAnne Conway, one of the president’s favorite surrogates, if the White House was going to search for the staffer who leaked the information, she said, “For obvious reasons, nobody cares."

More important, Conway informed reporters that in his State of the Union address, the president would call for unity, compromise and an end to the politics of resistance and retribution.

“Does resistance mean if you resist the president or question him?” I asked.

“Not at all,” she responded.

But Trump’s promise to unite hasn't lasted long. The State of the Union proved to be a delusion possibly spiked by the drugs Trump believes are flowing over the border on the back of illegal immigrants intent on joining gangs and pillaging the countryside. By the next day, Trump was calling Representative Adam Schiff a political hack trying to make a name for himself at a pool spray event. He also joked he had no idea who Schiff was (which actually was kind of funny). And so it continues.

The week ended with Trump being upset about having to get another annual physical. His press staff tried to put a spin on why Trump hasn’t kept to his dietary and exercise regimen outlined in last year’s physical. When Trump reportedly saw the statement his staff wanted to release, he took it and said, “Here’s what you say. I haven’t done it.”

That rare moment of honesty, another staffer tells me, was probably inspired by hunger brought about by the need to fast before his physical. Whatever the cause, by Friday morning White House officials privately said they wanted a “quiet day” for the president. So, as he trudged out of the Oval Office and made his way to Marine One for the short trip up Wisconsin Avenue to Bethesda Naval Hospital, he refused to answer questions. He merely waved at reporters, frowning. I’m sure it had nothing to do with my question.

“Have you talked to the Pecker lately?” I asked about the accusations that David Pecker of National Enquirer tried to blackmail Jeff Bezos, owner of The Washington Post and one of Trump’s least favorite people.

A few hours later, after we reporters finished enjoying our liquid lunch, Trump returned. Again he looked angry. This time as he walked off of Marine One he again declined to answer any questions. He gave a thumbs up when asked if his physical went okay, but got his doctor-mandated exercise on what passed for a Trump sprint to the residence.

“He looks like he’s got a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken and a few McDonald’s cheeseburgers waiting for him at home,” one reporter remarked.

Later that afternoon, likely before his test results were in, the White House released a statement:

"I am happy to announce the President of the United States is in very good health and I anticipate he will remain so for the duration of his Presidency, and beyond,” said no doctor ever save the doctors who examined Trump.

With that, Trump vanished from view, only to resurface on Twitter as his State of the Unity Tour continued. On the weekend, he decried the Democrats in Congress as “vicious ” and claimed the GOP “never acted with such hatred and scorn.” Of course it was another lie.

Senator Mitch McConnell once famously said it was the goal of the Republicans to block President Barack Obama at every turn. The GOP investigations into Hillary Clinton are now legendary. But like the guy who cried crocodile tears at the loss of his wife’s life in front of his own child while it was he who had committed murder, Trump doesn’t care about the reality of anything. He only cares about the chaotic life inside his head.

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