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The Impeachment Story Proves It Again: Trump Is No Strategic Genius

He is not some omnipotent political mastermind. Attacks on his integrity, competence, appearance, or anything else that he's sensitive about will drive him nuts and sow chaos in his administration.

Trump's flailing, incompetent White House emerges quite naturally from basic aspects of Trump's personality—his vanity, his ignorance, his sloppiness, his cowardice, and above all his all-consuming narcissism. (Photo: Illustrated | SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images, JimLarkin/iStock, DickDuerrstein/iStock)

Trump's flailing, incompetent White House emerges quite naturally from basic aspects of Trump's personality—his vanity, his ignorance, his sloppiness, his cowardice, and above all his all-consuming narcissism. (Photo: Illustrated | SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images, JimLarkin/iStock, DickDuerrstein/iStock)

The last week has seen the Trump administration more rattled than at any previous time in its existence. The developing story that Trump attempted to blackmail Ukraine into digging up dirt on the Biden family by withholding military aid prompted rare initiative from the Democratic Party in the form of an impeachment inquiry. The White House then released a memorandum describing the phone call in question which was clearly intended to deflate the story but instead largely confirmed it. Then the White House accidentally emailed its impeachment talking points to a bunch of Democrats.

He's whining like a spoiled child and lashing out at everyone around him, which is leading to tactical errors and dissent within the administration, as Trump's cronies get nervous and start thinking about saving their own skins.

Then on Thursday, after the whistleblower complaint that started the whole thing off was released, sparking another media firestorm, Trump attended a private event in New York where he whined a lot and speculated that the whistleblower and/or their sources of information should maybe be killed—which we know because somebody there made a recording and leaked it to the media immediately.

It's an object lesson in how Trump can be put on the defensive. He is not some omnipotent political mastermind. Attacks on his integrity, competence, appearance, or anything else that he's sensitive about will drive him nuts and sow chaos in his administration.

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Trump's flailing, incompetent White House emerges quite naturally from basic aspects of Trump's personality—his vanity, his ignorance, his sloppiness, his cowardice, and above all his all-consuming narcissism. He gets absolutely furious when people are either paying attention to things other than him or when they're directing anything other than lavish praise his way. He neither knows nor cares to know anything but the very sketchiest details about policy matters, much less turning the vast federal bureaucracy to his own purposes. The ideal presidency for him would be softball interviews from the stooges at Breitbart and The Federalist asking him which one of his amazing accomplishments is the best, punctuated by rounds of golf where his opponents let him win.

This extends to how Trump treats his nominal allies—namely, "like toys a rich kid got for Christmas." People who work for him tend to get used up or tossed aside at the slightest (or no) provocation, because Trump has no loyalty to anything aside from himself and compulsively blames others for his own failures. But on the other hand, he is (ironically) too soft and non-confrontational to actually fire people in person; he always has to have someone else do it for him.

Read full article here.

Ryan Cooper

Ryan Cooper

Ryan Cooper is a national correspondent at TheWeek.com. His work has appeared in the Washington Monthly, The New Republic, and the Washington Post.

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