It's becoming increasingly clear with every passing day that Donald Trump does not give a flying fuck through a rolling doughnut about being president* beyond the office's ability to satisfy his thirst for publicity. And maaaaan, is he one thirsty motherfucker:
"By his own lights, Trump is behaving rationally. He knows people hate the Democrats – and they hate the Republicans. Their specific reasons for hating each only interest him insofar as they direct his exploitation of each.
He shows his opposition to the Democrats by appealing to white voters' racism and uneducated voters' resentment of the professional class – and by stirring the Democrats to show their opposition to him. He distances himself from the Republicans by publicly insulting them – and by stirring their opposition as well, wimpy though it may be. (Whatever you think of Sheetcake Tina Fey, she's right about Paul Ryan and everyone knows it.)
That way, no matter whom the voter despises, there's a good chance he or she will remember that Trump despises them too and, if they're dumb enough, count it as a point in his favor.
What about blowback? The Democrats Trump doesn't have to worry about. The Republicans do have the power to harm him, but they're not idiots. His harsh words mean nothing to them. They just want their agenda passed.
So this Trump does lavishly: He supports every feature of the conservative agenda – from tax breaks from the wealthy to persecution of the underprivileged – and enables the looting of the federal government by Republican donors to an unprecedented degree.
As with his gross properties, he lays it on absurdly thick. Trump is not a traditional politician who horse-trades on a per-horse basis; he doesn't withhold some little bauble as a way of tempting his adversary to put up an equally modest bauble of his own. The ideal situation for most dealmakers is to come out ahead on a trade, but Trump's ideal to get something without paying for it. And he gets things without paying for them by giving the impression of endless largesse available to you if you play ball. He runs his White House grift like a luxury hotel. He keeps the goodies coming – room service, dry cleaning, concierge perks, etc., all comped – and leaves it to you to decide whether you want to risk having it all taken away."
The only thing more repugnant than dealing with Trump's orange monkey-ass is the bullshit "damned if you do, damned if you don't" attitude of Republican strategists about the whole thing. I've seen more spine in a banana slug.
"Of all the aggrieved elites disoriented by Trump, none face a trickier calculation than the dark artists of the right, whose conspiratorial powers have always been oversold. Trump wouldn’t be president today if political operatives had a scintilla of the pull imagined by the commander-in-chief. It is true, however, that they don’t like the president all that much. They’re worried about his tweeting; his tone; his behavior; his character (or lack thereof)—ill will reinforced by his widely condemned response to an uprising of white supremacists and anti-Semites in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left one counter-demonstrator dead. They fret about Trump’s long-term impact on the Republican Party, on the country, and what his rise means for America’s international standing as the leader of the free world. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen them lower.
Yet in meeting after meeting, Republican consultants have had one consistent message for clients and prospective clients running for office in 2018. It’s a message they tell me will not change, even after the avalanche of criticism directed at Trump by fellow Republicans for his failure to immediately condemn the racists who gathered in Charlottesville and his decision to conflate them with counter-protesters. “Your heart tells you that he’s bad for the country. Your head looks at polling data among Republican primary voters and sees how popular he is,” said one Republican strategist who, like most of the nearly two dozen I interviewed for this story, requested anonymity in order to speak candidly and protect their clients. “It would be malpractice not to advise clients to attach themselves to that popularity."
The whole Republican Party needs to be ridden out of D.C. on a rail. Period. If the American public wants any chance of becoming something other than a third-world country just like the ones we've created in the global South, nothing less will suffice.