To say the Trump administration is clueless is to insult a mediocre Hollywood movie. After all in “Clueless” Alicia Silverstone said, “. . .in conclusion may I please remind you it does not say R.S.V.P. on the Statue of Liberty.”
President Donald Trump is neither that witty nor that naïve. He is, however devious and conniving. His staff is merely clueless.
Standing in the Rose Garden last week I had the news makeup artist scream at me to shut up while I asked a question of the president. After I admonished her to refrain from telling me how to do my job, I went back to trying to get the question answered.
Friday as the press was being briefed by a “Top Administration Official,” on background, the official told us the theme of the President’s State of The Union Address was “Building a Safe, Strong and Proud America.”
I was moved to ask if the President had ever heard the Ben Franklin quote about those willing to sacrifice liberty for safety deserve neither. The response: “Americans have gained liberty through deregulation.”
When I got done laughing at the non sequitur it occurred to me what I’ve really witnessed during the last year of the Trump Administration: An administration with a huge learning curve to overcome, staffed with people from The Apprentice, party hacks who sold their souls to remain close to the flame, a few questionable souls trying to hold the whole thing together – and a makeup artist.
As we cruise into the second year of the Trump administration, even he admits he’s found things far more difficult than he thought. In a very rare bit of reflection, in an afternoon lunch with network anchors, Trump had this to say Tuesday afternoon: “I would consider it a great achievement if we could make our country united. If I could unite the country – That’s not an easy thing to do because the views are so divergent.”
He followed that with, “I think I’ve learned — I’ve really learned a lot. You know, governing — when you’re a businessperson, you don’t have to worry about your heart, the heart. You really do what’s best for you — you know, for almost purely monetary reasons. You know, you make your money. You competing against people. In many cases, you don’t like them, you want to beat, and all that stuff.
And I built a great company — far better than anybody at this table says. I mean, I have some of the greatest assets in the world. I’ve built a great company.
And when you’re — in doing what I’m doing now, a lot of it is heart, a lot of it is compassion, a lot of it is far beyond money — such as immigration, such as the things we’re talking about. From a purely economic standpoint — if I was doing this purely from an economic standpoint, I would sit down and tell you in one second what I’d be doing, okay? It’s so simple.
But I’m not. I’m doing it because millions of people are affected. I mean, I just — I put myself in their position. Millions and millions of people are affected, (reporter name removed). So it’s much different, in that way, than I thought it would be.”
The president, in other words, admitted in an off-hand fashion just how ill-prepared he was for the job he was elected to do.
That is little solace for the country – particularly as Trump rips apart the Justice Department in his zeal to squelch the Mueller investigation that threatens to end his presidency.
But at the end of the day, without getting ahead of the curve too much, Donald Trump looks less and less like a Darth Vader and more like a Jar Jar Binks – as clueless and hapless as they come. A tragic figure of ineptitude, callousness, hard-heartedness and vindictiveness.
Okay, Call him Jar-Jar Vader.
He certainly isn’t Alicia Silverstone.
At least she understood immigration issues.