Columns » Ernest Dumas

Ten days



Last week confirmed what was already obvious. The Book of Proverbs was composed as either a primer or an omen for Donald Trump.

You remember many of its warnings from Sunday school: Let another man praise thee, not thy own mouth; pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall; a wrathful man stirreth up strife but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife; boast not of tomorrow for thou knowest not what a day brings forth; whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein; the wicked flee when no man pursueth; labor not to be rich; the braggart who reveals himself to be an ineffectual twit shall cease to be venerated.

OK, the last got left out of the proverbs, but it's a summation of them.

In the most confounding 10 days in presidential history, consider some of what happened.

• The president, who earned his fame for barking "you're fired!" at TV-show contestants (producers actually made the call on whom to fire), repeatedly denounced his attorney general in hopes he would resign and then, when the usually obsequious little man wouldn't, the president's own congressional leaders warned him that if he fired the fellow they wouldn't even allow him a recess appointment, shutting off all but the most dangerous avenues for stopping the Russian probe. Trump went silent.

• He appointed his fourth communications director in six months, a blustering bully self-named "The Mooch," a man who a year earlier had called him a big-mouthed, anti-American hack unfit for the presidency, and then was gleeful when the potty-mouthed Mooch condemned the president's top aides and advisers in normally unprintable language in The New Yorker. He elevated The Mooch above his chief of staff, then got the chief of staff to resign and replaced him with a retired general, whose first act was to demand the president fire The Mooch right then.

• Flouting his campaign promises, Trump announced by Twitter that transgender people could no longer serve in the armed forces, but the Joint Chiefs declared the Trump tweet worthless.

• Having announced days into his presidency that he was putting the finishing touches on a surefire bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, all his succeeding promises that a beautiful health-care plan for everyone was in the offing came to naught when he couldn't get 50 senators to vote for a single stripped-down bill, despite threats to defeat Republicans and harm their states.

• Having declared flatly on Jan. 2 that "it won't happen" when the dictator of North Korea said he would test an intercontinental missile that could plop a nuclear bomb inside the U.S., Trump watched silently as the little tyrant actually fired two ICBMs within a few days, the second with a range that could put a bomb on Trump Tower. Boast not of tomorrow ... .

• Having promised tough reprisals against China for its trade and currency deceptions, Trump met China's president, adored him and asked him to make North Vietnam behave and not test ICBMs. In the week that was, Trump explained sympathetically why China just couldn't do that.

• His big department heads at Defense, State and intelligence agencies along with his UN ambassador regularly follow their own policies, often in direct conflict with the president's. With impunity. The defense secretary flatly contradicts Trump on issue after issue, belligerently after Trump said the U.S. should have taken over Iraq's oil. Abroad, his vice president gives vague lip service to the president's ideas while assuring nations that the United States' real policies are the opposite.

• His grand plan for a giant program to rebuild America's infrastructure and create millions of jobs is a dead letter. Republicans wouldn't let Obama do it and they quietly let Trump know he can't either.

• His own party instantly scrubbed his grand budget overhaul, or the outlines of it, and he surrendered. He pleads that they keep trying to give him a victory on health care before adopting their own budget and tax cuts.

• Still insisting that he doesn't believe Russia meddled in the presidential election or helped him, Trump in the last week of July saw the whole grand scheme collapse. Over his objections, Republicans and Democrats in both houses framed tough sanctions against Russia for its meddling in the election to help Trump and made it impossible for Trump to give Putin the relief he wanted from the sanctions imposed by President Obama. Trump mutely signaled that he would sign it.

• Vladimir Putin recognized in Trump's eager panderings in one meeting and telephone call after another that Trump was not going to be the lifeline he counted on. Having withheld retaliation for Obama's last sanctions in expectation of better times with Trump, Putin imposed his own sanctions, shutting down most of the U.S. diplomatic presence in Russia and starting military movements along the borders of former Soviet client states. Putin's spokesman said the boss now considered Trump "irrelevant." What's next — the Miss Universe hotel clips?

Even with a grizzled old Marine now running his show, this guy is no threat to destroy the democracy or to achieve, well, much of anything beyond some transitory reductions in human rights gains. If you read Proverbs, God told you so.

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