Pity the President

I never, not in a million years, thought I could ever, would ever, feel sorry for Donald Trump.

Even paranoids have real enemies. Which explains why, since the double whammy of Bob Woodward’s new book, Fear, and the infamous, anonymous op-ed in the NY Times, “The Quiet Resistance Inside the Trump Administration,” it’s become chillingly clear that the president is surrounded by intimates and aides who are willing to betray him.

“Treason?” the president tweeted in his reactive rage. Well, he’s not far off. Those of his subordinates who go behind his back are not guilty of political treachery, but they are guilty of personal treachery. From his perspective, from the perspective of the leader, none of his followers, not a single one of them, can reliably be trusted.

What could be worse? No matter how highly positioned, leaders depend, absolutely, on reasonably faithful followers. Without such subordinates they are lost, ineffectual to the point of being powerless. Here, moreover, we have a situation in which the president is ignorant. He has no idea really on whom he can depend and on whom he cannot. He is in maze of his own making – with no way out.

This is what we now know:

  • “Many” of the president’s closest subordinates cannot be relied on personally to support him.
  • “Many” of the president’s closest subordinates cannot be relied on politically to support him.
  • “Many” of the president’s closest subordinates cannot be relied on to follow his orders.
  • “Many” of the president’s closest subordinates cannot be relied on to implement his policies.
  • “Many” of the president’s closest subordinates concur he is unstable and amoral.
  • “Many” of the president’s closest subordinates concur he is incapable and ineffective.
  • “Many” of the president’s closest subordinates support and participate in a “two-track presidency.”
  • “Many” of the president’s closest subordinates have “vowed” to “thwart” his “worst impulses.”
  • Some of the president’s closest subordinates have explored invoking the 25th amendment – they think him that much of a threat to the national welfare.

Relationships between leaders and followers are as inextricable as they are inevitable. Put yourself then in the president’s shoes. In the shoes of this man who, however deeply and even fatally flawed, is surrounded by not a single subordinate on whom he can completely and comfortably rely. Pity a man who cannot know if he has a single faithful friend. Pity a president who cannot know if he has a single faithful follower.

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