Donald Trump is having a very bad week to go on top of his bad month, bad year, and bad presidency, and it’s showing with every manic tweet and every unhinged statement. As easy as it is to view Trump’s tweetstorms as the rantings of a lavishly paranoid man who’s just discovered the myriad joys of cocaine, his doubling down on absurd “witch hunt” whining is, as always, a tell. As he ratchets up the volume well past 11, you know he feels the heat rising.
For two years, Donald Trump had fun amidst the mess. He reveled in stage-managing a reality-television version of an executive branch staffed by weak-willed and morally vacant appointees selected more for their ass-kissing skills than for any remote talent in governing or even any talent at all. He consumed every ounce of scenery, and his every desire, whim, and impulse were carried out by White House minions unable to say no. Republican Members of Congress may as well have sported “Property of Donald Trump” forehead tattoos.
During those halcyon days, the power of the Republican House was used to obstruct justice, block the Mueller probe into Russia’s pro-Trump efforts, and to attack the intelligence community in order to protect Team Putin. They were a blocking force against investigations into his taxes, finances, and his administration's misdeeds. Trump has never displayed even the most cursory interest in governing or leadership, but he loves the roar of the crowd, the high-fructose smell of the MAGA set jammed into arenas, his long-running pissing match with the media, and trolling the known universe on Twitter. A supine House was his shield.
Donald Trump, a princeling who was raised in luxury, never held accountable for any of his countless personal and business betrayals and failures, and who literally lived in a golden tower for most of his life, is not good with stress. His rage-tweeting shows us that he knows he can’t juggle all the crises steaming toward him, that he knows his astounding power to distort reality for his followers won’t shield him from the political, legal, and personal perils closing in on him.
Playtime is over, and Donald doesn't like it.
The electoral beat-down of the midterm elections left him on political terrain that’s a lot less fun than it was in his first two years. He’s never, ever getting his precious Wall. His legislative agenda just crashed and burned. He’s going to face actual congressional oversight, not a daily foot massage from do-boys like Devin Nunes. The investigatory jackboot is on the other foot now, with subpoenas and reports that can’t be tweeted away or dismissed with a Hannitean roar of “But her emails!”Smart players began selling Trump’s political stock short a while back, as special elections showed race after race decided by revulsion over Trump, and Trumpism. And yet, he sold his credulous, Fox-addled audience visions of a red wave this month. Watching 40 House seats go down in flames during a robust period of economic growth is what losers do. Trump’s road-tested political brand of dodgy nationalist cultism and self-referential ego masturbation failed outside of GOP primaries. The vast majority of general election candidates Trump endorsed lost. Trump’s frenemy and bootlick Ted Cruz even had a near-death experience in Texas. Texas!
Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, states Trump knows are vital to his reelection, are being hit and hit hard by the dumbassery of his trade war, and suburban voters in those states, particularly women, helped elect waves of Democrats to statewide, congressional, and state legislative offices. The worst pressures on Trump come from Robert Mueller. Yes, the Mueller investigation is starting to close its steely trap around the Trump-Russia conspirators, and the notoriously close-mouthed Mueller is speaking with indictments and sentencing memoranda rather than Trumpian tweet whines.
Manafort, who appears to have blown his plea deal by lying to the feds, met with Russian intelligence asset Julian Assange just before his group joined with the GRU to destroy the Clinton campaign, the Guardian reported Tuesday. Wikileaks has denied that meeting took place, but there’s little doubt that Assange—who’s now lost the cat he presumably stroked like some cut-rate Bond villain while holed up inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London—is the subject of a criminal complaint in the U.S.—and that “Wikileaks! We love Wikileaks!” has gone from an applause-line at Trump rallies to a hot wire connecting his campaign and its outside allies like Roger Stone and Jerome Corsi back to Russian intelligence services.
Those answers Trump says he wrote himself, like a big boy, last week to the special counsel’s questions were spun by the grown-ups in his White House as a coda to the investigation. In fact, it now appears that Robert Mueller carefully timed his withdrawal of Manafort’s plea agreement to line up with the president finally turning in his homework. Mueller is careful, methodical, and strategic. His silences are important, disciplined, and consequential. He speaks through the courts, not Twitter.
In New York State, the investigation into Trump’s phony charity and what is alleged to be a multi-generational tax-scam that built the Trump family’s wealth are well under way. Both investigations are making Trump and his spawn nervous; both the former CFO of the Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg, and Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen are singing like birds, drawing out details for prosecutors the president can’t fire. Cohen, even as the White House shows some big-kid discipline for a change and mostly ignores him, is one of the loosest cannons rolling across the deck of the S.S. Trump.
For the better part of two years, Trump was able to take credit for an economy fueled first by the tail end of the Obama/Fed lending boom of the late 2000s and then a sugar rush from last year’s tax bill. Pointing at the stock market like some member of a cargo cult tribe in the South Pacific has become the mainstay of Trump's economic chest-beating. Now, the party is wrapping up, and there are fewer and fewer bright spots on the economic horizon.
Trump's idiotic trade war has led to bankruptcies and economic stress for farmers across the Midwest and northern tier states. GM is closing plants across the country. Trump’s constant credit-grabbing about the economy means there’s nowhere to hide when the credit turns to blame, as much as he’ll cry about the perfidy of the Never Trumpers, George Soros, the media meanies, and the Freemasons.
Even Trump's most reliable defenders on Fox, Breitbart, and social media won’t be able to spin all of this away. There is no grand unified QAnon theory that explains how all the bad things racing headlong toward Donald Trump have nothing to do with him.
Pain—political, economic, and legal pain—is coming to Donald Trump, and he’s earned every bit of it. Go long on popcorn stocks.