It’s an overused expression, but it fits President Donald Trump. He just can’t stand prosperity. He is indeed his own worst enemy. He survived the partisan attempt to remove him from office during an election year. He emerged from a Senate impeachment trial which Democrat leaders hoped would at least diminish his chances for re-election and saw his approval rating grow higher while Democrats remain deeply divided over who, if anyone, can defeat him in November.
A normal person in this position would savor his good fortune, bask in warmth of victory, focus on his administration’s considerable accomplishments, display some humility and, above all, avoid doing or saying anything stupid. Alas, Mr. Trump is not a normal person. He can’t seem to act presidential for more than a few moments at a time and seems more addicted to social media than a teenager. His unrestrained tweeting habits are becoming tiresome and self-defeating.
The latest episode in the adventures of Donald Trump, Amateur President, began, of course, with his favorite pastime of tweeting whatever happens to be on his mind. This time, it was his views regarding the fairness or lack thereof of certain Justice Department criminal case sentencing recommendations, notably in the case of his friend and former advisor, Roger Stone. This was apparently, the last straw for Attorney General William Barr who issued a public statement of his own.
Mr. Barr said that the president’s tweets and public statements regarding such matters make it impossible for him (Barr) to do his job and that “it’s time for him to stop tweeting about Justice Department criminal cases.” Barr’s complaint about his boss’s tweets came during an interview with ABC, during which he also added that the president never asked him to intervene in any criminal case.
It was reported that Mr. Barr’s Justice Department had already concluded that Stone’’s recommended sentence was excessive and had decided to rescind it before the president’s ill-timed tweet. But the close timing enabled Democrats to claim that Barr was taking orders from the White House. Mr. Trump acknowledged that his tweets did make it harder for the Attorney General to do his job but that he had a perfect right to do so.
Well, of course he does. Like any other cabinet member, Mr. Barr serves at the pleasure of the president. That goes for anyone else in the administration, including military officers and career bureaucrats who may think they’re indispensable. But having the right to do something doesn’t mean it’s wise to do it. William Barr is probably the best and strongest Attorney General we’ve had since the last time he served in that position under President George H. W. Bush. Few people in his position would have the guts to publicly criticize his boss. Can you imagine Eric Holder, who shamelessly campaigned for Barrack Obama’s re-election or Loretta Lynch, who looked the other way when James Comey was exceeding his authority, doing that? Democrat and media outrage over alleged improper influence is laughable. Where was the outrage when President John F. Kennedy nominated his brother as attorney general?
Mr. Trump needs Mr. Barr much more than Mr. Barr needs this thankless job for the second time. If William Barr resigns it will be another critical loss in this revolving door administration, many of them over the president’s public criticisms of his own people. He is not good at managing or retaining people and it shows. But what did we expect from a TV celebrity whose most memorable line was “You’re fired”?
In addition to his sub-par human resources management skills, he is deficient in communications skills. He uses social media because the mainstream media is biased against him, does not report on him objectively and does not give him credit for anything. I understand his frustration but his tweets are compulsive and not well thought out. They may become his undoing.
Legendary actor, director (and former mayor of Carmel) Clint Eastwood put it well in a recent interview with Tunku Varadarajan in the Wall Street Journal. He approves of certain things that Trump’s done, he says, but wishes the president “would act in a more genteel way without tweeting and calling people names… (or) bringing himself to that level.”