Is Trump our first, first-year lame duck president?

This fake maverick who came to clean house is getting his clock cleaned, thanks to his own ignorance-driven fiascos.


Surging backlash defies the great throwback

Talk about lose-lose, with the Special Prosecutor’s damning report still in the wings. Imagine being president of anything (from student council to nursing home club) when only 32% approve – and the trend looks ominous. In only 2/3s of a year 2/3s of America already disown the curious Electoral College pick – and more intensely than any other modern president. That, fellow resisters, is the inexorable greatness of shrinking numbers. 

Plus, neither of the rightwing party’s great boasts, Justice Gorsuch and likely tax giveaways, answer directly to anything Trump advanced, other than being Republican.

Every week broadcasts a new low in loserhood, one after another with no reversal in sight. The depravity is deafening – bottoming this week with his despicable “slut-shaming” of a daring NY senator calling for resignation, alleging she’d do anything to win. Behold the Donald who thus instantly captured his craven core: lying badly about another by proving he will daily do anything to win (even it boomerangs).

In fact, the Trumpster, in addition to grievous appointments and deregulation, has racked up fewer people-helping achievements (none) than any White House newbie in memory. Doesn’t the first year for even terrible presidents-to-be offer glimmers of great promise, even high leverage – exactly the opposite of a lame duck? Dubya took two whole terms before his lies, scandals, and blundering earned him a public dunce cap. But no, not Trump, for which nothing is too good: he has to be bigger, faster, more outrageous – racing unimpeded to eclipse Nixon as our most corrupt, vicious top figure. Soon after inauguration, Trump plunged into his woeful abyss of un-presidentiality, prompting his early lame duckery.

Item: Trump’s infantile (and/or money-driven) fondness for the much savvier Putin, with laughable denials of Russian hacking or campaign collusion, complicity or conspiracy, whatever applies. Item: Trump adamantly refused to dis-own his (allegedly huge) real estate empire, he hid his income and loan sources, then denied wide open conflicts of interests.  Item: not only did he lawlessly fire FBI chief Comey, he then stupidly admitted his self-serving obstructionism to a national audience. Item: the welfare-for-the-rich tax cuts, decided wholly by GOP fat cats, but which he must own, qualify ALREADY as the least popular major legislation in a generation. What is the lame Trump really in charge of, other than offensive, dubious PR stunts?

Item: other than overwrought, aggrieved white folks or fellow autocrats, who hasn’t Trump managed to insult, by design, malice or oblivion? Short list: all critics, the FBI, top intelligence operatives, women, minorities, especially black athletes, Congress, Democrats, and his own modest appointees (in State and Justice). Item: three elections (NJ, VA, and AL) now demonstrate Trump’s alleged clout in swing states (and beyond) is kaput, confirming him as three-time loser, with more to come.

Losing swamps winning

Yes, Trump has executed noxious deregulation along with reactionary judicial appointments; true, he’s disrupted alliances and foreign affairs. But what other president made himself a first year lame duck by squandering the remnants of credibility, trust, and political leverage? Trump’s startling legacy seems uncontested: first, he’s the greatest hustler to take the White House and second, he’s the quickest huckster ever to be exposed and rejected by huge majorities. What happens when national dis-approvers reach 70% or more? Polling hasn’t even digested his full embrace of the worst senate candidate in our history, Roy Moore, nor impacts from a scorned tax bill.

In short, Trump has not (to his arrogant surprise) revoked key laws of politics. Cult politicians, especially celebrity con men, live or die by fame and reputation, and they ignore until too late how fragile these are. Like discredited televangelists, cultist figures can fall as quickly as they rose, and in media-driven politics free fall is not unusual.  Consider how little Trump actually does (other than pander to his base with transparently symbolic ploys, like Jerusalem as Israeli capitol) – and how scandals galore already sap his ability to keep Congress Republican.

Under siege, Trump has only one tiresome ploy, aside from self-destructive tweets: campaign-like circuses to his diminishing base, full of sneering, belligerent calumnies against his enemies du jour. But bullshit lying, repeated ad infinitum, not only corrodes as moral cancer, it’s very, very boring. Seeming “unpredictability” from this most predictable, obsessed hustler has lost whatever entertainment panache it once had, instead for millions confirming mental instability.

Lame duck for the ages

The Trump gross entertainment “pilot” (the campaign) was just flashy and deceptive enough (for the wounded gullible) to seize in theory a four year WH reality show. But what once struck even his fans as refreshingly belligerent (railing against his own crony “elites”) now appears pathological and counterproductive. Fudging is one thing; delusional fantasies that keep denying obvious realities are something else. Even Trump himself sounds weirdly detached when plodding through his own packaged “speeches,” as if he’s seeing the verbiage for the first time.

In short, the opposite of the strong new leader in charge of his own destiny is the compliant, insecure lame duck. Trumpery already comes across as a bad re-run, and we’re not even through one season. This fake maverick who came to clean house is getting his clock cleaned, thanks to his own ignorance-driven fiascos. Only the most singular personality promises to drain the swamp but ends up the drowning lame duck dodging shots right and left. So here is the entire Trump legacy in one word: “boomerang,” resulting not only in a fractured, abbreviated term but the prospect of spending the rest of his life avoiding incarceration and penalties. When a deranged mouse squeaks when he thinks he’s roaring, with cats (like Putin) around, the massive irony is obscured by the dire outcome.

In American mythology, great heroes stand alone against great forces and win victories. In the real world, when immoral over-reachers cross the threshold of criminality, they end up going to jail alone – though here justice may well insist on a family suite. Like the foolish Greek figure, whose wax wings melted when flying too close to the sun (with mortal consequences), Trump’s cornered future looks very different from his golden past. For the sake of the next generation, let’s hope this unbelievably trashy episode delivers some offsetting beneficial messages. A first year lame duck president, so wounded he can’t get off the ground, is a terrible thing to waste. So why not imagine the positives gained from the deluded Trump base who tried to turn a sow’s ear into their own silver purse. Trump’s example allows America, when it joins the resistance, to avoid another such unfit, self-destructive, power-crazed, piggish farm animal at the helm.


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For over a decade, Robert S. Becker's independent, rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, history, implications, messaging and frameworks. He has been published widely, aside from Nation of Change and RSN, with extensive credits from OpEdNews (as senior editor), Alternet, Salon, Truthdig, Smirking Chimp, Dandelion Salad, Beyond Chron, and the SF Chronicle. Educated at Rutgers College, N.J. (B.A. English) and U.C. Berkeley (Ph.D. English), Becker left university teaching (Northwestern, then U. Chicago) for business, founding SOTA Industries, a top American high end audio company he ran from '80 to '92. From '92-02, he was an anti-gravel mining activist while doing marketing, business and writing consulting. Since then, he seeks out insight, even wit in the shadows, without ideology or righteousness across the current mayhem of American politics.