Eliot Cohen:

In the end, however, [Trump] will fail. He will fail because however shrewd his tactics are, his strategy is terrible—The New York Times, the CIA, Mexican Americans, and all the others he has attacked are not going away. With every act he makes new enemies for himself and strengthens their commitment; he has his followers, but he gains no new friends. He will fail because he cannot corrupt the courts, and because even the most timid senator sooner or later will say “enough.” He will fail most of all because at the end of the day most Americans, including most of those who voted for him, are decent people who have no desire to live in an American version of Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey, or Viktor Orban’s Hungary, or Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

There was nothing unanticipated in this first disturbing week of the Trump administration. It will not get better. Americans should therefore steel themselves, and hold their representatives to account. Those in a position to take a stand should do so, and those who are not should lay the groundwork for a better day. There is nothing great about the America that Trump thinks he is going to make; but in the end, it is the greatness of America that will stop him.

The one thing to remember about Trump is that he’s a weak man: weak in intellect and weak in character. This doesn’t mean we don’t have to worry, of course: weak men are often very dangerous, especially ones dead set on trying to prove they’re strong. But we should know who we’re dealing with: that weakness has become harder and harder to ignore since January 20. The multiple days of obsessing over comparative crowd sizes. The generally counterproductive jabs at critics. And now the hasty, panicky travel ban, which in its form and execution are proving almost impossible for his staff and party to defend. It’s united Democrats and divided Republicans, while shifting the terms of debate in real ways. Today, Chuck Schumer and Dianne Feinstein sound more like Markos Moulitsas than they did a week ago. Conservative Democrats are not wedging away like they did during the Bush era. The wanton cruelty and arbitrary restrictions of the ban present the GOP’s generational project of advancing xenophobia, Islamophobia and racism in its most unpalatable configuration. Coming so soon after the women’s marches, it’s given the liberal opposition a channel to keep the opposition going, and to expand. Like a lot of internet progressives, I’ve noticed previously apolitical people becoming active thanks to Trump. For all the concern about Trump becoming “normalized,” it is Trump that is the biggest obstacle to that process. This is the first impression of his leadership, for lack of a better term. This will set the stage. And the judges are not impressed.

Trump’s arrogance in believing that he speaks for the people recalls failed presidents like Jimmy Carter and Woodrow Wilson, but while those men were ultimately undone by that arrogance, they at least managed some victories and stretches of popularity in office because they also had some offsetting strengths as well. Trump has no apparent strengths at all. His mind is a mass of defense mechanisms and fuzzy associations, one not up to the task of making sound, complicated decisions. And his character is desperate and needy, one not equipped to handle the crushing blows to the ego that the presidency so regularly delivers. He will ultimately be crushed by the job, I think. Regardless of when that happens, though, he can be beaten, and given what we’re already seeing, I believe he will be.

 

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  1. lumpkin says:

    ….most of those who voted for him, are decent people…

     

    At the moment I’m having a hard time believing this. I think that most of his supporters are cackling gleefully about the misery he’s caused to Muslims. They also enjoyed the Women’s March and all the subsequent pro immigration demonstrations because it’s all proof that Trump is pissing off liberals and the US right wing, more than anything else in life, LIVES for the joy of pissing off liberals.

    • Lev says:

      Well, Cohen is a Republican, so this is unsurprising from him. I think “some of those who voted for him” is the max I can go. Nonetheless, I agree with the overall sentiment.

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