After two weeks in office it has become clear that President Donald Trump is not going to change his impulsive and narcissistic ways. As a result, political leaders from both parties in Washington, as well as American allies around the world, are unsettled with the abnormal and unpredictable behavior coming from the president and they are beginning to speak out.
Powerful Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell admonished the president in an interview on CNN Sunday for his Twitter attack on the federal judge who temporarily stopped Trump’s travel ban. “It is best not to single out judges,” McConnell said. “We all get disappointed from time to time. I think it is best to avoid criticizing them individually.” The Kentucky Republican said he would not consider legislation to institute the travel ban, adding, “I think proper vetting is important, but there is a fine line here between proper vetting and interfering with the kind of travel or suggesting a religious test.”
McConnell also contradicted Trump’s allegation that there was massive voter fraud in last November’s election, a charge the president has repeated even though he was elected. “There is no evidence it occurred in such a significant number that would have changed the presidential election,” McConnell said. “And I don’t think we ought to spend any federal money investigating that.”
McConnell also responded to comments Trump made in an interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly in which Trump said he respected Russian President Vladimir Putin. O’Reilly followed up, noting, “Putin is a killer.” Trump replied, “There are a lot of killers. We have a lot of killers. Well, you think our country is so innocent?” McConnell told CNN, “(Putin’s) a former KGB agent, a thug, not elected in a way most people consider to be a credible election.” Republican Senator Marco Rubio also responded to Trump, Tweeting, “When has a Democratic political activist been poisoned by the GOP, or vice versa? We are not the same as Putin.”
Trump’s comments about Putin seem particularly jarring when compared to his treatment of American allies. Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto found himself sparring with Trump over the border wall that the president promised to build and have Mexico pay for. The result was the cancellation of a face-to-face White House meeting and a long phone conversation in which both leaders agreed to stop quarreling over the subject. Trumps border wall tirades have rallied the Mexican people behind their unpopular president.
Australia has been a fervent and loyal American ally for decades. In an interview over the weekend with 60 Minutes Australia, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull described his phone conversation with Trump as “the worst call ever.” Turnbull had informed the president of a deal brokered with President Barack Obama to take 1250 refugees, largely Iranians and Iraqis, that Australia had been criticized for holding off shore. “It’s a deal obviously that President Trump has said he wouldn’t have entered into, but he is committed to honor it.” Following the call Trump Tweeted, “Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal.” Of course they are not “illegal” and it wasn’t “thousands.” A senior administration official later explained that Trump was concerned that the deal was going to hurt him politically.
Trump’s erratic behavior has even left many people in senior positions within the administration confused. As a result, they are selectively leaking stories to the press. Trump gets a lot of his information from television, so some leakers may be trying to get their views across to the president.
There has never been a presidential transition like this in American history. Amidst the flurry of executive orders, cabinet appointments, world crises, and early morning Tweets since Trump took office there is a sense of chaos and a palpable mood of uncertainty about what will come next. On Sunday afternoon Trump renewed his attack on the judge who blocked the travel ban. “Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such in such peril” he said on Twitter. “If something happens blame him and the court system. People pouring in. Bad!”
Is this all the way you will make America great again Mr. President? Really?