WASHINGTON, D.C. - No visit to the capitol is complete without rubbing elbows with the great and grateful. This week, I found myself at a swanky law firm gathering where I met and chatted with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.
He was a nominee briefly but dropped out. And in January, he described the choice between Donald Trump or Ted Cruz as a choice between "being shot or poisoned".
Now that Trump has triumphed, I asked him this week whether he was warming up to him like other Republicans. "I can't support that guy as President. I'm sitting out until the next one."
Trump is thoroughly unprepared for the job, but a master of its pursuit. He has used Twitter to disintermediate and outmaneuver the Republican Party architecture, critics and the traditional media. His 140-character blurts don't overcome the news cycle, they have become the news cycle. He forces the media to zig and zag in his wake, to to catch up or comment, only to overtake their efforts by posting another Tweet.
As news rooms dash around reporting and commenting on Trump's misogyny or gaffes, he changes the subject. Last week, he threw out 11 possible nominees to the Supreme Court. After the media ran down the backgrounds of the 11, then he said more names would follow.
Were these names plugs for friends or decoys or contestants in his new show, Supreme Court Apprentice?
It's embarrassing but, worse, he's trigger happy.
This week he tweeted, without any evidence, that the disappearance of an Egyptian Air plane was a terrorist act. At press time, the cause remained unknown but Trump's shoot-first-then-ask-questions-later mentality was certainly conduct unbecoming the resident of the White House ... or member of a police force.
He also lacks judgment in picking advisors. Paul Manafort, his chief campaign chair and strategist, made millions between 2007 and 2010 as chief campaign strategist for Viktor Yanukovych, the former President of Ukraine who was driven from office in 2014 by massive street protests after looting billions from the Ukrainian people. He hides under Putin's protection in Russia now.
Another Manafort client was Dmytro Firtash -- a shadowy energy trader who was separately charged in 2014 by US officials with being part of a bribery scheme in India. Firtash is part of Putin's inner circle and Manafort has done business with him in the United States.
Likewise, Trump's pilgrimage to learn about foreign policy from former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, a friend and confidante of Putin's, is another blunder. Kissinger, in an interview, told me two years ago he visited Putin twice a year to discuss policies and considered him a friend.
Given such a "salon", is it any wonder that in December Putin was encouraged to flatter Trump as "talented" - a to which Trump immediately responded: "It is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond."
To say Putin is "respected within his own country and beyond" is breathtakingly ignorant given the scale of murder, mayhem and corruption his Kremlin perpetrates on Ukraine and former Soviet republics as well as in Syria in support of mass murderer Bashar al Ashad.
Similarly, Trump's macro-economic musings are baseless and imprudent, notably his statement that he would renegotiate U.S. debt markets. This, like the fiscal cliff recklessness perpetrated by Republicans a few years, is the policy equivalent of letting toddlers play with matches powerful enough to burn down the global economy.
Facts are Trump is not the cause but the symptom of flaws in America's dysfunctional political architecture. Its pitfall is an American Idol selection process and fixed terms as opposed to the discipline of parliamentary consensus building kept honest by the threat of snap elections.
Thus Donald Trump has become the presumptive Republican entry because of his marketing savvy. He's a rich boy with Madison Avenue moves, armed with a Smart Phone and no policy credentials.
Add to that authoritarian impulses, thanks to a career of running a sole proprietorship, and we have a looming disaster.
But, unfortunately, that is nothing new.
In 2000, policy-challenged George W. Bush captured the highest office in the land against an unlikeable, Clinton-tainted, but experienced Al Gore. He squeaked through then ruled for eight long years.
And we all know how that ended.
FIRST PUBLISHED IN NATIONAL POST MAY 20, 2016
How to vote
Vote-by-mail ballot request deadline: Varies by state
For the Nov 3 election: States are making it easier for citizens to vote absentee by mail this year due to the coronavirus. Each state has its own rules for mail-in absentee voting. Visit your state election office website to find out if you can vote by mail.Get more information
In-person early voting dates: Varies by state
Sometimes circumstances make it hard or impossible for you to vote on Election Day. But your state may let you vote during a designated early voting period. You don't need an excuse to vote early. Visit your state election office website to find out whether they offer early voting.My Election Office
General Election: Nov 3, 2020
Polling hours on Election Day: Varies by state/localityMy Polling Place