Through a plastic ball darkly
On the one hand, we have this:
But we do seem to be seeing a group of normal people - I use this term advisedly and in a very broad sense - trying to create a functioning administration, at least on the foreign policy front around Trump, in spite of Trump.
And I think Josh Marshall is exactly right:
Donald Trump will never become normal. He's a psychically damaged, impulsive, clownish man. He'll never change. The Russia scandal of which he is the epicenter continues to metastasize with a mix of counter-intelligence, law enforcement and congressional inquiries. That's not going away. At the same time, the people who were at the center of it are going away, or at least they are being reduced in their power and influence. Bannon and Flynn - whatever their role in the Russia scandal - are both people who embodied the melange of extremism and corruption which typified Trump and his campaign. Slowly but surely those people are being pushed from the center of power.
Let us say "institutional Washington" is beginning to assert itself within the White House. That was inevitable. Just as Trump can't present the Chancellor of Germany with a bill for NATO (we don't "own" NATO, the countries in the treaty don't pay fealty to the U.S.), neither can he change circumstances in Syria, no matter how upsetting the reports of chemical weapons are to him. NPR interviewed Michelle Flournoy, formerly of the Obama administration. She insisted Assad had to go, but also insisted that wasn't a problem that could be solved on the battlefield. As Obama understood, there really is no solution to Syria that presents a clean conclusion. Force Assad out, diplomatically or militarily, and there will still be a fight for power. It doesn't matter how the ruler leaves, what matters is who can assert authority first and fully. And who gets hold of the chemical weapons stockpiles, in this case. Flournoy insisted a solution had to be found. But she also couldn't offer any plan for how that solution would come about. Trump says he inherited a "mess." That's just the world as it is.
Because on the other hand, we have this:
"I’m thinking about accelerating it. I’m thinking about putting it with another bill. Could be health care, could be something else," he told the New York Times. "Could be tax reform."The "it" there is infrastructure; but note again Trump wants to do it now. "Accelerate," he says. He tried that with the AHCA. When he got burned, he went back and tried it again. The House was supposed to pass a AHCA bill before the Easter recess. The House is no closer to passing a bill than it was in March. And the blame for that can be laid squarely at the feet of Donald Trump:
One thing is abundantly clear: This time around, replacing Obamacare is the White House’s show.So here's where we are: Donald Trump cannot learn from his mistakes, probably because he thinks he never makes mistakes. He is an "impulsive, clownish man," and "he'll never change." He's stunned by the use of chemical weapons in Syria (where has he been?), and he'll "fix it." Sure he will. He has no idea what he's talking about; he has no idea what to do, and when pushed by world events, he blames Obama. Institutional Washington is asserting it's control, and even GOP Senators like Marco Rubio are realizing that, at least in foreign affairs, Trump is a bull in a china (no pun intended) shop.
Trump administration officials are the common denominator in every meeting — they have met with lawmakers from the arch-conservative Freedom Caucus as well as members of the Tuesday Group who had previously supported AHCA. Vice President Mike Pence, budget director Mick Mulvaney and Health Secretary Tom Price helped lead the two-hour discussion with both wings at the Capitol on Tuesday night.
But now that the talks have run aground, you have to wonder: What did they think was going to happen? Did they really believe they were on the precipice of a deal? Or was this a show for the public, to try to save face from the bill’s humiliating defeat a couple weeks ago?
The prevailing theory among lobbyists is the latter. The AHCA’s failure was a big loss for the Trump White House in its first legislative push. Though President Trump signaled he was ready to move on, that wasn’t palatable for a party that had pledged for seven years to repeal Obamacare.
Trump says he'll "fix it." But if he can't do it before Easter, will he drop it and find something else to obsess over? Or will he keep doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result?
"Signs point to 'yes'"