Trump Has Far Less Power Than He Thinks

Donald Trump - Not Much PowerMost people think that President Richard Nixon was brought down by Bernstein and Woodward — those intrepid reporters at The Washington Post. They weren’t the only reporters on the story, so that’s a simplification. But the truth is that it wasn’t any group of reporters who caused Nixon to resign from the presidency. If you had to pick a man, it would be Mark Felt — better known as Deep Throat. He had real power, which he used brilliantly. And his reason for going after the president tells us a lot about the political climate that we now live in.

In 1972, Mark Felt was Associate Director of the FBI. Although his motives in All the President’s Men were claimed to be patriotic, his actual allegiance was to the FBI itself. Felt didn’t like what he saw as meddling in the agency by the Nixon administration. He was almost 60 years old when he started leaking information, so it’s hard to see him as the idealistic leaker that Chelsea Manning was. If I were Donald Trump, I’d be afraid.

Let’s remember what brought down President Nixon. It wasn’t the break-in of the DNC office at the Watergate complex. That would have been pathetic enough a thing. He was brought down because of his part in trying to cover-up this second-rate crime. We know that presidents are involved with far worse crimes all the time. Why didn’t Ronald Reagan and George H W Bush get indicted about the far worse crimes involved in the Iran-Contra affair? Because the bureaucratic infrastructure wasn’t out to get them. Indeed, both men were protected by Oliver North.

Trump’s Antagonizes the Powerful

The Trump administration has gone out of its way to antagonize most of the US government’s bureaucratic infrastructure. That’s especially true of the most dangerous part of it: the intelligence community, which has show little reluctance to use its power. I wonder if Michael Flynn wouldn’t still be Trump’s National Security Advisor if it weren’t for the intelligence community’s distaste for Trump and his minions.

The truth is that I doubt one could be President of the United State without commonly breaking the law. And even if it were possible, Trump would not be the president who managed the feat. In fact, it takes no power of imagination to substitute Trump for Nixon when he said, “When the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.”

YouTube Video: Nixon When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal

So it seems certain that the Trump administration will break the law. Trump seems to think that the president is a dictator. And there are thousands — perhaps hundreds of thousands — of government officials who would be thrilled to get rid of him. Add to that the fact that the Republican Party itself would be happy to get rid of Trump — so long as the alternative would be Mike Pence. And you end up with a very dangerous situation for Donald Trump.

Trump Doesn’t Have Much Power

I’m not saying that Trump will go away any time soon. For one thing, he and his staff are so incompetent that it’s possible they won’t be able to get enough done to break any laws. It may just be four long years of embarrassing tweets and nothing more — other than signing every legislative wet dream the Republicans in Congress have ever had.

But Trump doesn’t seem much interested in wielding real power. His constant boasting show that he’s more interested in looking tough than actually being it. And his idea of looking tough is that of a third grade boy. The truth is that if you lead a country that has a military roughly the size of all the other countries combined, no one would question your toughness. Trump’s boasts seem to indicate a kind of insecurity on his own part.

Trump hasn’t made friends with old enemies. The Russians have the same relationship with us now as they ever did. But Trump has made enemies he didn’t need to. And those enemies could be his ultimate downfall.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

11 thoughts on “Trump Has Far Less Power Than He Thinks

  1. If he ever gets done in, I suspect it will be by his propensity to make enemies. By the time Nixon quit, half his own party was sick of the guy.

    It seems to me like Republicans now are in something of a bind. I’d be surprised if any fear Trump. But they do fear his most rabid supporters. So nobody wants to be that deciding vote which shoots down a Trump plan, lest the nutjobs back a primary challenge. But you know there’s already quite a few who hate him personally, as Trump shows respect to nobody (unless he owes them money).

    If the Dems get enough House seats in 2018, I could see them launching impeachment immediately (as revenge for Clinton if nothing else). Could Trump have ticked off 17 GOP senators by then? It’s entirely possible. If he doesn’t start a war before then, and I suppose they’re already planning one.

    • In my experience, when I’ve angered people, it is my fault. It’s generally for one of the following reasons:

      1: I frickin’ hate them, and let them know. This is wrong, and I haven’t done it in 20 years. Not out of morality; it’s simply pointless.
      2: I frickin’ hate them, and try not to show it, but they pick up my disdain anyways. I’m better at this than I used to be. Generally, playing the simpleton helps with subterfuge. But some people just pick it up regardless. Not even necessarily smart ones! Just people with extremely low self-esteem and very sensitive emotional antennae.
      3: I really don’t think about them at all, and this angers them. This is unfortunate. If I pick up the anger in time, I can give them occasional fake pats on the back, but I don’t always pick up the anger in time. And once someone’s convinced you’re an enemy, no pats on the back will work.
      4: I happen to admire them — but not the parts they admire most about themselves. Like, say, the person who’s a charming host and kind parent and clever hobbyist … yet what they want praise for is their large income. I have made such people mad by praising the wrong things. These cases are sad, but what can you do? It’s not in my nature to lie to people I respect.
      5: Harsh words in anger that are difficult to retract. I am slow to anger, but when I cuss, I cuss hard. (I once heard the comedian Ron White on radio promoting some local appearance, and he stressed that it was adults-only. The host replied, my kids are teenagers, they’ve heard dirty words. White said, “not in the order I use ’em.”) We all get angry sometimes. I just get angrier, maybe from bottling it up.
      6: When I had to let friends go, because they were consistently accusatory and demeaning. I guess, over the years, I’ve gotten better at just minimizing my interactions with them. It avoids hurt feelings. But when they insist on repeatedly insulting you, you have to break off. Which is horrible.

      So for me, every enemy was my fault. Most were unintentional. Some were just mistakes on my part. And some were people I had to let go. We all have to assess our motivations for ourselves.

      Trump seems to see other humans as a lesser species than himself; he is the next stage in evolution. Anyone who acknowledges his greatness is a worthy “friend,” by which he means “worshiper.” Anyone who doesn’t is an enemy who must be destroyed.

      Like I said, I haven’t deliberately shown loathing in 20 years. But if I met him, I would. Until he is where he belongs, in a psychiatric care facility, he is a stain upon the species.

  2. So now we’ve pretty much moved past the “could he be..?” to the “of course he is…” stage of the “how deep in the Kremlin’s pocket is the current President of the U.S.” I’m kind of fascinated to see how Putin plays this hand.

    Does Vlad the Procurer nibble around the edges, picking up little advantages here and there, playing small ball to ensure his sock-puppet never has to openly reveal the hand up his ass?

    Or does he go deep, relying on pure GOP tribalism to go all the way past domestic betrayal to foreign treason to protect their party and his asset while accepting that every so often one of his Trumpkin capitalist tools will get burned up life Flynn?

    Which one would you choose in his place..?

  3. Watching his cabinet picks starting to fail makes me wonder if he is actually out the door. After a certain point the Republicans will get tired of the non-stop pressure that activists are putting on them. They can run, they can hide but they can’t do it forever. If they start losing special elections (Kansas 04 on April 11 and Jon Ossoff on April 18th)* then all bets are off on how fast they will get rid of Cheeto.

    Further, even with intervention by someone like Sessions to cut off an investigation will show up soon. This is the leakiest Administration ever-everyone knows what is going on within hours if not days of the decisions being made. Hence why Jason “I can’t believe they aren’t paid” Chaffetz is trying to turn the heat back onto Clinton by demanding charges be filed against an innocent dude who happened to be a subordinate. Trying to get the media to stop reporting on all the treason that is being committed by the Administration and the Republicans who refuse to do anything about it.

    *on both of those two campaigns, I believe you can do remote campaign calls if you want to. Money is tight for a lot of people but sometimes a friendly voice to call voters helps.

    • I believe there’s one coming up in Washington state that could help swing the state senate, too. We just had one in the solidest of solid rich suburban district, and while the GOPer won, it was a tight race. Trump won that district like 2-1.


      I suspect some of Trump’s appeal is that he didn’t sound polished. And most of us don’t when we talk. The average politician has legal training, and knows how to bluster their way through bullshit. I’m sure you’ve seen that more than once.

      So Trump’s stream-of-unconsciousness style served him well at his rallies. He just had to hit proven cheer lines when he was faltering, and people liked him for his unpolished style. It sounded like how most of us sound when we’re trying to seem authoritative.

      That conference … he seemed scared and perhaps brain-damaged. Nobody was cheering. He’s out of his skillset now, and some little voice inside him knows it. And he came off as a blabbering fool who not only doesn’t know how to speak English, but gets defensive when someone uses actual English in a question. It’s like if I took my horribly rusty high-school French to Montreal, could barely ask where the bus stop is, and whenever they responded to me in normal French I yelled “stop making fun of me, you’re the idiot!”

      I’m going to my first town hall meeting next week with my local congresscritter. The better half is coming, too. Thanks for pushing all of us to get more involved!

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