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This isn't good

Sep 8, 2018

Out in flyover country, football season’s here again. The Spartans are up, the Maize and Blue is stumbling, and the spectacle in Washington is morphing from absurd to surreal.

Credit Daniel Howes / Detroit News

That’s what you get with a drama queen as president a news media stretching the creed of its own business and the rest of official Washington standing aside, helpless agog or both.

This is not good.

It’s not good that a “senior administration official” is anonymously taking to the Op-Ed page of the New York Times proclaiming a role in internal resistance to – love him or hate him -- the duly-elected president.

It’s not good that the same official is describing, yet again, an erratic chief executive presiding over a White House in chaos of staffers lifting letters from the president’s desk, apparently to stop him from doing something they think he shouldn’t of a Secretary of Defense counter-manding an apparent order from the Commander in Chief.

No, it’s not good that administration staff and cabinet members feel compelled to assume the prerogatives of the Oval Office lest the president inflict what they perceive to be damage on the country.

I mean, who elected them?

Say what you will about Donald Trump – and a lot of people have a lot to say, me included – but he was elected by the Electoral College.

It’s also not good that the Cabinet early on considered beginning the process to remove the president from office using the 25th Amendment. It’s not good legendary reporter Bob Woodward’s new book marshals evidence reinforcing the narrative of presidentially led chaos inside the White House.

Trump’s in open warfare with his own Justice Department with the State Department with the intelligence community. His continuing battle with them, aired over Twitter, is all but certain to erode public trust in those cornerstones of American life and its professed belief in the rule of law.

In fact, it already has.

Faced with evidence unflattering to Trump, true believers say they don’t believe it – not from the Justice Department or the FBI, not from the newspapers or the TV correspondents, not even from their own eyes and ears.

Parallel realities are the new normal. Like this: if the anonymous Op-Ed is “fake news” concocted by The Times, as the White House says, why have they spent the past several days trying to finger the culprit?

Reminds me of a saying my old dad liked: “Once you’ve exceeded the measure, there are no limits.”

Welcome to Trump’s Washington. There are no limits.

Apparently not on the president’s power or his ability to undermine institutions of his own administration. Not on the Republican base’s capacity to accept whatever Trump’s peddling. Not on the news media’s penchant for running ahead of its own story … and giving their No. 1 critic another metaphoric club to beat them.

None of it is good. But it is a reflection of what too many of us have become.

Daniel Howes is a columnist at The Detroit News. Views expressed in his essays are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management or the station licensee, The University of Michigan.