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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

From sunup to crackdown to crackup
by Tom Sullivan

People who did not vote for Donald trump knew he was deeply flawed and paralyzingly unprepared for the job he just assumed. But an electorate unsatisfied with politics as usual and threatened by, well, life, handed him the job anyway. He was brash. He was in-your-face. He was going to shake things up. Just what they wanted. Jamelle Bouie writes at Slate:
At the same time, he was still Donald Trump: still impatient, impulsive, dishonest, and deeply narcissistic. And now Trump is an actual president with real responsibilities. He has to stand on his own against a largely unified opposition, a critical press, and an unforgiving public. If the first few days of his presidency are any indication, that’s just too much. Faced with a lackluster inauguration and mass protests, President Trump had a bona fide meltdown and drove his staff to make serious errors, immediately undermining his administration. This isn’t just cause for schadenfreude; it is an important revelation: constant, high-profile criticism works. Protest works.
It works because Trump the Unqualified knows jack about the job he just started. He's more interested in issuing decrees he can pose with before the cameras. It works because he views the world by how the media portrays him and he can't put it away and focus on much else. And television. He loves seeing himself on television.

Matthew Rozsa at Salon wonders if addiction is too strong a word to describe Trump's media habits. But Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei writing at Axios call it just that. Trumps starts early each day with a heavy dose of "Morning Joe" and "Fox & Friends":
Trump has been hooked on coverage, especially of himself, since the glory days of the New York tabloids, when he would happily leak details about his affairs and business deals. He can't quit it. So the notion he will surrender the remote, or Twitter, or his grievances with reporters is pure fantasy. Aides talk of giving him "better choices" or jamming his schedule with meetings to keep him away from reading about or watching himself on TV. But this is an addiction he will never kick.
The frightening thing for the world is Trump already seems bent upon holding meetings before appearances after decrees to keep the world's eyes focused on him. Protests work, Bouie believes, and "the larger the gathering, the greater the odds that Trump will respond with crippling anger and outrage." The more protests take focus off Himself, the more flailing and dangerous those moves will be. A short survey of headlines this morning show how determined he is to yank back the spotlight he lost on Saturday.

Trump threatens to "send in the Feds" if Chicago doesn't crack down on violence there.

He plans more executive orders (photo ops) today allowing construction of his "big, beautiful" wall on the Mexican border and cracking down on “sanctuary cities.”

These were campaign promises, of course, and these are his first days in office. But the larger question is what the reality show star will feel compelled to do day after day over the next four years once he starts running out of material. The American audience has a short attention span. As the Trump show begins to stale and his ratings tank, what does an attention junkie do to goose his Nielsens when his show premiered by jumping the shark?

As treacherous as it may seem, the rest of us may have no better choice than to push him there sooner rather than later to minimize the long-term damage.