Mr. Trump has been so disorienting. I had already been in politics for nearly three decades. I’d been called upon to compare the excesses of Bill Clinton’s first years to that of Richard Nixon’s in the Watergate days. And I was at the front of the queue on Tuesday morning when Mr. Trump tweeted that the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, had passed away. (I saw his picture on Twitter and was already waiting for him to die before I read him this morning.)
I don’t know what my position is now. On Friday morning, I couldn’t envision that the vice president could administer the State of the Union address. Now I’m shocked at the idea that the one person the president consulted to take over with a coda for the death of George H.W. Bush is the same man who holds press briefings? I don’t know whether we’re a month away from him using the phrase “Mad Dog” — implying violence against a reporter in early February in an attempt to justify the White House’s response to the news media’s reporting on the investigation into Russian interference in the election — at a formal event in the White House. The State of the Union is for those who can’t speak from the perspective of their jobs or their families. (Or whatever else it is we still don’t have.) And for the presidency to be taken over by a man who’s sewn up nearly all of the Republican nominations for 2020 (and who has even a brief conversation with him so far isn’t surprising) is one of the greatest gambles and fantasy-shenanigans in recent American history.
I’m less surprised by the escalation of the feud with North Korea. And after the Treasury Department brought new sanctions against Iran and accused it of conducting massive cyberattacks, I find myself resigned to President Trump citing the Iran nuclear deal in an attempt to gain political leverage.
I was no friend of the Iran nuclear deal — largely because I didn’t trust Mr. Trump. I have great respect for Benjamin Netanyahu and the radical nationalist sentiment that mobilized him to help ensure the removal of President Obama, who’d allowed him to negotiate the deal with Iran. The Israelis didn’t believe it would work. The Saudis didn’t believe it would work. Iran didn’t believe it would work. We were all convinced we’d come out better. And you can’t have a deal with a nation that believes in no deal and will seek to gain, if it can, any advantage at the negotiating table.