Trump’s obsession with himself

Another leak, this time of transcripts of President Trumps conversations with Australian and Mexican leaders early this year, have shown again how obsessed with himself and his image that Trump is.

He said “I am the world’s greatest person” to Malcolm Turnbull in January.

And recent reports show how he seems to have trouble understanding the difference between leading a company, where the boss can dictate what he likes, compared to the complexities of the US system of government.

Reuters:  Trump, frustrated by Afghan war, suggests firing U.S. commander: officials

During a July 19 meeting in the White House Situation Room, Trump demanded that his top national security aides provide more information on what one official called “the end-state” in a country where the United States has spent 16 years fighting against the Taliban with no end in sight.

The meeting grew stormy when Trump said Defense Secretary James Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford, a Marine general, should consider firing Army General John Nicholson, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, for not winning the war.

“We aren’t winning,” he told them, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Some officials left the meeting “stunned” by the president’s vehement complaints that the military was allowing the United States to lose the war.

Trump seems to have a habit of firing if he isn’t ‘winning’.

CNN: Trump’s Russia statement proves he doesn’t understand separation of powers

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump signed the Russia sanctions bill that the Republican-led Congress had approved overwhelmingly. But he made sure everyone knew he wasn’t happy about it — and in so doing revealed, again, that he has either little understanding of or little care for the separation of powers built into the US government.

What makes Trump’s derision of the division of power between the executive, legislative and judicial branches different is both how brazen he is about it and how many times he has expressed sentiments in his first six-plus months in office that suggest he simply doesn’t understand the fact that everyone in the government doesn’t work for him.

And the latest leaks from Washington Post: The Post’s latest bombshell 

Produced by White House staff, the documents provide an unfiltered glimpse of Trump’s approach to the diplomatic aspect of his job, subjecting even a close neighbor and long-standing ally to streams of threats and invective as if aimed at U.S. adversaries.

With Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull:

The Jan. 28 call with Turnbull became particularly acrimonious. “I have had it,” Trump erupted after the two argued about an agreement on refugees. “I have been making these calls all day, and this is the most unpleasant call all day.”

Before ending the call, Trump noted that at least one of his conversations that day had gone far more smoothly. “Putin was a pleasant call,” Trump said, referring to Russian President Vladi­mir Putin. “This is ridiculous.” … “This is going to kill me,” he said to Turnbull. “I am the world’s greatest person that does not want to let people into the country. And now I am agreeing to take 2,000 people.”

With Mexican President Peña Nieto:

“On the wall, you and I both have a political problem,” Trump said. “My people stand up and say, ‘Mexico will pay for the wall,’ and your people probably say something in a similar but slightly different language.”

Trump seemed to acknowledge that his threats to make Mexico pay had left him cornered politically. “I have to have Mexico pay for the wall — I have to,” he said. “I have been talking about it for a two-year period.” …

Peña Nieto resisted, saying that Trump’s repeated threats had placed “a very big mark on our back, Mr. President.” He warned that “my position has been and will continue to be very firm, saying that Mexico cannot pay for the wall.”

Trump objected: “But you cannot say that to the press. The press is going to go with that, and I cannot live with that.”

Jennifer Rubin at WaPo: Why the leaked presidential transcripts are so frightening

It is shocking to see presidential conversations released in this way. Some in the executive branch, as Anthony Scaramucci aptly put it, are intent on protecting the country from Trump. This is a good thing, by the way. White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly has obviously failed to plug the flood leaks.

These transcripts may have been leaked before Kelly took over.

Trump is frighteningly obsessed with himself and his image to such an extent that he cannot fulfill the role of commander in chief. He cannot frame logical arguments based on public policy, and therefore comes across as, well, a fool to foreign leaders.

His desire to maintain his own image suggests he’d be more than willing to make the country’s interests subordinate to his own need for personal affirmations.

Trump’s narcissism leaves him open to flattery and threats (to reveal embarrassing material, for example). That’s the worry in the Russia investigation — namely, that Vladimir Putin has “something” on Trump, which compels Trump to act in ways inimical to U.S. interests.

Trump’s interests are paramount, so a cagey adversary can easily manipulate him.

There is no easy solution.

One cannot be impeached and removed for being an embarrassment to the United States or an egomaniac temperamentally unfit for the job (that was the argument for not electing him). Unless he really goes off the deep end, invoking the 25th Amendment is not a realistic option.

That leaves members of Congress and his administration with a few options.

And Trump keeps blaming everyone else. He recently tweeted:

But he can’t fire Congress, nor the Senate. He is stuck with the political and judicial system that the US has got. And the US is probably stuck with him until he throws a major hissy fit for not getting his own way and chucks the job in.

In the meantime it is likely that Russia, China, North Korea, and much of the Middle East will be trying to work out how they can exploit Trump’s ego.

With the amount of fire power available to lash out with this has to be a major concern.

One slightly reassuring thing – Trump seems to be relying more on generals to run his administration. They may be the best chance of keeping his flaws in check.

Trump’s Mexico wall

Donald Trump has started to initiate the building of US/Mexico wall, but details are still vague, including costs, time frame and how it will be paid for.

Politico: Trump signs orders on border wall, immigration crackdown

President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed a sweeping set of immigration-related executive actions jumpstarting a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, cracking down on sanctuary cities, and directing significant resources toward swifter deportations for undocumented immigrants.

“I just signed two executive orders that will save thousands of lives, millions of jobs and billions and billions of dollars,” Trump declared during remarks at DHS. He added, “By working together, safe borders and economic cooperation, I truly believe we can enhance the relation between our two nations, to a degree not seen before, certainly, in a very, very long time. I think our relationship with Mexico is going to get better.”

The ‘economic co-operation’ seems to involve scrapping trade agreements and forcing US companies to pull their manufacturing out of Mexico.

USAMexico.jpg

BBC: Mexico: We will not pay for Trump border wall

Mexico will not pay for Donald Trump’s border wall, the country’s president has said in a message to the nation.

Mr Pena Nieto said: “I’ve said time and again; Mexico won’t pay for any wall.

“It comes as our country is talking on new rules on cooperation, trade, investment, security and migration in the North American region.

“As president I assume the complete responsibility to defend the interests of Mexico and Mexicans.”

Trump may not have thought through the budgeting.

Politico: Trump’s budget-busting immigration crackdown

President Donald Trump’s border wall could cost $20 billion, and his directive to crack down on border security could increase federal government spending by $13 billion a year.

It’s not clear where he’s going to get the money.

Trump said Wednesday, without elaborating, that his plan would “save billions and billions of dollars.” But it’s likely he’ll need Congress to agree to a massive spending increase if he wants to fully implement his vision.

The president has some authority to move dollars around within existing budgets. But his plan could cost more than the entire 2016 combined budgets for Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection, which ran to $19.4 billion.

BBC asks How realistic is Donald Trump’s Mexico wall?

President Donald Trump wants to build an “impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful, southern border wall” between the US and Mexico.

But how tall? How powerful? How beautiful? The Republican’s big ideas can be small on detail, and the wall is no exception.

The US-Mexico border is about 1,900 miles (3100 km) long and traverses all sorts of terrain from empty, dusty desert to the lush and rugged surroundings of the Rio Grande.

Some 650 miles of the border is covered already by a confused and non-continuous series of fences, concrete slabs and other structures.

Mr Trump says his wall will cover 1,000 miles  (about 1,600 km) and natural obstacles will take care of the rest.

The Berlin wall was about 155 km.  The inner German border fence between East and West Germany was 1,393 km long as waas built between 1952 and the late 1980s. An estimated 1,000 people died trying to cross it.

What exactly will be built seems to be a changing story.

Throughout his presidential campaign, Mr Trump was adamant that he would fortify the southern border with a wall (“a wall is better than fencing and it’s much more powerful”).

The president briefly walked back his promise in November, telling CBS it might be a fence “for certain areas”.

But as recently as his first news conference in January, Mr Trump corrected a reporter who asked about his plans for the structure.

“It’s not a fence, it’s a wall. You just misreported it,” he said.

Mr Rhuzkan’s estimate was based on a wall that ran five feet beneath the ground and 20 feet above. Mr Trump’s claims for the wall range between 30ft and, more recently, 55ft. Even at 1,000 miles – vast amounts of concrete would be required.

The 650 miles of fencing already put up has cost the government more than $7 billion, and none of it could be described, even charitably, as impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, or beautiful.

And the wall won’t stop people going by air or by sea.

Talking the campaign sound bites is a lot simpler than walking the three thousand km border, let alone building a wall along it.