Grin and bear it. Teddy bears are popping up across America in living room windows as families seek to entertain children out for a stroll who are supposed to go on a bear hunt. There’s even a central database, citybearhunt.com, where you can enter your address to assist in the search for the ursine creatures. If Donald Trump wants to project a cuddlier image, he might consider placing one in the Oval Office window.
Judging by Trump’s latest moves, though, he is hardly in an emollient mood. Rather, he’s embarked upon his own safari into the wilderness of the deep state. Trump is claiming fresh pelts by the day. He’s axed Inspector General Michael Atkinson who responded with an aggrieved letter asserting that the axing took place, not because he failed to perform his duties, but because he did. Next he eliminated Glenn Fine, the acting Pentagon inspector general who was supposed to oversee the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package. Most recently, he called a Health and Human Services inspector general report on grievous shortages of vital supplies at hospitals around the country ‘wrong’ and ‘another Fake Dossier’.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, a longtime defender of whistleblowers, is planning on sending Trump a plaintive letter asking why-oh-why did he dismiss Atkinson, when the answer is patently obvious. Trump has been thirsting for revenge for months against the government officials who busted him for his attempt to muscle over Kiev for electoral benefit. Indeed, Politico reports that Trump has successfully denuded much of the federal government of its top officials, ranging from the Department of Homeland Security to the Treasury Department. Those officials who are serving include a college student as a top deputy at the Office of Presidential Personnel.
Perhaps Trump’s most intriguing move is to install Mark Meadows as his fourth chief of staff. Poor Meadows. For someone who was a founder of the House Freedom Caucus, his new role is bound to seem like a form of indentured servitude, one that he apparently entered into willingly. Meadows’s ambit is bound to be limited given Trump’s own assumption of the role and his expectation that anyone serving in the role is a kind of glorified butler.
The one area where Meadows has been able to make a move is in communications. He’s tapped the indefatigable Kayleigh McEnany to replace the lugubrious Stephanie Grisham as White House press secretary. Grisham, who never held a single press briefing and who is returning to work for Melania, was always something of a cipher. McEnany promises to be a more high-profile presence, going to bat for Trump whenever and wherever possible. Her claim to fame is declaring about a month ago that Trump would never allow the coronavirus to reach American shores: ‘We will not see diseases like the coronavirus come here, we will not see terrorism come here, and isn’t that refreshing when contrasting it with the awful presidency of President Obama?’
Trump may have failed to prevents its spread, but now he’s urging Americans to move on. The coronavirus, he announced in a tweet today, ‘must be quickly forgotten’. To be sure, ‘those that sadly lost a family member or friend’ can remember it. Everyone else should focus on how ‘Our Economy will BOOM, perhaps like never before!!!’
Now that Bernie Sanders has dropped out of the race, however, Joe Biden will be free to focus on Trump and remind Americans of the ghastly toll that took place partly, even largely, because of his fecklessness. Trump won’t be able to elide his own record no matter whom he appoints as press secretary. It will be front and center.