America keeps the world on its toes. Blame the Trump Doctrine | Richard Wolffe


There is no master plan: there are just Twitter-happy thumbs, cable news all day and a long list of personal grievances that require immediate attention

After eight unflappable months of steadfast leadership, you may be surprised by the latest apparent reversals in the fundamental tenets of what we all call the Trump Doctrine.

The 45th president of the United States may have left you with the impression that he was going to build a beautiful wall across the entire southern border in such record time that it would make your head spin.

He may also have convinced you that he was going to deport millions of undocumented immigrants, especially all those nasty murderers and rapists, on the first day of his presidency in late January.

More recently, he and his attorney general made it crystal clear that hundreds of thousands of young immigrants, brought across the border as children, would face deportation in a matter of months.

There was something else he was definitely going to repeal and replace, but frankly we’re all so tired of winning that it’s hard to keep up.

In any case, you should not be alarmed by the revelation that – after brashly announcing his withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement – the Trump administration is reportedly trying to negotiate a way to stay in.

This is only a head-wrenching moment if you are among the clueless cabal who fail to understand the former real estate developer who now sits in the Oval Office. You are obviously an elitist globalist who is betraying the working people of America with concepts like truth, honesty and policy. Shame on you.

Truth, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. International officials gathered in Montreal to discuss the next UN climate summit clearly beheld the Trump administration offering to negotiate a way to stay within the Paris agreement.

The White House clearly beheld something entirely different and denied their account, forcing its two most senior foreign policy officials – secretary of state Rex Tillerson and national security adviser HR McMaster – to deny the denials on the Sunday talkshows.

Confused? You will be. Along with Gary Cohn, the chief economic adviser to Trump, who is tasked with walking through this minefield of truth, international economics, and the mood swings of his boss.

Cohn, you might remember, was recently considered a pariah for expressing his displeasure with neo-Nazis and speaking publicly about the need for his boss to do the same. For that high crime and misdemeanor, he was ruled out of the running for his dream job to chair the Federal Reserve and instead handed this delightful task of making sense of the nonsensical. Since Cohn is the very definition of an elitist globalist, this serves him right.

You might have realized by now that Trump’s braggadocious trashing of Paris was not, in fact, a withdrawal from the Paris accord itself. Since the administration cannot technically remove itself from the accord until 2020, the president’s words are more correctly understood as the verbal eruptions of a man who does not want to be mayor of Paris.

“I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” he said, very clearly, in the Rose Garden, way back in June.

This is what Trump’s supporters recognize as the truth: the essence of the man. Of course, we can all ignore the fact that the mayors of Pittsburgh and Paris have their own devilish pact together to stymie our president and support the climate agreement.

Trump says what he means, and he means what he says. He just changes his meanings and his words with a rather high frequency.

We used to call this form of political suicide “flip-flops” or “U-turns”. We now call them “populism” because it makes us sound in touch with the people.

And the people who don’t like this kind of flip-flop are the same people who don’t like Trump working with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leaders in the Senate and House.

Yes, we’re looking at you, all of you Republican elected officials who gambled your reputation, principles and careers on a president who doesn’t care for you or your policies. (At least right now he doesn’t.)

You see, this is the Trump Doctrine at work. There is no doctrine within this Doctrine. It is an entirely consistent inconsistency, a fabulously unprincipled set of principles. He is the leader of a party that he disdains as much as they disdain him. He is the purveyor of policies today that may be pushed aside for the opposite policies tomorrow.

Within the world of New York real estate, this may be a fine approach. At some point, buildings become real and immutable. Their financing deals may be subject to the same kind of elastic approach to the truth, facts and numbers. But the concrete and glass remains.

In politics, economics and foreign affairs, everything on Planet Trump remains fluid, like the storm surge that threatens so many cities. We are only a few weeks away from Trump declaring a complete embrace of the manmade nature of climate change. Perhaps a North Korean peace deal will follow, along with a savage indictment of Brexit.

There are some who would like to believe this flexibility is part of the normal education of a president. After making wild promises on the campaign trail, the reality of government imposes a more realistic discipline on the uncivilized candidate.

These people say Trump is demonstrating why he got elected: his adaptability to political reality and lack of ideology means he can go with the flow, and even get re-elected.

These people are delusional. There is no master plan, and no political sensitivity. There are just Twitter-happy thumbs, cable news all day, and a long list of personal grievances that require immediate attention.

For the next several years, we need to brace ourselves for this orange-hued meteorological depression. Hurricane Donald is a force of nature that could wipe out cities or entirely miss landfall. The only certainty is uncertainty. Our new normal is entirely abnormal.

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