If Chaos Is the Message, Let’s Hope It Doesn’t Kill Us.

Photo: White House

How in the world did this happen in the first place?

Anyone who has been paying attention, close attention, to Donald Trump and his coterie of fools since before the election could have predicted the chaos of the last seven days. It is the inevitable result of a chief executive with no relevant experience, no sense of history and no understanding of the role of government who surrounds himself with the same kind of people.

I do not wish to beat a dead horse, but this corpus equus requires at least a weekly beating to prevent us from accepting what we are witnessing as normal in any way.

The Rob Porter affair exposes two important things about the current functioning of the White House. For starters, there is a group of people working there, including the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who do not have proper security clearances. There are a few reasons for this, among them, those seeking clearance do not have pristine backgrounds. The other factor is the reluctance of professionals of high caliber to work in the current administration, because to do so is a bad career move and because any title you might obtain in the Trump operation carries no power and no authority. President Trump does not respect the expertise of anyone he brings on his team, or the traditional power presidential appointees usually carry. There is no team.

According to published reports, which have not been disputed in any substantive way by the White House, Chief of Staff John Kelly and others knew for months that Porter had been accused by two of his ex-wives of physical and mental abuse. He was allowed to remain in his job anyway, because at work at least, he was an exemplary young man.

We are told, by Trump’s team, that the president learned of the accusations against Porter the day before he was let go. They have lied before. The claim the president was kept in the dark about Porter does not ring true, because at least three people; the chief of staff, the White House counsel and the director of communications have a responsibility to share this kind of news with the president by virtue of their job titles.

Among the responsibilities of each of these positions is the task of keeping the president informed of any situation that may reflect in a negative way on the president himself, or the institution of the White House. So when a deputy press secretary is sent out to tell the American people that the president did not know the facts about Porter because his security clearance investigation was incomplete, the White House is telling us the chief of staff, the White House legal counsel and the communications director, all failed to do their jobs. I suppose this explanation is easy to accept based on the cast currently holding the titles in question. The only other explanation is that these three senior officials conspired to keep important information away from the president to protect Porter.

Why would they do this? In part, because the White House as it exists today is the last place anyone with any sense of professionalism or common decency would want to work. When no one else will take a job there you have to make due with what you have.

Lying, incompetence, or conspiracy involving the top White House staff, are the three possible explanations for the Porter debacle. All three options are bad for the rest of us.

In the middle of all this chaos we can not lose sight of the fact that a large percentage of Americans are just fine with President Trump and some even think he is doing a great job. They do not perceive any danger in the fact that the White House is being run by a person who would root for a government shutdown. They are not concerned that the president has done everything in his power to block inquiries into Russian interference in our election. They are not concerned that the president is at war with the U.S. intelligence community and the FBI. They see all the chaos as Trump breaking up the power elite in Washington, D.C. from Capitol Hill through the entire bureaucracy. If he is accused of obstruction of justice as a result of the Mueller investigation, they will see that development as evidence that the elite have found a way to strike back.

More than a year later, it is important to recognize that Trump’s narrow victory is a sign of a much bigger problem in American society. A problem bigger than Trump himself. Trump’s incompetence is not a problem for so many Americans, because they are not paying attention. They are not paying attention, because they think they have no power to control events. They have concluded correctly that Congress, those with the ability to buy Congress, and large portions of the federal bureaucracy exist only to perpetuate their own interests at the expense of the American people. In the 2016 election, half the voters in the right combination of states, decided the only thing they could do about it was to throw Donald Trump into the works to jam it all up.

The message has been sent. Let’s hope we can survive it.

Epilogue.

We learned this week that what President Trump really wants is a big military parade in the middle of Washington, D.C. to rival what he has seen in person in France and watched on television from places like Russia, China and North Korea. Secretary of Defense James Mattis, believed to be a serious person of weight and intellect, is spending part of his days as the civilian leader of the most powerful military in the world, drawing up options for such an extravaganza for the White House to consider.

Put the idea of a parade aside for a moment and think about what it took, and what the scene may have looked like, when this idea was first introduced by the president.

With all the troubles in the world to choose from, with the credibility of the White House eroding on a daily basis, with the entire government lurching from shutdown to shutdown, the president of the United States had the time to stop it all — put the business of the American people aside — and order up a military parade for his own entertainment. What an incredible waste of time, public money and other taxpayer resources.

How we got here is a big issue that cannot be ignored, but the prioritization of a military parade at the top of the president’s list of things to do proves President Trump does not have the ability to discern the challenges facing this country never mind address them.

Photojournalism for Brands and Ideas.