As the dour Romanian philosopher Emil Cioran once wrote, “Man starts over again everyday, in spite of all he knows, against all he knows.” Cioran died in 1995, but he could have been writing about the experience of waking up to see what Donald Trump had tweeted while you slept.
In last week’s roundup, I wrote that “if there is one law of Trump’s presidency, it is that every day is a little bit worse than the one before it.” This is still very much true. There was some hope in the second week of Trump’s presidency, sure. Protests erupted nationwide in response to his anti-American ban on refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries. The Democrats kind of, sort of, maybe began to realize that obstruction is the best response to what has already been an unimaginably horrific presidency. But despite his deep and growing unpopularity, Trump kept moving at the same pace in his second week as he did in his first.
On Friday, Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May held hands and pretended that everything was hunky dory. In a press conference, they discussed Trump’s upcoming state visit to the U.K.—where he will meet the Queen, who probably hates him. (To be fair, she hates everybody.) While Trump and May were having tea and crumpets, the White House released a statement for Holocaust Remembrance Day that made no mention of the Jews at all—a favorite tactic of some Holocaust deniers. Later, it turned out that the State Department gave the White House a statement that mentioned the Jewish people, but the White House nixed it. Hmm. And Trump signed the notorious executive order severely restricting travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries, which would define the week to come.
On Saturday, there was chaos. The architects of the executive order—Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, and Rudy Giuliani—apparently did not consult key departments, lawyers, or foreign governments before releasing it. Because the order was so far-reaching, affecting permanent residents as well as tourists, there was an enormous amount of confusion about who would be affected. The result was devastating—hundreds of people were detained or prevented from boarding flights, including a Cleveland Clinic doctor and a 7-year-old with cancer. But the biggest story of Saturday were the spontaneous and deeply moving protests that erupted at airports nationwide. Exactly one week after the Women’s March, the opposition to Trump once again defined the conversation. Finally, in an unprecedented move, Fourth Turning enthusiast Steve Bannon was added to the National Security Council. Republicans may be able to block his appointment, but Bannon is clearly at the top of the White House food chain.
On Sunday, Trump lost the Kochs—sort of. At their annual retreat in Indian Wells, California, the Kochs and their guests donned their robes, sacrificed a calf, and prayed for regulatory rollbacks that would allow them to dump toxic waste directly into reservoirs. But Charles Koch also spoke out against the Muslim ban, saying, “We have a tremendous danger because we can go the authoritarian route ... or we can move toward a free and open society.” Like most Republicans, however, the Kochs’ opposition was limited—they’re still backing climate change denier/fossil fuel puppet Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. Also on Sunday: Chief of Cuck Reince Priebus defended not mentioning the Jews in the Holocaust Remembrance Day statement; Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer choked up while discussing the Muslim ban; and the President Bannon meme—the argument that Trump is just a tool of his white nationalist senior adviser—emerged.
On Monday, in an early morning tweet (now five of the most terrifying words in the English language), Trump labeled Schumer “Fake Tears Chuck Schumer,” which is not as good as Trump’s previous dis “Head Clown Chuck Schumer.” Trump also described the Muslim ban as a “ban,” a word his surrogates had strained to avoid over the previous two days. Oops. Former President Barack Obama briefly emerged from wearing his hat backwards on the beach to tell Trump that the Muslim ban is unprecedented and very bad. And then acting Attorney General Sally Q. Yates instructed the Justice Department not to defend the ban, turning her into a liberal folk hero. Trump, in perhaps the most Nixon-esque move of the most Nixon-esque presidency since Nixon’s (which was very Nixon-esque), summarily fired Yates and almost certainly wrote—let’s be real, dictated—at least two of the paragraphs of the insane press release announcing her firing.
On Tuesday, the Democrats, proving it might actually take a weatherman to know which way the wind blows, finally came around to using obstruction as an anti-Trump tactic, and began to present something approximating a unified front in opposition to Trump and his radical, plutocratic cabinet. Trump called Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and offered to help with the country’s “tough hombres” by sending troops to help fight ... something. Maybe drug cartels. Who knows. Trump capped Tuesday with the only slightly normal thing he’d done in two weeks: nominate Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. People flipped their shit at just how normal it was—“Now that’s how it’s done!” exclaimed CNN’s Dana Bash. Trump still shook Gorsuch’s hand in a very weird way.
Wednesday was perhaps the most active day in Trump’s two-week presidency, which is saying something. Trump began the day by changing “Black History Month” to “African-American History Month.” At the breakfast commemorating the change, what was already abundantly clear became very abundantly clear: Trump knows only a handful of black people, and most of the black people he knows were in the room. To his credit he did not mention his friends Mike Tyson or Don King, though he did mention Omarosa. It also became apparent that he has no clue who Frederick Douglass is. Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn—reportedly on the outs with Trump because of his bad son—put Iran on notice, which doesn’t really mean anything. D.C. was abuzz when Trump traveled to an undisclosed location with his daughter Ivanka—it turned out he was greeting the body of a Navy SEAL who was killed in a raid in Yemen. Reports also began to emerge that the Yemen raid—Trump’s first clandestine operation as commander in chief—which left that SEAL and an 8-year-old American citizen dead, was conducted “without sufficient intelligence, ground support, or adequate backup preparations.” It emerged that Melania and Barron Trump will never move to Washington, which will cost the people of New York City hundreds of millions of dollars. Oil tycoon Rex Tillerson was confirmed as secretary of state, but Republicans started to get cold feet about Betsy DeVos. Day six of the Muslim ban was just as chaotic as day one. And then Trump started a diplomatic crisis with Australia. In a 25-minute phone call, Trump bragged about his Electoral College victory, berated his Australian counterpart for a refugee deal he had made with President Obama, characterized refugees as “the next Boston Bombers,” then told the prime minister this was “the worst call by far” and hung up on him. Then Trump went to sleep for two and a half hours. (Probably.)
On Thursday, Trump’s presidency reverted to the (very bad) mean. Trump threatened to cut funding from UC Berkeley because take-baby Todd Starnes said he should on Fox and Friends. At his first National Prayer Breakfast, Trump asked the audience to pray for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Apprentice ratings, which are not as good as Trump’s were. Schwarzenegger responded, making things even worse. Congress made mountain top removal and dumping shit in streams way easier. And it emerged that America’s leading authoritarian intellectual now works in the White House.
We don’t know what will happen tomorrow, except that tomorrow will be even worse.