I'm not going to pretend to be a Washington insider. I am not now nor will I ever be a Villager. But over the almost fifteen years of blogging here at C&L, I've been part of listservs with activists, journalists-both blogosphere and mainstream--think tanks members, and other political institution officials. I've cultivated relationships with congressional staffers for when I needed to get a statement. I've gotten and given tips from producers of comedy and news shows you've watched.
I'm not writing this to humblebrag. Lots of bloggers can say the same. I simply want to point out that I communicate with many people both in front of the camera and behind the scenes on a fairly regular basis. And like them, my membership and participation on those lists is dependent upon my respecting the confidentiality of the other members and the specifics of our conversations (I'm no Tucker Carlson).
So I hope you'll trust me when I say that I have yet to run into a single Villager who doesn't think off-the-record that Donald J. Trump is ridiculously incompetent but also likely mentally ill, whether from his raging narcissistic personality disorder or from early-onset dementia. Not one, irrespective of party or political leanings. And it's been this way since before the election. If I had a dollar for each mainstream journalist who privately declared that some verbal gaffe of Trump's was a "disqualifying event," or questioned Trump's mental acuity without actually putting that into context publicly, I could comfortably pay my kids' college tuitions. I've even challenged a few to use their platforms to do just that before the election, because their conspicuous silence was complicity in the misinformation, only to be patronizingly told that they didn't want to be accused of bias or advocating for one side over the other. Silly liberal blogger.
But something broke over the last week. Trump hasn't been any more egregious than he was when he went down that gold escalator and declared all Mexicans immigrants rapists or advocated prison for women seeking abortions. But perhaps having him shrug at Nazis and white supremacists marching in an American town was the final straw. It appears that the mainstream media no longer fears accusations of bias and are openly having the conversations they used to have privately. The question is no longer "Is Trump fit to be president?" and the implicit shade of impeachment unsaid but ever-present, but the overt "What are we going to do with this man who should not be in office?"
Sunday, The LA Times Editorial Board published an unprecedented SEVEN PART op-ed on how Trump should not be in office and the congressional Republicans MUST speak out:
With such a glaring failure of moral leadership at the top, it is desperately important that others stand up and speak out to defend American principles and values. This is no time for neutrality, equivocation or silence. Leaders across America — and especially those in the president’s own party — must summon their reserves of political courage to challenge President Trump publicly, loudly and unambiguously.
Enough is enough.
Historian Douglas Brinkley adds his voice to growing number of Washingtonians asking what we do now that there there is a president who is not fit for office in place. On CNN's Reliable Sources, he did not equivocate as even host Brian Stelter appeared startled by the vociferousness of his words:
STELTER: Douglas Brinkley, when we were talking about these issues, if reporters are trying to pursue some really disturbing questions about the president’s fitness for office, aren’t many conservatives, and many Trump voters, going to interpret that as the just the press being the opposition and trying to subvert their vote?
BRINKLEY: Oh, there’s no question that particularly the Trump Republicans are going to look at it that way. But Senator Corker is a real leader among Republicans. It was very brave of him to step out and really talk about the fact that we have an incompetent president and what does that mean for our country. There are things that can be done right now. I mean, on the medical front, look, we all know he is a neon billboard for overt narcissism. Malignant self love. We’ve all known that. And now we’re seeing the ramifications, as a nation, of having a sick man in the White House really means.
STELTER: A sick man in the White House…
BRINKLEY: He is. He is not mentally stable. And perhaps the Senate needs to do a censure, coming up here. Gen. Kelly is going to have to continue to try to stop him from taking to the mics to keep dividing our country, like he did at Trump Tower. There’s got to be some effort to control his tweets. But the government has to run, the White House has to run almost around the president. And we saw Nixon with H.R. Haldeman, he would tell Haldeman, “Go bomb Brookings Institute next,” or “Go bomb Wounded Knee,” and people just started disregarding what Nixon said. Kissinger regularly didn’t listen to his president, and I think we’re at that state now, where the five generals of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have to go out and enter politics and say, “We want nothing to do with the president is saying.” It is a crisis in the White House and it’s about Donald Trump’s fitness for command.