Uh-oh, we're approaching yet another "This is when Trump became president" moment, according to Glenn Thrush of The New York Times:
Harvey Gives Trump a Chance to Reclaim Power to Unify
Hurricane Harvey was the rarest of disasters to strike during the Trump presidency — a maelstrom not of Mr. Trump’s making, and one that offers him an opportunity to recapture some of the unifying power he has squandered in recent weeks.
Wait -- he's going to reclaim the power to unify? He's going to recapture it? When did Donald Trump ever unify America? During the campaign he never tried. He hasn't tried as president. All he's ever done is try to please his base by demonizing everyone who isn't part of his base.
Now a tropical storm as it continues to inundate the Texas and Louisiana coasts....
Mr. Trump is behaving like a man whose future depends on getting this right.
No, no, no. That's how a normal president would think. Trump doesn't plan for the future that way -- he just tries to master moments. What he cares about now is getting good press coverage. Trump's not worried about the future. He thinks his base is big enough to carry him through the 2020 election. If he has trouble scoring legislative victories in the interim, he'll just blame Congress, and seek vengeance against specific legislators who challenged him.
... In announcing his [upcoming] trips [to the flood-ravaged area], he used the dulcet, reassuring and uplifting language of prior presidents. His rhetoric was strikingly different from his much-criticized pronouncements at a news conference this month when he equated the actions of leftist protesters in Charlottesville, Va., with the violent, torch-wielding alt-right activists who hurled anti-Semitic and racist epithets.
Why are we surprised when Trump occasionally gives a normal speech? That's what he always does, and it doesn't change his essential nature. A generation ago, if you were a metal band, you'd put one power ballad on every album so you could have a radio hit. This is Trump's version of that strategy. His main focus is still the noisy stuff.
There are nods to reality in the middle of Thrush's piece:
Yet uncertainty abounds. In addition to the as-yet-untold toll on people and property, there is the unpredictable element of Mr. Trump’s emotional weather, which can shatter the prevailing harmony in an instant, through a tweet or a taunt....
So far, the storm has done little to diminish Mr. Trump’s propensity for muddying moments of presidential leadership by picking fights with the news media or his political opponents. On Monday, moments after gravely reading his tribute to national resolve and the spirit of emergency workers in Texas, Mr. Trump enthusiastically defended his decision to pardon Joe Arpaio...
So why was the piece even written when we know that Trump is going to emerge from this moment still being Trump?
Please don't tell me Thrush thinks this time is different.
But this time is different, people around Mr. Trump insist.
The president, who prefers to skim rather than delve, has seldom been more engaged in the details of any issue as he is with Harvey, according to several people involved in disaster response.
Mr. Trump, one aide said, was fascinated by the long-term effect of water damage on structures in the Gulf Coast, peppering FEMA and National Security Council briefers with detailed questions about the flooding in Houston and Galveston. As the extent of the projected devastation became apparent over the weekend during a meeting at Camp David, he shook his head in disbelief and compared the situation to problems he experienced when managing his family’s apartment buildings in New York. “Water damage is the worst,” he told one staff member, “tough, tough, tough.”
This is a region-altering megastorm and Trump is comparing the consequences to the time that guy in 11-B had a burst pipe and the apartments on the B line below him had to have emergency repairs. It's not the same thing.
Which is why...
Still, many of the most substantive conversations about the relief efforts — including interactions with elected officials — have been routed through Mr. Pence....
And then there's this:
Despite a reputation for political sang-froid, Mr. Trump appeared genuinely moved by the early images of devastation in Texas....
How low is the bar for Donald Trump? So low that we consider it remarkable when he -- a sitting president -- sees scenes of devastation in his own country and is "genuinely moved," or at least "appeared" genuinely moved. He's so narcissistic that, until now, we weren't sure that would be the case. The mere appearance of a normal human emotional reaction to human suffering on a mass scale makes us think, or at least makes Glenn Thrush think, Yes, he may really be acting presidential now.
Stop. Trump will probably sign off on the necessary outlays, but he is who he is. There's no hope for redemption.
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog