Back in the 1970’s there was an R&B song by the Blues Project that I often listened to called “Two Trains Running.” The lyrics describe someone in love with another man’s wife. The song builds to climax, but does not end well. You can listen to it here.
There seem to be two trains running in the news today, two trains along seemingly unrelated tracks, but both of which particularly unnerve the President. It troubles me as I ponder what may happen if these two trains should converge at a moment in time when the President is particularly vulnerable. It is at such moments when he is least predictable and our country is most at risk.
First, setting aside the salacious headlines and late-night comic fascination with the subject, the President of the United States is in court defending himself against allegations from multiple women who claim to have had compromising sexual relations with him. We will learn more this weekend when the 60 Minutes interview with Stormy Daniels is broadcast, but apparently Donald Trump has employed every legal device he knows (and, rumors abound, some that are illegal) to keep her silent. The President denies these allegations, of course; but his bar for truth is not exactly known to be the highest ever recorded.
Second, the recent congratulatory phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, against the counsel of his security advisers, reveals yet again how the President steadfastly refuses to say anything negative about the Russian President. This, in light of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the poisoning of a Russian national on British soil and the meddling in our elections. It boggles the mind to think about why Mr. Trump is so afraid to criticize his Russian counterpart, and what Putin must know about the American President that Mr. Trump wants so much to silence.
My fear is that as these two vectors develop, they clash at a moment in time that is dangerous for the American people. One can imagine all kinds of scenarios. Follow my thread: since long before being in office, Donald Trump has demonstrated volatility when he is challenged or crossed. Like a schoolyard bully, he lashes out to justify his understanding of the truth, “proving” he is the manliest man on the playground. Being in office has only exacerbated this tendency. From Katie Tur to Kim Jung-un, the President has been willing to go to extraordinary lengths to show the world that he is ALWAYS the brightest, always the best, that his crowds are always the largest. Only this time, the sticks and stones on the playground consist of dehumanizing governmental regulations, short-sighted policy decisions and nuclear weapons.
So, what if these forces converge at a particularly vulnerable moment for the President? It’s probably not a good idea for emotional health, but I am reading Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury as I watch the unfolding Presidential drama. Even if the book is only half-true, one thing the author makes abundantly clear is the total unpredictability and sheer volatility in the White House’s decision-making process.
What if the President’s button is pushed (you know, the one that’s bigger than Kim Jong-un’s?) by the adult film actress? What if, on the same day, Special Counsel Robert Mueller unleashes a subpoena that exposes Trump business dealings in Russia? What if there is a leak from the White House about contact with Russian oligarchs? Or emails and photos are uncovered of the President in compromised positions? None of these scenarios seem that far-fetched anymore.
Throw into the mix the possible impact that a salacious, sex-tinged scandal may have on the President and his family and one can only begin to imagine the collision of these two trains hurtling down tracks and gathering speed. Unable to stop their momentum, we are all in the path, and we are all vulnerable.