America suffered a severe loss this weekend when Brett Kavanaugh, a screaming crying madman who likes to get drunk and assault women, was added to the Supreme Court. It’s not the first loss that America has suffered since Donald Trump illegitimately seized power. But here’s the thing: this is, metaphorically speaking, war. And in war, both sides regularly suffer unacceptable losses. The winner is the side that withstands the damage and is still standing. It’s important to understand why Trump hasn’t been “winning” anything.
Donald Trump has never been a winner in life, so much as a perennial survivor of his own failures. Early on he siphoned money from his father’s fortune to save his own bad investments. Most recently, he sold himself to Russia in order to fend off financial ruin. He’s had six bankruptcies. This is a guy who has always been treading water. So it’s not a surprise that his time in the White House has played out in much the same fashion.
If Trump had been “winning” over these past two years, he’d have a high approval rating, he’d have accomplished most of his goals, and he’d have figured out how to dispense with his scandals by now. Instead he’s historically unpopular. And while he has notched wins here and there, if you look at his overall batting average, it’s a different story. He’s managed to get very little through Congress, even though it’s controlled by his party. When he’s taken matters into his own hands, the courts have routinely stepped in to undo most of it. This guy isn’t winning; he’s barely hanging on.
What exactly has Trump accomplished by being in office? If his goal was to personally enrich himself, that’s largely consisted of pilfering bits of money from the Secret Service for golf cart rentals. Forbes says his net worth has dropped since he took office. This guy can’t even grift successfully. And now, because Trump’s political antics have led to people like Michael Cohen and Allen Weisselberg cooperating with the criminal investigations into the Trump Organization, we’re in a situation where New York State could begin seizing Trump’s assets while he’s still in office.
Consider what Donald Trump’s arguably biggest “win” to date, the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation, was really all about. Trump is hoping that Kavanaugh will be the swing vote in helping Trump and his kids stay out of prison. The bar is that low. Trump isn’t winning here. He’s doing what he’s always done: trying to hang on while incompetently failing. His best outcome is if he somehow manages to negotiate his exit from office in disgrace without losing his freedom and his every last penny.
Again, America is suffering losses that are patently unacceptable, and there’s no minimizing that. It may take us a long, long time to rebuild this country after the war is over. That’s how war works. But let’s not for one minute try to fatalistically convince ourselves that Donald Trump is somehow winning. His foray into politics is going roughly as horridly for him as it is for us. The winning will be whichever side can keep fighting the good fight and outlast the other. I know which side my money is on.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report