Home/Rod Dreher/Our Tabloid President

Our Tabloid President

Mouth Almighty (a katz/Shutterstock)

You saw this over the weekend, or at least reporting on it:


As you likely have read, the White House offered no evidence to back up this extraordinary claim. FBI Director James Comey felt compelled to deny Trump’s allegation, because if Trump is right, it means the FBI may have broken the law. Comey’s request in effect calls the President of the United States a liar.

And Trump, via a White House spokesman, is not backing down this morning.

Over the weekend, Sen. Ben Sasse released this statement:

I agree with this a thousand percent. If Trump has reason to believe that there was an illegal wiretap, then he has to explain why he believes that. If the federal government surveilled a presidential candidate, even legally (that is, with a FISA Court order), then that is massive news. President Trump has levied an extraordinary allegation against another president. If he’s going to say something that explosive, he has to show proof. If there’s proof, that’s massive news.

But if Trump is just airing conspiracy theories, then that too is massive news, though of a different kind. It means that the presidency is occupied by a reckless fool who thinks nothing of destroying the authority of his office and the institutions of government for the sake of gratifying his own ego.

Which one do you want to bet on?

I am sick of the drama. Sick of it. It’s all so unnecessary, and all generated by Trump’s lack of discipline. During the campaign, I wasn’t so worried about the policy goals Trump would likely pursue as president. I’m not a conventional conservative, and I was ready for disruption of the Washington consensus. What concerned me was Trump’s character, especially his thin skin, his quickness to anger, and his habit of rhetorical recklessness. These are dangerous qualities in a president, to grossly understate the matter. We see now what this can do.

We are two months into the Trump presidency. He has been given a world-historical opportunity to make tremendous changes. Yet he’s going to blow it with his big mouth and his Twitter account. Worse, following Sen. Sasse, Trump is going to worsen already low levels of public trust in American institutions. To be fair to Trump, the Iraq War and the fallout from the financial crash of ’08 demolished the ability of many Americans to trust our institutions. This did not start with Trump; in fact, his election was a result of the lack of trust half the country has in its institutions.

But rather than rebuild that trust, Trump seems determined to obliterate what remains of it. And for what? Who can possibly believe a thing he says? If he doesn’t produce any evidence backing up his wiretap claim, there’s no reason to take Trump’s word seriously at all. When the US faces a serious national crisis, who will follow him?

We’re only two months in. This thing is not going to last. And then?

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

leave a comment

Latest Articles