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Donald Trump might hate the establishment – but it turns out that's exactly what's saving his presidency

Not all heroes wear capes, as the adults in the White House frustrating our president's maddest impulses have proven

Nash Riggins
Thursday 06 September 2018 12:12 BST
Fear: The 7 most explosive passages from Bob Woodward's Trump expose

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


When you think about all-American superheroes, iconic caped crusaders like Captain America, Superman and Batman are usually the first guys who spring to mind. They’re constantly on the lookout for trouble, secretly protecting the public from harm and keeping dangerous supervillains in check.

But while Gotham City, Krypton and Steve Rogers are all products of comic book fiction, the truth is superheroes really do exist – they just don’t wear capes.

And if nothing else, that should be your key takeaway from America’s latest political sideshow performance – which has seen the neon orange supervillain Donald Trump squaring off against unknown, righteous vigilantes hiding in plain sight across the US president’s dysfunctional quagmire of an administration.

Earlier this week, Donald Trump’s Twitter account hit DEFCON 1 after the media began to circulate excerpts from a new book about the current US administration written by Pulitzer Prize-winning Watergate journalist Bob Woodward.

Why so much concern over a political journalist writing a political book? Because this one happens to provide account after account of senior Trump officials openly admitting the president is basically just a bratty little toddler who’s incapable of making a single rational decision.

The way Woodward tells it, Trump’s own defence secretary thinks the president has been saddled with the intellect of a 10-year-old schoolchild. Aides with half a brain also apparently like to tell the president they’re going to do one thing before doing the total opposite, with the book also claiming that former economic adviser Gary Cohn literally snatched a letter off the president’s desk at one point so Trump would forget to pull America out of a trade agreement with South Korea.

Cohn’s rationale? He had to “protect the country”.

For all we know he did, and the White House has spent the better part of the week trying to do some damage control by rubbishing the claims and threatening to sue one of America’s most respected reporters into oblivion. God, Trump is mad.

But yesterday, the Teflon Don’s arch-rivals at the New York Times chipped in with their two cents and totally upped the ante after publishing a bombshell op-ed by an anonymous senior official in the Trump administration. That article essentially outlined the remit of a semi-organised network of officials placed within the Trump organisation who've vowed to “thwart parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations” at every possible turn.

And boy, if the president was pissed off before, you can imagine what those furious little fingers were tweeting into the early hours of the morning.

Trump lashed out at the media, the establishment, his “gutless” employees and called on The New York Times to hand over the article’s author in the interest of national security. The president’s poor, exhausted press secretary mustered a slightly more eloquent response (sans caps lock), calling on the anonymous official behind the article to stop deceiving the president, “do the right thing and resign.”

God, America’s political establishment looks like a disgusting dad joke right now. It’s almost as though Donald Trump started watching episodes of Jeremy Kyle, East Enders and American Horror Story at the same time and thought to himself: “What a great combo, I should turn this into real, everyday life”. It’s almost beyond parody.

But you know what? If nothing else, this week’s political anarchy should bring the world a miniscule sliver of ice-cold comfort in knowing that there are still a few adults working at the White House – and that the Washington establishment Donald Trump vowed to violently dismantle bit by bit is actually very much alive and well. Better yet, some of the adults working in that establishment appear to recognise the president as an inept demagogue, and so they’re doing their absolute best to keep him from ruining the entire planet.

Like it or not, that’s one great thing about the American political system – and it’s something our aristocratic, slave-owning founding fathers really nailed on the head. Washington was specially crafted centuries ago to operate based on a series of bureaucratic, gridlocked checks and balances. Things in the US capital move horribly slow by design, so that when a ham-fisted moron is elected to the highest office in the land, all-knowing civil servants are able to minimise the impact and preserve a tiny shred of dignity until the next bloke in a cheap suit comes along. It's good to know.

Even so, we’d all better hope this internal superhuman resistance ultimately spills into the open and materialises into a more concerted effort. Because even with ironclad checks and balances, Donald Trump is doing his best to send America back to the Stone Age – and at the end of the day, even everyday superheroes can only take so much kryptonite before they collapse and resign.

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