Donald Trump's senior advisers blunt his worst impulses, according to new revelations this week about Trump's incompetence and mental instability.
A book by Bob Woodward and an anonymous article on The New York Times op-ed page gave accounts of senior staff members carrying out a "second track government" that subverts Trump's impetuous decisions.
Left unsaid is that the staff members see Trump as a vessel for their most odious policies. The anonymous writer describes Trump as "amoral" with "no guiding principles." Outside of a primitive core of slogans he uses to excite his base, Trump lacks a fully developed policy agenda. The more committed GOP operatives in his administration fill in this empty slate.
Trump's anti-immigration beliefs are one of his primary obsessions. Yet outside of his Mexican border wall, Trump lacks the capacity to develop extensive policy. His adviser Stephen Miller conceives of programs like the separation of immigrant children from their families.
While Trump holds an instinctive tribal desire to revive coal and other declining American industries, developed policies to accomplish this are left to his advisers. The same with his "America first" protectionism.
Except for evangelical Christians' political power, Trump cares nothing about their religion. Fervent believer Mike Pence uses the administration to push programs helping conservative Christians.
The Republican Party sees Trump as, in Russian KGB terms, a "useful idiot" to carry out its programs, such as taking control of the Supreme Court.
Mr. or Ms. Anonymous spelled it out, toutingTrump's administration accomplishments that match the GOP's fondest wishes: "effective deregulation, historic tax reform and a more robust military." The GOP has not sought to challenge Trump for his rash tweets, racist and sexist comments and authoritarian actions because he has carried out many of the GOP's most radical plans.
Effective deregulation means crippling the consumer protection bureau, limiting employees' ability to sue, removing regulations against coal and oil companies, and stripping away bank reforms passed after the 2008 recession.
Historic tax reform? Cutting taxes for corporations and the wealthiest Americans, and swelling the federal deficit. To hold down spending, the GOP wants to slash programs like Social Security and Medicare.
A more robust military? U.S. military spending already totaled more than the rest of the world combined. The new military budget boosts funds for unnecessary and redundant weapons systems.
Cable TV commentators were wondering about the anonymous author's motive in writing the Times op-ed piece.
I believe the article seeks to blunt Democratic gains in the midterm elections. Trump's intemperate actions might sway moderates to vote against GOP candidates, but the writer seeks to assure centrist voters that "rational" Republicans are in charge, and there's no need to vote for Democrats who might decide to impeach the president.
The piece tells those voters that impeachment in effect has already occurred. Even if they regain control of Congress, Republicans might even consider formally impeaching Trump and putting Pence, a more orthodox Republican, in the White House.