According to recent reports from the Washington Post, president Donald Trump’s White House “stabilizers” are gone, leaving the president to call his own shots.
Just over a year into his presidency, Trump has remodelled his Cabinet in an apparent effort to govern the United States in the same manner — singular and unimpeded — as he did the Trump Organization. His dismissal, or the departure, in some cases, of key White House staff has allowed him to replace his checks and balances with yes-men who will only encourage his impulsive and erratic decision-making.
Director Stanley Kubrick refused to sign off on the U.S. Air Force disclaimer that precedes his 1964 political satire, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, for a reason. In the event the “safeguards,” which are purportedly in place to “prevent the occurrence of such events as are depicted in this film,” are bypassed, the only foreseeable outcome is a rodeo-ride on a nuclear warhead destined for oblivion.
Take, for example Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper, the unhinged commander of Burpelson Air Force base, who cuts off all communication with his superiors in the “war room” in Washington before setting off a logistically irreversible sequence of events that leads to the all out nuclear destruction of the world.
What makes the Trump presidency so troubling is that the president lacks any real voice of reason to override his decisions. Trump is “tired of the wait game” when it comes to trade, the border, and staffing changes, according to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and if his recent Twitter rants are any indication, he is cleaning house in order to consolidate power in the executive branch and estrange the legislature as the fictitious Jack Ripper did the war room in Dr. Strangelove.
The president has even surprised current White House staff with his recent declarations, most notably his threat to delay a newly renegotiated trade deal with South Korea. The announcement came after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s surprise meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping and ahead of Trump’s tentatively planned face-to-face with Kim, and suggests that Trump intends to hold the trade deal hostage and leverage it against the overall stability of the region.
The president must accept the reality of the situation: he is no longer dealing in real estate and he needs to defer to those qualified to delegate. Trump is caught in the thick of a complicated web of foreign policy and international relations, and nuclear warfare is the unlikely but all-too-real price to pay for his bold and brash brand of deal-making. Forget the pen, and do away with the sword — Trump’s method of governance and negotiation is, as his business acumen and his presidency thus far suggest, more akin to the bomb.
According to Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign official, the president’s recent staffing changes and the resulting shift in Trump’s public and diplomatic persona “was always bound to happen.”
“The phone book at the White House was filled by complete strangers,” Caputo said, “but now he knows how the White house operates, and he’ll operate it himself.”
Granted, Kubrick’s film was a work of satire, but then again, that is precisely what many in the media dubbed Trump’s campaign at its inception. By being complicit in the president’s manipulation of the measures that are in place to uphold our democracy, our elected officials, and we as U.S. citizens, are implicitly resigning ourselves to an unpredictable and potentially catastrophic fate.