As the Trump presidency enters its second year, prospects for the nation, for American democracy, and for international stability and peace grow dimmer. Trump’s increasingly erratic behavior raises the most serious questions about his fitness for office, and even about his mental health. Those who could check his recklessness—the Republicans in control of both the Senate and the House—turn a blind eye to the dangers as long as Trump signs off on their plutocratic agenda. If the long arc of history does bend toward justice, the Republican Party and its supporters will face a dire reckoning. And that includes millions of Catholics and Evangelicals, who somehow judged that voting for a man demonstrably unfit for the presidency was worth the risk because he could be counted on to appoint conservative justices to the Supreme Court. That was not a prudential judgment; it was the abdication of prudence.
At the moment, the administration is beset by questions raised by journalist Michael Wolff’s depiction of dysfunction in the West Wing in his book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. Given unhampered access during the early months of Trump’s presidency, Wolff encountered a world of bitter factionalism and infighting, where staffers schemed endlessly against one another while leaking feverishly to the “lame-stream media.” Much of Wolff’s book relies on interviews with Steve Bannon, the former Trump campaign C.E.O. and chief strategist to the president, who was pushed out of the administration, evidently at the behest of Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner. Besides the picture of administrative chaos, Wolff’s most damning claim is that no one in the administration, not even Trump’s daughter and son-in-law, think Trump is intellectually, psychologically, or emotionally capable of fulfilling the duties of his office. According to Wolff, Trump does not read, cannot focus, cannot comprehend routine policy issues, does not listen, and is driven by a childish and disabling need for instant gratification. Equally revealing, Wolff claims that Trump did not expect to win the election and was panicked when he did. Apparently he merely hoped to leverage his increased visibility and popularity from the campaign into another profitable television platform. He had no interest in running a government or becoming the leader of the free world, no understanding of American democracy or comprehension of the Constitution.