The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Homer Simpson

Donald Trump's recent public criticism (via Twitter) of his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, is classless and stupid. Sessions, who was viciously and dishonestly maligned as a "racist" by many Democrats during his confirmation, is a decent man who is trying to reform and redirect a Justice Department that was hyper-politicized under the previous administration. The real question isn't whether Sessions failed to do things that Trump wanted done, but rather why the president publicly criticized him in such a crass manner. Sure, it's Trump's style to act like a jerk most of the time, but this seems not only classless, but stupid.

First, Sessions provided unequivocal support for Trump when few, if any, members of the GOP elite were willing to do likewise. That level of support should be rewarded with better treatment than Sessions has received. Second, by publicly humiliating a top appointee, Trump will have increasing difficulty in finding good people to replace the inevitable departures from his administration. No one likes to be scolded in public, particularly men and women of accomplishment.

Chris Cillizza writes:
It all reminds me of this scene from "The Simpsons" in which Homer beats the Krustyburglar nearly to death thinking he's trying to steal:

"Stop, stop...he's already dead," cries one young onlooker as Homer continues to beat the lifeless Krustyburglar.

Jokes aside, what Trump is doing to Sessions is the worst sort of bullying. He's attacking a subordinate -- publicly and repeatedly -- knowing that the subordinate has no real recourse other than to resign his post.

That appears to be, of course, exactly the outcome Trump wants. For all of his bluster, he's not terribly fond of actually firing people -- he prefers to isolate and embarrass them into quitting.

That, plus Trump's potential fears of what it might look like if he fired the AG so soon after firing the FBI director -- and with the Russia investigation still ongoing -- seems to be at the root of Trump's strategy here.

But, what Trump is doing to Sessions is more embarrassing for the former than the latter. Picking on someone who works for you is rarely a good look. And doing it via Twitter -- while not being willing to speak to Sessions in person -- is not the sort of stuff we have come to expect from a president.

If Trump thinks Sessions is doing such a bad job -- as he clearly does -- then he should fire him. That's well within his powers as president.

What he's doing right now is well beneath the office of president.
This is the first time ever that I've agreed with anything that I've read from Cillizza, but in this case he's right.