Kim Darroch, the British ambassador to the United States, resigned from his position after cables in which he criticized Donald Trump were leaked to the press. But I suspect that his description of the president was so accurate and well-summarized that it could become a point of reference for a lot of us in the months ahead. For example, here is a portion of what he said.
In one of the most sensitive documents, Sir Kim writes: ‘We don’t really believe this Administration is going to become substantially more normal; less dysfunctional; less unpredictable; less faction riven; less diplomatically clumsy and inept.’
He also says that he doesn’t think Trump’s White House will ‘ever look competent’.
I was reminded of that as I was perusing the news today. On Tuesday, a federal appeals court in New Orleans heard oral arguments in a case that could overturn the entire Affordable Care Act. Words like clumsy, inept, and incompetent come to mind when reading about the position of this administration.
Meanwhile, the judges seemed confused by the Trump administration’s legal position. The Department of Justice supports the lower court ruling against the entire ACA, but at the same time it has argued that some provisions of the law — which the DOJ hasn’t specified — should remain.
DOJ attorney August Flentje argued that it’s too soon to determine exactly which provisions can remain even if it’s struck down.
As the old saying goes, “the fish rots from the head.” After forcing his Justice Department to not defend the ACA in court, but instead submit a letter in support of the entire legislation being overturned, this is what Trump told Chuck Todd a couple of weeks ago.
I could have managed Obamacare so it would have failed or I could have managed it the way we did so it’s as good as it can be. Not great, but it’s as good — it’s too expensive and the premiums are too high. I had a decision to make. I could have politically killed Obamacare. I decided not to do it.
On Tuesday, he was back to referring to Obamacare as “pathetic” on Twitter and criticizing the Supreme Court for upholding the law.
Then there is the issue of how this president is dealing with Iran. He tweeted this today.
Iran has long been secretly “enriching,” in total violation of the terrible 150 Billion Dollar deal made by John Kerry and the Obama Administration. Remember, that deal was to expire in a short number of years. Sanctions will soon be increased, substantially!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 10, 2019
Of course, up until Trump pulled the United States out of the agreement negotiated by the Obama administration, both the International Atomic Energy Agency and his own intelligence chiefs affirmed that Iran was abiding by its terms. Now he is planning to increase sanctions because Iran isn’t following the agreement he broke himself.
Over the last couple of months, the president has been suggesting that he is willing to negotiate another agreement with Iran. But what are his goals? As Jonathan Chait documented recently, they’re a bit confused.
So our one goal is preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, or funding terrorism, or disrupting oil markets, or terrorizing its own people…
It is possible Trump has cleverly designed an intricate diplomatic plan to confound Iran with an array of ever-shifting demands. But the best explanation of Trump’s behavior on almost any issue is usually the dumbest one. It is far more likely that Trump himself is simply confused…
So there you have two examples from this week—one domestic and one foreign policy related—of Trump proving that the British ambassador’s assessment of him is correct. This administration is, indeed, dysfunctional, unpredictable, clumsy, inept, and incompetent.