Rocket Man. Comrade Trump called Kim Jong-un Rocket Man. A tweet from Sept. 17: “I spoke with President Moon of South Korea last night. Asked him how Rocket Man is doing. Long gas lines forming in North Korea. Too bad!”
I miss having a president. Trump has been in office for several months and has yet to raise himself to the level of a nation’s leader. When you make the president of North Korea look rational, you’ve got problems. I think it can be concluded that there will be no “pivot” and that chief of staff Kelly will not be able to bring Trump around to a more presidential posture or bearing.
One thing that Trump has forced me to realize is that anything that could be called “presidential” is only what presidents before him did. Anything that is now considered precedent at one point had to be unprecedented. Could all these embarrassing and potentially deadly blowouts Trump commits on an almost daily basis be setting new precedents?
Trump has no idea what his job is, but this is a large part of what got him elected. Not the promises he made about his border wall, immigration policy or magical thinking on health care but the fact that he doesn’t know, doesn’t want to know and has no patience for anything that takes longer than a few minutes.
Unfortunately for America, leaders all over the world really do plot and plan centuries at a time. With the idiotic “Rocket Man” tweet, Trump stirred a pot that doesn’t need any more agitation. Imagine what it must be like to be a South Korean citizen with Trump basically dictating your foreign policy just because he has no idea of the history of the two Koreas, doesn’t value diplomacy and doesn’t register the complexity of the relationship America has with the rest of the world.
At this time, the United States has no ambassador in South Korea. Not only is that unprecedented, it’s stupid and dangerous. Not only is Trump not suited for the job but neither is Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
In less than a year, Trump has put America and the rest of the world in a new and uncertain place. Where is it all going? Don’t ask Trump, he has no idea.
For Trump’s supporters, the last several days have been confusing. They already overpaid for their stupid hats; now do they wear them or burn them? They thought he didn’t like DACA kids but then he did and now he doesn’t again, or not. Huh?
That big beautiful wall that Mexico will pay for? There’s been a slight change of plans, apparently, and we’re just gonna use whatever’s lying around and git ’er done. A Trump tweet from Sept. 14: “The WALL, which is already under construction in the form of new renovation of old and existing fences and walls, will continue to be built.” Dude, that’s called recycling and your supporters want a yuge new one, not leftovers that look like the garbage and cars on blocks that litter their front yards. The wall has to get built fast; you never know when Mexico might invade.
The speed and fury with which right-wing pundits turned on Trump could be taken at least two ways. It might be that their xenophobic values and laughable sense of entitlement were grossly offended by a man they thought gullible enough to do exactly what they wanted him to do. Or they might just enjoy lashing out.
For Trump’s nonsupporters, who outnumber the faithful as the Juggalos outnumbered them at the National Mall last Saturday, the last several days were probably many things, from frightening to infuriating. A pal of mine went down to the Mall to watch the proceedings and said the Insane Clown Posse’s fans thronged in the thousands. I saw a photo of the lonely Trump gang, there for the M.O.A.R., or Mother of All Rallies, looking a little sullen. One was holding a sign that said “Drain the Swamp,” which would be like Hillary Clinton holding a sign saying “Lock Me Up.”
Chuck and Nancy are playing a longer game than Trump’s attention span will allow him to comprehend.
Meanwhile, the president seems happy with his new friends, Chuck and Nancy. I think they already knew that when Trump says one thing, he’s only gearing up to do another, and they’re playing a longer game than Trump’s attention span will allow him to comprehend. It’s an interesting threesome, ironic as hell, but you never know — it could be the start of something that actually moves. Nah.
What Trump and his family have been very good at is crisis management. They just deny everything. The truth is that Jared Kushner is in a fiscal world of hurt. He’s not a billionaire. He’s in debt past his eyeballs. His father-in-law isn’t a billionaire, either. He is? Prove it. Their house is on fire. It’s a big house but eventually the heat will find them. Nothing seems to change Jared’s glued-on smirk as the weeks pass. Living in a state of fear might freeze the facial features.
We’re in unprecedented waters. It’s like that scene in Apocalypse Now, when Captain Willard asks, “Who’s in charge here?” and a crazed soldier responds, “Ain’t you?!” There’s been no one at the wheel for months now. It’s a new kind of freedom. It feels hopeless and unattended.
It’s hard to imagine another year of this. As America tries to make sense of this administration, as the unprecedented becomes precedent, eventually a reality beyond Mueller’s investigation, North Korea’s outbursts and whatever other dust Trump and his gang can kick up, will ultimately try to settle in — a sense of normality. It is this which must be resisted at all costs. Humans are incredibly adaptable but there’s no getting used to this.
Look for your weekly fix from the one and only Henry Rollins right here every Thursday, and come back tomorrow for the playlist for his Sunday KCRW broadcast.
More from the mind of Henry Rollins:
Make America Filthy, Hungry, Broke and Stupid Again
Ask Yourself What Side of History You Want to Be on
Don't Let the Trump Show Distract You From What's Really Going On