Executive time

Trump’s exciting week was exciting.

Executive time began early on Thursday, just after sunrise.

Feeling exasperated and feisty as he awoke in the White House residence, President Trump fired off his grievances on Twitter about how the media had been covering his Helsinki summit. And, refusing to be cowed, Trump gave national security adviser John Bolton an order: to schedule a second summit and officially invite Putin to visit Washington.

Because that’s what it’s all about – Trump’s mood, Trump’s need to ignore all advice and expertise, Trump’s image of himself as a dictator. They don’t like the way Trump dealt with Putin? Well he’ll show them: he’ll invite Putin over to do it even more so.

The trouble started Monday in Helsinki, though the magnitude did not set in for Trump for several hours. He stepped offstage after his 46-minute, freewheeling news conference alongside Putin — in which he seemed to accept Putin’s denial of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election campaign over the conclusions of U.S. intelligence agencies — delighted with his own performance. The president felt he had shown strength, an impression buoyed by two friendly interviews he did with Fox News Channel personalities before boarding Air Force One to return home from the Nordic capital.

Because that’s how dumb he is – he thinks it’s a performance, like The Apprentice. He didn’t tremble or cry while standing next to Putin, but instead smirked and gloated, therefor he “showed strength” – and that was his one job. The substance of the meeting? What means this word “substance”? It’s not about the substance, it’s about the two dudes, and how they interact, and what Trump thinks their “relationship” is.

But roughly an hour into the flight, Trump’s mood darkened and grim reality set in as he consumed almost universally negative cable news coverage and aides began reviewing pages upon pages of printed-out statements from fellow Republicans lambasting the president.

So…he went into the thing having no idea that nearly everyone thought he was doing a rash stupid dangerous thing? Even though that was all over the news for weeks before the meeting? How is that possible? Does he clean out his brain with a fire hose every few seconds to make sure nothing stays there?

He called Reince Priebus to whine, he huddled with Sarah Sanders to plan a strategy.

Much of the initial scrutiny focused on Trump taking the side of Putin over his own intelligence community, so Trump and his aides first settled on the president’s sending a tweet that reiterated, “I have GREAT confidence in MY intelligence people.”

So…he didn’t realize when he said it that it would not go down well to say on the one hand the intel people and on the other hand Putin? He didn’t understand that until he got on the plane? Again: how is that possible? It’s been under discussion almost since he took office, plus it’s kind of a core aspect of the job – working for the US government and people as opposed to working for Putin – so how could he have been confused about it?

Trump himself was flummoxed. He waxed on babbled about his impressions of Putin up close — strong, smart and cunning, in Trump’s assessment — and told associates that he viewed the Russian as a formidable adversary with whom he relishes interactions.

As if it’s a sport or a friendly competition. “Cool, he’s strong, smart, and cunning, just like me, so we can have a really fun match.” Great Russian Bakeoff.

He also was furious with the negative media coverage of a summit that he felt had been a clear success.

Based on what? The fact that the pee didn’t run down his leg and form a visible pool on the floor? The fact that Putin masked his contempt, sort of?

Or maybe he thinks they made Excellent Agreements in their 2+ hours alone together, but how can he expect anyone else to know that when there are no witnesses?

Well it’s the usual thing – he has no theory of mind. He’s more than dense enough to pride himself on holding a closed sekrit meeting with a murderous dictator and blame us for not knowing what went on in the meeting.

Trump further grumbled about the tough question he was asked by Jonathan Lemire, an Associated Press correspondent, wondering why that reporter had been called on rather than someone who might have asked an easier question.

Yeah, why didn’t they call on someone who would have asked what they had for their snack?

The president still was not satisfied. Later in the week, he told CNBC, “I had some of these fools from the media saying, ‘Why didn’t you stand there, look him in the face, walk over to him, and start shouting at him?’ I said, ‘Are these people crazy? I want to make a deal.’ ”

What deal? What deal? WHAT DEAL?

On Tuesday morning, Trump told friends he did not understand what the big fuss was about.

Which is why we didn’t want him doing it in the first place. He does not understand anything.

Then there was his cheerful enthusiasm for the plan to send Michael McFaul to Russia for questioning.

The episode revealed a naivete on the part of the president. White House aides fretted that Trump did not recognize the massive diplomatic and security implications of turning Americans over to an autocratic regime that jails and kills dissidents.

As well they might. He doesn’t understand even that, yet he holds a meeting with Putin alone.

All in all, a thrilling week for the novice president.

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