Taking a wrecking ball to decorum

Well that’s one way to put it.

In his first two years in office, President Donald Trump has rewritten the rules of the presidency and the norms of the nation’s capital, casting aside codes of conduct and traditions that have held for generations.

In Trump’s Washington, facts are less relevant. Insults and highly personal attacks are increasingly employed by members of both parties. The White House press briefing is all but gone, international summits are optional, the arts are an afterthought and everything — including inherently nonpartisan institutions and investigations — is suddenly political.

The thing is, though, Trump hasn’t actually rewritten any rules; he hasn’t done anything that thoughtful, and he couldn’t if he wanted to, because he doesn’t have the equipment. He doesn’t rewrite rules, he simply ignores them and does what he wants to do. He really is that stupid and headlong and childish. A bull in a china shop hasn’t rewritten the rules, he’s simply barged around the way a bull does. That’s Trump.

Taking a wrecking ball to decorum and institutions, Trump has changed, in ways both subtle and profound, how Washington works and how it is viewed by the rest of the nation and world.

Yes, that’s much closer.

I’m being picky but I think we need to be very careful not to attribute planning or forethought or any kind of thought to what Trump does, because we need to keep constantly in mind just how vacant his mind is. Know the enemy.

“He’s dynamited the institution of the presidency,” said Douglas Brinkley, presidential historian at Rice University. “He doesn’t see himself as being part of a long litany of presidents who will hand a baton to a successor. Instead, he uses the presidency as an extension of his own personality.”

Not “litany”; that’s the wrong word. Line. But anyway dynamited, yes. Tear up the drawing of Trump rewriting rules and substitute the drawing of a huge explosion.

Trump’s tweets often trade in public insults that modern presidents just don’t share in public: The Senate minority leader is “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer.” The media are “the enemy of the people.” His own former secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, is “dumb as a rock.”

And that level of insult, at times veering into the coarse and the crass, has bled into the dialogue of official Washington. Outgoing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, weeks before he resigned in a cloud of ethics scandals, tweeted that a Democratic congressman had struggled “to think straight from the bottom of a bottle.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told fellow Democrats this month that the border wall was a “manhood” issue for the president.

Oh come on. You can’t compare Trump’s Twitter insults, including “little Adam Schitt,” to Pelosi telling colleagues the wall is a manhood issue. She didn’t tweet it, and it’s not remotely as crass and childish.

He’s trashed the place like a drunken frat boy. The rules remain unrewritten.

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