WASHINGTON — Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., is an optimist.
Flake, a vocal critic of President Trump for more than a year, told Harvard Law School graduates the other day that President Donald Trump's behavior "may have hit bottom."
"Our presidency has been debased by a figure who seemingly has a bottomless appetite for destruction and division ... We may have hit bottom," Sen. Flake said.
Flake and the rest of the world have no way of knowing where the bottom is with this person. It is arguable that Trump doesn't either.
For example, as Flake was readying his remarks, the president accused the Democratic minority leader of the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, of "coming out in favor of MS-13." MS-13 is a network of Central American gangs operating in the United States, including the capital's very suburbs.
MS-13's trademarks are not only murder, but branding, mutilation and torture. To say this about a politician who not only leads the minority of the House but may be the next speaker after January, marks Trump as a man who will say anything and get away with it.
Trump's reckless talk obviously pleases a sizable minority of Americans who drool over the lies and hate spewed out for hours on the radio – daily for 15 hours straight in this market. It is also a sign that Trump's hard core, viewing life as a game show, is ready to let him do anything.
Early Thursday, the president took action that mirrored the chaos of the White House, if not his mind. He precipitously called off the heralded June 12 summit in Singapore between himself and North Korea's murderous hereditary dictator, Kim Jong Un.
Over the last few months, Trump has rattled between calling Kim "rocket man" then "honorable" and "open." On your behalf, Trump has threatened Kim's regime with "fire and fury," implying thermonuclear war. At the same time, he allowed White House aides to issue a commemorative coin featuring his image and Kim's as "supreme leader," marking the now cancelled summit in English and Korean language.
The summit was (is?) an outgrowth of Trump's pursuit of center stage and his fantasy that North Korea is going to abandon its nuclear weapons. It won't. North Korea began this quest in 1952 with its creation of the Atomic Energy Research Institute and the backing of the Soviet Union.
Trump's success with his base stems from two elements: Unsupported left-wing attacks on Trump by legacy media, and from his incessant attacks on same. Leslie Stahl, a regular on CBS "60 Minutes" show, said in a recent interview that Trump's attacks on the news media is calculated.
Stahl said in an interview with Trump after his 2016 election, Trump said off camera, "I do it to discredit you all so that when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you."
Last week Trump played the bully-boy with Congress, sending two senior aides into to a congressional briefing with intelligence officials – meant for Congress only – looking into Trump's unproven charges that intelligence agencies spied on Trump's 2016 campaign and are still spying on him.
Trump has demanded – note the term "demanded" – that the Justice Department open investigations into issues that exist mainly in his own mind. And the Justice Department yielded.
Bolder, more reckless, and destructive of our customs and institutions dealing with science, information and law, Trump has the nation – particularly Congress – on its heels. History has not been kind to nations that lost their souls to a careless and militant minority.