By BRET STEPHENS [Wall Street Journal] — No presidency is ever about nothing. And the something that the Trump administration is fast becoming about is its own paranoia, incompetence and recklessness, all playing out in vertigo-inducing ways…
That’s a scary thought, but the scarier one is Mr. Trump’s methodical corruption of the presidency—or, more accurately, the concept of the presidency…Republicans and conservative pundits keep pretending that Mr. Trump’s eruptions are a sideshow, and that they will still be able to get on with repealing ObamaCare, cutting taxes, and so on. Let’s hope so. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned about this president, it’s that he didn’t come to the White House to be the instrument of Paul Ryan’s agenda. If there’s another thing we’ve learned, it’s that Mr. Trump hasn’t the slightest intention of changing his ways, even if he had the ability to do so.
Character rules, for better or worse. Americans used to know this, thanks to the likes of Washington. But liberals dropped the idea with Bill Clinton and conservatives dropped it with this guy. An earlier generation of moralists, philosophers and commonsensical people would have known what to call this: decline.