Our president-elect does not fail to disappoint. The weeks preceding his inauguration have been, thus far, a multi-media sideshow worthy of the best reality TV.
And "sideshow" is the word. Despite seeming like the random thoughts of a man with ADD and a Twitter account, the truth seems to be that Trump's strategy is to keep up a maddening stream of inane remarks designed to distract people from his team's more serious mischief.
Exhibit A is Trump's seeming war with the intelligence community. He sits in his gaudy tower, tossing insults at the people he may most need to rely upon when he is called to make actual executive decisions, and makes a great show of ignoring the information they offer him already. It is no surprise, then, that they have taken a swipe at the guy, releasing some information which suggests (surprise!) that the Russians have been manipulating him all along. The problem seems to be that this information has long been in the hands of the press, which found it unverifiable and therefore useless.
But who cares, really? Once Trump is in office, they will work for him. His chosen deputies will be in charge, and they will bring him the information he feels he can use. The relationship is off to a bad start, but it will work itself out.
Meanwhile, however, the guy is wreaking havoc with the traditions of American government. He has already taken steps to alienate China, which is -- lest we forget -- the world's other economic superpower, and with which the performance of our own economy is unalterably entwined. His proposed Cabinet is strangely heavy with generals and billionaires. The nominees have an almost universal lack of experience with the mechanics of government, and a general contempt for the particular departments thy have been asked to administer. Among the few people with actual governing experience is Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, a man who apparently does not believe secular thinkers have access to the truth.
His team has stage-managed confirmation process for Cabinet members intended to be so fast that no serious vetting can take place. Part of this has been allowing nominees to omit large portions of the usual vetting process, notably including ethical review.
And "ethical review" is a phrase we will hear a lot more in the days, months and years to come. From the very beginning, Trump has made it clear that he intends to continue running his private businesses while also running the country. On the campaign trail, he talked about a "blind trust" so glibly that reporters came to doubt that he understood the meaning of the words. Already, foreign diplomats have been encouraged to book rooms at a Trump-owned property when they are in DC.
On top of which, earlier in the month,, Team Trump sent a shock through the Department of Energy, by asking for the names of individual scientists working on climate change -- hinting at a purge.
A spat with some spooks is serious, in its own way. From some other president-elect, it would be a strange move that raised serious questions. For Trump, it is a just a bit of smoke and mirrors, some showbiz puffery meant to distract us from what is really going on. Our soon-to-be-president is putting together an administration run by ethically-challenged amateurs. He is already creating legal and diplomatic problems that will no doubt dog him, and our nation, throughout his time in office.