Can he really be the Manchurian candidate?

I slowly am coming around to the impossible thought that Donald Trump is working on someone else’s behalf, and not the American people.

I know this possibility has been around a long time — and many believed it — but I’m just beginning to really accept the possibility. I’ve had disagreements with many presidents, a couple of whom I worked for, but I never doubted they had the country’s best interest at heart. I chalk up Trump’s insan-er institincts to him being stupid or a narcissist or simply trying to keep his base together.

Let us consider that Trump, indeed, was the Manchurian candidate, inserted as our president quite by accident but being leveraged by, let’s say, Vladimir Putin: He certainly is doing all the things Putin would want:

He has upset the Washington apple cart, especially with his power grab to build a wall despite the fact that the Congress won’t approve money for it. If he can get away with that — and he might — he can do most anything as President. There’s nothing wrong with shaking up D.C. some, but Trump is contradicting the Constitution. And with all the judicial appointments he’s made, he could get away with it. He is trying to make Americans, or at least his base, believe there is an “invasion” going on at our southern border. There is not. There are military troops at the border, because Trump forced them there, and now he uses their presence as evidence to support his bogus “emergency.” If you look at the dozens of instances the emergency powers have been used, they are pretty much all for international reasons — boycotts, blockades, tariffs. None, zero are because a President didn’t get his way, which is what Trump is doing. That is not what our Constitution lays out for us.

He has turned international relationships topsy turvy. VP Pence mentioned Trump’s name at an international conference this weekend and there was silence, where normally there would have been applause for an American president. As Karl Kaiser, a longtime German-American analyst put it: “Two years of Mr. Trump, and a majority of French and Germans now trust Russia and China more than the United States.” That makes them even with Trump because…

Trump trusts Putin more than his intelligence agencies. He has said that at least twice. Once with Putin standing alongside him as he said Putin did not mess with our elections (despite heavy evidence to the contrary). And, he recently stated that he trusts Putin saying North Korea does not have the capability to strike the U.S. with its missiles. Our intelligence people believe the opposite. Please read that again because he is jeopardizing the safety of America because he believes our primary geopolitical enemy — Russia.

Dating North Korea. It’s one thing to meet with the tyrant who runs North Korea — and kills his enemies at will (including family members) — it’s another to lust after him as Trump has been doing, even admitting “we fell in love.” Cheap shot, I know, but it’s true. Maybe he thinks his adventures with Kim should earn him the Nobel Peace Prize because …

Nobel Peace Prize. Trump craves the Prize so much that the U.S. government asked Japan to submit a nomination for him. They did. Look, I didn’t think Obama had done anything to deserve the Prize when he got it either, but Trump equally has accomplished nothing yet except to make allies question us.

Damaging U.S. institutions. Trump has criticized judges. He daily criticizes the media, calling them the “enemy of the people,” damaging those institutions more than they’ve ever been. This creates distrust by Americans of the up-to-now trusted institutions that we rely on to keep public officials honest and criminals behind bars. Each can, and has, made mistakes but we aren’t united states without them. He also has criticized the Department of Justice which continues to investigate whether Russia mucked in our elections (clearly they did) and whether the Trump campaign had any involvement with that. It’s beginning to appear that more than a few in his campaign did collude, whether Trump believes it or knew about it or not.

His fellow elected Republicans fear him. Trump, never a Republican, has the Republican Senate scared to death of him so few feel they can challenge him. Why? They fear that if they anger Trump, they will be opposed in party primary and lose. So, their backbones have disappeared, thus killing off one Constitutionally mandated branch of government from restraining Trump from his worst (or Putin’s worst) instincts.

Add it all up, and we are in dangerous territory with at least two years left of Trump’s governing. If the premise of this piece is true, he’s certainly saving his boldest attacks on our country if he gets a second term, when he has literally nothing to lose.


Former deputy White House press secretary (Reagan and Bush 41) and former head of communications at Republican Natl Committee. My blog:

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