Shakespeare knew of other Trumps. In King Lear, Regan says of her father, “Tis the infirmity of his age, yet he hath ever but slenderly known himself.”
Trump comes into office riding a wave of adrenaline, of enormous rallies of cheering supporters who love his brand of anarchy, his wealth, his refusal to be hemmed in by convention. He comes into office riding his wave of promises and his destruction of his adversaries. He is the master of a singular moment in American history, a President whose election received the assistance of a former KGB Lieutenant Colonel, a dictator who has ordered the murder of journalists and political opponents.
Then Trump discovers that he will be held to his words, that he has created a fervent, attentive opposition, that his actions as President will be hemmed in by precedent, by legislation, by law, by officeholders who owe him nothing, by a free press. Recently he spoke of his life before becoming President: “I loved my previous life. I had so many things going. This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.’*
He strikes out at anyone who questions or opposes him. Instead of building alliances, he destroys any possibility of them. He is not King. No one told him he would not be King.
In firing Comey, Trump, a man hemmed in by the law, by a sense of forces closing round him, strikes a blow outside propriety and his world blows up. He sends out dopes and stooges to argue his case. They are mocked. No one believes them. Only fools will recite his gospel as if it is true. As I write this, Republican operatives and leaders are making their calculations. They have no love for him. Right now, at 70, he possesses none of “that which should accompany old age,/as honor, love, obedience, troops of friends,/… but, in their stead,/curses, not loud but deep, mouth-honor”** only. McConnell and Ryan were hoping for a malleable, political innocent, a figurehead King, but instead they got one who rages against TV sets and who threatens to light the Republic on fire through one petulant, impulsive action after another.
This is the beginning of the end of his Presidency. Watch his Republican allies over the next few days. I think they will abandon him as more information comes to light. The news media will dig deeper, ever deeper into the Russian connections. The FBI and DOJ will leak and leak. Trump will become more desperate. He will take actions that will increase the wild currents of the waters swirling round him. I would not be surprised if he did not resign within, say, 60 days, all the while claiming he has been forced out, that he has been betrayed, that his people have been betrayed, that he “has been stabbed in the back.”# Thus released from the confines of the Presidency, he will make the third act of his life all about vengeance. He will give in to the crowds, he will give in to the release of his “tiger-footed rage.”## No matter what happens, he will not go away for we live in a time when we cannot look away from that which may destroy us.
*Time Magazine, April 28, 2017 ** Macbeth, Act V, iii #International Encyclopedia of the First World War: Stab in the Back Myth ## Coriolanus, Act III, i