Nearly a month into his presidency, Donald Trump is failing by practically every metric. His White House is facing a deeply serious scandal; his National Security Advisor has been forced out; members of his campaign team are facing a counter-espionage investigation; and polls show the American mainstream rejecting what they're seeing out of the West Wing.The result is something of a test for the new president. How does Trump respond under pressure? Can he show grace under fire? President Obama excelled at keeping his cool -- in ways that often seemed to annoy pundits -- and current conditions offer his successor an opportunity to show he can do the same.So far, it's not going well.
President Donald Trump blamed "conspiracy theories and blind hatred" — and an attempt to "cover-up" for Hillary Clinton's failed presidential campaign — in a series of tweets Wednesday morning as he tried to distance himself from any links to Russia.Trump tweeted that the "fake news media is going crazy with their conspiracy theories and blind hatred," and added that "this Russian connection non-sense is merely an attempt to cover-up the many mistakes made in Hillary Clinton's losing campaign."
Yes, the president, who loved leaks when they related to Hillary Clinton, had quite a series of angry missives this morning, starting early with complaints about the media and "conspiracy theories" -- this from a man who's been largely defined by his bizarre affection for ridiculous and racially charged conspiracy theories -- which was followed by a torrent of related tweets.Of particular interest was Trump's complaints about "classified information" from intelligence agencies being shared "illegally" with major news organizations. It creates an interesting contradiction: the information can either be "fake news" or it can be classified materials from official sources, but he really ought to pick one or the other.At another point, the president raised concerns about the FBI possibly intervening in politics -- which was ironic given James Comey's role in helping Trump win the election.But aside from the specifics of his social-media tirade, this morning seemed to also offer the public a peek into the president's internal monologue.Trump consumes enough media to know he's in trouble, and he's probably roughly aware of his options. Come clean? Change the subject? Time for a staff shake-up? Hunker down for a while?With the pressure on, the president made a decision -- and chose to go with a Twitter tantrum.As a result, we know exactly what's going on in his mind. Trump is thinking about Hillary Clinton's campaign missteps, his animosity towards news organizations, Obama's Russia policy, how annoying he finds intelligence agencies, and some other "real scandal" he wishes would replace the actual scandal.The point is not just to marvel at the president's strange and erratic behavior, but rather, to note that nearly a month into his term, he seems to believe such behavior is in his interest. Today's tantrum was weird, but I'm more alarmed by the idea that Trump thought the tantrum was a good idea.This should be an important time for Trump to show that he's capable of leading, taking responsibility, and being in control. This morning was an unsettling reminder that he's actually incapable of doing any of these things.