The media often reacts to Trump’s outrages as though his presidency is on the verge of ending (some on the right also harbor this fantasy). But there’s no magic mechanism that is going to make him disappear.
We discussed a question related to this on The Editors podcast yesterday, which we recorded before the press conference. I asked whether the Charlottesville episode would be a blip or a watershed in how people view Trump. Michael Brendan Dougherty argued watershed. I thought blip, but then adopted Dan McLaughlin’s formulation — not watershed or blip, but erosion, part of a steady slide.
That’s still my answer, but Trump should realize what thin ice he’s on. I don’t think there are any Republican senators who are enthusiastic about him in private, and many disdain him. These are the people that Trump may eventually need to protect him in a Senate impeachment trial.
And then there are Trump’s own officials. Oftentimes, the social-media focus on how political figures are reacting to a statement or event can be cheap — based, say, on one picture that captures someone at an awkward moment. This was not the case with General Kelly yesterday. This video shows that he was genuinely pained by what he heard:
WATCH: White House chief of staff John Kelly reacts to President Trump’s latest remarks on violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. pic.twitter.com/O9gwSCxwp8— NBC News (@NBCNews) August 16, 2017
If Kelly quit, it would likely be debilitating to the White House. So the answer is erosion, but the longer you erode, the less margin for error you have and eventually you will indeed reach a breaking point.