This seems to me less a prediction than an inescapability: In 2018, the wreckage of U.S. domestic politics will be obscured by perilous foreign affairs.
With the midterm elections bearing down, Congress is unlikely to legislate any major "reforms." That of entitlements — the reform of which is most often eyed for prompt action by congressional Ayn Randians — has the Republican Senate at odds with the Republican House. Their political interests diverge; the Senate majority leader, whose caucus represents statewide interests, wants nothing to do with the speaker's ideological swan singing, orchestrated for the narrowest of red districts. Having already conquered the apex of fiscal recklessness in their tax bill, congressional Republicans are more likely to spend next year lying about it some more, and claiming that Trump's bubbling economy — in reality, Obama's — is the result of said recklessness.
Meanwhile, America's foreign policy will be guided by the incoherent and probably diseased mind that blathered this gibberish yesterday about domestic policy to the New York Times' Michael Schmidt: "Now I’ve ended the individual mandate. And the other thing I wish you’d tell people. So when I do this, and we’ve got health care, you know, McCain did his vote…. But what we have. I had a hundred congressmen that said no and I was able to talk them into it. They’re great people."
The scrambled mind of a middle-school dropout on drugs could formulate a more syntactically lucid whatever-that-was; but whatever that was, it was uttered by the clanging mind of, God help us, the president of the United States. No one of any political or intellectual integrity could read that passage and walk away believing that its formulator is of sound mind. There is something deeply awry with Trump's grey matter, be it dementia-onset or a congenitally limited capability. Odds are, the former, since 10 or 20 years ago Trump was reasonably coherent.
Now he's a pinball, a synaptic dart soaring anywhere but the board, a loaded cannon unaffixed to any stable foundation — and packed with the most powerful ignorance. In the complex field of foreign affairs, which nonetheless possesses bold contours readily perceptible to even the layman, it is instructive and cringeworthy that, for instance, Trump has had to be lectured like a derelict schoolboy by Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel; in conversations described by German officials as "alarming" and by U.S. officials as "humiliating," the chancellor has had to uncomfortably tutor the president on Ukraine's history and its importance to Europe and its long "bullying" by Russia, while having to further explain that no, he cannot negotiate a bilateral trade agreement with Germany, since Germany is a member of the collective European Union. Here was a human pinball in frenetic, ignorant, directionless motion.
And that — foreseeable caprice — is the one constant in Trump's erratic foreign policy. As the NYT summarizes its rubble, he "has pulled out of trade and climate change agreements"; "denounced the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran"; "broken with decades of American policy in the Middle East by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel"; "taunted Kim Jong-un of North Korea as 'short and fat,' fanning fears of war on the peninsula"; "assiduously cultivated President Xi Jinping of China and avoided criticizing President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia — leaders of the two countries that his own national security strategy calls the greatest geopolitical threats to America." He is "feted in Beijing and Riyadh but barely welcome in London."
One wonders why Trump bothers with having foreign policy advisers. For in his infinite ignorance, he fancies himself as knowing all. He is less the president of the United States than the loutish blowhard at the bar; his empty arrogance about international affairs, so often on display, is akin to his hallucinatory musings on his domestic policy expertise — "I know the details of taxes better than anybody. Better than the greatest C.P.A.." he told the NYT. "I know the details of health care better than most, better than most," and he knows more about "the big [congressional] bills … than any president that’s ever been in office."
Those are not words from a genuinely informed, normal, healthy mind. As legislative activity recedes in domestic notoriety in 2018, foreign affairs are likely to fill the vacuum — and at our ship of state's helm will be a vastly ignorant, abnormal, unhealthy mind. If nothing else, I suppose, we'll learn once and for all if God really does look after drunks, children, and the United States.