It tells you something about the chaos engulfing the Trump Administration that the US airstrikes on Syria had to jostle for public attention with the news of the President's scandals.
Saturday began with President Donald Trump labelling his former FBI Director "an untruthful slime ball." He was responding to James Comey's new book, which calls Trump an "unethical" man "untethered to truth."
The "Steele dossier" received some further validation from a McClatchy report that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has evidence that Trump's private lawyer, Michael Cohen, visited the Czech Republic in 2016, just as former British spy Christopher Steele had indicated. Cohen has denied he made the trip.
The weekend also brought news that Cohen is under criminal investigation by the Justice Department for a litany of offences. That same day, the deputy finance chairman of the RNC resigned after the disclosure that he had paid US$1.6 million in hush money to a former mistress, a Playboy playmate, whom he had impregnated. The broker of the hush money was none other than Cohen.
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It is hard to imagine how Trump can do his job while drowning in this rising tide of scandal. For him, everything is political and all politics is personal. Last Tuesday, while Trump was meeting his generals and Cabinet members to plot strategy against Syria, he got sidetracked with a disturbing tirade against the FBI and the Justice Department for raiding Cohen's office.
Yet somehow foreign policy analysts are supposed to put all this to the side and comment on the Syria strikes as if they were being undertaken by a President in his right mind. Okay, I'll play along.
The airstrikes were the bare minimum that the US could do to punish Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad for his use of chemical weapons. But it's unlikely that they will dissuade him from future atrocities.
Trump, who is oblivious to history and irony, actually boasted "Mission Accomplished!" But that triumphalist claim is even less likely to be vindicated than it was when President George W. Bush spoke beneath a giant "Mission Accomplished" banner on an aircraft carrier on May 1, 2003. Just as Bush had no Iraq plan in 2003, so today Trump has no Syria plan.
In all likelihood, he will resume pressuring the Pentagon to withdraw US troops, thus abandoning Kurdish allies and handing a major victory to Assad and his Iranian and Russian backers. But it's hard to imagine that Trump can focus on strategy for Syria amid the far more pressing threats that he faces from an ever-expanding criminal investigation.