June 26, 2019
By Robert Kuttner | Jun 26, 2019
When the Grown-Up in the Room is Trump. For two years, the grown-ups in the room restrained Trump. He managed to get rid of all of them—an attorney general in Jeff Sessions who wasn’t willing to do all of Trump’s bidding; some White House chiefs of staff such as Reince Priebus who acted to protect him from himself; the traditional generals who served as homeland security secretary, and national security adviser, and secretary of defense.
Trump managed to get rid of them all. Now he has in Bill Barr, Mike Pompeo, and John Bolton senior advisers who are even more reckless than he is. Plus Mick Mulvaney as White House chief of staff, and Steve Miller as all purpose wing-nut.
So last week, we were treated to the spectacle of Trump reining in his advisers. And almost behaving like a normal president as he sought a diversity of views before pulling the trigger on war with Iran.
Thankfully, Trump watched Tucker Carlson on Fox, warning him that an Iran war would be fatal to his re-election campaign, rather than tuning in to Sean Hannity egging him on. In the Trump era, this passes for restraint.