During Sunday’s “Reliable Sources,” host Brian Stelter asked historian Douglas Brinkley to put this week of overwhelming news into a historic context.
“It’s an utter disarray,” he said of the White House. “You can’t really compartmentalize everything, because it’s all morphed together because Donald Trump is unfit to command in my opinion.”
“It means Donald Trump picked the wrong person to be his communications director,” Brinkley said. “He thinks you can govern by chaos and it’s not working. It is true, he has 36 percent of the American public backing him. That means over 60 percent of Americans think that he’s doing a miserable job and the rest of the world is laughing.”
He called out Trump for the inappropriate need to play “reality TV wrestling games” while there’s a crisis in North Korea. He attributed it to Trump’s obsession with television and making every day like a different episode of a reality show.
“We had a problem with Nixon,” he continued. “If you listen to Nixon Watergate tapes, the secret tapes, and you hear Nixon ramble, it sounds like Donald Trump’s tweets and it didn’t turn out well for Nixon.”
Brinkley confessed that he went to Mar-a-Lago to meet with Trump and that there was a real opportunity for the new president to unite the country around a moment of hope. Trump could have brought both sides together as someone who has served as a kind of “third rail candidate.” Instead, Trump has become an independent “of sorts,” but not in a good way.
“The key to Donald Trump is this kind of blind fierce loyalty, that’s what Franco expected in Spain. That’s what Mussolini wanted in Italy,” Brinkley said, describing Trump as someone who thinks people are either with him or against him. “If you’re asking people to march in lockstep with you — we saw John McCain give the thumbs down to President Trump. No, we’re not all in lockstep with you. So, what do you have? Six months of a dysfunctional White House, nothing has gotten done, the biggest thing Congress got done is keeping and strengthening sanctions with Russia. But it’s a failed agenda so far, and we’ll see if he can get in a new form of leadership going with a White House chief of staff, but it’s been a wreck so far.”
Watch the panel’s full discussion below: