Old men, Shakespeare said in Henry V, forget. Not in America, they don’t. Instead, they try to get even.
“I think he’s afraid of the president of Russia,” former CIA director John Brennan said on Tuesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program. “The Russians, I think, have had long experience with Mr. Trump and may have things they could expose.” Next, in an appearance at an anti-sexual assault rally at the University of Miami, former vice-president Joe Biden waded into what amounts to the second front of the Donald Trump presidency, the woman problem. Biden announced that he wouldn’t waste time trying to discuss world events with Trump but would take him out. Biden boasted, “They asked me if I’d like to debate this gentleman, and I said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘If we were in high school, I’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him.’”
At least he called him a gentleman. Trump was not so generous in responding this morning with his own imprecations: “Crazy Joe Biden is trying to act like a tough guy. Actually, he is weak, both mentally and physically, and yet he threatens me, for the second time, with physical assault. He doesn’t know me, but he would go down fast and hard, crying all the way. Don’t threaten people Joe!” Given that portly Trump relies on a golf cart to make it to the putting green, it’s not entirely clear on what basis Trump has arrived at the conclusion that he would be able to dispatch Biden almost immediately. But high ratings, always of keen concern to Trump, would certainly be guaranteed. Perhaps Melania Trump and Jill Biden could serve as seconds.
For all of the taunts, however, it’s increasingly clear that Trump is hopelessly embattled when it comes to Russia and the bevy of women that are filing lawsuits against him. On Russia, Trump’s hope appears to be a coup de main in which he outmanoeuvres his detractors by reaching a sweeping arms-control deal with the Kremlin. But with his own White House steadily undermining his attempts to cozy up to Vladimir Putin—the latest was the revelation that he congratulated the Russian leader on his reelection even though his aides told him not to do so – it won’t be easy going. Anyway, Trump’s constant protestations of a WITCH HUNT, as he likes to put it, have helped to create such a hugger-mugger around his dealings with Russia and Putin that it will be difficult for him to sell an agreement as anything other than a sellout. Like the old Victrola dog, Trump will be depicted as heeding His Master’s Voice.
Then there are Trump’s legal woes. He confronts litigation from a reality show star, a porn actress, and an ex-Playboy model. All three are sure to deliver salacious details about Trump’s sexual predilections, and in the case of Stormy Daniels there may be photos and videotapes that could cause even Trump’s evangelical followers to swallow even harder than they’ve been swallowing when it comes to his previous peccadilloes. If I had to guess, it might be Summer Zervos who poses the biggest threat to the old boy. She’s not claiming more than a few thousand dollars in damages and is simply trying to prove that Trump lied about her. Trump’s lawyers—or is goons the more appropriate term? – are trying to argue that his derisive remarks about her during the campaign were protected “political speech.” New York judge Jennifer Schechter wasn’t having any of it. “No one is above the law,” she said. It was the Paula Jones lawsuit against Bill Clinton, she noted, that confirmed the fact that presidents don’t enjoy immunity. Trump could end up under deposition. That could prove a lot more uncomfortable for Trump than trading insults with Biden.