Paris Decision Was Driven By the President’s Rage and Fear

President Donald Trump XXXX Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan xxxx at the White House, Tuesday, May 16, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump speaks during his meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, May 16, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Let me expand on what I said below about President Trump’s climate decision being driven by emotion and rage.

A friend wrote in and said: Wait, you don’t think this was about the battle between Trump’s “nationalist” and “globalist” advisors, his need to feed his core voters and stuff like that? You think it was driven by a spat with Merkel?

Yes, of course, it was those things. But the decision was driven by contingent events and emotion. Here is what I mean.

I told someone today that if you’d asked me on November 9th, I would have been shocked that it took Trump this long to pull out of the Paris accord. He ran on doing so and talked about it constantly. But he also talked about moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem. He railed against Goldman Sachs. He said he was going to build a ridiculous wall along the US Mexico border. He did and said a million other things that he promptly forgot about or came up with some excuse for not doing.

There’s always been a core of advisors that wanted this outcome. But if not for the events of the last few weeks I think we’d have remained in the Paris accord. Trump got into a growing fight with Europe. France rejected Bannon’s favorite Le Pen. He met with and got disrespected and criticized by the leaders of NATO and the EU. He got mad. Both Merkel and Macron spoke about him as a bully and a child. Macron has happily spoken publicly about over-manning Trump when they met in person.

This isn’t about climate and it isn’t about Trump’s base. It’s about sticking it to the leaders of Europe. That’s what gave the Bannonites the edge. That and one other thing.

Trump is scared. He’s entering a a widening gyre of political crisis over Russia. He’s scared and he’s angry and he needs friends. So he’s more and more likely to hug his base – both the most aggressive advisors and the most committed supporters. He’s trying to bring back Corey Lewandowski, his wildest and most troubling-driving advisor who has the unshakable loyalty and lickspittledom Trump now requires. Indeed, we can take it as a given that as the Russia scandal crisis deepens Trump will become more aggressive and more extreme in his policies both to maintain his emotional equilibrium and reinforce his backing from a shrinking base of supporters. This is as certain as night follows day.

It’s worth noting, if it is not obvious, that the growing rupture in Trump’s relations with Europe is also driven by the Russia issue and Trump’s desire to hamstring or break apart the EU and NATO. Whether Trump’s affinity for Russia is legitimate or corrupt, the reality itself is indisputable. That drives his hostility to the EU and NATO.

In any case, this is about wanting to lash out at enemies, strike a blow in a context in which people can’t easily fight back and try to assert control over a situation that increasingly feels (and is) out of control. Rewrite the last four weeks, leave Trump less angry and threatened, I’m confident the US would still be in the Paris accord. That’s how he operates.

The entire outcome was driven by the President’s current, besieged, emotional state.

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