Toxic

In this Aug. 15, 2017, photo, President Donald Trump points to members of the media as he answers questions in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York. Republican leaders on Wednesday tiptoed around Trump's extraordinar... In this Aug. 15, 2017, photo, President Donald Trump points to members of the media as he answers questions in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York. Republican leaders on Wednesday tiptoed around Trump's extraordinary comments on white supremacists. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) MORE LESS
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August 18, 2017 10:48 a.m.

Every president has these industry councils like the ones we’ve been talking about in recent days. They range from meaningless to not terribly important. They’re mainly symbolic. With everything that’s happened in recent days, I don’t want to make it out like the decisions of a small number of CEOs is the biggest news. Still, we should recognize that it is entirely unprecedented to have a sitting president become so toxic that corporate America feels unable to publicly associate with him. That is totally, totally new territory.

A second point is that we seem to be moving rapidly toward a public consensus, or rather a consensus among prominent Republicans, that the President needs to apologize or at least clearly contradict his earlier statements. That’s the gist of what Mitt Romney is saying this morning, though I don’t want to overestimate how much significance Romney has in the current GOP and certainly not in Trump’s part of it. But of course Trump is constitutionally, psychologically incapable of apologizing. He may be willing to read out a statement through gritted teeth. But no more than that.

That kind of true shift of direction is beyond impossible for Trump. People are who they are. They don’t change.

In other words, it’s hard to see quite where this goes. Adam Smith said there’s a lot of ruin in a nation. There’s a lot of ruin in a presidency too. Somehow this will keep moving forward. But it does seem like this has driven damage of a kind we have not seen to date during Trump’s presidency.

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