The Zen of Donald Trump continues to confound the left
Yes, Grasshopper, it was enough to make the agnostics of the mainstream media believe in the Book of Revelation.
The confluence of apocalyptic events was so horrifying, according to their news anchors and pundits, that last week – unlike all of those other horrifying weeks in the past year – the "chaos" in the West Wing was finally causing the "unraveling" Trump presidency to "implode."
The narrative was simply a new version of the old Trump trope: the white dojo's "mentally unstable" occupant-in-chief had come "unglued" over Hope Hicks's departure; John Kelly's downgrading of Jared Kushner's security clearance; the "insubordination" of Attorney General Jeff Sessions; and, above all, the "tightening noose" of Robert Mueller's investigation.
As a result, the remnants of a "demoralized" staff were "left in the dark" as the "embattled president" started an international trade war "simply to blow off some steam."
No wonder, they mused, his approval rating is "the lowest of any American president in history at this point in office."
Unfortunately for them, their koan of "one hand clapping" simply isn't true. According to a recent Rasmussen poll of likely voters, Donald Trump's approval rating has already eclipsed Barack Obama's numbers for the same period.
And last week, the media's "deranged" domo, caught in the "maelstrom" of an administration "spiraling out of control," somehow had the placid demeanor to conduct several widely praised and thoughtful conferences with citizens and congressmembers alike, keeping the ordinarily obstinate Democrats, including an almost giddy Dianne Feinstein, captivated as he brushed a few gun control crumbs from his table into their laps.
So how does he do it?
As the Vajra Sutra proclaims: "Out of nowhere the mind comes forth." So it is with President Trump. Not that he's aware of it, any more than Einstein and Picasso were aware of the underlying alchemy of their genius. But genius it is.
That same ability to blow apart the world of representational art or the linear logic of the Newtonian universe is present in Donald Trump's ability to use unceasing chaos to blow apart the political paradigms and protocols of his predecessors and their loyal newshounds.
Sun Tzu would be proud.
The president's combining of yang, in the form of ninja-like asymmetrical assaults, with yin, in the form of the calm, defensive leverage of a judo master, is systematically dismantling the façade of the Fourth Estate.
The audacity of his attacks is forcing news outlets either to shed the pretense of journalistic integrity altogether or to attempt to discredit Trump's allegations of bias by unwittingly succumbing to his Jedi mind trick and redoubling their efforts to make their news reporting more objective.
Either way, the sullied mask of journalistic credibility has now been completely ripped off and their prejudices laid bare.
What began with Walter Cronkite's alloying of news reporting with commentary during the Vietnam era was amplified in Dan Rather's impenitent dissemination of forged documents in his attempt to discredit a Republican president.
Now the "fake news" meme has ignited an all-out conflagration, with none of the George Herbert Walker "Bushido" that once characterized the Ivy League tug-of-war between a genteel White House and its genteel press corps.
And the conflict doesn't end with the newsmedia. It only begins.
President Trump's populist journey has been, above all, a pilgrimage to deconstruct the political norms that enable Washington's corrupt and intransigent ruling class.
That's left every congressional caucus quaking in his wake and even acting against their own ideological interests.
Fear of Trump's fearlessness and the power of his voter base have caused Republicans to embrace massive deficit spending and trade protectionism, while the left's reflexive hatred of him has turned tax-and-spend protectionist Democrats into deficit hawks and free traders.
His daily wielding of the rod of chaos, beginning with his 3:00 am reveille tweets, has exhausted and confused everyone. It's caused Washington to buckle under the strain of constant misdirection, allowing the president's policy initiatives, executive orders, and judicial appointments to move quietly forward, and his legion of devoted followers to steadily increase.
While he may not be a religious figure in the ordinary sense, President Trump has the extraordinary ability to remain, like the great Zen masters, "in the moment" both in spite of and because of the unbearable chaos he creates.
You see, Grasshopper, in order to completely fix Washington's brokenness, the Donald Lama must break Washington completely.
And we rest serenely in the enlightened expectation that he will.
Timothy Philen is the author of Harper&Row/Lippincott's You CAN Run Away From It!, a satirical indictment of American pop psychology.