Morning Joe Metaphor: Trump as ‘Snake Eating Its Own Tail’

Monday on Morning Joe, the topic of discussion was Maureen Dowd’s column in the New York Times concerning Trump’s presidency. Co-host Mika Brzezinski, prompting a discussion, introduced and read the column aloud. The Morning Joe crew delighted in a metaphor of the Trump administration “eating its own tail.”

Brzezinski related, “Maureen Dowd really kind of sort of crystallizes what it is we are seeing on one level, the psychological part of Trump and why he’s doing what he is doing or maybe he doesn't know why and maybe he doesn't even like the job. But, she says it's not unknown, of course. In Ancient Egypt, there was the symbol of the ouroboros, the snake that eats its own tail. But we never watched a President so hungrily devour his own presidency. Many voters who took a chance on the real estate mogul and reality TV star hoped he would grow more mature and centered when confronted with the August surroundings of the White House and the immensity of the job. But instead of improving in the office, Trump is regressing.”

Brzezinski paused and asked Robert Costa, political reporter for the Washington Post, “What are you hearing from people that you talk to? At what point does it become a presidency that has to be interfered with, that has to be stopped by those around it?”

Costa answered: “Well, those who would interfere on this kind of matter would usually be congressional Republicans who hold the majority in both chambers. . .And right now Mika, they are reluctant to have this kind of conversation, at least with me, even privately and other reporters because they are so consumed by the idea that Trump will enable them to get what they want on health care, on taxes and they’re willing– for the moment-  to go along with President Trump on a lot of different fronts, with regard to his personality and behavior as long as he sticks with them and helps enact a Republican agenda.”

Host Joe Scarborough jumped into the conversation, once again making it evident he has an obsession with Steve Bannon: “Well, first of all, Bob, let's talk about the infighting, though, as well because right now, obviously, a lot of battles going on inside the White House. We’ve heard about this for some time but a lot of battles inside the White House– but it looks like the New York crew seems to be getting an upper hand on Steve Bannon.”

Costa replied, feeding into the idea of this ongoing power struggle: “It's a fascinating bit of upending conventional wisdom...this idea that Bannon and Priebus are at war with each other that’s kind of stale conventional wisdom. The real dynamic, the fresh one, inside of the White House are the New Yorkers Gary Cohen, the top economic advisor Dina Powell, both former Goldman Sachs executives, battling against Priebus and Bannon who have this political marriage inside of the White House. It's the New Yorkers versus the populace and the Republicans about the direction of this presidency, about Access to the President, about the whole tempo of the White House

Scarborough, also contributing to the craze: “ What is so fascinating about all the stories I'm hearing about behind the scenes is you have people sort of trying to tip toe around others and there’s minutia. One situation where Gary Cohen was left out of a meeting and instead of sulking at his desk he went and kicked open the door and said why am I not in the meeting? Put me in the meeting, And what we’re seeing is the guy that ran Goldman Sachs is not going to let anybody, including Steve Bannon or Reince Priebus get in his way and we have really seen the last two weeks– Gary Cohen, Dina Powell, Jared, Ivanka assert themselves- and it’s growing by the day.”

Former editor of the Washington Post, David Ignatius, shared his thoughts: “There is Joe, a kind of court of the Bourges–  people sneaking around behind each other and you know watch out for the dagger tone to the White House in the last couple of weeks. I've been trying to talk to cabinet officials who were just a little bit outside this process. If you think of this as a boat that’s rocking wildly, you need some out rigors on it– that are going–  to damp that rocking. Those out rigors ought to be our Secretary of Defense, General Mattis and our Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.”

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The full exchange that took place on Monday March 20:

MSNBC - Morning Joe
6AM TEASE
6:11:02 - 6:15:01

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Maureen Dowd really kind of sort of crystallizes what it is we are seeing on one level, the psychological part of Trump and why he’s doing what he is doing or maybe he doesn't know why and maybe he doesn't even like the job. But, she says it's not unknown, of course. In Ancient Egypt, there was the symbol of the ouroboros, the snake that eats its own tail. But we never watched a president so hungrily devour his own presidency. Many voters who took a chance on the real estate mogul and reality tv star hoped he would grow more mature and centered when confronted with the August surroundings of the White House and the immensity of the job. But instead of improving in the office, Trump is regressing. The office has not changed Trump. Trump has changed the office. He trusts his beliefs more than facts. So many secrets, so many plots, so many shards of gossip swirl in his head there seems to be no room for reality. His grandiosity, insularity and scamming have persuaded Trump to believe he can mold his own world. And- Robert Costa, what are you hearing from people that you talk to? At what point does it become a presidency that has to be interfered with, that has to be stopped by those around it?

ROBERT COSTA: Well, those who would interfere on this kind of matter would usually be congressional Republicans who hold the majority in both chambers–
       
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: That’s what I'm talking about.

ROBERT COSTA: And right now Mika, they are reluctant to have this kind of conversation, at least with me, even privately and other reporters because they are so consumed by the idea that Trump will enable them to get what they want on health care, on taxes and they’re willing– for the moment-  to go along with President Trump on a lot of different fronts, with regard to his personality and behavior as long as he sticks with them and helps enact a Republican agenda.

MIKA BRZEZINSKi: Well Mark Halperin–

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Wait. Well, first of all, Bob, let's talk about the infighting, though, as well because right now, obviously, a lot of battles going on inside the White House. We’ve heard about this some time but a lot of battles inside the White House– but it looks like the New York crew seems to be getting an upper hand on Steve Bannon.

ROBERT COSTA:  It's a fascinating bit of upending conventional wisdom. My college Phil Rutger and I were poking around the White House and all of the different power centers for the last week and what we recognized is that, this idea that Bannon and Priebus are at war with each other that’s kind of stale conventional wisdom. The real dynamic, the fresh one, inside of the White House are the New Yorkers Gary Cohen, the top economic advisor Dina Powell, both former Goldman Sax execuritves, battling against Priebus and Bannon who have this political marriage inside of the White House. It's the New Yorkers versus the populace and the Republicans about the direction of this presidency, about Access to the President, about the whole tempo of the White House

JOE SCARBOROUGH:  So and– what is so fascinating about all the stories I'm hearing about behind the scenes is you have people sort of trying to tip toe around others and there’s minutia. There was one situation where Gary Cohen was left out of a meeting and instead of sulking at his desk he went and kicked open the door and said why am I not in the meeting? Put me in the meeting, And what we’re seeing is the guy that ran Goldman Sachs is not going to let anybody, including Steven Bannon or Reince Priebus get in his way and we have really seen the last two weeks. Gary Cohen, Dina Powell, Jared, Ivanka assert themselves- and it’s growing by the day.

DAVID IGNATITUS: There is Joe, a kind of court of the Bourges–  people sneaking around behind each other and you know watch out for the dagger tone to the White House in the last couple of weeks. I've been trying to talk to cabinet officials who were just a little bit outside this process. If you think of this as a boat rocking wildly, you need some out rigors on it– that are going to damp that rocking. Those out rigors ought to be our Secretary of Defense, General Mattis and our Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

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