It was the cough heard round the world, so annoying to the president he ordered the cougher, acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, to leave the room in the middle of a televised interview. It was hard not to see the moment as the low point in a relationship that’s exhausted arguments about money and religion and has nothing left but squabbling over bodily noises.
But Mulvaney is still there, still “acting,” and still on thin ice. Trump needed the experience of the former congressman and director of the Office of Management and Budget to work with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to craft a budget and debt ceiling increase this week before Congress leaves for summer recess.
They did and got Trump’s approval, at least until he settles into a chair, or sits up in bed, to watch Fox and see what his most important advisers think, which may not be much. The proposal gives Democrats just about everything they want in domestic and discretionary spending in exchange for giving the president most of what he needs to keep the military at a level that allowed him to randomly boast to the Pakistan prime minister in the Oval Office Monday that he could wipe Afghanistan off the face of the earth in 10 days, if he so desired.