WASHINGTON — "Room clear!"
This is a new thing, when teacher and children clear a kindergarten room so an angry boy can run rampage over it alone.
The concept arises aptly for our time, place and president, whose wild temper bellows all over the city up to the Hill.
I picture the hapless Mick Mulvaney, President Donald Trump's acting chief of staff, yelling "Room clear!" several times a day in the Oval Office. Fearful of their boss's ire, aides Kellyanne Conway, Stephen Miller and Jared Kushner flee while the Man curses Rudy Giuliani, his lawyer, on the phone.
Trump hangs up and rages about the Kurds. "Who are they to me?"
The monologue goes on: "Who knew Lindsey Graham and all the rest of my people cared about Kurds getting killed when Turkey invades Syria? Too bad. The Kurds can fight their own battles."
Then Trump starts throwing things. Impeachment hits closer to home than the Kurds. That is the real battle he's in, and he knows he's not winning.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called the president "a grotesque personality" and drew a bit of blood from his brow. The fact that a woman — a woman! — is leading the march toward impeachment adds insult to injury.
The diatribe is something like this: "Impeached doesn't look good on your resume. All for a perfect call to Ukraine president, Volodymyr Zelensky, with a little word like 'though.' So? Quid pro quo? That's the way the world works! That's how I work, every day of the week! That's how I got to be great and made a billion bucks."
Trump fumes: "Impeached for that? For telling Ukraine to investigate the crooked Bidens? I've done worse. I'll get impeached in the House because Nancy and her mod squad hate America. I am America, and they hate me.
"Nancy says she prays for me, which makes me madder than anything."
Mulvaney peeps in the door and closes it again before he gets sucked into the vortex, now reaching its peak. Chairs are overturned. Barack Obama's old apple basket is being torn to shreds.
Trump's volume pierces the walls: "House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff thinks he can take me, Donald Trump, down with his fancy legal language. Little Schiff thinks he can protect the whistleblower from me. Really, Adam? Protect a traitor? I have my way, I'll find the spook. And I'll have you arrested, too, take you straight to the Tower myself.
"The president has to conduct business without worrying about tattletale spies and ambassadors. That woman, former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, whoa! I said all along she's bad news. Trouble. Marie and former White House Russia adviser Fiona Hill could ruin my presidency, testifying against me all day long.
"Nancy, Marie and Fiona are the three witches on the hunt. And now these WOMEN are making EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland think he should speak against his president, too. After all the money he gave me.
"Disloyal cowards! Abraham Lincoln never had to deal with anything this bad!"
Silence in the Oval Office, except for blaring cable shows.
One final outburst: "Et tu, Fox News?"
Mulvaney taps and enters. The place is in ruins, disheveled and strewn with paper and displaced furniture. All order is gone — kind of like American democracy.
"Room clear is over!" He shouts to the other men. Trump expects them to clean it all up while he wolfs down lunch at his desk and tweets.
Just another day in the Trump presidency, the South Carolinian thinks.
Out among the populace, a theory gains ground, pegging the president as a textbook narcissist. Maybe, but there are charming narcissists out there. They are not always rude, loud and bent on vengeance. They like to see themselves shine in the eyes of others.
For me, it's simple. Trump is the adult worst case of room clear. An abusive authority figure, he's hateful and destructive on a whim. He shows no allegiance to anyone or anything except his own power. The silenced Republican Party exhibits symptoms of abuse, fear and trembling. The Cabinet room has been cleared once or twice.
For now, the White House front is quiet. Until the next room clear.
To find out more about Jamie Stiehm and other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the creators.com website.