The president is not all knowing. They depend upon members of their staff to inform and advice them. Donald Trump is not that kind of president. He does not need them because he is primarily driven by his self-interest. Unfortunately, his self-interest is not aligned with the preservation of the US alliance with Europe and the liberal world order that was led by the US following WW ll. Moreover, it is pretty clear that Putin has information about Trump that could destroy his presidency which he hopes to transform into a dictatorship. He ran his business empire as a dictator and he is extremely uncomfortable with the institutions that were put in place by our founders who understood many of the risks inherent in a democracy. He spends more of his time in office nurturing his populist base with tweets and campaign rallies because that is his most valuable asset. The Republican Congress is dependent upon that base and Trump uses it against Republicans who defy him. The Republican Congress has no interest in acting as one of the checks and balances that was put in place to protect our system against demagogues. Even worse, many Republican candidates for office are running their campaigns as mini Donald Trumps. Trump is a featured speaker at their rallies.
David Brooks has been an influential conservative Republican for most of his life. He has tried hard to make excuses for Trump's weaknesses and focus on some his strengths in many of the opinion pieces that he publishes in the NYT. Trump's meeting with Putin was the last straw for David Brooks. Trump ignored the conclusions of his intelligence agencies about Russian meddling in the 2016 election and accepted Putin's denial. He claimed that he could not understand why Putin would help him to win the election. David Brooks' obituary goes well beyond Donald Trump. He describes the important role that European ideas and values played in the development of democracy in the US and the important role that the US has played in defending and nourishing its European heritage. He argues that Trump exploited several of the flaws that have been harmful to the EU and to liberal ideals in the US. He does not seem hopeful about our ability to deal with the monster that we created.