Donald Trump's presidency is the most chaotic in modern times, however one consistent theme has emerged: if President Barack Obama was for it, he's agin it.

Trump's political aim was always two pronged, to whitewash Obama's legitimacy and to undermine his legacy.

I use the term intentionally. Trump's so-called birther quest was a piercing dog whistle that said there is something illegitimate about our first black president, amounting to sham. That's why Trump pursued the leader of the free world like a dog catcher looking for a lost license. It's why his base cheered him on.

It worked, too. It pulled together the winning strands of racial resentment and white nationalism, angry demographics eager to fight back against their phantom enemies, who are, I'm sad to say, mostly composed of their own countrymen and women.

It is obvious now that the issue that animates Trump's supporters like no other is the deep racial resentment that is barely hidden in the ongoing immigration brawl.

For many struggling American workers, immigrants are a growing threat to their livelihoods, since they're willing to undercut the native born by working for less money and less security.

Even though in reality it's an economically insignificant threat, it has the benefit of being a clear one. Immigrants don't look like us, sound like us, eat like us, act like us. Their origins pin a big bullseye on their backs. They stand in front of us, plain as bowling pins.

Consider this, the top 1% wage has grown 138% since 1979, while wages for the bottom 90% grew by only a measly 15%. No wonder bashing immigrants has become a handy way for the establishment to deflect the public's attention from the record breaking spike in inequality. Don't blame us, in other words, blame them. 

According to the Economic Policy Institute, over the entire 34-year period between 1979 and 2013, the hourly wages of middle-wage workers were stagnant, rising just 6 percent, less than 0.2 percent per year. That's not an accident, that's not luck, that was planned.

Trump rose because he understood how to turn the rage and resentment out there in the nation into a racially based opportunity. He promised to end the class war that saw productivity explode as wages faltered. He vowed to end austerity and to bring the endless war machine to an abrupt halt.

In office he has done none of these things, however. On the contrary, he has simply given historic tax breaks to the corporations he had promised to oppose. He has increased the Pentagon's budget and he has deregulated the financial markets, setting us up for another round of banking exploitation and abuse.

But the worst thing he has done is to use the immigration issue to cynically validate the phantom grievances of the people who put him in office.

To do this he has turned his supporters against the longstanding agencies of their own democracy: the free press, the democratic system, the validity of opposing viewpoints, the civility and reason of the presidential office itself. Instead of principled debate he uses Twitter like a Roman Coliseum, where a thumbs up or a thumbs down replaces rational debate.

In Trump's world there is no E Pluribus Unum, no Out of Many, One, instead there is only Us and Them. And them is now, he has made clear, half the people in the country. He has no use, respect, plan or thought for them. They're losers. He won.

And the people who understood this better than anyone are the people who have flowed his career with interest since the 1980's: the Kremlin and its successors in the Putin administration.

They cheered the loss of international prestige the Trump administration spells internationally. They laughed when our Secretary of State confirmed he now bases United States diplomacy on Trump tweets. They praise Trump to his face (he insists on this) and lampoon him when his back is turned. They can hardly believe their good luck.

Meanwhile our State Department has seen a record number of resignations from lifelong appointees dismayed by the lack of leadership. Because of that in just one year Trump's global leadership role is now more widely disapproved of than that of George W. Bush in the midst of the Iraq War, according to the latest Gallup polls.

It is not yet appreciated how ruinously damaging Trump's contemptuous reference to 'shithole countries' has been to our international standing, nor have we grasped what his preference for predominantly white nations like Norway has meant in terms of trade negotiations, diplomacy and military planning.

By ceaselessly playing to his resentful base, Trump has quite forgotten to notice that they make up only a percentage of the United States, and that this painful slight will be remembered for generations.

The only wall he's building is a wall against time.

Trump's aim was always two pronged, to whitewash Obama's legitimacy and to undermine his legacy. Wikimedia Commons