#FailingTrump

We’re almost a year into the Trump regime’s rule. What has he accomplished other than taking revenge on Barack Obama, who mocked him at a White House Correspondents Dinner?

  1. There’s no coherent trade policy. There was never going to be a coherent trade policy. What passes for a trade policy will allow others to eat our lunch.
  2. There’s no particular immigration policy. There was never going to be a coherent immigration policy. It was all bluster to maximize the anti-immigrant vote.
  3. There’s no wall. There was never going to be a wall. There’s no need for a wall. The whole idea for a wall was cooked up by Trump’s campaign staff to keep him focused on immigration.
  4. There’s no resurgence of American jobs in the areas hit by globalization and automation. Any resurgence now will have precious little to do with Trump.
  5. There’s no resurgence of coal. There was never going to be a resurgence of coal. The whole coal thing was a cynical lie to lure votes in coal country.
  6. There’s no coherent drug policy on opioids or anything else. What passes for a drug policy is Jeff Sessions’ fixation on locking people up for smoking weed.
  7. There’s no super duper healthcare bill to replace Obamacare, which was failing in the first place only because Trump and the GOP wanted it to fail and refused to fix it.
  8. There’s no decent foreign policy. We’re doing Putin’s bidding in Syria, and we’re turning our backs on the Kurds as we cozy up to Turkey’s Erdogan. We’re letting China have its way in Asia. Tillerson has taken a wrecking ball to the State Department, doing damage it will take a decade or more to fix.

An American Strong Man?

Trump, it turns out, is not very good at the whole Dear Leader thing. At least not so far. But this turn in our history should persuade us that the Republic is vulnerable.

If one of the major parties nominates a monster, and the other party cannot navigate our antiquated electoral system to victory, we’ll have a strong man in power.

If Congress is controlled by the strong man’s party, we’ll have the prospect of a bootlick legislature, virtually guaranteeing four years of authoritarian rule followed by who knows what.

Sunshine in a Storm

How can the rest of us express the depth of our appreciation for the folks of all hues and genders who turned out in great numbers yesterday to take a stand against the madness into which the Republic has been dragged? These electoral victories, built from the bottom up and across political divides, set the stage for more to come, if we stay the course.

Feuding While the Republic Totters

So the Democratic Party continues the Hatfields-and-McCoys internal feuding in the crucial runup to the November 2018 election. Liberals and progressives are behaving as if one or the other of the philosophies will win in 2018, and the only question is which one. Wrong!

The GOP strategy of using millions donated by high rollers to finance low-road campaigns stoking the fear and resentment of the white working class is likely to be just as potent as it has been for the past few decades, the Trump wildcard notwithstanding. The Democrats, at least, would be fools not to presume this and to prepare for it.

The stakes, of course, are far higher now than at any time in the past few decades. The GOP shows no inclination whatsoever to remove the boil on the Presidency, despite ever more dangerous words and actions by the Dear Leader. To rid the country of Trump, the Republic needs a slew of Democratic wins across the board in 2018.

The party must do three things pronto: 1. Develop a fundraising strategy not beholden to billionaires. 2. Craft a platform with solid proposals to improve the lives and prospects of America’s diverse working class. 3. Recruit and support candidates with real public presence and genuine enthusiasm for the platform.

The Trump “Campaign” and Papadopolous

What campaign? Trump never had a political campaign in the conventional sense, unless I’m missing something. Mostly, he got up in the morning in Manhattan, tweeted, watched some Fox, took his jet to some rally to juice his white-identity base, hustled back to his jet, flew back to Manhattan, watched some Fox, maybe tweeted, and went to bed.

During the “campaign,” reporters pressed Trump to provide the names of folks advising him on foreign policy. So he came up with a list in March of last year. A Politico story on the list carried the headline “Trump’s foreign policy team baffles GOP experts” and the subhead “Republicans can’t figure out the mogul’s quirky mix of advisers.”

George Papadopolous, who now has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is thought to have been wearing a wire recently to aid the Mueller investigation, was one of the names on the list. The Politico story described Papadopolous as “a 2009 college graduate and an international energy lawyer” who previously had advised Ben Carson’s campaign. The publication resorted to Papadopolous’s LinkedIn page to flesh out the rest of his thin résumé.

Given what we know now, all too well, about Trump’s Modus Operandi, it’s plausible at least that he ordered somebody to gin up a list of foreign policy advisors so he’d have something to hand out, that he knew little or nothing about Papadopolous, and that he considered the list a prop in his act rather than a serious document.

The questions I have at this point include (1) who put the list together, (2) how did this person know Papadopolous, (3) why was Papadopolous included on the list, and (4) what was the precise nature of Papadopolous’s involvement as a foreign policy advisor after his name appeared on the list, beyond what we already know?

On the question of who put the list together, we have this:

According to two knowledgeable Team Trump sources, the insurgent GOP campaign was scrambling to compile a legitimate list of foreign policy advisers to Trump in early 2016, when people in media and political circles kept pressuring the campaign to release one. [Sam] Clovis, then a top Trump policy adviser, slapped together a roster that Trump could read in an attempt to “at least shut up” the critics, according to one Trump campaign veteran.

— Lachlan Markay, Asawin Suebsaeng, and Sam Stein, The Rise of a Trump Adviser Who May Kill Trump’s Presidency, Daily Beast, November 1, 2017.

An Unbecoming Silence

Republican officeholders are desperately eluding reporters, conforming to the maxim often attributed to Calvin Coolidge, “You don’t have to explain what you never said.”

— David Frum, Staying Silent May Backfire Spectacularly on Republican Lawmakers, The Atlantic, October 30, 2017.


Frum goes on to make an argument that in this crisis the strategy of zipped lips ill-serves members of Congress, because they risk being overtaken by events and painted into the losing corner, counted among those who failed to do what they could to oppose Trump.

If this appeal to self-interest works, great! I doubt it will. Silence still looks to me to be the least risky route between the Scylla of going down with the Trumptanic and the Charybdis of being primaried to death by the Know-Nothing base.

My appeal is not to the caucus members’ self-interest, but to their duty. Among the hundreds of millions of Americans, only a few possess the power to move effectively to rid the country of the boil infecting the Oval Office. For these stewards of the Republic to remain silent as a strategy is dereliction of duty. If we were talking about military officers here, we’d be about the business right now of relieving them of command. It is the distinctive province of their chosen work to speak out, to participate robustly in our national discourse, especially in times of crisis. Their radio silence is contemptible. Full stop.

The Papadopoulis Plea

A professor with close ties to the Russian government told an adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in April 2016 that Moscow had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails,” according to court documents unsealed Monday.

The adviser, George Papadopoulos, has pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. about that conversation. The plea represents the most explicit evidence connecting the Trump campaign to the Russian government’s meddling in last year’s election.

New York Times, October 30, 2017.