Friday, May 26, 2017

Another Bad Day for Trump

It's already been a tough week for Trump and his administration, and today (Friday) certainly added to their misery.  

Former Speaker of the House John Boehner said today that he felt the President was focusing on the right issues internationally, but has been "a complete disaster" at everything else, and complained that "he's still learning how to be president." Boehner has long been known for his candor, but having resigned from Congress in 2015 is now freer than ever to speak his mind. Although the typical Trump voter might be immune to even so damning a turn of events as this, the fact is that a conservative Republican who has decades of experience in government and has known Trump personally for some 15 years has publicly acknowledged that Trump is not up to governing.

If that's not enough, the Washington Post has reported that Jared Kushner, son-in-law to Trump and now a senior White House adviser, actively sought a secret channel of communication between the Trump team and the Kremlin. It is alleged that this request was made in early December, AFTER the election. It is also alleged that this was a deliberate attempt to keep communication between Moscow and the Trump team hidden from U.S. Intelligence operations. Thus ongoing investigations are no longer just about the campaign and campaign advisers, but are now about the Trump administration and Trump's innermost circle. 

Of course, Trump supporters and the administration itself continue to claim this is all fake news, a witch hunts undertaken by sore losers. The noose is tightening nevertheless. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

It's a Schadenfreude Kind of Day

I'm sure I'm not alone in finding an odd kind of pleasure in the sufferings of our lost administration and the Republican establishment as revealed in today's news:
  • The New York Times (24 May) has an article titled "Top Russian Officials Discussed How to Influence Trump Aides Last Summer." New details confirm what is already clear, that Russian intelligence attempted to influence the November election and were knowingly manipulating campaign advisers to influence Trump himself. It is increasingly clear that U.S. intelligence agencies have known about this all along.
There is more and there will continue to be more, but let's not belabor the point. This is life in the Trumpocene.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow's news. I've been greatly relieved to to see that Trump managed to stay on script in Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the Vatican. But tomorrow he'll meet with NATO officials and explain that he didn't really mean it when he called the institution "obsolete" during his campaign.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Despite the President's Harsh Criticisms During the Campaign . . .

On May 17th the New York Times reported:
"The Trump administration signaled on Wednesday that it would not, for now, jettison the Iran nuclear deal, despite the president's harsh criticisms of the agreement during the campaign."
This phrase, "despite the president's harsh criticisms during the campaign," has become a major theme of Life in the Trumpocene. Trump spent the campaign loudly and repeatedly proclaiming his ability to fix all the failures he said his predecessors had left behind. He had a secret plan to put an end to ISIS, Hillary was to be locked up, the North American Free Trade Agreement was to be renegotiated or junked, NATO was obsolete, China was a self-serving currency manipulator, climate change was a hoax, repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act was going to be easy, and the Nuclear agreement with Iran was the "worst deal ever." On these and so many other issues Trump has reversed course in a very short period of time.

None of this is surprising to the more analytical observer. It was painfully obvious that Trump's campaign rhetoric was "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing" (to quote Shakespeare's MacBeth).

More mysterious is the unwavering support of so many Trump voters. In endless arguments on social media, Trump supporters often cited one or more of the issues above as evidence that Trump was as superior as he claimed to be and therefore ought to be elected. With so many hopes dashed, what do continuing Trump supporters have left? Perhaps they still dream of a wall to keep out Mexicans, a travel ban to keep out Muslims, and a conservative Supreme Court to keep out abortion. Are simple Racism and Misogyny enough to sustain a failing administration?

Friday, May 12, 2017

Richard Milhous Trump

President Trump has now fired three different officials who were investigating him or his campaign: a US attorney, a Deputy US Attorney General, and the Director of the FBI. Since news coverage isn't going the way he wants, he has threatened to cancel press briefings altogether. It seems not to occur to him that these are the actions of a man with something to hide, of a man deaf and blind to the parallels he is fast creating between his own presidency and that of Richard Nixon.

These are just the latest additions to an already lengthy list of symptoms of a failed presidency, doomed before day one by the unfitness of the candidate. Trump has described the US Constitution as archaic and unfair, phrases that would have provoked apoplexy among self-styled "conservatives" had they come from a Democrat, the same apoplexy that campaign collusion with Russian intelligence should provoke, but does not. In a radical contravention of law and custom, Trump allegedly demanded a pledge of personal loyalty from the FBI director he later fired. Trump was angry that he didn't get that pledge, and angrier that Comey dared to use logic and evidence in contradicting Trump's claims that the Obama administration had wiretapped him. Just yesterday Trump signed an executive order establishing an "election integrity" commission, hoping to further his claim that he lost the popular vote because of voter fraud, a bit of dementia that even conservative media call a "baseless claim."  Trump praised Australia's socialized healthcare system even as he strong-armed congressional Republicans into passing a healthcare bill few understood and will price millions of Americans out of the market. The list goes on and on.

There is no doubt that Russian intelligence meddled in the American election and succeeded in keeping Clinton out of the White House. There is no doubt that Tump, members of his family, and members of his campaign staff had dealings and contacts with Russian agents. Whether or not any of that amounts to collusion between Russian intelligence and Trump's campaign remains to be seen. With nothing to hide, Trump could have taken the high road by practicing glasnost (openness). He has, instead, chosen the low road of smoke screens and obstruction of justice, and the public is justified in asking why.