Category: Donald Trump

Trump gives his own performance a Trump-sized endorsement

Trump gives his own performance a Trump-sized endorsement

Politico
By Josh Dawsey
Image Courtesy of Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Friends say President Donald Trump has grown frustrated that his greatness is not widely understood, that his critics are fierce and on TV every morning, that his poll numbers are both low and “fake,” and that his White House is caricatured as adrift.

So on Monday, the consummate salesman — who has spent his life selling his business acumen, golf courses, sexual prowess, luxury properties and, above all, his last name — gave the Trump White House a Trump-sized dose of brand enhancement.
With both the Roosevelt Room and the Rose Garden as backdrops, he mixed facts and mirage, praise and perfidy in two head-spinning, sometimes contradictory performances designed to convince supporters and detractors alike that everything’s terrific, moving ahead of schedule and getting even better. His opponents were cast as misguided, deluded or even unpatriotic.

It was the latest instance of Trump bypassing his own communications staff to speak directly to the press, and the public, after weeks of blistering criticism and as White House aides struggle with the increasing possibility that they may end the year without accomplishing any of their grand legislative goals.

Senate Republicans, Trump said, had let him down and hurt his agenda.

“I’m not going to blame myself, I’ll be honest,” the president said.

Thanks to Trump, America’s word is now worthless

Thanks to Trump, America’s word is now worthless

The Washington Post
By Paul Waldman
Image courtesy of Evan Vucci/Associated Press

Donald Trump likes to say that no president in American history accomplished as much in as short a time as he has, and in a few ways, he’s actually right. What other president could say that in less than nine months, they did this much damage to the future of American diplomacy?

Congratulations, Mr. President: America’s word is now practically worthless. And the damage will persist even after you’re gone.

Trump has already pulled us out of the Paris climate accord, which was agreed to by nearly every country on earth. It’s looking like he might pull out of NAFTA. Perhaps most dangerous of all — and against the obvious wishes of his entire national security team — he’s moving toward pulling out of the agreement we made in cooperation with China, Russia, Great Britain, France, Germany, and the European Union to restrain Iran’s nuclear weapons program. For the moment he is withholding certification of the deal and has proclaimed that it’s not in America’s interest as he sees it. Whether he pulls out completely will likely be a matter of how good his aides are at restraining his more lunatic impulses.

So imagine if a Democrat wins the White House in 2020, then tries to restore America’s place of leadership, which could involve agreements both with allies and adversaries. It would be perfectly rational for potential partners to say, “We accept your good faith, but how do we know that in four years your country won’t elect another ignorant halfwit TV personality who will cancel this agreement?”

I wish there were a good answer to that question.

Trump’s quote on shifting blame just about says it all

Trump’s quote on shifting blame just about says it all

The Washington Post
By Aaron Blake

President Trump almost admitted Monday that he is failing on his agenda. Then he caught himself.

“We’re not getting the job done,” he began, before quickly shifting course. “And I’m not going to blame myself. I’ll be honest: They are not getting the job done,” he said, referring to Congress.

You hear that, Congress? Trump is washing his hands of you. That “bully pulpit” that Theodore Roosevelt talked about? Overrated. Lyndon Johnson’s physical intimidation of wavering lawmakers? Trump shouldn’t be expected to dirty his hands. Harry Truman’s “buck stop here?” Nope, it actually stops over there, down Pennsylvania Avenue.

Points for honesty, I guess. If there was one microcosm of Trump’s attitude toward blame acceptance, this was it. In the span of a few seconds, Trump served notice that he separates himself from any responsibility for what Congress does or doesn’t do. It’s all on them.

This might be the most obvious bit of blame-shifting from Trump, but it’s certainly not the first time he’s done it.

It’s fine to note that things aren’t completely under your control as president — we don’t have a dictator — but presidents do get a chance to exert influence over the things the country talks about and Congress passes. The president can bring to bear plenty of pressure when it comes to swaying wavering lawmakers. When it comes to health care, Trump needed only to help win over skeptical Republican senators.

But Trump has shown considerably less interest in providing a helping hand to McConnell and Ryan than he has in absolving himself of the blame for their failures to produce. He has frequently given conflicting signals about what he wants to see from the health-care effort, has feuded with senators who provide key votes — often after the bills have already failed — and has generally shown very little interest in policy details. It’s one thing to not be a details guy; it’s another to seem completely clueless about what’s working its way through Congress at any given moment. Trump is almost always far to the latter end of the spectrum.

And at it’s core, it’s more a sign of desperation than it is of his power as president. To be clear: The president admitted Monday that he’s been neutered in the Oval Office. And whether you think he shoulders lots of blame or even just a little, he certainly carries at least some of the blame for that.

Trump governs by disruption — and overloads all the circuits

Trump governs by disruption — and overloads all the circuits

The Washington Post
By Dan Batz
Image courtesy of Evan Vucci/Associated Press

Nine months into his first term, President Trump is perfecting a style of leadership commensurate with his campaign promise to disrupt business as usual in Washington. Call it governing by cattle prod.

It is a tactic born of frustration and dissatisfaction. Its impact has been to overload the circuits of government — from Capitol Hill to the White House to the Pentagon to the State Department and beyond. In the face of his own unhappiness, the president is trying to raise the pain level wherever he can.

The permanent campaign has long been a staple of politics in this country, the idea that running for office never stops and that decisions are shaped by what will help one candidate or another, one party or another, win the next election.

President Trump has raised this to a high and at times destructive art. He cares about ratings, praise and success. Absent demonstrable achievements, he reverts to what worked during the campaign, which is to depend on his own instincts and to touch the hot buttons that roused his voters in 2016. As president, he has never tried seriously to reach beyond that base.

The president has proved himself capable and willing to start controversies and policy confrontations. That’s what being a disrupter is all about. But there is more to the presidency than initiating conflict, and on that measure, Trump has much to prove.

 

Bob Corker says Trump’s recklessness threatens ‘World War III’

Bob Corker says Trump’s recklessness threatens ‘World War III’

New York Times
Jonathan Martin and Mark Landler
Image courtesy of Tom Brenner/The New York Times

Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, charged in an interview on Sunday that President Trump was treating his office like “a reality show,” with reckless threats toward other countries that could set the nation “on the path to World War III.”

In an extraordinary rebuke of a president of his own party, Mr. Corker said he was alarmed about a president who acts “like he’s doing ‘The Apprentice’ or something.”

“He concerns me,” Mr. Corker added. “He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation.”

Mr. Corker’s comments capped a remarkable day of sulfurous insults between the president and the Tennessee senator — a powerful, if lame-duck, lawmaker, whose support will be critical to the president on tax reform and the fate of the Iran nuclear deal.

It began on Sunday morning when Mr. Trump, posting on Twitter, accused Mr. Corker of deciding not to run for re-election because he “didn’t have the guts.” Mr. Corker shot back in his own tweet: “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.”

The senator, Mr. Trump said, had “begged” for his endorsement. “I said ‘NO’ and he dropped out (said he could not win without my endorsement),” the president wrote. He also said that Mr. Corker had asked to be secretary of state. “I said ‘NO THANKS,’” he wrote.

Mr. Corker flatly disputed that account, saying Mr. Trump had urged him to run again, and promised to endorse him if he did. But the exchange laid bare a deeper rift: The senator views Mr. Trump as given to irresponsible outbursts — a political novice who has failed to make the transition from show business.

Mr. Trump poses such an acute risk, the senator said, that a coterie of senior administration officials must protect him from his own instincts. “I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it’s a situation of trying to contain him,” Mr. Corker said in a telephone interview.

To some extent, the rift between the two men had been building for months, as Mr. Corker repeatedly pointed out on Sunday to argue that his criticism was not merely that of a man liberated from facing the voters again.

After a report last week that Mr. Tillerson had once referred to Mr. Trump as a “moron,” Mr. Corker told reporters that Mr. Tillerson was one of three officials helping to “separate our country from chaos.” Those remarks were repeated on “Fox News Sunday,” which may have prompted Mr. Trump’s outburst.

Mr. Corker would not directly answer when asked whether he thought Mr. Trump was fit for the presidency. But he did say that the commander in chief was not fully aware of the power of his office.

Nobody knows what Trump is doing, not even Trump

Nobody knows what Trump is doing, not even Trump

The Washington Post
Dana Milbank

House Speaker Paul Ryan could not have been more clear.

After meeting with his Republican caucus Wednesday morning on the first day back from their long summer break, he declared at a news conference that Democrats’ call for a three-month extension of the government’s borrowing limit was “ridiculous.”

“That’s ridiculous and disgraceful, that they want to play politics with the debt ceiling at this moment,” he repeated. He called it “unworkable,” said it would jeopardize hurricane response and called out Democratic leaders by name for promoting what “I don’t think is a good idea.”

About an hour later, Ryan and other GOP leaders sat in the White House with President Trump, who told them he wants . . . a three-month increase of the debt ceiling, just as Democrats proposed.

Such chaos and confusion at the highest level of American government hadn’t been seen since, well, the day before.

What does the president want? Nobody knows — not his advisers, not his fellow Republicans in Congress, and probably not Trump himself.

Inner racism revealed

Inner racism revealed

The New York Times
Charles M. Blow

As Michelle Obama said: “Being president doesn’t change who you are. No, it reveals who you are.” That is what is happening with Donald Trump.

He has in the course of his life been on all sides of many issues, although he was always a liar, bully, misogynist, opportunist and economic isolationist. But his racial hostility and white supremacy seem to have blossomed with his entry into politics and his Russia-aided election. After spending a life catering to the appetites of the greedy and gauche, he realized that there was an exponentially larger market of white nationalists and neo-Nazis. To the aspirational he could be landlord, but to the racists he could be overlord.

Trump’s outrageous decision this week to end DACA, the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which allowed many young people brought to this country as children to stay and work here, is just the latest expression of Trump’s growing intolerance and his growing adoption and internalizing of white nationalist ideology.

Not only did Trump wimp out and send the anti-immigration zealot Jeff Sessions out to make the announcement, he also made the sadistic and emotionally manipulative act of professing his “love” for the Dreamers last week, while moving to bring them pain this week.

This didn’t need to be done. This was done out of spite and hostility. This was done to prove a point and consolidate support.

Donald Trump continues to say in every way possible that power and privilege in America is primarily the provenance of people who are white, male, Christian and straight, and that all others should be targeted for denial, oppression or removal.