Thursday, May 18, 2017

Trump's Big CON: When Loyalty Is Valued Above Principle and Honesty

UPDATE IV:  "What would it take for Republican politicians to finally turn on, or even gently criticize, the current president?

For context, here’s an example of righteous fury one Republican congressman levied at President Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama.

'There’s no way any of us can excuse what the president did yesterday,' said Peter King (R-N.Y.).

The unforgivable sin that triggered this rebuke?

Wearing a tan suit.

Other unacceptable scandals of the Obama administration vociferously condemned by right-wing politicians and pundits: asking for mustard on a burger, putting his feet on his desk, standing under an umbrella held by a Marine, playing too much golf.

By contrast, here are some of the actions Trump has undertaken that have not caused most Republican officials to abandon their support, or even offer especially sharp criticism (if any criticism at all): multiple attempts at a Muslim ban, boasts about sexual assault, mocking people with disabilities, attacking a Gold Star family, making baseless claims that Obama wiretapped him, making baseless claims that 3 million people voted illegally, comparing the intelligence community to Nazis, firing the FBI director investigating his campaign, betraying a critical ally by sharing highly classified information with the Russians."

Read the Washington Post, What would it take for Republican politicians to finally turn on Trump?

UPDATE III:  "It’s quite easy to image how the applause-starved, ego-driven president let the cat out of the bag. 'In his meeting with [Russian Foreign Minister Sergei] Lavrov, Trump seemed to be boasting about his inside knowledge of the looming threat,' The Post reports. ''I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day,' the president said, according to an official with knowledge of the exchange.' Trump behaves like a child, prone to boasting and exaggeration to make himself look bigger. Unfortunately, this child with no impulse control or grasp of what he is doing is our commander in chief. . .

The enabling needs to end; otherwise, Republicans will as culpable as Trump for the potential parade of reckless, stupid and/or illegal actions yet to come."

Read the Washington Post, The fallout from Trump’s blabbing to the Russians.

UPDATE II:  "It was this last piece of news [about disclosure of highly classified intelligence to the Russians] that led me to form a hypothesis:

Daniel W. Drezner

I think we need to consider the possibility that Trump's White House is populated by morons. …
7:49 AM - 11 May 2017

Somehow the hard-working staff at Lawfare managed to write a pretty comprehensive assessment of what this latest story means. The whole thing is worth reading, but this is the part that stood out to me:

    Trump’s alleged screw-up with the Russians reveals yet again what we have learned many times in the last four months: The successful operation of our government assumes a minimally competent Chief Executive that we now lack. Everyone else in the executive branch can be disciplined or fired or worse when they screw up by, say, revealing classified information or lying about some important public policy issue. But the President cannot be fired; we are stuck with him for 3 1/2 more years unless he is impeached, which remains a long-shot.

The president is a vainglorious clown trying to act like a world-historical figure and revealing himself to be a bad salesman. His staff lacks both the competence and the ability to rein him in. And now he has gone from puzzling allied nations to alienating them.

After nearly four months as president, there is little evidence of growth or change from the president. There is only the beclowning. For the United States, the next few years will be nothing better than an exercise in damage control."

Read the Washington Post, The continued beclowning of the Trump administration.


Read the Washington Post, Trump doesn’t embody what’s wrong with Washington. Pence does., which I republish in full:

"When history holds its trial to account for the Donald Trump presidency, Trump himself will be acquitted on grounds of madness. History will look at his behavior, his erratic and childish lying and his flamboyant ignorance of history itself and pronounce the man, like George III, a cuckoo for whom restraint, but not punishment, was necessary. Such will not be the case for Mike Pence, the toady vice president and the personification of much that has gone wrong in Washington.

On any given day, Pence will do his customary spot-on imitation of a bobblehead. Standing near Trump in the Oval Office, he will nod his head robotically as the president says one asinine thing after another and then, maybe along with others, he will be honored with a lie or a version of the truth so mangled by contradictions and fabrications that a day in the White House is like a week on LSD.

I pick on Pence because he is the most prominent and highest-ranked of President Trump’s lackeys. Like with all of them, Pence’s touching naivete and trust are routinely abused. He vouches for things that are not true — no talk of sanctions between Mike Flynn and the Russians, for instance, or more recently the reason James B. Comey was fired as FBI director. In both instances, the president either lied to him or failed to tell him the truth. The result was the same: The vice president appeared clueless.

I don’t feel an iota of sympathy for Pence. He was among a perfidious group of political opportunists who pushed Trump’s candidacy while having to know that he was intellectually, temperamentally and morally unfit for the presidency. They stuck with him as he mocked the disabled, belittled women, insulted Hispanics, libeled Mexicans and promiscuously promised the impossible and ridiculous — all that “Day One” nonsense like how the wall would be built and Mexico would pay for it.

I also have little sympathy for Sean Spicer, who plays the role of a bullied child. Trump routinely sends him out to lie to the American people, which he has done ever since his insistence that the inaugural crowd was bigger than the photos showed. He persists at his job even though Trump broadly hints that he will soon fire him. When Spicer is gone, he will be easily replaced. Washington is full of people who have no honor and no pride, either.

I think of Steven Mnuchin, the treasury secretary, and Wilbur Ross, at Commerce. What possessed them to back Trump for the GOP nomination? Didn’t they know the sort of man he is? Did they think a lower tax rate and fewer regulations are worth risking American democracy and our standing in the world? When they watched the bizarre way Trump sacked Comey, were they proud of their candidate?

The swamp that Trump kept mentioning in the campaign is not really one of tangled bureaucratic mangroves, but of moral indifference. Washington always had a touch of that — after all, its business is politics — but Trump and his people have collapsed the space between lies and truth. The president uses one and then the other — whatever works at the time.

The president cannot be trusted. He cannot be believed. He has denigrated the news media, not for its manifest imperfections but for its routine and obligatory search for the truth. He has turned on the judiciary for its fidelity to the law and, once, for the ethnic heritage of a judge. Trump corrupts just about everything he touches.

From most of the Republican Party comes not a whisper of rebuke. The congressional leadership is inert, cowed, scurrying to the White House for this or that ceremonial picture, like members of the erstwhile Politburo flanking Stalin atop Lenin’s mausoleum. They are appalled, but mute. They want to make the best of a bad situation, I know, and they fear the voters back home, but their complicity ought to be obvious even to them.

America is already worse off for Trump’s presidency. He was elected to make America great again, but his future is more like other nations’ sordid past. His own party has been sullenly complicit, showing how little esteem many politicians place in our most cherished values, not the least of them honesty and dignity. For all of them, an accounting is coming. When they are asked by history what they did during the Trump years, the worst of them will confess that they bobbled their heads like dumb dolls, while the best will merely say they kept their heads down."

Who will be "added to the heap of unhappy people who cast their lots with Trump and were repaid with misery.

Trump entities have filed for bankruptcy protection six times. Investors, lenders and workers took hits — and Trump moved on. Trump was caught on tape boasting to Billy Bush about sexually assaulting women — and Billy Bush lost his job. Corey Lewandowski and Paul Manafort poured themselves into Trump’s campaign and were unceremoniously dumped.

The carnage has increased since Trump came to Washington. National security adviser Michael Flynn is out and potentially in legal trouble. The FBI’s Comey arguably handed Trump the election — and learned of his dismissal from TV. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein tarnished his sterling reputation in just two weeks.

As my Post colleague Abby Phillip documented, Vice President Pence has been “unflagging in his loyalty,” only to be made “the public face of official narratives that turn out to be misleading or false.” Trump humiliated Steve Bannon by publicly downplaying their association. Trump repaid House Speaker Paul Ryan’s loyalty by winking at calls for Ryan’s ouster. Attempts to defend Trump by aides Reince Priebus and Kellyanne Conway and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have left them sounding clownish.

Trump takes what he can from each of his aides and allies and then moves on. "

Read the Washington Post, Trump has sucked the lifeblood out of Sean Spicer.

Read also the Washington Post:

McMaster and Tillerson are complicit in Trump’s dishonesty, so must they resign?,which notes:  "In one fell swoop, Trump revealed his abject unfitness and exposed McMaster, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and deputy national security adviser Dina Powell — all who personally attempted to knock down the story — as dishonest hacks."

Trump is dangerously incompetent, which stated:

"Given his many business failures, the only realms in which Trump has proven himself adept are those of popular manipulation and treachery, along with the related arts of show business. No doubt he will use them in the coming days to mislead and scapegoat his way out of accountability. . .

Republicans who savagely attacked Hillary Clinton over the petty email server scandal will now show where their true concerns lie — with party or with country. No agenda is worth pretending this presidency is good for the nation."

Trump's Big CON: To Evangelicals: I Will Protect You'

"Even in an era of marriage diversity, it remains the most unlikely match: President Trump and his loyal evangelical base. In the compulsively transgressive, foul-mouthed, loser-disdaining, mammon-worshiping billionaire, conservative Christians 'have found their dream president,' according to Jerry Falwell Jr.

It is a miracle, of sorts. . .

The essence of Trump’s appeal to conservative Christians can be found in his otherwise anodyne commencement speech at Liberty University. 'Being an outsider is fine,' Trump said. 'Embrace the label.' And then he promised: 'As long as I am your president, no one is ever going to stop you from practicing your faith.' Trump presented evangelicals as a group of besieged outsiders, in need of a defender.

This sense of grievance and cultural dispossession — the common ground between The Donald and the faithful — runs deep in evangelical Christian history. . .

Evangelicals have become loyal to a leader of shockingly low character. They have associated their faith with exclusion and bias. They have become another Washington interest group, striving for advantage rather than seeking the common good. And a movement that should be known for grace is now known for its seething resentments."

Read the Washington Post, Trump is evangelicals’ ‘dream president.’ Here’s why.