Friday, August 4, 2017

Trump's Big CON: He Can't Be Left Alone

How inept and weak is The Donald?

Former secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, now Trump's Chief of Staff and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, another retired general, "agreed in the earliest weeks of Trump’s presidency that one of them should remain in the United States at all times to keep tabs on the orders rapidly emerging from the White House".

Read the Associated Press, Kelly wins praise across the aisle, but bigger task is ahead.

Trump's Big CON: It's All About the Show, Explained, CONt. Part 2

"No one is working harder for the impeachment of Donald Trump than Donald Trump. If we have learned anything about this president, it is that he has a compulsion to be the center of attention. He can’t bear being out of the limelight and will say almost anything — no matter how offensive, outrageous or dishonest it strikes millions of Americans — to keep the public fixated on him. The more he does this, the more he risks impeachment. . .

For months, Trump’s behavior has posed a riddle. Why is he so self-destructive? His constant tweets deepen the country’s divisions, which he promised to heal. The customary explanation is that Trump is playing to his “base,” but recently, this has seemed less convincing. . .

In fact, we’ve been asking the wrong question. It has been widely assumed that Trump’s behavior must reflect some political logic. . .

But the mystery vanishes once we realize that Trump’s motives, rather than advancing some grand political strategy, are deeply personal. He can’t control himself. In his mind, silence means obscurity, which is unbearable, especially when ending it is only a tweet or two away. It doesn’t matter what he says — whether it is true or false, relevant or irrelevant to the issues — as long as he stirs passions and dominates public discussion.

It is personality more than politics that impels Trump to be Trump. With hindsight, his rhetorical escapades can be described as political maneuvers, but this is mostly damage control.

In this sense, Trump can be seen as the strongest and most determined advocate of impeachment. If he must flirt with impeachment to retain his command of the media, so be it. As a practical matter, he might see impeachment (though not conviction) as acceptable. He would be automatically in the spotlight every day for months. He would have a new arena in which to fight and 'win.'

Perhaps subconsciously, this is his goal: Impeach me, please!"

Read the Washington Post, Trump seems to be crying out: Impeach me, please!

Trump's Big CON: He is the Manifestation of Republi-CON Cruelty, Recklessness and Indecency, CONt.

"This has been quite a week in Washington, a week full of terror, intrigue, suspense, backstabbing and outright chaos. While we might not have been able to predict the particular contours of the catastrophe that complete GOP rule has been, we should have known it would turn out something like this.

Guess what, America: This is what you get when you elect Republicans.

It goes much further than their repugnant and disastrous effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but all the contemporary GOP’s pathologies could be seen there: their outright malice toward ordinary people, their indifference to the suffering of their fellow citizens, their blazing incompetence, their contempt for democratic norms, their shameless hypocrisy, their gleeful ignorance about policy, their utter dishonesty and bad faith, their pure cynicism, and their complete inability to perform anything that resembles governing. It was the perfect Republican spectacle.

It’s remarkable to consider that there was a time not too long ago when the Grand Old Party was known for being serious, sober, a little boring, but above all, responsible. They were conservative in the traditional sense: wanting to conserve what they thought was good and fearful of rapid change. You might not have agreed with them, but there were limits to the damage they could do. The devolution from that Republican Party to the one we see today took a couple of decades and had many sources, but its fullest expression was reached with the lifting up of Donald J. Trump to the presidency, this contemptible buffoon who may have been literally the single worst prominent American they could have chosen to be their standard-bearer. I mean that seriously. Can you think of a single person who might have run for president who is more ignorant, more impulsive, more vindictive and more generally dangerous than Donald Trump? And yet they rallied around him with near-unanimity, a worried shake of the head to his endless stream of atrocious statements and actions the strongest dissent most of them could muster. . .

[W]e’re getting just what we should have expected. Donald Trump isn’t an aberration, he’s the apotheosis of contemporary Republicanism.

Republicans don’t care about making an honest case for their priorities; Trump lies nearly every time he opens his mouth. They’re unconcerned about the details of policy; he knows less about how government works than your average sixth-grader. They’re indifferent to human suffering; he literally advocates destroying the individual health-care market so he can blame Barack Obama for the lives that wind up ruined. They advocate a mindless anti-government philosophy; he has so much contempt for governing that he puts his son-in-law in charge of everything from solving the opioid crisis to achieving Middle East peace. They whine endlessly about the liberal media; he spends hours every day watching 'Fox & Friends' and takes advice from Sean Hannity. Trump is the essence of the GOP, distilled down to its depraved and odious core. . .

But this what you get when you give today’s Republican Party complete control of the government. Have no doubt: There are more horrors to come.

Read the Washington Post, This is what you get when you elect Republicans.

Read also Trump's Big CON: He is the Manifestation of Republi-CON Cruelty, Recklessness and Indecency.

Trump's Big CON: He is Inept and Weak, a Bad Combination

UPDATE IV:  "President Trump has bullied his way through his adult life. Screaming, suing, manipulating the tabloid press and allegedly chiseling employees, he has used wealth, power and a volatile personality to get his way. He bluffed, dodged, insulted and stormed his way through the campaign. For a time, his standing with the GOP base, the fear of nasty tweets (yes, politicians are wimps) and the hope that they could use him to pass their agenda led to a pathetic level of deference from GOP lawmakers.

Now the president’s poll numbers are in the 30s. He has failed on his signature legislative item (repealing and replacing Obamacare), fired a slew of advisers, been compelled to sign Russia sanctions legislation and failed to halt the special counsel’s investigation into his and his campaign’s Russian affiliations. And now the ice has cracked, the power is ebbing and lawmakers, civil servants, outside groups are unimpressed — and more than willing to shove back . .

Trump is a diminished figure, a weakened force after only about six months in office. Once the aura of presidential authority is gone, others (Congress, the chief of staff, third parties) become more and more daring in challenging the president, more willing to speak out (on the record or via leaks) and more insistent on taking matters into their own hands. Trump got to the presidency by faking his way through the campaign, pretending to have skills and knowledge he obviously does not. As he now fakes 'being in charge,' watch for him to lash out at real and perceived affronts, step up the number of self-congratulatory lies (so many imaginary phone calls!) and strain even harder to recapture the adulation he experienced on the campaign trail by pandering to his less-educated, rural white base. Will he completely blow up his presidency before Kelly can assert some semblance of order? The race is on; Kelly better work fast."

Read the Washington Post, The bully in chief is losing his touch.

UPDATE III: "President Trump has discovered that the position is less powerful than he imagined. Actually, he has made the presidency less powerful not only because the other branches are pushing back but also because the executive branch itself often seems to be humoring him. . .

The general chaos and incompetence in the White House also prevent development and implementation of policy positions; contradictory tweets and statements further paralyze political appointees as well as permanent civil service personnel. As with summer weather inside the Beltway, if you don’t like the latest Trump pronouncement, just wait a few hours for it to change.

[Jack] Goldsmith observes:

'The fractured executive branch is partly a result of terrible executive organization but mainly the product of an incompetent, mendacious president interacting with appointed or inherited executive branch officials who possess integrity.  The President says and does things that his senior officials, when asked, cannot abide.  And so they tell the truth, often with an awkward wince, or they ignore the President.  And in response to this overt disrespect, President Trump does … nothing.'

Trump cannot even intimidate his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, into quitting. . .

It’s hard enough for a sane, competent and knowledgeable president to turn around the gigantic ship of state; for an unhinged, incompetent and ignorant one, it’s much tougher (at least we hope so). That’s the silver lining in the dark cloud of chaos that hovers over the White House."

Read the Washington Post, Trump’s not really president — he just plays one on TV.

Read also Trump's Big CON: The Reality TV President (AKA Stupid Is As Stupid Does, CONt.).

UPDATE II:  "Donald Trump and his advisers have created an administration in which there is no way to get the president’s attention, or to resolve problems, through normal channels.

The only way to make sure an issue will get any attention whatsoever — much less have a prayer of actually getting fixed — is to leak.


Because Trump 'does not want advice, cannot be corrected, and is too insecure to see any constructive feedback as anything other than an attack.'"

Read Vox, The real reason the Trump administration has such a leak problem.

UPDATE:  "If the past week has made anything clear, it is that President Trump is a bad strategist. Consider three issues bedeviling his administration: Iran, health care and North Korea."

Read the Washington Post, Why is Trump so bad at strategy? It’s time for some game theory! No, really …, which notes that "[t]he very traits (stubbornness, self-certainty and 'self-aggrandizing delusion') that won Trump the presidency have made it impossible for him to be a strategic actor."

"Machiavelli advised leaders that while it would be nice to be both loved and feared, when one has to choose, it’s better to rely on fear. This is clearly the approach President Trump is trying to take. As his administration wallows in a crisis of policy, a crisis of politics and a crisis of management, he’s issuing threats left and right, to anyone who wins his displeasure. Governing by threats might work sometimes — if you can back them up. But no one is frightened of Trump right now, and all those impotent threats only demonstrate how little he understands about power. . .

Meanwhile, the president pushed out his chief of staff and brought on a new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, who channels Trump’s style more fully than any aide before him. Scaramucci had barely moved into his office before he began threatening to fire people.

This all adds up to a president who is incredibly frustrated that no one is doing what he wants, yet has no idea how to change the situation because he still doesn’t understand Washington. In the business world, Trump utilized threats often, especially threats to sue people. Given that Trump is one of the most litigious people on the planet (he has sued other people more than 2,000 times, according to one count), this was a threat you might be scared by — particularly if you were someone with less money and influence than him. But when he made the same threat to those with a comparable level of resources, it wasn’t so frightening. Remember when he threatened in October to sue the New York Times because it reported that multiple women were accusing him of unwanted sexual advances? The paper was not afraid and didn’t change how it reported on him, and the suit never materialized.

When he was only a businessman, things were straightforward and easy for Trump to understand: He can intimidate little guys, but not big guys. But power in Washington is much more complicated. Power is diffuse, spread across many individuals and institutions. And it changes as circumstances change. . .

Power in Washington is also built on alliances, because in order to wield it you often need the cooperation of many others. Trump has been unable to build those alliances, not only because he came into office trumpeting his contempt for everyone who was already there but also because he can’t be bothered to understand what other people are really after. For all that he trumpets himself as a dealmaker, he has been utterly unable to persuade people to come along with him. . .

When he ran for president, Trump said over and over that any failures in Washington were the result of leaders who were stupid and weak, and that the force of his personality would be enough to achieve any goal. He was even naive enough to think that being president would be easier than running his brand-licensing firm, as he admitted in April. Now he’s discovering that Washington is more complicated than he thought, but instead of trying to learn from his mistakes and adapt, he’s just lashing out with threats."

Read the Washington Post, Trump is trying to govern by threats — and he’s failing.