Rats and Lifeboats

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Trump Maladministration

One of the most interesting things I read yesterday was from Erick Erickson, for pity’s sake. Yeah, I know, it’s loathsome Erick Erickson. But here it is:

What sets this story apart for me, at least, is that I know one of the sources. And the source is solidly supportive of President Trump, or at least has been and was during Campaign 2016. But the President will not take any internal criticism, no matter how politely it is given. He does not want advice, cannot be corrected, and is too insecure to see any constructive feedback as anything other than an attack.

So some of the sources are left with no other option but to go to the media, leak the story, and hope that the intense blowback gives the President a swift kick in the butt. Perhaps then he will recognize he screwed up. The President cares vastly more about what the press says than what his advisers say. That is a real problem and one his advisers are having to recognize and use, even if it causes messy stories to get outside the White House perimeter.

I am told that what the President did is actually far worse than what is being reported. The President does not seem to realize or appreciate that his bragging can undermine relationships with our allies and with human intelligence sources. He also does not seem to appreciate that his loose lips can get valuable assets in the field killed.

Wingnuts, by definition, are people who can’t see reality until it personally smacks them in the face. But let’s go on … this has a ring of truth for me, and it certainly is consistent with everything else we hear about Trump. (See, for example,  I wrote ‘The Art of the Deal’ with Trump. His self-sabotage is rooted in his past.) He’s a walking character pathology incapable of doing the job he was elected to do. I mean, he can’t even do it badly; he is not doing it at all.

I keep hearing from people, some of them lefties, who are calling the Russian leaking/Comey firing stuff a “distraction.” No, it is not. It is the fruit of a political crisis in the U.S. that is unprecedented in our history. That such a man could actually have been elected — and I believe he was more or less fairly elected; the Russian hacks didn’t have that much impact — and that he continues (although perhaps not for long) to be protected by a major political party, tells us that our political culture has utterly failed. We need a new one.

So no, the meltdown of the Trump Administration is not a “distraction.” It really is the main event. See also Paul Waldman on Why the GOP could face 2018 with nothing to show for it, despite total control. No, Republicans in Congress are unlikely to be able to pass a bunch of nasty new laws while we’re being “distracted” by the Trump antics.

About a year ago I wrote a post about managed democracy and about how the two front-running presidential candidates were unpopular:

But what I really want to write about is, it appears the general election campaign will be between two unpopular candidates. How did that happen? And what does that say about the status of democracy in America?

First, this tells me the political system is being played, and not by the people. An honest competition actually decided by the people ought to have given us more popular candidates. What we’re seeing is a symptom of managed democracy, a term usually aimed at Vladimir Putin’s Russia but which, many argue, describes the United States.  In a paper about managed democracy in Russia, we find,

According to Tretyakov’s definition, managed democracy is a democracy (as there are elections, voters have alternative options, there is media freedom, leaders are changing), but it is corrected by the ruling class (or rather that part of it that holds power).

Put another way, this is why we can’t have nice things. We aren’t really in charge.

See also Ted Morgan in Salon, “This Isn’t How a Democracy Should Work.”

I blame both parties for this.

Anyway — After this week, I don’t see how Trump’s situation is salvageable, especially since he seems incapable of learning from mistakes. We’re in for many more weeks of drama, of course, and there are some smart folks who think Trump will stay in office. but too many forces are in motion that point to an early termination of the Trump Administration.

WaPo just reported this:

Congressional Republicans are increasing pressure on the administration to produce records related to the latest string of controversies involving President Trump, amid flagging confidence in the White House and a growing sense that scandal is overtaking the presidency.

As the White House sought to contain the damage from two major scandals, leaders of two key Senate committees asked the FBI for documents related to former director James B. Comey, who was leading an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election before Trump fired him last week.

At the same time, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) broke his silence on the Comey affair to say lawmakers “need to hear from him as soon as possible in public to respond to the issues that have been raised in recent days.”

See also Jonathan Chait on how the Republican wall protecting Trump is cracking.

Another signal the rats are deserting:

When President Donald Trump casually shared highly classified intel with top Russian diplomats last week, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, who was in the room, did not immediately realize the significance of what Trump divulged, according to an NBC News report out Wednesday.

Citing an unnamed U.S. official with direct knowledge of the matter, NBC reported that McMaster “is not steeped in counterterrorism” and thus was not immediately aware of the importance of the information Trump gave to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

McMaster, who originally had forcefully said the reports of Trump blabbing information were totally false, possibly is realizing he is the new Colin Powell — the guy who blew his sterling reputation by providing an authoritative face for a pack of lies.

There are reports that Trump is coming unglued. If he’s as unstable as I think he is, someone had better make sure he doesn’t have access to sharp knives or loaded guns.

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19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Gregg  •  May 17, 2017 @5:13 pm

    As this story has been developing, I predict one of two outcomes – the end of our national nightmare (bye bye DJT and peeps) or…………remember the Reichstag Fire?

  2. c u n d gulag  •  May 17, 2017 @5:44 pm

    I don’t think t-RUMPLE-thin-sKKKin is just coming unglued.
    Ii think he’s coming unhinged.
    He’s like a child’s toy that breaks into a whole bunch of pieces, so that kids can learn how to put together something, time and time again, until they prove they/ve got it, and get bored.

    I have a suggestion for the GOP.
    Tell the media that President t-RUMP had an accident.
    He broke his jaw, and his two thumbs.
    And that his jaw will remain wired-shut for 3 1/2 years, and his thumbs will be in casts for the same amount of time.

    Problem solved!
    (Except I don’t want to underestimate this stupd/ignorant/bigoted loon’s ability to still find a way to fuck-up!).

  3. Bardi  •  May 17, 2017 @6:16 pm

    I wish we could tie the GOP to Trump better.

  4. Bonnie  •  May 17, 2017 @6:20 pm

    From Josh Marshall:
    The Justice Department has named former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special prosecutor in the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion between Trump campaign associates and Russian operatives, NBC and CNN reported Wednesday.

    Rod Rosenstein took this action. I think he may still be feeling humiliated from being played by Trump and his gang. I would like the special prosecutor to treat this issue like a kidnapping and move quickly on this before any more evidence is destroyed.

  5. Dan  •  May 17, 2017 @6:26 pm

    The FOX meme is that all the leaking is from Obama leftovers who are upset at the election outcome.
    More and more it is becoming obvious, even to the people at FOX who have any tiny shred of integrity left, that the leakers are almost entirely Trump’s people, supporters who have finally discovered just what the nature of the wagon they hooked up to is…

  6. Swami  •  May 17, 2017 @7:04 pm

    McMaster, who originally had forcefully said the reports of Trump blabbing information were totally false, possibly is realizing he is the new Colin Powell — the guy who blew his sterling reputation by providing an authoritative face for a pack of lies.

    Yeah, and don’t forget the Deputy Attorney General who “almost” quit. He’s now effectively a castrated piece of shit without a spine. Almosts don’t count when it comes to safeguarding your dignity and integrity. He made a deal with the devil and now he’s Trump’s bitch.. Bible says: nothing profits a man like a good reputation. And… that which is done in the dark shall come to the light..( Comey’s memo?)
    So when you conspire to sully the reputation of an honorable man and your co-conspirator exposes your evildoing plot in a misguided attempt to appear decisive and honorable you kinda get egg on your face and exposed for the boot licking butt sucking scoundrel that you are.

  7. Swami  •  May 17, 2017 @7:33 pm

    Oh wow…I’ll be looking forward to tonight’s tweet…. “I’m being maligned..so unfair.” 🙂

    Looks like Rod Rosenstein redeemed himself.

  8. grannyeagle  •  May 17, 2017 @8:13 pm

    Trump is not winning and he is frustrated, getting angrier and angrier. I suspect that his health is not all that good despite his “high energy”. Look closely at Trump’s eyes. He has big bags underneath his eyes and they have a dark color. In Chinese medicine, the dark color refers to Kidney energy. The kidneys are the root of all the energy in the body. By energy, think life force. From what I have read about his life style, he is using up his reserve energy instead of cultivating it. IMHO, he is a walking time bomb with his health status and his anger is setting him up for a stroke or heart attack.
    Events are happening very fast so who knows what might happen. By the way, it was so nice of Putin to let Trump know he has his back. Trump will obviously appreciate his loyalty and have to pay him back. This is so much more fun than a soap opera.

  9. KC  •  May 17, 2017 @10:22 pm

    Let’s not undersell congressional Republican duplicity in this mess:

    https://mobile.twitter.com/mattyglesias/status/864976583777550337

  10. Doug  •  May 17, 2017 @10:42 pm

    I propose an new acronym – PTP (Pass the Popcorn).

    Grannyeagle – you are right that Trump is having a hard time with the stress. He can’t kill the investigation now, and it will go on for months. (Patience does not seem to be Trump’s greatest virtue.)

    Swami – Your observation about McMaster also applies to the #2 at DOJ. (Rosenstein) He caught a lot of flack for providing Trump cover to fire Comey – thus a special counsel.

    There’s an old western ‘The Good, The Bad & the Ugly’ that finishes with a three-way gunfight. That’s what we may have to look forward to.

    Let me explain. Assume Flynn is guilty of a crime he could serve jail time for. That’s close to certain – he was offering his testimony in exchange for immunity. Assume that Flynn can implicate Trump in an impeachable offense. That also seems likely – Trump has expended a lot of energy to save Flynn’s behind. OK – that’s speculation backed up by evidence.

    Suppose Pence is guilty of the offence after the fact. Remember – Pence headed up the team that vetted Flynn. If Pence knew.. and if Flynn will testify that Pence knew, are we looking at a double-impeachment? Remind me who would become POTUS if Trump and Pence were simultanilusly impeached or simultaneously resign? Hint: It’s the same person with the authority to bring the Articles of Impeachment.

    So here’s the three-way gunfight. Trump wants to survive or at least not go to jail. Pence wants to be president- so does Ryan, and Ryan may have calculated that with his lack of charisma and the declining population of the GOP base, he may never have a shot. But if Pence is implicated, all bets are off.

    Last thought – and it’s speculation. What if the investigation has turned up hard evidence that Trump worked with the Russians in the election,and may continue to be working for the Russians? Granted, speculation. Things may change FAST.

    Two previous Impeachments in my lifetime were for a second-rate break in and a blow job. Investigators were in no great hurry. If Trump is working for a foreign power and the proof is there, the process may be fast-tracked. If Ryan sees an opportunity to sit in the big chair, he’ll throw his mother, wife and daughter under the bus.

    This is all built around these postulates:

    Flynn is guilty (almost certain).
    Flynn can implicate Trump (seems likely)
    Pence may be in on it, after the fact, and be impeachable. (who knows the odds?)
    The Special Counsel may want to remove Trump ASAP if Trump is compromised.
    Ryan may have incentive to accelerate the process the experts say may take a year.

    PTP.

  11. Swami  •  May 18, 2017 @8:49 am
  12. c u n d gulag  •  May 18, 2017 @9:24 am

    Swami,
    Remember the old saying:
    ‘The death of any (wo)man, diminshes us all.’

    Let us have a moment of silence…

    Ok.
    Moment over.

    YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Some deaths don’t diminsh us all.
    Some, free us from evil.
    Sorry, but that’s how I feel.

    And now…?
    LET’S PAAAAAAAAAAHTY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. Doug  •  May 18, 2017 @9:28 am

    I’m glad RA received the disgrace he deserved before he died.

  14. Swami  •  May 18, 2017 @9:39 am

    Ever see a hearse with a U-haul attached to the back of it? I guess he can’t take his millions with him.

  15. Bill  •  May 18, 2017 @10:58 am

    I wish we could tie the GOP to Trump better.

    It’s harder to do when their peoples’ thinking is so slippery. Ann Coulter took Trump from “Awesome” to “Grotesque” in just a few months, and will probably continue to sell books well. Meanwhile the obviously far saner Tony Schwartz has been consistently saying Trump has the attention span of a child, for many years. It’s hard for me to grasp why so many people can’t just observe and think rationally for themselves, especially those from the party of “personal responsibility”.

    Ailes only ever appeared the greedy and dishonest sack of shit to me, but he sure knew the formula for making bank off of mindless lemmings.

  16. elkern  •  May 18, 2017 @11:12 am

    Be careful what you wish for (Impeachment?).

    Trump’s incompetence is the only thing protecting us from the (all-to-competent ) malevolence of the GOP. Put Pence in the Big Chair – or worse, Ryan (thanks for the scenario, Doug…) – and the GOP will pass & sign all kinds of horrible stuff. Think of all the worst things that the Evangelical and Wall-Street wings of the GOP really want:
    – criminalization of Abortion AND Birth Control
    – more Tax reductions & give-aways to the top 1%
    – elimination of (all???) environmental & Safety regulations
    – privatization of government functions like Education, Water, etc
    – criminalization of all sexual options except Man-on-top-of-Woman

    …and as a sop to the populists, they’ll have to do something nasty & noisy to Latinos & Muslims.

    As long as Trump is “in charge”, the US government will be tied up in knots. That sucks, but nowhere near as bad as what the GOP would do if they weren’t distracted by Trump’s latest scandal or Tweets.

  17. Bill  •  May 18, 2017 @12:47 pm

    History has shown that if there’s over-reach, there’s a backlash. The problem within that problem is the current Dem establishment might not take advantage of that for their own majority supporters, but instead compromise with the 1%.

  18. priscianus jr  •  May 18, 2017 @9:43 pm

    I take your point about “managed democracy” but the fact is, they didn’t manage it very well. They tried — but it was too late, it had become unmanageable. This is what happened in Britain as well, and will be happening more and more often until these control freaks wake up to the fact that they’re in over their heads.

  19. Billikin  •  May 21, 2017 @2:01 pm

    The GOP might face electoral disaster in 2018, not despite total control, but because of it.

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