Trump Plays the President on Teevee

The Washington Post is reporting that “The White House” is putting pressure on Republican governors to endorse the Senate’s monstrous health care bill. The “White House” in this case consists of Veep Mike Pence, HHS secretary Tom Price, and Seema Verma, also a Trump appointee, who is administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The alleged POTUS is not part of this effort.

Granted, Trump has been in Paris busily engaged in weird handshakes …

… and saying inappropriate things to Brigitte Macron. And this weekend he is busy attending the U.S. Women’s Open golf tournament in Bedminster, NJ. Priorities, people. But it should be noted that otherwise he hasn’t really been much engaged in anything lately, other than tweeting. Many have noted that his schedule often is weirdly empty. Many others have commented that he doesn’t do many things presidents normally do.

The president did engage personally on health care earlier in the year, courting groups of lawmakers in the Oval Office and making rounds of calls, eventually claiming partial credit when a version of the legislation passed the House. But those overtures to reticent lawmakers over Diet Cokes have largely faded as Senate Republicans have labored to pass their version of the bill, long the party’s signature pledge to its base.

Trump, who has ventured west of the Mississippi River only once as president, has barely mentioned health care on his few stops outside Washington and his golf properties in Florida and New Jersey. He has done little beyond tweeting to rally his base in support of the plan and has not stepped foot in the state of a Republican lawmaker who might be needed to pass the bill in the Senate.

At his most recent political rally — in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in late June — he made just a few scattered references to the issue.

“I think health care’s going to happen,” Trump said. “You’re going to have a lot of exciting things over the next few months.”

He was engaged with the House health care bill, but it seems once that passed the House he lost interest in what was going on in Congress. He’s leaving the work of pushing an agenda through Congress to Mike Pence and other underlings.

Even when he was engaged, he really wasn’t. For example, several weeks ago he claimed that his tax bill was moving through Congress, when it hadn’t been written yet. It still hasn’t, btw.

James Downie writes in WaPo that “in both making and executing laws, passiveness to the point of abdication is a growing hallmark of Trump’s presidency.”

With the Senate trying again, the president has shrunk back even further. In an interview with The 700 Club’s Pat Robertson on Wednesday, Trump showed us how he views his role in the health-care debate. “I am sitting in the Oval Office with a pen in hand,” he said, “waiting for our senators to give it to me.” Twice more he cast himself as a passive actor: “Now we have a President that’s waiting to sign it. … I’m sitting waiting for that bill to come to my desk.” Even as he acknowledges that “it would be very bad” if Senate Republicans fail, he suggests there is no role for him in getting a bill passed.

The president has been similarly uninvolved on foreign policy. Where past presidents — of both parties — have reserved final say-so over troop levels in war, Trump has delegated that tremendous responsibility, giving Defense Secretary Jim Mattis authority over the size of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. This comes after six months with no new strategy for the Afghan war — a conflict the United States has been in for more than 15 years. Also missing is a coherent policy for the Middle East, China or for pretty much any other part of the world.

Trump’s apathy is also shown in the slow pace of executive-branch appointments. Of the 564 positions that require Senate confirmation, 374 still have no nominee. Many secretaries and their departments have been stuck waiting for key positions to be filled. The inertia is so total that it can only have come from the very top. And while doing less may ease the burden on Trump’s shoulders, the resulting sluggishness hurts the rest of us.

Meanwhile, the steady drip of unforced errors and self-made scandals has dominated political coverage, which actually isn’t helping Republicans get their agenda passed in spite of the it’s-all-a-diversion theory.

Trump himself is probably unaware that he’s not really doing his job, because he’s never had a job before. One suspects that whatever  his initial engagement, now that the novelty has worn off he’s likely to become even more detached from the job, which probably isn’t nearly as gratifying as he thought it would be.

So when do Congressional Republicans decide the guy is more trouble than he’s worth? It hasn’t happened yet, and I don’t expect it to happen this year. But if the scandals become more incriminating and Trump becomes even less of an asset, they may very well become willing to cut him loose. Pence is the guy they really want to work with, after all.

12 thoughts on “Trump Plays the President on Teevee

  1. Well, Brigitte Macron should be flattered. She registered like almost a 10 on Trump’s female attractiveness scale. No a bad score, especially coming from Trump. But trump might have been a little insincere in rating her due to diplomatic pressures. And she might have also scored higher because Trump gave her an age handicap. He let it slip that she was well preserved, so we know that age factored into his rating of her.. All in all you have to agree with Trump.. she’s not a bad piece of meat considering her age.

    And he loves the “circumstances” – or, at least those where there’s “pomp” involved, or where other people have to pay homage to his “greatness.”

    As for “working” at being POTUS…
    Well, first of all, w-o-r-k is a four-letter word to a lazy billionaire who inherited most of his wealth, and only increased it by grifting wealthy rubes, and the short-changing anyone working for him.

    FSM help us if there’s some terrorist attack, or some real existential threat. He’s incapable of thinking beyond his own inner “greatness.”

    Thanks, Republicans!
    And thanks, you stupid, and/or ignorant and biogoted t-RUMP voters!
    You didn’t just lead the Barbarians throught the gates.
    You emowered them to destroy whatever it is in their path’s that they don’t like – which is a lot.

  3. “Pence is the guy they really want to work with, after all.”
    Oh yes Pence, he has all the skills required to be a GOP giant: he lies effortlessly with that smarmy smile, an expert at phony religiosity and a serious hatred for minorities! Once you add in that perfect gray coif he’s the GOP man from central casting!

  4. Paradoctor – Impeachment is a political act, not a criminal one. Trump has handed the grounds of impeachmant to the House on a silver platter with the Emoluments Clause. Pence won’t be touched by that. If the GOP wants to replace Trump with Pence, all the facts and evidence in the world won’t mater.

    The question is how to impeachment past the voters who have rejected reality as a criteria for evaluating Trump. The GOP knows that if Trump thinks he’s been treated unfairly by the GOP, he could form his own party out of spite. I’d suggest Trump name it the “Bull Krap Party”. That would split the republicans and end their gerrymandered majority. He’d do it, too. Emperor Trump he is until he loses the next election.

    Unless things change for the better with voters. Thins do always change, not always for the better.

  5. One other tiny kvetch to add to my Mt. Everest of what this imbecile, t-RUMPLE-THIN-sKKKin, can’t do/get right, for the position that he’s in:
    Can’t this (supposedly billionaire) rich asshole get a decent MFing tailor?
    I’ve bought cheap suits ‘off the rack’ at Target that fit me better!
    And what’s with always wearing a lower than his tiny ding-dong ties?

    The man looks like a life-long bad circus clown who’s invited to his first formal dinner, or a funeral!
    Even Nixon looked better in a suit than this assclown!

  6. There are so many things going on with citizen Trump. He is deeply awkward, socially, and as CUND suggested, he conforms to the concept of the celebrity as someone who valued because of who he IS, rather than what he does. Doing things, is for losers.

    I heard the beginning of his address in France, where he basically read a page out of a junior high school history book, noting that France came to our aid in the Revolutionary War, remarking that “a lot of people don’t know that.” This seems to suggest that prior to preparing this address, there was at least one person, out of primary school, who didn’t know it.

    Word has it that French people feel very uncomfortable with hugs. For them it is a very intimate gesture, while in the US, we are far more casual about it. Conversely, we Americans are very confused and daunted by the possibility of having to “faire la bise,” and would probably chose to avoid the situation altogether. But, one thing I know, is that the kiss doesn’t actually land anywhere, like Harry Enfield’s shopkeeper character, it’s more of a “Mwah, Mwah.” Brigitte Macron carried herself very well in the face of Trump’s oafishness. Obviously, Trump was a little too familiar.

    Then there was Trump’s answer when questioned about his previous statements regarding the terrorist threat in Paris. Well, France has a new president, so it’s all hunky-dory now. Trump is a man of the moment once again, willing to say anything that fits the last few nanoseconds, regardless of what he has said in the past. More importantly, he was displaying his Cluster B skill for manipulation. (I had a long acquaintance with a friend with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and Trump’s answer was strongly reminiscent of his behavior.)

    How interesting it would be to be a fly on the wall of Trump’s skull, watching the brain manage his behavior and expression. The first rule would be that nothing he says has any meaning outside of how it advances his position or augments the legend of Trump. The second if that he is as incurious as a stone. He has no interest in anything but how to bury a knife in his the world’s back and suck out the plunder. But, ultimately, it is Trump himself whose inner man has been hollowed out, and he has done some of this dirty work to himself.

  7. There is a Senator Heller from Nevada, up for re-election who expressed reluctance to get behind TrumpCare, whereupon Trump’s operatives threatened to destroy Heller politically.

    McConnell got through to the Trump people, convincing them that this is not how the game is played, and so they relented with their heavy handed tactics.

    McConnell is a master tactician, a professional, and I think he managed to convince Trump to stay out of the kitchen while the professionals do their jobs. Of course, after six months of failures, I would bet Trump was ready to take his advice.

    There have been a couple states – California and Minnesota – who elected famous people with no political experience – Arnold Schwarznegger and Jesse Venture, respectively – as governors. Can’t speak for Minnesota, but Arnold’s tenure in California was marked by initial missteps, stupidly listening to Karl Rove and the far right, moves which were soundly rejected here. Because Arnold knew nothing about the intricacies of state government, and didn’t or couldn’t exercise any real power given this lack of understanding, he eventually became more of a ceremonial governor, championing things like combating climate change (much to the consternation of his conservative base), but not getting his hands dirty in any of the difficult issues facing the state.

    By contrast, Arnold was followed by Jerry Brown, who knows exactly how the state works, where all the bodies are buried, and has been very effective as a governor.

    So Trump is just another face to the Republican machine – a front man – who just happens to be more ridiculous and incompetent than his predecessors, going from Reagan to Bush. All of this is distraction from the real damage the Republican machine is doing, including by the crackpots Trump has put into power. Trump is just the clown face in front of it.

  8. Sorry for the typos and errors, I really should have proofread my last post better.

  9. Finally, some good news! : “Of the 564 positions that require Senate confirmation, 374 still have no nominee.”

    At this rate, they won’t fill the federal bureaucracy until this time next year. And I suspect that the rate of Nominations is slowing down, as Trump loses interest and runs out of loyal flunkies to reward, so it’s likely to take longer than that!

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