Friday, June 2, 2017

How You Should Think About The Latest Trump-News

There is no shortage of breathlessly breaking Trump-News. There is also no shortage of hot (even molten) takes. So what should you think? The Omnivore lays it out.

The Paris Climate Deal

Trump pulled out after a showy lead-up of 'deliberation.' Anyone who was paying any attention at all knew he was going to do this. Why? Right now Trump's major value proposition--arguably his primary value-prop all along--was Making Liberals Mad. That's what he does best. It's arguably all he does. Repealing Obama-Regulations? Very little benefit for "his base" economically. Major benefit symbolically--it enrages liberals.

Banning Muslims (or whatever you want to call it--that's what he called it). Very little real change for most people. Great symbolic value. The wall? Symbolic value up to the moon!

This is the same with the Paris Climate deal. The brokering of the deal--and the near universal sign-on--was a moment of American power and leadership. The deal itself is squishy, symbolic (Trump could have released new targets rather than pulling out--and despite what he said, it doesn't allow other countries to dictate what we do).

So the deal itself was to a large degree symbolic (which, if you believe in global climate change that's human driven could still have been useful as symbols can certainly impact behavior)--but pulling out was moreso.



There is a GREAT deal of noise about whether or not Trump has colluded with Russia. Trump-supporters claim (a) there's NO EVIDENCE! It's ALL CONSPIRACY THEORY and (b) That if Trump TALKED to Russia, back-channel or no, that's okay.

This, in fact, is true--as far as it goes. Right now no one can show evidence of Trump meeting with a Russian saying "fix the election for me, Vladdy, and I'll be your guy." Not only isn't there evidence, there's real solid reason to believe that never happened.

For one thing, there would be no need for it to happen. Nixon, after all, did not break into Watergate himself.

Secondly, it's fine for incoming administrations to meet with foreign nations--even Russia--and while the leak that the Russian diplomat said Kushner wanted to use Russian encrypted communications is probably legit, that chain of communication itself is questionable. So, sure. All clear, right?

Well, no.

This line of discussion is explicitly designed to try to exonerate Team Trump from any bad dealing. It ignores tons of red flags that are still flying. Which ones?

  1. Flynn got fired for lying about Russian meetings. Why'd he lie? If it was all good, why lie to Pence? (Note: maybe he didn't--maybe Pence lied--but that's not what the admin tells us).
  2. If Russia wanted something from Trump (its spy-house back, relaxing sanctions, whatever) all it would have to do is tell one of Trump's guys it's quid for quo. Trump's guys include Flynn, Page, and Manafort--all of which could be trusted to take the message and give it to Trump. There's no evidence that happened either--but that's where all the smoke is.
  3. Trump may in fact believe he did nothing wrong and the FBI investigation is just a partisan attempt to nail him. Could be--but his ridiculously ill-advised firing of Comey at the height of the Russian investigation, combined with saying "I fired him because Russia"--both to the Russians and ... to NBC ... freaking insures that there will be a special counselor investigator.

These special three investigations (House--minimal, Senate--more serious, Mueller--deadly serious) are a big deal for the White House: they prevent normal functioning, suck up all media oxygen, encourage his own party to distance themselves from him, and so on.

Anyone who wanted "a non-politician business man" in the Oval Office because he'd shake things up should realize that while Trump has certainly "shaken things up" what he has mostly shook are the pillars holding up his own roof. His ineptitude--if not his corrupt nature (we don't know yet)--has brought this all down on his head.

TAKE-AWAY: If Team Trump isn't malignant they are so incompetent that it may wind up being the same thing.

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