Last week was a week of distraction from the perspective of the Trump administration. Since we have a President who is more concerned with television ratings and content than actually running a nation last week was a successful one. With all the distractions in the news there was precious little coverage of Russiagate. In reality (not the world Trump lives in) it didn’t make any difference because Robert Mueller and team kept right on quietly working like professionals do (the behavior of professionals is another concept foreign to Trump).
The week started out with an attempt to repair the damage caused by his Saturday statement on Charlottesville. Last week’s water cooler conversation topics were racism and white supremacists. That actually contributed to seemingly weekly Friday surprise – the firing of Steve Bannon.
The reaction to Trump’s Tuesday reversal of Monday’s statement just poured gasoline on a fire that was about to die out. Tuesday Trump basically doubled down on Saturday’s statement and effectively reaffirmed his support of the white supremacists. I don’t consider the President to be very bright but he is media savvy. Therefore why would he have done what he did on Tuesday knowing it would prolong a conversation that portrays him in a bad light with the majority of Americans? He accomplished two major objectives: he placated his base and he kept Russiagate out of the number one news slot.
Trump has no influence with Democrats, especially congressional Democrats. His only sway over congressional Republicans is his base. The Trump base constitutes the majority of Republican primary voters in many states and congressional districts. With gerrymandering the Republican primary is effectively the election for many Republican members of Congress. As long as Trump has a significant loyal base of likely Republican primary voters, albeit a minority of the voters, he has at least limited and begrudging control over many Republican members of Congress. Not enough to get most of his agenda passed as we have already seen; but enough to avoid a coup d’etat. The longer he stays in office the more he can personally profit from his position. At its core this administration is a skimming operation modeled on an organized criminal enterprise.
You can tell by the consistency and nature of the complaining coming from Trump and his minions that there is something(s) that he doesn’t want uncovered with relation to Russiagate. Whatever that is or they are (and I feel it will be more than just one specific thing) is what he fears revelation of the most. It is obviously something(s) that could end his time in office. Trump only thinks in terms of what he sees on TV or is read to (twice a day) that comes out in print. So if the news media is covering something else he feels the other challenge doesn’t exist.
Ironically Friday I was sitting in a library quiet room reading Joshua Green’s book Devil’s Bargain when I got the news that Steve Bannon was out. Bannon, starting in his role as head of Breitbart News, was Trump link to the alt-right which very much includes white supremacists. I have a feeling that if I met Bannon – despite the fact I wouldn’t agree with him – I would like him. I believe he is sincere (although misguided) in his beliefs and is privately given to profanity in the same way I am. I think we would get along. The “smart money” always was that Trump would never fire Bannon, (make no mistake; Bannon was fired by Trump), because he couldn’t risk alienating the radical right. The reality is that Bannon was not playing a role, he actually supports policies of racism, homophobia and xenophobia because he either feels they are to the political advantage of candidates he favors (far right Republicans), actually believes in them or both. Bannon may no longer be on Trump’s White House payroll but I bet he is on Trump’s speed dial. Bannon is an ideologue and as long as their policies align he will be a supporter of Trump’s with that crucial base. Trump risked absolutely nothing by firing Bannon and may have actually placated some people in the process.
One thing occurred last week that I thought I would never see in my lifetime: Trump lost big business. Making a long and complicated story short; Trump ended up disbanding both his Strategic and Policy Forum and his Management Advisory Council after it became impossible to fill the ranks of resigning members. Both groups were mainly comprised of high level CEO’s and were largely symbolic covers for Trump. The idea of big business executives turning on a Republican President in today’s American political environment borders on incomprehensible!
Here is the danger I see. If the Trump damage destroys or significantly weakens the Republican Party we essentially become a one Party country. That is not good for a representative democracy. I am certainly and proudly left of center, but there is a need for a center-right political party in America and currently that is the role the Republican Party needs to play.
Oh, by the way it was infrastructure week. Last week was another theme week whose content got buried in the news by an incompetent and corrupt administration. If we had a competent President and a Congress who was willing to compromise for the good of the nation infrastructure should be one of the easiest things to agree on.
Trump just cares about himself and perhaps a few of his family members. Although not particularly bright, he is smarter at survival than he is competent at governing. When he is gone I still care that we have a great country! Does he?
P.S. I’m not predicting it, but wouldn’t it be something if Trump resigned on Monday, the day of a total solar eclipse?
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