Saturday, October 19, 2019

His Own Worst Enemy

News items:
  • Next G-7 meeting will be at Trump's Doral Resort in Florida
  • Trump calls James Mattis, his former Secretary of Defense, the "world's most overrated general" after Mattis disagrees with him on Syria policy.  Mattis responds, “I earned my spurs on the battlefield and Donald Trump earned his spurs in a letter from a doctor.”
The 2020 election will be determined by whether voters are more tired of Donald Trump's rantings and eccentricities or more terrified of an insane Democratic Party.  In a time of a booming economy and record low unemployment (including for blacks and hispanics) this will be closer than it should be because of Donald Trump.

While much of what Trump has been accused of is false (see for instance my posts on the Russia Collusion Scandal), his own lack of discipline, his ignorance, and his constant need to brag have made things much worse for him, because they make more believable even the most outlandish accusations against him.

Take Russia, for example.  His awful remarks during the campaign about Putin and Russia including morally equating the heinous actions of that country with ours made it more believable there was something illegitimate about his Russian connections.  If he had merely more soberly expressed the view of the importance of improving relations from a geostrategic perspective it would still have been debatable but within the realm of discussion, particularly since that was Barack Obama's position during the 2008 and 2012 campaigns.

His repulsive behavior regarding regarding Russia continued after the election.  Bragging to Russian government officials visiting the White House the day after firing James Comey that he did so on behalf of Russia was just stupid.  And when before, during, and after the Helsinki conference he acted like a star struck teenage girl with Putin it just continued to reinforce the credibility of the accusations against him.  To cap it all, the day after Trump was cleared by the Mueller Report he publicly gloated about it while on the phone with Putin!  All of which has helped obscure an unprecedented effort by the Democrats in and out of government and their media allies in their own collaboration with Russia, their interference in the 2016 campaign, and their continuing efforts to frame President Trump after his inauguration.

The latest kerfuffle over the Ukraine is also a self-generated disaster.  Getting Rudy Guiliani involved in anything at this point in his career shows poor judgment as does engaging in the phone call with the newly elected president of the Ukraine.

The actions referenced at the top, are of the same ilk.  He should never have suggested use of his resort for the G-7 meeting and it shows once again Trump's inability to separate his own personal interests from those of the office.

And the nature of his attack on Mattis is idiotic and typical Trumpian hyperbole.  It also reinforces the image (a correct one in my opinion) that he's a terrible guy to work for.  Irrational, prone to outbursts, not willing to read anything, and a guy who will turn on his subordinates rather than take any part of the blame for the things that go wrong.  He is not a stand up guy.

On many issues Trump is more in tune with the American people than the Democratic Party.  On immigration for example, Americans believe in poll after poll that we need better border security and that current immigration policy needs to be reformed in the direction of being more selective.  In contrast the Democrats have effectively become an open borders party, making it clear through their support for sanctuary cities that they favor protecting violent illegal aliens and not protecting law-abiding Americans, including legal immigrants!  And the old mainstream GOP favoring of more immigration in line with the desires of corporate America has also been rejected.

The problem is that on this and many other such issues, Trump's extreme and overstated rhetoric alienates or embarrasses many who would otherwise be inclined to support him though, at the same time, his willingness to verbally take on things that terrified other Republicans is an asset.  Combined with his abject ignorance of governmental processes this leaves him better at identifying areas of national policy that should be changed than he is at actually accomplishing any such changes.

In a post this summer I quoted Holman Jenkins of the Wall St Journal:
Mr Trump is said to upset the norms of our political life, but how exactly?  By lying? By engaging in demagoguery?  By making absurd claims?  His real trick has been to be a one-man satire of our politics.  And so far he has yet to find an opponent or critic - whether Mr Biden, or Hillary Clinton or Mitt Romney - who doesn't prove his point.

To show what a liar he is, his enemies entangle themselves in lies.  Democrats have turned themselves into a party of Adam Schiffs, who, whatever his previous virtues, now is wholly defined by his promotion of the collusion canard.  It's an amazing psychological feat to squander their advantage over Mr Trump in this way.

Ditto the media.  In their eagerness to traffic in falsehoods about Mr Trump, his media critics lend him strength.  We face the weird prospect now of a world-class scandal involving the FBI and the intelligence community being aired even while much of the press is committed to being part of the coverup.
I'll add that Trump's appointed many 2nd rate people and many of his closest confidants seem 3rd rate at best.  But looking back it's remarkable how poorly many of our reputed "first rate" government professionals have done in the 21st century.  Perhaps Trump has demonstrated there isn't such a big difference between the "top people" and the rest of us; it turns out none of us know what we are doing.

While I think Jenkins correct it is also true that Trump takes down his supporters just as much as he takes down his opponents.  We are all sinking.  The difference between progressives and the rest of us is they think this process started in 2016 while we know our descent into Bizarro World began in 2008 and there are no signs we are emerging.*

It is a terrible time in American politics, the worst in my lifetime.  The politically inept, intellectually and ethically bankrupt GOP that Trump destroyed deserved its fate.  Meanwhile, 21st century Democrats embrace intolerance and division, seemingly intent on making the United States the new Yugoslavia.  Maybe we deserve Trump (though for a contra view see this).  As Henry Kissinger noted in 2018:
"I think Trump may be one of those figures in history who appears from time to time to mark the end of an era and to force it to give up its old pretenses.  It doesn't necessarily mean that he knows this, or that he is considering any great alternative. It could just be an accident."

*  Before you say "what about George W Bush?",  let me explain - his was a failed Presidency but in the normal historical range of what we consider failed presidencies.  As for Barack Obama just consider for a moment that a guy who claimed to have found Jesus through the preaching of a race-baiting anti-semite in whose church he sat for his entire life was nominated by a major party and elected president.  Now there's something I never thought would happen!  Trump is the second consecutive strange man we've elected president.

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