May 15th, 2017

Trump’s unforced errors

I want to talk about three recent articles. The first is by Jonah Goldberg, the second by Andrew C. McCarthy, and the third is by Michael Goodwin.

All three men are Republicans, but they occupy different positions on what I’ll call the Trump-approval spectrum. Goldberg is the most anti-Trump, McCarthy has taken a somewhat middle position, and Goodwin has been quite Trump-positive. However, they’re all saying much the same thing about him at the moment, albeit in different ways and with different emphases, and it’s a point with which I heartily concur: that Trump committed a series of unforced errors during the Comey firing and his handling of its aftermath, even though the firing itself was both lawful and arguably justified.

Some of these errors were in the firing process—the way Comey was informed, for example. Some of them were later, in miscues to Pence. Some of them involved tweets by Trump. Some may have involved rumored questions to Comey about loyalty (we’re not sure whether reports of this are accurate).

Some aspects of Trump’s behavior around the Comey incident have given at the very least the appearance of impropriety, and much of that behavior was unnecessary and counterproductive, although many of Trump’s biggest fans will justify, praise, and even take pleasure in some of the very aspects that are most problematic.

Goldberg puts his finger on at least part of what may be going on with Trump:

The response from the drivers of the permanent wagon circle, however, is to talk about how the media coverage of Comey’s firing is all overblown. There have been inaccuracies and hyperbole, to be sure. But serious people understand — even if they won’t say so on camera — that Trump has been throwing gasoline on a firestorm for no other reason than that’s what Trump does.

A scorpion bites, and Trump tweets out when he feels threatened. During the campaign I wrote about the Twitter mentality that seems to be ascendant:

In this particular election cycle of 2016, Twitter seems to dominate much more than before, and of course it is tailor-made for the strengths of Donald Trump. He has developed snarky one-liner put-downs and bragging to a fine art, and Twitter gives him the perfect platform for that, with a ready-made potential audience of many millions who are drawn to the game. …

Nearly everything [on Twitter] is irony or mockery, coming from what appears to be a very deep public cynicism, fed in turn by the constant cynicism and mockery. No one is really laudable any more. Elect a narcissistic con man? Why not? They’re all narcissistic con men, so let’s back the conny-ist and most narcissistic con man of all. And let’s laugh about it, and taunt the opposition. Integrity is for suckers, and only saps would believe that anyone smart has it. Except, paradoxically, the snarky, who show the depth of their integrity by the depth of their mocking cynicism.

It worked for him very well during the campaign season, didn’t it? And Trump’s biggest fans think it’s great, smart, and effective. Sometimes it actually is. Sometimes it is not. Here’s a not-untypical recent response from a Trump supporter (“Pancho”):

Trump NEEDS to tweet right now. It’s the only way to get his unfiltered message out to both his supporters and his haters. He loves to troll the MSM. It’s a joy to watch him work.

A joy? Not for me. Guess what? He’s not campaigning now. And, as Jonah Goldberg also adds, the skills needed during campaigns are not exactly the same as those needed for a presidency. In other words, what Trump supporters may find a great joy and what worked during the campaign may be counterproductive in a president, when the base doesn’t need as much shoring up, and anyway they can be shored up with actions and policy. A president needs to be effective, and a president such as Donald Trump—who has a host of enemies out to criticize even his most innocent and blameless moves—has to be able to avoid adding unnecessary fuel to the fire that’s already burning.

As Andrew McCarthy points out:

“Jumped the shark” is an overused expression straight out of 1970s situation comedy. It is the most charitable interpretation of the moment President Donald Trump pressed “Tweet” on Friday morning. After nearly four months of the once jaw-dropping novelty of presidential tweeting (the equivalent, in dog years and media exhaustion, of five sit-com seasons), the routine has grown stale, the former reality-TV star apparently out of “don’t touch that dial” ideas…

[The Comey-firing episode] is the latest in a series of depressing chapters. Most pressingly, it will be more difficult now for the president to recruit a highly respected, instantly credible law-enforcement pro — a Ray Kelly type, to my mind — to replace Comey.

And as Goodwin adds [emphasis mine]:

The president rarely makes it easy on the faithful [such as Goodwin], often testing his tribe through errant word and deed. Even on his best days, he manages to insert a hurdle or two or 10.

The James Comey affair is the perfect example. On substance, Trump made the absolute right call. Comey had to go, with his blunders on the Hillary Clinton case reason enough. And there were many others.

Yet being right isn’t enough in Washington, and being Trump raises the bar exponentially. The Democratic left and the media (I know, that’s redundant) get out of bed ready to pounce.

They don’t need facts to unleash their volcanic hatred of him. A juicy rumor and an anonymous source will suffice. Any mistake sparks talk of impeachment.

Some days, Trump gets the level of difficulty, telling Reuters about his first 100 days, “I thought it would be easier.”

Other days, he gets everything backward, making it hard for supporters to defend him and easy for opponents to attack. This is not merely annoying.

The exasperating pattern has been and remains the existential threat to Trump’s presidency, given his precarious public standing and his party’s narrow margin in Congress. He will not be able to deliver on his promises to revitalize the economy and rebuild the military unless he establishes wider support for his agenda and more trust in his judgment.

The Panchos of the internet may find it a “joy” to watch a master like Trump work. But it persuades no one who wasn’t already persuaded, and brings exasperation to followers such as Goodwin. If it continues, it will indeed threaten his presidency, as well as the Republican majority in Congress.

The truth is that Trump won not just because he attracted people who liked his proposals and in particular his in-your-face pugnacious style. He won because he attracted a lot of Republicans who held their noses and voted for him. His core of real support has never been large. Yes, the MSM is very much against him, and he must fight them. But he also must earn the respect and trust of those Republican nose-holders who gave him a chance, as well as the moderate Democrats who did likewise. More behavior from Trump that resembles some of these unforced errors during the Comey firing risks losing them, as well as people like Goodwin. Is it really worth the transient troll-like joy of some of his supporters?

59 Responses to “Trump’s unforced errors”

  1. Ray Says:

    Senator Chuck Schumer has informed us that Trump committed a serious offense. I am still waiting for the specifics of the serious offense.
    “We know Director Comey was leading an investigation in [sic] whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians, a serious offense.”

  2. DirtyJobsGuy Says:

    This is Donald Trump as he has always been. In NYC he was a mildly interesting character often on Page Six of the NY Post. He seems incapable of working with others as business partners or true friends/allies. Much of the Anti-Trump zeal comes from a realization that he is not what he presents himself as. He is not the rough edged tycoon he pretends to be but a rough edged minor player in real estate. His organization (Real estate guys always name their business the X Organization for some reason) was run by a small group of family and voracious remora like employees. His White House looks to be the same.

    One could see a guy like him letting others do all the work which could be OK. However Trump would bristle at any press accounts that Pence or others were the real stars.

    He cannot or will not change his style. There is a lot of peril for the GOP and the Democrats have seized on this.

  3. Big Maq Says:

    As parker said a couple of articles back “trump is the (GOP) president we have”, which ought to accord him some deference or “space” to do what he feels he needs.

    But it is incredibly hard to do, as this is, as DJG says above, something that we’ve known from the start, and his current behavior is nothing new, nor should it be surprising anymore (as Neo notes of Chris Wallace’s reaction).

    Doubtful he will change. “We” (collectively) rolled the dice with this guy and will have to ride it out.

    We can only hope that a conservative agenda will be enacted and be something to base future elections on, but in policy and in behavior, it increasingly looks like something trump will be a major hurdle to.

  4. Big Maq Says:

    “But a presidency, for all its power and grandeur, is fragile. Its strength comes from the consent of the governed and the mandate to lead must be constantly earned and expanded. – Michael Goodwin

    If entertainment is the goal, and playing to the small base is the objective, then trump is doing a fine job.

    If we want actual change that will be lasting, which takes significantly broader support than he has, there is plenty to be critical about.

    To succeed, trump needs to be more than taken “seriously”, he needs to be taken credibly.

  5. Oldflyer Says:

    I still think his instincts are sound; but, as others have stated, or implied, his personal quirks are a hindrance. It seems that as the attacks against him escalate, he is simply unable to remain above the petty fray.

    The Democrats keep shooting themselves in the foot but, he seems determined to let them off the hook. I thought that he had good people around him; but, his style undercuts the perception of a tight, coordinated team effort.

    The current trajectory is worrisome.

  6. Sergey Says:

    OK, Trump is throwing gasoline on firestorm, just for fun of it. But except for mere fun, there is a strategic advantage in doing so: forcing Democrats to overreact and damage their credibility. I suspect that Trump is doing this deliberately, and quite probably, he has a point. His message is simple: I am here not to argue with you, but to destroy you. This would not hurt him with his base and may be even recruit him new fans. As well known, lots of people just love to see the world burn, and this joy is contagious.

  7. vanderleun Says:

    And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.

    “And while these liberal spazzes and their fussy Fredocon gimps are shrieking about the coming Armageddon in their high-pitched, girlish voices, Trump is just rolling along. Special prosecutor, schmecial prosecutor – he’s not falling for it. And did you see the ten judges he just nominated? You usually have to come up with roses and champagne to score like that.

    Here’s how this goes. The Democrats, along with the media and Team Tinfoil, keep whining about Russians Russians Russians, and normal people keep tuning them out. While they’re babbling about nonsense that means nothing outside of the coastal looney bins, normal people are tuning into how the stock market and the job market just keep getting better, how we’re not taking guff from foreign creeps anymore, and we’re not talking about how much taxes will go up but about how much they’ll go down.

    Tax reform is going to pass. Obamacare is getting repealed – it’s as dead in the Senate as it was in the House, which is not at all. Our military is getting rebuilt. We’re going to stop leading with our chin on trade. Things are going to keep getting better, and people will see it.

    The only way the President can still screw this up is by choosing to screw this up. He won’t do it by messing with liberals. Keep tweeting those twerps into a sputtering rage! It pays dividends every time he provokes them to new heights of lunacy.”

    https://townhall.com/columnists/kurtschlichter/2017/05/15/liberals-are-an-inferno-of-flaming-crazy-and-we-should-pour-gasoline-on-the-fire-n2326754

  8. Sergey Says:

    Trump is many things, often contradictory, that is why he incites so divergent opinions both among his friends and his foes. He is unpredictable and knows how to use this to his advantage. But one thing is undeniable: he is a revolutionary, and such people tend to fan the flames, not to extinguish them. Napoleon did much the same, and it took him far enough.

  9. Cornhead Says:

    Ben Sasse of Nebraska looks to me to be the canary in the coal mine for Trump. Sasse was not quite a never Trumper, but he was close. Trump won Nebraska with over 60% of the vote. My view of Sasse is that he is a real establishment Republican based on his Ivy League education. Recently he has been more vocal in his criticism of Trump. He is not a certain vote on key issues. If Sasse, McCain and others stop voting with Trump then POTUS is in trouble.

    Trump needs to get back to fundamentals and get some wins. The drama and gossip has got to stop.

  10. DNW Says:

    Kill ObamaCare, secure the borders, reestablish some semblance of the rule of law. Trump’s halfway there already.

    One more supreme court justice and the repeal of ObamaCare and he can then resign in disgrace for all I care.

    Welcome President Pence.

    Then, we can if we must, have our civil/social war if that is where the no-limits Stalinist organisms of the ‘By Any Means Necessary’ crowd insist on pushing it. But that won’t happen. Yvette Felarca will stop punching people once she is convinced someone will actually hit back, and for real.

  11. Sergey Says:

    “Is it really worth the transient troll-like joy of some of his supporters?”
    I found this question not a rhetorical one, but quite serious. And honestly, I do not know the answer. With Trump, trolling is not a perk, but a consistent tactic. And it often works.

  12. DNW Says:

    “To succeed, trump needs to be more than taken “seriously”, he needs to be taken credibly.”

    Border jumpers are apparently taking him seriously. And he is succeeding there.

    Not even a wall built yet.

    And by the way, and as a matter of principle: a polity that needs a wall, the population of which is too enervated to define borders against trespass and make them stick, a political association which lacks the will and integrity to even defend itself, hardly provides a rationale for its own to existence anyway.

  13. Cornhead Says:

    I really like Andy McCarthy. I wish there was a spot for him in the WH.

  14. neo-neocon Says:

    Sergey:

    You say Trump’s forcing Democrats to overreact and damage their credibility. I totally disagree.

    This is why. They are overreacting anyway, to virtually everything Trump does. And you can only “overreact” if there is general agreement that your reaction is too much for the particular provocation. But the greater the provocation, the less a reaction will be seen as an overreaction and the more it will be seen as the proper reaction.

    Trump is giving them credibility, not taking it away.

  15. DNW Says:

    “The truth is that Trump won not just because he attracted people who liked his proposals and in particular his in-your-face pugnacious style. He won because he attracted a lot of Republicans who held their noses and voted for him. His core of real support has never been large. Yes, the MSM is very much against him, and he must fight them. But he also must earn the respect and trust of those Republican nose-holders who gave him a chance, as well as the moderate Democrats who did likewise. More behavior from Trump that resembles some of these unforced errors during the Comey firing risks losing them, as well as people like Goodwin. Is it really worth the transient troll-like joy of some of his supporters?”

    While I disagree slightly with the framing of one or two phrases, [As a nose-holder I ‘expected’ nothing good; just a more tolerable bad than Hillary.] I am now in the startled position of gaping at how easily, or promptly, some almost unimaginable successes have come his way.

    Now, I am actually in the position of calculating the probable advantages that might further accrue if Trump were to simply attend to the business of being President.

    Success – it seems – is his to throw away by stooping down to quarrel with miscreant collectivists. These are would-be obstructive types who have now demonstrated that when the opposition deploys the very non-rules which these left-fascists have themselves brought into political play, the average left-fascist can in fact simply be walked over by a man with his eye on the goal. They “win” by breaking rules they expect you to abide.

    Trump, having already established his position as king of the hill, doesn’t need to fight his way to the top anymore. He can rightly and with justice simply steamroll the leftoid sons-of-bitches and ignore their noise-making.

    That he does not seem to realize it yet, is puzzling. Must be some ego thing.

    If he wants to Twitter, he should tweet links to sound articles on judicial over reach, or demo hypocrisy. That’s the kind of fuel he should throw on the fire. And then move on.

  16. Frog Says:

    The Democrats are the self-designated Party of Resistance.
    Resistance to all things not of the Democratic Party.
    The gulf widens.
    The center has vanished.
    The destruction of America will continue.

  17. neo-neocon Says:

    DNW:

    That’s why I call his errors “unforced.” He seems determined to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

  18. DNW Says:

    “Trump needs to get back to fundamentals and get some wins. The drama and gossip has got to stop.”

    Yeah, he’s like a man who cannot stop punching after the bell.

    He won on points. He has the belt. He sets the agenda and schedule. He has the ability to reset again and again until he gets what he wants … or most of it.

    Once the leftists really do start looking like the victims which we know they are not, or Trump seems just too vindictive, some conditional Trumpers will go soft and start identifying with what they stupidly imagine are their “fellow” Americans.

    Because you know, it’s better to be nice than to be free.

  19. DNW Says:

    ” neo-neocon Says:
    May 15th, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    DNW:

    That’s why I call his errors “unforced.” He seems determined to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.”

    Yeah, you’re right.

    Did you ever see the movie “The Hill” (with Sean Connery)? I refer to the ending. Not a real parallel, but interesting conceptually.

  20. Sergey Says:

    Neo: this is exactly the core of the matter. In a sharply divided society there can be no such thing as general agreement what constitute overreaction. The same moves and reactions to them are evaluated very differently by the two parties of the divide, and what for some is overreaction for others is not strong enough. So it is hard to estimate if Trump empowers his critics by his antics or diminishing them, painting them as sore losers and clowns deserving all the scold he can master.

  21. neo-neocon Says:

    Sergey:

    I don’t mean “general” as in “almost everyone.” I mean “general” as in “the majority of those in the middle who aren’t already partisan pro-Trumpers or anti-Trumpers.” The partisans will think what they already think. It’s that middle third I’m talking about.

    In addition, if a pro-Trumper such as Goodwin is turning on Trump, that means something. And it’s not good news for Trump.

  22. Sergey Says:

    This is a hallmark of a revolutionary situation: there is no anymore common view what is normal and what is not, but two or more different incompatible codes of proper behavior. Normalcy becomes partisan and subjective.

  23. Sergey Says:

    This middle third is quickly disappearing, being confused by destruction of the norm itself, and choosing one side or the other. The history of all revolutions, violent or relatively civil, is marked exactly by disappearing of the middle. In Russia the process is well described for events hundred years ago, and the same I witnessed about 25 years ago.

  24. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Today, in an ‘opinion’ piece in the Washington Post, Lawrence Tribe, professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School called for Pres. Trump’s impeachment.

    Tribe stated that,

    “Ample reasons existed to worry about this president, and to ponder the extraordinary remedy of impeachment, even before he fired FBI Director James B. Comey and shockingly admitted on national television that the action was provoked by the FBI’s intensifying investigation into his campaign’s ties with Russia.” [my emphasis]

    I somehow missed that, anyone have any idea to what Tribe is referring? When did Trump admit that? Or is Tribe conjuring that accusation out of ‘whole cloth’?

    IF not, then this is a perfect example of Trump shooting himself in the foot.

    But even if Tribe’s accusation is entirely untrue, I do not discount the left’s campaign of disinformation to eventually convince LIVs and Congressional RINOs that Trump’s impeachment is justified.

    Finally, Trump cannot accomplish his promises without Congressional support and, the GOPe continues to support open borders, evidenced by its refusal to fund the wall. It supports increased H1-B Work Visa replacement of American workers. It supports increasing the entitlement State and, increasing our indebtedness. While refusing to agree to a viable replacement of Obamacare…

    What Trump wants is diametrically opposed by the GOPe and they are pretending to cooperate, while actually doing little of substantive reform.

    Trump alone cannot fix America and arguably, the rot is too deep, the opposition too entrenched for him to succeed. I fear that Trump will be another bump in the road toward the collective, just as was Reagan.

  25. AMartel Says:

    Upsetting the permanent government’s will to power was never not going to be horribly messy. Any Republican would have been subject to extraordinary denunciation. Trump is moreso because he is not of the permanent government – either side – and is too much of a businessman to respect the sacred permgov. Trump’s quirks are really not that awful outside the beltway/media/academia context.

    Also, the campaign never ends. That precedent was established pre-Trump.

  26. Sergey Says:

    Both Republicans and Democrats endured a hostile takeover of their parties by Trumpists on one side or by insane hard Left on the other. The process is afoot and is unstoppable. The results of midterm elections will cement the outcome for both parties.

  27. AMartel Says:

    “The drama and gossip has got to stop.”

    Well Trump can’t shut down CNN, NBC, ABC, PBS, CBS, The NY Times, etc. etc. etc. and that’s what’s generating the drama and the gossip. He could cancel live press briefings – that was an idea that was immediately cast in the worst possible light (of course) but it would have shut down a lot of the drama and gossip.

  28. Cornhead Says:

    Frog:

    Trump will not get a single Dem vote on anything that is halfway important. He has to get all GOP votes to win. Susan Collins, John McCain and Lindsay Graham have the power.

  29. Richard Aubrey Says:

    I would be a nose-holder except I haven’t seen a dem candidate I’d vote for since JFK. So maybe the title doesn’t count.
    Still, anybodybuthillary was a powerful push to get me to turn out.
    I am surprised that Trump has gotten what he said he was going to do so far. I am disappointed that the embassy won’t be in Jerusalem.
    However, having spent several decades in organizations–or just individually–in interactions with liberals, I learned something.
    There is no point in discussing anything with them. None.
    Example 1. Years ago, discussing about how we’ll use up oil and have to make major changes, I mentioned the Bakken fields. “There’s not enough,” said my relation quickly. Discussing recently conservatives getting shut down on campus, “liberals get shut down, too,” “Name one.” Silence. When i mentioned that our school district had changed since we got low-income housing–we need a cop on that bus to quell the fighting–she said, “you already have that on other buses,” which was both not true and about which she had never been in a position to know.
    So, liberals are ignorant. Those are examples. Multiply by a thousand to get my experience.

    Example 2. Liberals have no principles. For example, see the Duke lax hoax and the resulting (non) uproar of the actual rape of Katie Rouse at a real Duke frat house. See the (non) fuss about Roderick Scott’s killing of Chris Cervini and the acquittal on grounds of self-defense. See, to get back to Duke, Frank Lombard.
    So. Liberals lie about their principals and only haul them out when useful and deny them and any cases to which they might apply if inconvenient.

    Example 3, St. Saul Alinsky says to argue with opponents to make them waste time and energy. Discussions have the implication that the sides will take into account new information or logical results they learn in discussion. But they don’t. Beat a lib on facts and inside three back&forths they’re ecalling you nasty names.
    For “lib” read progressive, or lefty.
    Or TWANLOC . Those Who Are No Longer Our Countrymen.

    Due to the foregoing, it is only a problem if Trump’s mouthrunning, even if it’s a version of Tourette’s gets the left fired up and he modifies his work so they’ll like him, or at least lay off some. They won’t and they won’t. But they’ll figure they got a scalp and they’ll keep going.
    So if his supporters and the nose-holders understand the left, they’ll keep supporting and nose-holding because the last thing we have here is some kind of binary arrangement for running an America which provides liberty and prosperity and one can switch back and forth to rearrange minor details.

  30. TommyJay Says:

    My view of the big picture: Ever since the Clinton/Stephanopoulos White House, the presidency has become a perpetual campaign. I was heartened in the first few weeks after the inauguration that Trump seemed to get that. It may be the case that he is taking it too far and too unartfully (I thought it was inartful).

    The immediate picture: This mess with Comey is exactly what it looks like when one organization is under a microscope, and the opposing organization is viewed from 30,000 feet. The Dems have their array of plywood cutouts and inflatable edifices all in a row.

    More specifically, the Trump White House was insufficiently organized in the Comey affair. Sarah Sanders and VP Pence did not have a comprehensive storyline down pat. Then Trump drops the bag (in con-man parlance; this is where our politics are now) and blows the storyline up. Perhaps KellyAnne needs a powerful subordinate, or needs to be replaced.

    The next big test will be healthcare and maybe tax reform. My guess is that establishment GOPers in congress will kill anything significant. They are the real threat to the country at this point. I doubt that anything the Trump White House does will make any difference to obstacles in his own party. Bribes and threats are the only thing that will hit them where they live.

    Impeachment may be a real issue for the simple reason that we can’t trust the votes of some Republicans.

  31. AMartel Says:

    The only news(ish) tv show I watch with any regularity is The Five and Dana Perino is the living embodiment of this position of woe about Trump and his unforced errors. Still, look what happened during the Bush administrations – he bent over backwards to accommodate Dems and clearly meant what he said about compassionate conservatism but they roasted him on a spit anyway for eight loooooong years. Bushitler.

  32. Big Maq Says:

    “Border jumpers are apparently taking him seriously. And he is succeeding there.

    Not even a wall built yet.” – DNW

    Seems a matter of prematurely scoring points on the board when one has only reached 1st base on a four ball walk at the top of the 1st inning.
    .

    Hot rhetoric will only carry one so far.

    Let’s get the “wall” built, and fund a larger ICE force to follow up on visa violators (the biggest problem) and deport those who are comprehended on some felony, etc. first and then see if the results last beyond the upcoming elections.
    .

    Long term, if trump loses credibility, he will become ineffective – Goodwin’s point, that I agree with.

    Once that sets in, forget about “border jumpers taking him seriously”, as that can easily be reversed, and perhaps even forget the rest.
    .

    We surely need border security, and it is trump’s key campaign issue to screw up, as I think he has a majority in this country who do agree with that need.

    Would like to see a whole lot more of that superior “competence” he campaigned on.

  33. carl in atlanta Says:

    GB at 2:39 PM:
    “… anyone have any idea to what Tribe is referring? ”

    I think maybe it’s described in this LA Times story from May 12, 2017.
    Quoting from that piece:

    “He [Trump] acknowledged [during the Lester Holt interview on 5/11/17] that the Russia investigation was one of the things he considered. “In fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.””

    Pretty thin gruel I’d say. However, that’s the closest thing I can find to an “admission on national television that the action was provoked by the FBI’s intensifying investigation into his campaign’s ties with Russia”.

    I call BS on the assertion that the investigation was really “intensifying” before Comey was fired. It’s a classic example of a “Big Lie” propaganda effort. And it’s been that way for months.

  34. parker Says:

    From my POV the donald is his worst enemy, seconded by Ivanka and Jared. Third on the list are squishy members of the gop. He won via bombast and daring to touch hot button issues, primarily the illegal invasion and the silliness of AGW. I wish him well, but have little faith he can stay focused.

  35. blert Says:

    GB, the FBI/CIA has been trying to PURCHASE testimony that would damage Trump’s administration.

    (!!!)

    There’s a young (Russian) hacker (in prison at this time) who’s been approached, repeatedly, with amnesty in exchange for admitting that he performed the dirty deeds upon HRC’s campaign.

    THIS is what the intensification of the investigation devolves to.

  36. blert Says:

    Neo…

    We’d be getting the same spin and vitriol if Cruz or Pence were president.

    These are not journalists, they are activists, True Believers.

  37. Frog Says:

    Cornhead: If our future in the Senate depends on Collins, McCain and Graham, woe betide us.
    I’m not clear why people bemoan Trump, his conduct, his mouth, and do not similarly attack the wretched McCain or the frankly stupid Graham.
    That AZ re-elected McCain is proof of the Arizona definition of the acronym IOWA: Idiots Out Wandering Around (in retirement). Reminds me of a geezer I treated for prostate cancer in Mesa: why, I asked, did he live in a single-wide trailer in a huge trailer park, leaving family and all lifelong relationships behind in Illinois in retirement? “Because I hate the snow.”
    That McCain was the GOP nominee was in no small part due to proportional primary victories. He never got 50+%, but always picked up delegates via plurality wins like 35%. But these are themes previously visited here, so endit.

  38. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    carl in Atlanta,

    Thanks, that’s probably it and that is not proof that Trump fired Comey to end the investigation, since that would not and has not ended any investigations. Tribe and Scarborough, respectively the progressive and RINO opposition to Trump are clearly trying to manufacture momentum toward Trump’s impeachment.

    I can think of no rational reason why beyond simple ego that Trump would agree to an interview with any of the MSM.

  39. Ann Says:

    Now this — “Lawmakers denounce reports Trump revealed classified intel to Russians”:

    The Washington Post, citing current and former U.S. officials, reported that Trump provided Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak classified intelligence that was so sensitive it had been withheld from allies – and under close hold within the U.S. government as well.

    “To compromise a source is something that you just don’t do,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said. “That’s why we keep the information that we get from intelligence sources so close…to prevent that from happening.”

  40. blert Says:

    Ann

    CNN citing HuffPo citing Maddow citing the Washington Post citing sources citing scribble on a cocktail napkin at the D.C. Hyatt lounge https://t.co/grUHXhMopE

    — Quoth the Raven (@QTRResearch) May 15, 2017

  41. Tatterdemalian Says:

    Ann,

    And not two hours later: ‘It didn’t happen’: H.R. McMaster calls WaPo’s Trump report ‘false’

    And here we go…

  42. Ann Says:

    From McMaster’s statement:

    “The president and the foreign minister reviewed common threats from terrorist organizations to include threats to aviation,” the security head said. “At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly.”

    From The Hill’s analysis:

    The White House’s denial — that Trump did not explicitly discuss the sources and methods behind the intelligence — did not directly address or nullify The Post’s reporting.

    The information Trump revealed included details that Russia could use to deduce the sources or methods used to gather the intelligence, officials told the paper.

    Among those details was the name of the city in Islamic State territory where the U.S. partner detected the threat, seen as a particularly sensitive disclosure that could allow Russia to identify the intelligence capability involved.

  43. Tuvea Says:

    It seems we have a choice between McMaster who was there or a Washington Post reporter who was not.

  44. J.J. Says:

    Trump is not a politician. He does not care about being precise with words. He is not a former spook or military man. He’s likely to make mistakes. His staff seemingly cannot anticipate his mistakes. So they happen. And there is someone/many within the White House who is/are leaking every mistake to the MSM, which is determined to bring Trump down. Yes, they are unforced errors, but there is a termite(s) inside the organization and an attack force outside.

    Obama made many unforced errors, but there wasn’t much leaking in his administration, and when there was, he was bailed out by the friendly MSM.

    Because I’m not a member of the MSM nor a Democrat, I will give him the benefit of the doubt until it is conclusively shown that he does not have the best interests of the country at heart.

  45. AesopFan Says:

    J.J. Says:
    May 15th, 2017 at 10:24 pm
    Trump is not a politician. He does not care about being precise with words. … And there is someone/many within the White House who is/are leaking every mistake to the MSM, which is determined to bring Trump down. Yes, they are unforced errors, but there is a termite(s) inside the organization and an attack force outside.

    Obama made many unforced errors, but there wasn’t much leaking in his administration, and when there was, he was bailed out by the friendly MSM.
    * * *
    This.
    The MSM should have been closed down by the FEC years ago for not disclosing their contributions-in-kind to the Dems.

  46. AesopFan Says:

    From PowerLine
    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2017/05/breaking-todays-trumpocalype-story.php
    “Some observations: First, this story was obviously a deliberate leak to the Post, and not something Post reporters turned up on their daily rounds. Second, it has to have come from someone in the intelligence community, or perhaps from an Obama holdover on the national security council. Third, to the extent we know that leaks and other damaging stories about Trump supremely anger him, one might wonder whether this is a provocation to destabilize the White House staff. There are already rumors of a potential staff shakeup in the works.

    Stay tuned. I think I know what is going to dominate the news cycle for the rest of the week. Almost enough to make everyone forget about firing Comey, no? Maybe Trump was the leaker. . .”
    * **
    I know it’s not treason if the Post prints it, but still…

  47. AesopFan Says:

    AMartel Says:
    May 15th, 2017 at 3:30 pm
    ..Still, look what happened during the Bush administrations – he bent over backwards to accommodate Dems and clearly meant what he said about compassionate conservatism but they roasted him on a spit anyway for eight loooooong years. Bushitler.
    * * *
    This.
    And Ice Cream Gate.
    Yes, neo, Trump can make the Left start to look less loony by giving them something substantial to gripe about, but I would not believe the NYT or WaPo any more if they said the sun would rise tomorrow.

  48. AesopFan Says:

    TommyJay Says:
    May 15th, 2017 at 3:27 pm
    My view of the big picture: Ever since the Clinton/Stephanopoulos White House, the presidency has become a perpetual campaign. I was heartened in the first few weeks after the inauguration that Trump seemed to get that. It may be the case that he is taking it too far and too unartfully (I thought it was inartful).

    Impeachment may be a real issue for the simple reason that we can’t trust the votes of some Republicans.
    * * *
    See comments elsewhere here in re McCain and Graham.
    The Left and Dems support their people and fight things out behind closed doors. I prefer open opposition and working out what’s the best possible course given the situation, but no question the Dems get their program enacted a lot faster and smoother.

  49. AesopFan Says:

    Richard Aubrey Says:
    May 15th, 2017 at 3:21 pm

    However, having spent several decades in organizations–or just individually–in interactions with liberals, I learned something.
    There is no point in discussing anything with them. None…
    So, liberals are ignorant. Those are examples. Multiply by a thousand to get my experience.


    So. Liberals lie about their principals and only haul them out when useful and deny them and any cases to which they might apply if inconvenient.

    For “lib” read progressive, or lefty.
    Or TWANLOC . Those Who Are No Longer Our Countrymen.

    Due to the foregoing, it is only a problem if Trump’s mouthrunning, even if it’s a version of Tourette’s gets the left fired up and he modifies his work so they’ll like him, or at least lay off some. They won’t and they won’t. But they’ll figure they got a scalp and they’ll keep going.
    So if his supporters and the nose-holders understand the left, they’ll keep supporting and nose-holding..

    * * *
    I made a resolution some years ago to never refer to the Left or the Democrats as “liberals” because it just confuses the issue and gives them cover.
    I don’t like a lot of Trump’s behavior and policies; I didn’t like a lot of W’s; I like far far far less of Obama’s and Hilary’s.
    Trump is who we have, and the GOP can support the enforcement of the laws already on the books that are desirable, repeal or defang the ones that aren’t, and enact the legislation we need despite his errors and ego, or they can hand the country back to the Left – there really isn’t any other option AT THIS POINT.
    At some other point along the line, maybe things will look different.

    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2017/05/its-official-on-trumps-travel-order-the-left-is-bonkers.php
    “The newspapers would have us think that the remarkable thing going on in Washington is the craziness of the Trump administration. I think it is far more accurate to say that the remarkable thing going on in Washington, and across the country, is the insanity of the Left.”

  50. AesopFan Says:

    For those worried about attacks from the RIGHT, maybe some of the ultra-conservatives should take this advice:
    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2017/05/et-tu-ann.php
    I believe that Ann lives in D.C., which could help to explain her panic. The press brought down Nixon, and has been hungering to destroy another Republican administration ever since. There is no question that the baying hounds are after Trump, not just the press but Obama holdovers in the administration and, in general, the entire apparatus of the federal government. The forces aligned against President Trump have refused to accept the result of the election, and are determined to overturn it.

    They might succeed. Trump’s weaknesses might prove to be fatal. But I am not that pessimistic. Trump is, I think, a unique politician in this sense: ordinary politicians’ actions fail to live up to their words. They talk a good game, but don’t deliver. Trump’s words fail to live up to his actions. If you ignore what he says and simply look at what he does, you will probably conclude that he is a very good president.

    This suggests that the president’s problems are fixable. In any event, he will be the president for the next three years and nine months, at a minimum. The Democrats will never stop howling–it is what they do–but it is far too early to give up on what can be achieved, if only Congressional Republicans will ignore the D.C. press and do their jobs.
    * * *
    I don’t always agree with the PowerPundits, but they usually speak good sense.
    And few of them like or supported Trump in the beginning.

  51. expat Says:

    I am appalled By the widespread ignorance overall. It’s in the media, whose interest in ratings is just as obnoxious as Trump’s fascination with gold bathroom fixtures. Their coverage of world affairs is pathetic and does nothing to create an informed populace.

    It’s in the rabid Trumpsters (like Coulter) who assumed he was the Messiah based on the single issue of immigration or NAFTA.

    It’s in the Reps like McCain, who seem unable to fit our dealings with Russia into a larger context.

    We have got to work on a bottom-up approach that will inform the general public and encourage them to use their common sense in advancing policies at the local and national level. We have to break people out of their tribes, which are becoming as bad as those in the ME. And we have to make some breakthroughs in our culture. How are we going to send a message about freedom and self government when we only show the world our consumerism and our concern with trans bathrooms.

    When I see the BS that CNN sends around the world, I’d like to arrest these folks for treason.

  52. neo-neocon Says:

    blert:

    We’d be getting the same spin, but it wouldn’t be nearly as believable. That’s the point.

  53. Ira Says:

    My sympathies for Trump spokes folks has been growing and growing.

  54. Big Maq Says:

    I’ll let the dust settle on the latest issue wrt trump revealing too much information to the russian ambassador.

    But, it is very believable because of all that we have seen from trump thus far, isn’t it?

    We can blame the media all we want for their biased reporting, but why behave in a way that gives them the “meat”?
    .

    Kudos to commenter Ann for raising possibly the latest example of poor judgement.

    The WH explanation Ann quoted reads something like the obama WH argument that collecting “meta data” is somehow innocuous.

    “it would be easy to search and manipulate such a database, transforming seemingly disparate pieces of information into meaningful connections.”
    http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/it-security/is-metadata-collected-by-the-government-a-threat-to-your-privacy/

    Also, it wouldn’t be the first time (actually, one of many) that the “official” WH explanation didn’t meet up with the facts discovered later.

    At best, this all looks like trump just talking contemporaneously without much thought to the consequences.

    It is what he does. It was clear early on.
    .

    We can blame the “leaks” from within the WH and from officials downstream.

    But, you know what? trump sets the tone. He designs the organization. He runs the discipline.

    If, as seems evident, his style or organization is to pit his staff against each other, he is quick to lay blame or throw others under the bus (as his public explanations counter his own staff’s), and he seems to not have a clear direction (as it is subject to change on a whim), then…

    … is it any wonder that his administration is an environment that motivates and enables leaks?

    He seeks loyalty, but does much to undermine that loyalty.

    The latest example is his handling of the Comey firing.

    Can only wonder that the folks in the FBI don’t feel somewhat concerned with our POTUS, even if they agreed on the basis for the decision.
    .

    BUT, we all cannot say any of this is a surprise, right?

    Well, maybe the Ann Coulters of the world can. Somehow.

  55. Bill Says:

    Well, maybe the Ann Coulters of the world can. Somehow.

    I’m not an Ann Coulter fan (used to be, but she got too over the top for me) but I don’t think she’s dumb. Which makes her current surprise at Trump being who he’s always been that much more inexplicable.

    Of course, she wrote a book with one of the most naive and self-delusional titles ever: “In Trump We Trust”

  56. The Other Chuck Says:

    Sergey:

    This middle third is quickly disappearing, being confused by destruction of the norm itself, and choosing one side or the other. The history of all revolutions, violent or relatively civil, is marked exactly by disappearing of the middle. In Russia the process is well described for events hundred years ago, and the same I witnessed about 25 years ago.

    Your perspective is interesting. You are writing about ideology, but the economic situation is similar. From my understanding of Russian history, the middle of a hundred years ago was a weak emerging middle class. It seems we have that in reverse, a weakening and quickly disappearing middle class, which partly explains Trump.

    As to revolution and the increasing gap between left and right, I don’t see Trump and his diehard followers providing a legitimate catalyst. The left, however, is itching for a fight and will glom on to anything as an excuse.

    It’s a stretch, but could Trump be our Kerensky? Elected as a populist (working class) advocate, a weak ineffectual leader, facing a left that smells blood and is talking impeachment, there are similarities. We know what happened that November 100 years ago. Naw, can’t happen here!

  57. Ymar Sakar Says:

    Schumer’s serious offense is that he is still alive and taking up our oxygen.

  58. Ymar Sakar Says:

    Trum should get some of that ol Alt Right character assassination as used on Ted Cruz, for these people. But he won’t, because of an obvious reason.

    DC wasn’t all that easy to break.

  59. Ymar Sakar Says:

    The press brought down Nixon, and has been hungering to destroy another Republican administration ever since.

    It was the FBI that brought down Nixon, not the press. The press were merely pawns in the game.

    Look up Deepthroat’s identity and background.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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