DISCLAIMER: What follows is a piece I just wrote for a political blog. It is a personal opinion and nothing else. I’m sending it to you simply because I can (occasionally). I am not using a UPMC server and this is not a comprehensive list of everyone in any Department. Enjoy if you have an interest. Dump if not.
From Mike Allen of AXIOS this morning:
“Trump is at real risk of losing his party. His base voters are remaining steadfast,
but Republican senators are getting increasingly impatient and resistant.
Sen. John McCain’s surprise thumbs-down on health care is likely the beginning
of a wave of defections from establishment Republicans. It’s rarely discussed
publicly, but people in government say that a domestic attack — although unlikely
to be on the scale of 9/11 because of all the countermeasures that have been
added — is a constant possibility. And critics and skeptics worry about ways
Trump could consolidate power in the wake of such an event. We put
Bob Mueller last just because the special counsel gets so much attention.
But make no mistake: The special counsel’s investigation remains the
existential threat to this presidency. Reuters reported that Mueller just added
a 16th lawyer to his team — Greg Andres, who has experience prosecuting
illegal foreign bribery.”
“Also on the WashPost front page … “Senate GOP’s frustrations with Trump
bubbling up,” by Sean Sullivan: “Some are describing the dynamic in cold,
transactional terms, speaking of Trump as more of a supporting actor than
the marquee leader of the Republican Party.”
I say: I’ve always thought that Trump’s “base” will never desert him no matter what he does or how he does it. The point of being tipped into power by relatively dogmatic rednecks is that they obviously believe what he says (in his tweets) other than what the reality is. Several interviews with groups of his “supporters” in Kentucky and Ohio show that they simply don’t believe anything the nightly news reports and they don’t read the Grey Lady or the Washington Post. Trump says his first six months have been absolutely stellar and they hang on his every word.
However, the “base” that tipped him into this unexpected (by everyone else) victory was a relatively small number, and that number is slowly but progressively decreasing. Unclear if the same election was held tomorrow, that tip would occur. There have been defections. The base will always remain but may not be politically active in 2018, and especially 2020. The American voters may still prefer conservative politicians, but that doesn’t necessarily include Trump.
If and when Trump goes down, it won’t be because of style but substance. Few if any of his promises to his base have much chance of coming to pass. The incredibly bad health care bill is mercifully dead, hopefully forever. His promises to “drain the swamp” simply diverted the swamp to the White House. Promises to save coal are ludicrous. His disbelief of global warming is harmful. It isn’t up to him to “increase jobs”. It’s up to many factors he has no control over. The “wall” is a joke, especially the Mexicans paying for it. But some very big issues remain. Whether or not his rabid base chooses to see it, the Russian thing has now developed into a very, very big problem for Trump. The obvious Russian thing plus the intentional lying and deception Trump is caught in by Washington Post reporters who have devoted their lives and 18 hour days to ferreting out these lies shortly after he utters them. The intentional deceptions may not be noticed by the rabble, but you can be sure they are by the Republican establishment, few of whom supported Trump initially and most of whom are only paying lip service to him today.
Fewer Republicans are smiling. That John McCain and the two women Senators made a big splash of defying him in the face of personal threats would have never happened six months ago. The new book by respected Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake raggedly trashing Trump and the horse he rode in on would never have seen the light of day last December. The Republicans are decidedly as worried so much about being ravaged by Democrats in 2018 or even 2020 as they are their own party ultrastructure collapsing. Since there are no clear Democratic threats showing up, that could happen. If it does, they will lose everything pretty much by default.
The “Great Man” theory suggests that times of crisis creates a “Great Man (or Woman)” to arise and lead the population out of danger. In fact, Contrary to Trump’s tweets, our population is in crisis indeed, and great danger. We’re led by a President who makes decisions capriciously, impulsively, with little or no thought as to long range implications and sometimes according to the last “authority” that advises him. This kind of leader is a serious problem in a world where long range missiles are aimed at us from one side and malicious computer experts on the other. A world where the Middle East can explode at any time and the Chancellor of Germany publicly states that Europe has no confidence in Trump and they’re on their own. A scary place indeed, with a blundering incompetent leader of the free world at the helm.
The burning question at the moment is what, if anything, can be done to minimize the danger of Trump. There continues to be some interest in some quarters to remove him by impeachment, but that’s highly unlikely in a regime controlled by Republicans. If Clinton couldn’t be found guilty in impeachment, Charlie Manson probably wouldn’t either. Besides, if Trump were removed, a smiling, dapper Mike Pence would ascend, a man who really believes ultra conservative Republican nonsense and enthusiastically putting the country under it’s jackboot. Trump is a better deal than Pence if for no other reason than his inherent inefficiency makes it harder for his party to establish it’s black-hearted goal.
I suspect nothing can be done about Trump for the near future and we’re all going to cross our fingers and hope that ineffectualness will breed less danger than a committed charge into guaranteed danger. At Trump’s current rate, little if anything will change and little will get done. In addition, Trump doesn’t see this light yet but Robert Muller is lurking in the background with a bevy of very knowledgeable specialty lawyers and they’re digging like Robert Costa of the Wash Post does, just not reporting any of their findings yet. You can bet they have Trump’s tax forms. When Muller does come to light, and it’s likely to come before 2018, it will be a blinding flash that no one sill be capable of ignoring, not even the “base”. But the base won’t matter then. It will matter to the Republicans, and matter a lot.
I mentioned the “Great (Wo)Man Theory” a while back. Unclear if this will happen before 2020, but we might see signs of it in the Senatorial race of 2018. Will Democrats get a majority of either house, making it virtually impossible for Republicans to get anything meaningful done? Unclear yet. Despite all the pleas for bi-partisan discussions on just about everything, it isn’t happening, and few pundits suggest it ever will. Either side has more to lose than gain by doing so. It will always be a scorched earth battleground, whoever survives the carnage wins (need I mention the Toomey vs McGinty Senate race in Pennsylvania, 2016).
There are some interesting possibilities on the horizon, many of whom have guested on the Charlie Rose show (a really excellent forum). Republican Senator (R. Utah) started out life as a Tea Partier but has become more moderate. He related some good ideas on Charlie Rose a while back. A little too conservative to my taste but I think might be up and coming.
Even Jeff Flake (R. Arizona) has been a round for a long time and has emerged as pretty much a voice of reason.
On the Democratic side, forget Elizabeth Warren, she blew it all out for Hillary. Al Franken? Maybe, but not terribly well thought of by the power structure. Keep your eye on South Bend Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
He has impeccable credentials and could arise to be a force for the Democrats?
At any rate, it appears that, like it or not, we’re stuck with trying to limit incompetence for the foreseeable future, not forge ahead constructively. We will be what we are, a large group of “The Apprentice” contestants, overseen by the master who know how to get the best ratings. In the end, much drama and confusion, but ratings likely to drop as the short-span-of-attention audience gets bored, then dropped by the networks. We’ll see in 2018.
On the NBC News last night, the talking head mentioned that the economy is doing pretty well for the last couple of quarters, even as the White House quagmire continues unabated. I would be pretty happy about this as far as it goes, but be very wary of Wall Street in general and bull markets in particular for at least two good reasons:
None of this has anything to do with Trump other than he’s loosened some regulations that protect consumers. Amazon is booming because no one goes out of their house to a store anymore. That will all come tumbling down when these huge storefronts that employ millions of people come tumbling down. Apple is booming because everyone in the country continues to purchase various stripes of computers with no end in sight and the new iPhone 8 is getting a big push. None of this has anything to do with Trump who if you recall promised to get all the coal mining jobs back. Many other businesses continue to move overseas.
Wall Street variations are, by their nature, fickle, based on smoke, mirror and vapor. Recall that Wall Street goodies also increased after George W. Bush and Obama, larger than what’s happening under Trump. It’s all just based on expectations. Recall the “dot.com” boom a while back thought to never end. Recall the housing boom of 2006 based on lack of regulation, no one watching them. Don’t worry. Business thinks they’re getting a pass on regulations that will allow them to take risk with someone else’s money for a while. But in the end, all risky maneuvers flop and when they do, it’s the public’s money that will be lost. Recall also that not one of those that caused the recession of 2008 are in jail today. Ups always turn to downs, and now that regulations are lax, it’s only a matter of time.
Wall Street is a VERY bad proposition to hang hopes on. The Trump presidency is in VERY deep trouble, and Wall Street is a very fat red herring.