Tag Archives: Donald Trump

Remaking the Presidency

By Joseph P. Williams – The willingness to buck convention, smash important precedents and use Twitter like a shotgun has historians and analysts considering whether the impulsive CEO president, unbound by political customs and arguably unaware of limits to his authority, has redefined the office for his successor while tailoring it for himself.

“Trump was elected to blow up the office,” says Jeremi Suri, a historian and scholar at The University of Texas-Austin. Mission accomplished, Suri says – but at a price, for the Republican Party, the president’s own legacy and perhaps American democracy.

“You’re going to see something about presidential reforms coming out of this horrible period we’re in right now,” Suri says. Trump, he says, has destroyed “the myth of a true government outsider” running the country, and likely has paved the way for an experienced outsider, like a governor or low-profile congress member, to take his place.

In the next election cycle, “we’re likely to see a full sweep – a new Congress intent on curbing presidential power and recalibrating the checks and balances.”

“The Trump style of the presidency has only resonated with about 30 to 35 percent of the public,” says Jonathan Turley, who notes that a president’s public-approval rating is directly proportional to his or her leverage with Congress. That means Trump is operating at a power deficit, he adds, and therefore “I’m not sure that future presidents would view this administration as a model to replicate.” more> https://goo.gl/Dv7Dwn

Why Is Donald Trump Still So Horribly Witless About the World?

By Robin Wright – “The President has little understanding of the context”—of what’s happening in the world—“and even less interest in hearing the people who want to deliver it,” Michael Hayden, a retired four-star general and former director of both the C.I.A. and the National Security Agency, told me.

“He’s impatient, decision-oriented, and prone to action. It’s all about the present tense. When he asks, ‘What the hell’s going on in Iraq?’ people around him have learned not to say, ‘Well, in 632 . . . ’ ” (That was the year when the Prophet Muhammad died, prompting the beginning of the Sunni-Shiite split.)

Trump’s policy mistakes, large and small, are taking a toll. “American leadership in the world—how do I phrase this, it’s so obvious, but apparently not to him—is critical to our success, and it depends eighty per cent on the credibility of the President’s word,” John McLaughlin, who worked at the C.I.A. under seven Presidents, from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush, and ended up as the intelligence agency’s acting director, told me.

“Trump thinks having a piece of chocolate cake at Mar-a-Lago bought him a relationship with Xi Jinping. He came in as the least prepared President we’ve had on foreign policy,” McLaughlin added. “Our leadership in the world is slipping away. It’s slipping through our hands.” more> https://goo.gl/Nza7eC

The Fall of the Deal-Maker

By Kenneth T. Walsh – America’s polarization and political dysfunction have become structural, built into the system as never before. President Donald Trump didn’t create the situation in which the country finds itself, increasingly divided into irreconcilable camps, but Trump is intensifying the hard feelings all around. And things are getting worse.

Trump has suffered a huge blow to his reputation as a deal-maker.

The billionaire real-estate developer pledged during the campaign to use his deal-making skills to outsmart and overpower the power structure in Washington and force the elites bend to his will. It isn’t happening. And he has little of consequence to show legislatively for his first six months in office, aside from winning Senate confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

One of Trump’s problems is that he can’t keep from tripping over himself. When things seem to be going his way, he unleashes angry and off-message comments on Twitter, and he appears to be a bully, an undisciplined braggart and a nasty politician who strikes many as unlikable.

Washington insiders generally say he would be better off staying on message – talking about his steps to improve the economy, cut regulations, stimulate the business sector, reduce the size and cost of government, and attack the status quo in Washington. more> https://goo.gl/njA1P1

Who’s Afraid of Donald Trump?

BOOK REVIEW

On Deaf Ears: The Limits of the Bully Pulpit, Author: George C. Edwards III.

By Susan Milligan – He talks tough, and tweets tougher. He makes demands on Congress and state governments, needles foreign nations and launches broad attacks on the press.

The president wooed crowds and wowed political observers during his campaign, when the insults and veiled threats he lobbed against primary foes, journalists and protesters at his rallies turned out to be successful. Far from disqualifying him for the presidency, as Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton asserted, Trump’s bombastic approach mirrored the anger of much of the American electorate, who sent him to the White House.

But as a governing tool, Trump’s tough-guy strategy is meeting with resistance, and not just the kind Democrats and their allies are organizing this summer. That, experts say, weakens the president.

“Trump’s orientation is to bully – ‘I’m going to run somebody against you. I’m going to hurt you.’ That’s not where you lead from,” says Texas A&M University political science professor George C. Edwards III.

But bullying does not translate into an effective bully pulpit once someone is in the Oval Office.

“Presidents rarely move public opinion in their direction. That’s fundamental,” Edwards says. “You cannot govern based on the premise of expanding your coalition, but not everything presidents do lack public support. Turns out many things this president does lack public support.” more> https://goo.gl/xSQQVa

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A Dangerous Choice

By Kenneth T. Walsh – President Donald Trump’s decision to give the Pentagon the authority to make policy in Afghanistan is one of his most important, far-reaching and dangerous choices as commander in chief so far.

In the near term, it will almost certainly mean an escalation of the conflict with the addition of thousands of U.S. troops to the war zone. The fighting in Afghanistan has already lasted for 16 years and is America’s longest sustained war, extending over the tenure of three presidents of both major parties – George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump. Only the U.S. commitment to Vietnam came close to this mark, and it was a very polarizing, detested venture and ended in a defeat that Americans want to avoid repeating.

Over the long term, it means more U.S. entanglements in a region that few Americans understand, that U.S. policy makers often misjudge, and that has been the graveyard for potential occupiers and conquerors such as Alexander the Great, Great Britain and the Soviet Union. more> https://goo.gl/pmjecw

A Dangerous Game

By Kenneth T. Walsh – President Donald Trump is playing a dangerous game. He is adding a very disruptive ingredient to his governing approach – potentially alienating and confusing his own staff and the lawyers who are trying to defend him in his legal battle to crack down on terrorism and illegal immigration. In the process, Trump is giving everyone a window into his mind, and the view is filled with anger and an eagerness for combat, not unity or conciliation.

Overall, Trump typically wraps his Twitter rants in an angry and dismissive tone, and his diatribes frequently go far afield from the issues that Trump says are his top priorities, such as creating jobs, cutting taxes and overhauling the healthcare system. He even got into a public feud with London Mayor Sadiq Khan over how to respond to terrorism in the wake of the lethal attacks in London a week ago. more> https://goo.gl/aYN2iY

A Political, Not Constitutional, Crisis

By Joseph P. Williams – A constitutional crisis is often used [synonymously] with a political crisis. What people see as a confrontation between the branches is often defined as a crisis. The Constitution is designed to have a certain degree of tension between the branches. It is also designed to deal with confrontations between a president and both Congress and the courts.

This is not a constitutional crisis. It’s a political crisis.

The thing is, the FBI director is essentially an at-will employee. He serves at the pleasure of the president. That should come as no surprise to those familiar with our system.

Our Constitution is designed for bad weather, not for good weather. It has survived crises that would have reduced other countries to a fine pumice.

President Trump is allowed to exercise the authority that he used to terminate James Comey.

Congress is allowed to investigate the conditions or reasons of that termination.

The constitutional system is working just fine. more> https://goo.gl/3wRPHf

The White House Unveiled a Tax Reform Plan. It’s Not Really a Plan

By Alex Altman – The proposal, which the White House promised would be the “the biggest individual and corporate tax cut in American history,” was strikingly short on details, from how much the goodies President Donald Trump is dangling would cost to how his Administration plans to patch the hole it would blow in the budget.

That’s an especially pressing question given how zealous many Republican lawmakers have been in the recent past about keeping legislation revenue-neutral.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimated the plan could cost between $3 trillion and $7 trillion. Its base-case estimate, $5.5 trillion, would be 20% of U.S. GDP. “Even if tax cuts could generate more growth than estimated,” the group wrote, “no plausible amount of economic growth would be able to pay for a substantial portion of the tax plan.”

Even if a true tax-reform package isn’t in the offing anytime soon—the last reform of the tax code took place more than 30 years ago—Trump’s party has the power to simply slash rates this year.

That would juice the U.S. economy as Republicans head into a difficult election cycle in 2018. Which, to Trump, may be as good a goal as any. more> https://goo.gl/PRuvyB

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Here’s the real Rust Belt jobs problem — and it’s not offshoring or automation

By Josh Pacewicz and Stephanie Lee Mudge – Many struggling U.S. cities and states compete fiercely with one another to attract and keep firms that offer jobs. Unfortunately, these are not the “good” jobs that Americans are looking for, jobs with middle-class pay, benefits and security.

This race to the bottom drains public coffers, preoccupies local leaders and fuels voter cynicism. “America First” sidesteps the problem.

Since the corporate mergers and restructurings in the 1980s, most cities depend not on one or two large factories but on many small subsidiary operations — light manufacturing, food processing, professional service firms, call centers, hotels and retail. These smaller subsidiaries mostly move between struggling cities and towns rather than leaving for other countries.

Much of the blame for that falls on federal policy. Unions have been hobbled by a changing legal environment. A corporate merger wave unleashed by financial deregulation eliminated local owners who paid workers living wages and contributed generously to their towns.

Tax code changes led to ballooning senior managers’ earnings at the expense of line-workers’ wages. Without changing the federal policies that led to these trends, bringing manufacturing back will not create good, safe jobs. more> https://goo.gl/leRpP1

Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan is vaporware that’s never going to happen

Rambling nonsense is not a legislative strategy.
By Matthew Yglesias – It’s pure vaporware, and unless something dramatic changes to the overall structure of the administration, it always will be.

In addition to Trump not doing any work on the legislative process around an infrastructure bill, the interview also makes it clear that he has no knowledge of the underlying subject matter.

Trump’s explanation for how he will overcome his lack of knowledge is that he will establish a commission, led by two other real estate developers who also lack relevant knowledge.

All of which is to say that Trump isn’t going to attach a $1 trillion infrastructure plan as a sweetener to his health care bill or his tax bill for the simple reason that there is no $1 trillion infrastructure plan and never will be. Trump has no plan, and no understanding of the issue, and to the extent that his aides are involved in infrastructure, it’s to try to convince him to talk up deregulation as more important than spending money. more> https://goo.gl/JZrEwK