As we make our way through Week 6 of the Trump presidency, so much has happened, it is hard to keep track. Listening to him speak tonight, it was clear that he was playing to his base while trying to expand his message to the many who have found his presidency so far less than compelling. If he were to do everything he said today, he would gain a lot more fans. But it is hard to ignore the lies, misdirection and cloaked messages within the speech. First was his call to clean up the lobbying in Washington, which would be more heartening if it wasn’t backed by one of the most pro-business administrations in history. Second was the barely cloaked racism at the heart of his VOICE program, again highlighting the few undocumented immigrants who have engaged in crime while in the U.S. Third was the rather outrageous statement he made which clearly referenced Russia to bury old rivalries and work together, ignoring the continued calls to investigate his campaign’s close ties to their hacking of our election (Today).
The bigger issues revolve around his economic plan and his continued penchant for taking credit for things that preceded his entering office (Mother Jones), like the death of TPP and some of the jobs he claims to have saved. His call to institute tariffs might be a good move if it guaranteed to bring jobs back to America, but what it might instead do is simply increase the cost of purchases for the many citizens who count on cheaper goods from abroad. His plan to replace Obamacare is also wrought his misdirection, as it is unclear how the plan will actually improve the cost or quality of our medical care, while also threatening to push many Americans out of the market completely. And then there is his $1 trillion infrastructure plans, which again sound good on paper, but for the question of how we will pay for them. It is probably also worth noting the rather pathetic Democratic reply to the speech, given by a guy who isn’t even in politics any longer, who started with a game plan right out of the old DLC and then finished with a whimper that signals a party unwilling to take a chance on renewing itself even after an election that sees them with less power than any time since the 1920s.
Moving on to what has happened in the past 9 days since my last post, it is an extraordinary list of missteps, lies, undermining of American institutions and plans that will most likely facilitate a further diminishing of the quality of life of far too many citizens while enriching the one percent who just keep getting good news with each passing day of Trump in office (Daily Kos). For one, are his continued attacks on one of the key institutions available to hold Trump accountable, persisting in his rhetoric that the media is not only his enemy but that of the American people themselves (TNY). Not only are they going after the press, but they are now starting to handpick who can even be involved in their press conferences and briefings (TNY). Of course, attacking the media alone is not sufficient for an administration intent on ending any resistance to their agenda, so Betsy Devos was on the post-campaign, campaign trail decrying the state of higher education as well (Inside Higher Ed), even as studies show that professors aren’t nearly as liberal as we are led to believe, nor as intent on “brainwashing” as conservatives constantly argue (Inside Higher Ed, TNY).
Just in case anyone else notices that they aren’t keeping their campaign promises, they’ve decided to cook the books in advance (WSJ). And why not mess with the economic growth projections as well (WSJ). In fact, the lies just keep piling up from one day to the next (WP). Why let truth get in the way of a good story after all. And as leaders around the world start to freak out at the rhetoric, the administration has decided to allay their concerns by reiterating a campaign meme, namely that we should really believe much of what Trump says or tweets (New York, TPM, WP, WP).
Digging deeper into the his new budget proposal, we see a President who is going to give big handouts to his business associates and fellow billionaires, cut services to our neediest citizens while ramping up the military to a degree not seen since the dark days of Reagan’s Cold War antics (WP).
The mad clapping the GOP engaged in tonight should not be taken as a sign of respect alone, as shown just last week when they shoved through the confirmation of Scott Pruitt days before those pesky emails showing his close ties to business interests against the EPA surfaced (CMD). It should be noted here Republicans have total control of 25 state governments—that is the governorship and majorities in both houses of the legislature. With Republican control of the federal government—and Trump using that power to push through an extreme right-wing agenda cooked up by white supremacist Steve Bannon—Democrats need to keep and expand what little power they have at the state level if they're to successfully resist Trump. They took a small step in that direction with a special election victory to keep control of the Delaware state government, maybe the first sign of a backlash to the Trump presidency. Upcoming off-elections in Montana and Georgia could tell us more. We are already seeing the extent of the insanity now dominating DC with the anti-Vaxers, anti-Mother Naturers, anti-Trans, anti-Semitic and anti-Democracy advocates celebrating in the aisles with every bad decision.
The good news is 86% of Republicans approve of the job Trump is doing, according to the latest Gallup poll. It's further proof that it isn't going to be easy going up against this Republican administration for the next four years and that Democrats will have to continue to reinvent themselves if they are to provide a compelling alternative to a party that seems intent on destroying the country one suppressed vote and tax cut at a time.
Finally, is an interview that really puts things into perspective, with even the last GOP Commander-in-Chief calling Trump’s performance so far into question (Huff Post), made worse when that pretty awful ex-president suddenly looks pretty good by comparison.