Trump’s Worst Watcher

Do you remember back when everybody thought John Kelly was going to calm down the Trump White House?

Stop laughing. Although it has been another wow of a week, hasn’t it? We had one top administration official, Rob Porter, resigning over claims of domestic abuse regarding two ex-wives. Kelly defended Porter as “a friend, a confidant and a trusted professional” shortly before a picture popped up of one former Mrs. Porter sporting a black eye.

.. This was a little bit after Kelly himself made headlines for suggesting that some young immigrants couldn’t qualify for federal help because they were just “too lazy to get off their asses” and file some paperwork.

.. Meanwhile the president, apparently unsupervised, was calling for a government shutdown and lobbying enthusiastically for an expensive new military parade.

.. A good chief of staff advises the president against doing things that will make the administration look stupid or crazy. So, are we all in agreement that Kelly, retired general turned Trump chief of staff, appears to be … a failure? And sort of a jerk in the bargain?

.. Kelly did nothing about the fact that the White House is loud and mean and generally unfathomable. Except make things even worse. This, after all, is the guy who’s intervened whenever Donald Trump is in his expansive give-me-an-immigration-bill-to-sign phase, and pushed him over to Haiti-is-a-shithole territory.

.. When Kelly was head of the Department of Homeland Security, many Democrats liked him

.. He seemed smart, and he knew stuff.

.. But now it’s becoming clear that Kelly is the point man on immigration insecurity, heading off the president’s impulses for outreach, no matter how fleeting.

.. The best Panetta could do in a phone interview was to suggest the new, bad version of his old friend might be the product of too much time spent with his current boss.

.. The world began to notice that Kelly was perhaps not as cool, calm and collected as we’d bargained for when he was coordinating a condolence call by the president to Myeshia Johnson, whose husband, Sgt. La David Johnson, was killed while serving on a strange mission in Niger.

.. he stepped up to the White House podium and launched that infamous tirade against Representative Wilson,” said Whipple. That kind of outspokenness in a chief of staff is “very unusual,” he added, not to mention “politically inept.”

.. It’s hard to remember many times that Kelly’s outspokenness helped the president out of trouble.

.. he offered up a theory that the Civil War was caused by “the lack of an ability to compromise.”

.. Maybe Mattis could be chief of staff. Hard to imagine things would get worse.

Donald Trump, our first millennial president

Everybody — but especially the olds — loves to hate on millennials. We’re lazy, entitled, emotionally stunted, spendthrift, narcissistic, promiscuous snowflakes.

.. But if Bill Clinton was once our “first black president,” surely Trump can be our first millennial president.

.. despite the fact that as of Monday — more than a month after Hurricane Maria hit — four-fifths of the island still has no power. A quarter lacks clean drinking water.

.. This is hardly the first time Trump has insisted upon, or even invented, accolades to celebrate his own mediocrity. He claimed to have received environmental awards that never existed. His golf clubs displayed fake Time magazine covers featuring his face.

.. Millennial Trump overshares constantly on social media, sometimes even Instagramming his food. He live-tweets his favorite TV show instead of getting real work done. Although no longer a minor, he still requires constant helicopter parenting from the grown-ups around him, as if he’s in an adult day care.

.. he can’t tolerate speech that hurts his feewings . Words that offend him are “unfair,” “frankly disgusting,” “bad for the country.” He then tries every weapon available to shut down those words.

.. Trump personally demanded that the Senate Intelligence Committee investigate media outlets he dislikes and suggested that networks should have their broadcast licenses revoked. Perhaps unsurprisingly, in subsequent days a Morning Consult poll found that half of Republicans agreed with him.

Huh. It’s almost as if 19-year-olds aren’t actually the country’s greatest threat to the First Amendment.

.. Trump casts himself as a perpetual victim, the uncontested winner of the oppression Olympics.

.. As with millennials, Trump has taken on loads of debt — though to be fair, that seems to bring much more joy to Trump than to 20- and 30-somethings. Maybe because real millennials expect to pay it back.

.. Morally lax, prone to revisionist history and obsessed with identity politics, Trump exemplifies all that is annoying and wrong with my generation — at least according to every Lena-Dunham-despising crank who once walked uphill both ways.

.. Like any true millennial, Trump refused to pay his dues in an industry where he had no experience. Instead, on the strength of his personal brand alone, he declared himself entitled to the top job. Self-promotion leading to immediate professional promotion?

 

Understanding Republican Cruelty

The basics of Republican health legislation, which haven’t changed much in different iterations of Trumpcare, are easy to describe: Take health insurance away from tens of millions, make it much worse and far more expensive for millions more, and use the money thus saved to cut taxes on the wealthy.

.. Meanwhile, taxes that fall mainly on a tiny, wealthy minority would be reduced or eliminated. These cuts would be big in dollar terms, but because the rich are already so rich, the savings would make very little difference to their lives.

More than 40 percent of the Senate bill’s tax cuts would go to people with annual incomes over $1 million — but even these lucky few would see their after-tax income rise only by a barely noticeable 2 percent.

.. So it’s vast suffering — including, according to the best estimates, around 200,000 preventable deaths — imposed on many of our fellow citizens in order to give a handful of wealthy people what amounts to some extra pocket change.

.. I think there are two big drivers — actually, two big lies — behind Republican cruelty on health care and beyond.

First, the evils of the G.O.P. plan are the flip side of the virtues of Obamacare. Because Republicans spent almost the entire Obama administration railing against the imaginary horrors of the Affordable Care Act — death panels! — repealing Obamacare was bound to be their first priority.

.. Republicans, through their political opportunism and dishonesty, boxed themselves into a position that makes them seem cruel and immoral — because they are.

.. this story began with a politically convenient lie — the pretense, going all the way back to Ronald Reagan, that social safety net programs just reward lazy people who don’t want to work. And we all know which people in particular were supposed to be on the take.

.. What it does — punish the poor and working class, cut taxes on the rich — is what every major G.O.P. policy proposal does. The only difference is that this time it’s all out in the open.

.. remember this moment. For this is what modern Republicans do; this is who they are.