The Trumpist Gets Trumped

Bannon thinks he created Trump, and Trump thinks he created Bannon. They had a fundamental disagreement about who was using whom, and in any such conflict, the president of the United States is going to win.

.. The Trump statement on Bannon is — of course — exaggerated and overly harsh. It nonetheless nails important things about the former White House official. He was an inveterate leaker and poisonous infighter. Some of Bannon’s energy was devoted to trying to destroy Trump’s notably noncorrupt and nonkooky national security adviser, H.R. McMaster. Most of it, though, was directed at Trump’s children and son-in-law.

.. Bannon also is a flagrant self-promoter. By any reasonable standard, it’s quite a comedown to go from working a few paces from the Oval Office to running a shoddy website devoid of true journalistic interest.

.. his fundraising just got much harder. Part of Bannon’s appeal to candidates was bringing the imprimatur of Trump, and that, too, has been dented.

.. At the beginning of 2016, it seemed that Steve Bannon could be a figure like Karl Rove or David Axelrod, a political strategist with outsize influence over policy who existed at the very top of our national politics for years. Instead, he’s been kicked to the curb more brutally than any presidential aide in modern history.

.. This, obviously, has much to do with Trump himself, who is volatile, jealous of media attention, and insistent that loyalty runs only one way, up to him.

.. He had no idea how to effect his dream of a protectionist, isolationist administration spending massively on infrastructure and raising taxes on the rich. His vision lacked support within the administration and in Washington more broadly.

.. Trump’s base is Trump’s. No one ever voted for Steve Bannon, and now he is on the wrong side of the president in whose name he has presumed to speak.

The Meaning of Bannon vs. Trump

Two quick thoughts on the Steve Bannon-President Trump feud:

One, it’s a sign of the apparent seriousness of the Russia investigation for Trump’s family and inner circle. The insults got the attention, but the more significant part of Bannon’s remarks may be the “logical, cold-eyed recognition” that prosecutors are building a powerful case, notes Errol Louis at CNN.

.. Two, the feud is a reminder that Bannon has failed to accomplish his biggest ambition: Expanding the Republican coalition to include many more middle-class and working-class voters. “Steve Bannon had a chance to be a genuinely significant figure in American politics and he blew it,” my colleague Ross Douthat wrote on Twitter.

.. In his interview with The Times last week, President Trump spoke admiringly of obviously autocratic tactics, such as using law enforcement as a raw exercise of power. “The president,” as Jonathan Chait points out, “explained his belief that the Department of Justice on principle ought to cover up crimes by the president and his administration.” Trump clearly believes that he deserves to be above the rule of law.

.. The first and most important line of defense, they say, is Trump’s own party. In other countries, would-be authoritarians have often been stopped (or further empowered) by their own party.

..Most Republican leaders seem to know that Trump is grossly unfit for office,

.. Yet “few Republicans have been willing to state publicly what most of them surely know: the Emperor has no clothes. Fear and opportunism have prevailed over the defense of our country and its democratic institutions.”

..  Try to build broader coalitions in defense of democracy. To ensure democracy’s survival, we must build alliances that extend beyond traditional party lines. For liberals, this means forging perhaps uncomfortable alliances — with right-of-center businesspeople, evangelical Christians, and dissident conservatives, among others. A blue-state coalition is simply not enough.

Trump was right to hope he’d lose

As Wolff tells the story, after the election he proposed to Trump that he be allowed to write a fly-on-the-wall account of the administration’s early days. Trump “seemed to say” that would be okay, so Wolff began a routine of coming to the White House, installing himself on one of the couches in the West Wing lobby and latching on to senior staff members as they walked by.

No competent White House communications shop would have given such access to any journalist, let alone one known in New York media circles as a shark among sharks. Day after day, Wolff feasted.

.. When the president calms down, someone should point out to him that the legal threat unwittingly gives credence to Bannon’s version of events.

.. “There was, in the space of little more than an hour, in Steve Bannon’s not unamused observation, a befuddled Trump morphing into a disbelieving Trump and then into a horrified Trump. But still to come was the final transformation: Suddenly Donald Trump became a man who believed that he deserved to be, and was wholly capable of being, the president of the United States.”

Trump Lawyer Demands Bannon ‘Cease and Desist’

Former strategist calls 2016 meeting with Russian ‘treasonous’; president says Bannon ‘lost his mind’

Mr. Trump has had public fallouts with various people, including lawmakers, in the past, some of which he has later patched up. A permanent rift between the president and Mr. Bannon could have political implications leading up to November’s midterm elections and into 2020. A battle for the president’s political base could divide the conservative movement, especially if Mr. Trump begins to align himself more with the GOP establishment

.. Donald Trump Jr. tweeted Wednesday: “Steve had the honor of working in the White House & serving the country. Unfortunately, he squandered that privilege & turned that opportunity into a nightmare of backstabbing, harassing, leaking, lying & undermining the President.”

.. In the book, Mr. Bannon sharply criticized Mr. Kushner and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, for taking part in the Russia meeting along with Donald Trump Jr.
“Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic…and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately,” Mr. Bannon is quoted in the book as saying.

.. Further, Mr. Bannon predicted that the investigation by Mr. Mueller will focus on money laundering.

“This is all about money laundering,” Mr. Bannon told Mr. Wolff. The path to “Trump goes right through Paul Manafort, Don Jr. and Jared Kushner,” he said. “It’s as plain as a hair on your face.”

Another Republican Call to Arms, but Who Will Answer?

In a stunning one-two assault, Mr. Corker of Tennessee, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and Mr. Flake took on the president in terms rarely, if ever, heard from members of a sitting president’s party.

Mr. Corker, who has been feuding with the man he once contemplated serving as vice president, accused Mr. Trump of serial lying and debasing the office.

“We must never regard as normal the regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals, we must never meekly accept the daily sundering of our country,” Mr. Flake said.

.. But Mr. Corker, Mr. Flake and Mr. McCain remain the outliers.

.. Mr. McConnell left his lunch with Mr. Trump and members of the caucus to emphasize the issues that bind congressional Republicans to Mr. Trump and play down the divisions underscored by Mr. Flake and Mr. Corker.

.. They have been willing to look past some actions and pronouncements by Mr. Trump that they consider beneath a president in hopes of pushing into law some of their long-sought goals, the most important of which are tax cuts. And with no substantial legislative achievements so far, the party is all in on a tax overhaul, recognizing that failure to deliver one will be a political disaster. That necessity ties them tightly to Mr. Trump, at least for now.

Feud Between Trump, Corker Escalates

Tennessee senator says the president should stay out of negotiations over tax plan, prompting Twitter rebuke

Mr. Corker, a Tennessee Republican, said the president should stay out of negotiations over the tax-overhaul effort. Mr. Corker has played a key role in the tax bill so far, cutting a crucial deal with Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) on the Senate’s budget, allowing for up to $1.5 trillion in tax cuts over a decade.

.. “I would just like him to leave it to the professionals for a while, and see if we can do something that’s constructive,” Mr. Corker said ..

Mr. Trump responded .. where he called Mr. Corker a “lightweight,” referred to him as “liddle’ Bob Corker,” said the two-term senator “couldn’t get elected dog catcher.”

.. “I think that he’s proven himself unable to rise to the occasion. I think many of us, me included, have tried to…I’ve intervened, I’ve had private dinner. I’ve been with him on multiple occasions to try to create some kind of aspirational approach, if you will, to the way that he conducts himself. But I don’t think that that’s possible, and he’s obviously not going to rise to the occasion as president.”

.. Many Republicans now believe coming up short on a tax-code rewrite would cost them control of the House majority, and Mr. Corker’s comments risk undermining it.

What’s the Matter With Republicans?

Thomas Frank’s “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” In answering his title’s question, Frank argued that hardworking heartland Americans were being duped by a Republican Party that whipped up culture-war frenzy to disguise its plutocratic aims.

.. Middle-class and working-class Republican voters, he insisted, were voting against their own economic self-interest and getting worse than nothing in return.

.. You don’t have to be a dupe to be a “values voter”

.. believe that some moral questions are more important than where to set the top tax rate.

.. embracing theories about how the working class was actually undertaxed, rallying around tax plans that seemed to threaten middle-class tax increases and promoting an Ayn Randian vision in which heroic entrepreneurs were the only economic actor worth defending.

.. Trump has essentially become the Frankian caricature in full

.. a mistake for liberals to suggest that Trump is just returning to the Bush playbook

.. conservatism doesn’t have to be a mix of Randianism and racial resentment

..  a depressing percentage of American conservatives seem perfectly happy with the bargain that Frank claimed defined their party, with a president who ignores their economic interests and public policy more generally and offers instead the perpetual distraction of Twitter feuds and pseudo-patriotic grandstanding.

.. a segment of religious conservatives, like those gathered at last week’s Values Voters Summit, who cheered rapturously for an empty, strutting nationalism and a president who makes a mockery of the remoralized culture that they claim to seek.

.. Far better to have a president who really sticks it to those overpaid babies in the N.F.L. and makes the liberals howl with outrage — that’s what a real and fighting conservatism should be all about!

.. they’ve decided to become part of the caricature themselves, become exactly what their enemies and critics said they were, become a movement of plutocrats and grievance-mongers with an ever-weaker understanding of the common good.

Comments:

they claim patriotism as their own, try to spiritualize secular laws, and demonize immigrants.

Maybe Trump can supporters can live well on spite, resentment, and the veneer of religion (“Merry Christmas!), but I can’t.

.. Jesse The Conservative

The biggest fear of Democrats, is that Conservative Republicans will gain the upper hand–and actually enact some of their ideas–lower taxes, less regulation, free market health care, school choice, tightened welfare guidelines, and control of our borders and enforcement of immigration laws.

Democrats are scared to death that American will become accustomed to lower taxes, more disposable income, a smaller, less intrusive government, a vibrant economy, better schools, better health care, and the enforcement of the rule of law. Liberals know full well, that as soon as Americans return to their free-market, capitalist roots, Conservative messaging will be powerful and direct. Americans will have no problem understanding where their newly-found prosperity comes from.

.. I’m a Republican. I don’t like big government. I am against almost everything they do in DC night and day, aka, The Swamp. I vote on moral issues first and all the rest second. AND, I want the government to do something to return moral values to the center of American life.

.. DougTerry.us

What’s wrong with this picture? I don’t like government and I want government to do something about it!

.. Does anyone remember that Obama was staging war games in Texas a couple of years ago as part of a master plan to take over the country and stay in office? Never mind.

  • The old south still hates “the north” from the Civil War.
  • The far west hates Washington because it owns and controls so much public land.
  • The Republicans generally hate federal taxes because of the vast power amassed by Washington to tax for the common good. They aren’t really interested in that all that much. They want to whack away at “common” and shift to “good for me”, which is, after all, a basic human instinct.

.. Nothing is going to satisfy the dissatisfied 1/4 to 1/3. NOTHING. They are wedded to their grievances.

.. Victor James

.. So forget Reagan and think Brownback, the Kansas version of Trump who led that state into financial ruin. Brownback only denied financial reality, but Trump has that beat by a mile.

.. Francis W

.. The most depressing thing about the rise of Trump is that a sizable percentage of the population really wants a bullying, inexperienced narcissist to be president and and another substantial percentage didn’t see it as a major problem when they cast their vote last fall.

.. WallyWorld

.. There has been one balanced, pragmatic, Republican President since Dwight Eisenhower, and that’s George H.W. Bush, and the party cast him out for trying to be responsible about the budget deficit. Trump did not create the current Republican party, he merely fully unmasked it. The Republican party of today is full of a lot of very dark and dangerous thinking, governing out of animus and resentment, all from a base of ignorance. It’s bad out there.