President Dumb and Dumber

Donald Trump has a penchant for labeling particular people. It might strike some as just another insult for a petulant urchin of a man who insults everyone with whom he takes issue. But I believe that the nature of his insults to specific kinds of people says something more about the character and nature of the man, something of which he may or may not be aware.

I believe that the fact that he so often attacks the intellectual capacity of women and minorities exposes a racial and gender bias, one that has a long history and a wide acceptance.

.. Hover over the irony here: The man trying to help at-risk children by opening doors for them was being attacked by the man who has put children at risk by locking them in cages.

.. Trump repeated the sobriquet he has assigned to California Representative Maxine Waters, calling her, “Very low I.Q. low. Low I.Q.”

..  review of the many insults Trump has spouted since he declared his candidacy finds that although he has called many people dumb, or dummies or low I.Q., the targeting of that particular insult at women, including minority women, occurs with curious frequency and is often a singular line of attack against them, rather than one of many.

He has called MSNBC anchor Mika Brzezinski “dumb as a rock,” “low I.Q.,” and “crazy and very dumb.”

He has called HLN anchor S.E. Cupp and political commentator Ana Navarro “two of the dumbest people in politics,” and has called Cupp “one of the dumber pundits on TV.”

He has called Republican consultant Cheri Jacobus “really dumb” and “a real dummy.”

He has called Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin “one of the dumber bloggers.”

He has said of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg that she “has embarrassed all by making very dumb political statements about me.”

He has said of the journalist Mary Katharine Ham that she “isn’t smart enough to know what’s going on at the border.”

He has called the Forbes writer Clare O’Connor a “dummy” multiple times.

He has said that Maria Cardona made Morning Edition contributor Cokie Roberts look “even dumber” than he believed she was on a news show.

He has called Arianna Huffington, founder of HuffPost, a “dummy.”

.. I read in these comments an overt misogyny that has long existed in this country and the world, one that seeks to undercut the seriousness and cerebral capacity of women, to render them as emotionally unsuitable for deep deliberative analysis.

.. This is the very same argument that people have used to deny women’s suffrage and prevent access to full political participation.

.. Most people, male and female alike, believed that women were biologically unfit for politics. According to one orator at a mass meeting in Albany, New York, ‘A woman’s brain involves emotion rather than intellect, [which] painfully disqualifies her for the sterner duties to be performed by the intellectual faculties.’

..  ‘Housewives!’ announced a Massachusetts journal, ‘You do not need a ballot to clean out your sink spout.’ ”

And yet, 170 years on, we have a president of the United States questioning women’s intelligence.

.. “Women have scored higher than men in intelligence testing for the first time since records began.”

Still Standing, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump Step Back in the Spotlight

  • They disappointed climate change activists who thought they would keep President Trump from leaving the landmark Paris accord.
  • They enraged Democrats and even some Republicans by not pushing back against his immigration policies, and
  • alienated business allies by their silence over threats to Nafta. They regularly faced news stories about their unpopularity.

Even their relationship with the president seemed to suffer.

Several times Mr. Trump joked that he “could have had Tom Brady” as a son-in-law. “Instead,” the president said, according to five people who heard him, “I got Jared Kushner.”

.. It did not help that the president had gone from telling aides to “talk to Jared,” as he did during the campaign, to telling them that “Jared hasn’t been so good for me.”

.. At various points, Mr. Trump told friends and his chief of staff, John F. Kelly, that he wished both Jared and Ivanka would return to New York.

.. It was only in May that Mr. Kushner had his security clearance restored

.. “I think they felt in some ways when things escalated that they thought it was best to keep a lower profile and hone in on their specific policy areas,” said Sarah Huckabee Sanders

.. once said that she did not intend to stay in the capital long enough to become one of its “political creatures” — people she feels are “so principled that they get nothing done,”

.. home is now in Washington, where their children attend Jewish schools and their house is routinely watched by papraazzi as they depart for work or go for a run. 

.. As for separating immigrant families, she added, “How do they sleep at night?”

.. In response to critics like Ms. Rosen, the couple have argued that they can temper Mr. Trump only if he is willing to listen.

.. Mr. Kushner has convinced the president that criminal justice reform is worthwhile, even as his attorney general remains a vocal opponent.

.. Mr. Kushner has shown an adeptness at using the president’s impulses to steer him toward his own priorities. When Mr. Kushner ushered Kim Kardashian West into the Oval Office to speak about commuting the life sentence of an African-American woman named Alice Marie Johnson, Mr. Trump ignored the concerns of his advisers and freed Ms. Johnson, dazzled by his power to grant clemency and Ms. Kardashian’s celebrity.

.. Her supporters argue that she is in an untenable situation if she speaks out in public. Her father said she had addressed the issue with him privately, further inflaming her critics.

.. Mr. Kushner appears to see himself as the custodian of Mr. Trump’s political brand, offering his father-in-law “options,” and has spoken about clearing out the Republican Party of lingering resistance. He has privately said that he has been taking action against “incompetence” and that any tensions are a result of fighting for his father-in-law’s best interests.

.. His detractors say the friction stems from Mr. Kushner’s meddling in things for which he is out of his depth, like when the president, following his own preference, huddled with Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump instead of his top policy advisers before his meeting with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.

.. Ms. Richards wrote in a memoir that they had offered her a deal that felt like a “bribe” — continued federal funding for the group in return for a halt to providing abortions.

.. Inside the White House, the couple’s influence is most felt in internal battles, particularly with aides they do not regard as loyal to their mission — or Mr. Trump’s.

.. That is particularly true of Mr. Kushner, who, critics say, shares his father-in-law’s desire for control. Over the course of Mr. Trump’s campaign and presidency, Mr. Kushner has been seen as trying to undercut or as being at odds with a long list of aides — some who remain, many who have left.

The list includes:

  • Mr. Trump’s first campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski;
  • his first chief of staff, Reince Priebus, and his associates;
  • his former chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon;
  • Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel;
  • the White House counselor, Kellyanne Conway;
  • the first head of the presidential transition, Chris Christie;
  • the former secretary of state, Rex W. Tillerson;
  • Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, and
  • his longtime lawyer Marc E. Kasowitz.

Their privileged permanence as family members has allowed them to outlast other aides in an environment where expectations have been shifted and, at times, lowered on their behalf.

.. Both husband and wife, like Mr. Trump, are said to hang on to grudges, but Mr. Kushner is far more transactional than his wife. Like his father-in-law, he appears to convince himself that fights did not happen if someone has become useful to him.

.. A persistent obstacle to both Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump is Mr. Kelly, whose approach to security clearances they feel unfairly targeted them, and who, they have confided to associates, they believe has spread negative information about them.

.. Though they have insisted that they are not trying to play a role in a succession plan for Mr. Kelly, few West Wing staff members believe that.

.. Both Ms. Trump and Mr. Kushner are widely believed to support Nick Ayers, the chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, as Mr. Kelly’s successor.

..

Whoever the replacement is would join a new set of aides who — many with the couple’s support — have replaced the familiar faces from the 2016 campaign.

When

  • Bill Shine, the former Fox News executive, was preparing to join the White House, Mr. Kushner, with Ms. Trump’s support, gave him their stamp of approval. It was Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump who wanted
  • Mercedes Schlapp, a well-connected Republican consultant, brought into the administration. Mr. Kushner’s ally
  • Brad Parscale became the 2020 campaign manager, a move Mr. Kushner told the West Wing staff about on the morning it was publicly announced.

And they regard Stephen Miller, a supporter of some of Mr. Trump’s harshest stands on immigration, as a walking policy encyclopedia.

.. In June, when the United States won its joint bid with Canada and Mexico to host the World Cup in 2026, Mr. Kushner’s team made sure to tell reporters that it happened in part because of the efforts of the president’s son-in-law, who reportedly used some of his international contacts to win enough votes to seal the bid.

.. Ms. Collins found in Ms. Trump what many Republicans most desire: a direct line to a president sometimes at odds with his own party.

.. Ms. Trump has delivered one of the few things she can uniquely accomplish in Washington: Riding in a car together one day, she handed Ms. Collins a phone. The president was on the line.

This one trick explains the pattern of conservative praise for Trump’s first year

Ramesh Ponnuru is one of the best conservative writers out there, and is no one’s toady. Last month he praised Trump’s productive first year on policy:

Conservatives of various types have thus seen progress on their agenda in 2017. Economic conservatives got tax cuts and some deregulation. Legal conservatives got judicial appointments and an executive branch more mindful of the limits of its policymaking authority. Social conservatives also benefited from the judicial appointments and welcomed Trump’s policy of blocking international family-planning funding from going to organizations that promote or perform abortions.

.. Interesting to see a lot of conservative culture warriors defend Trump’s first year on policy grounds (taxes, judges, dereg, etc) and conservative wonks criticize it on cultural/institutional grounds

.. But praise for tax cuts and deregulation does not really come from conservative policy wonks.

.. As Peter Suderman wrote at Reason when the bill was passed:

The Republican bill, and the GOP’s evidence-free assertions about its likely budgetary effects, have all but ensured a future in which politicians do not feel obligated to even engage in the pretense of fiscal responsibility. Republicans complained endlessly about the opaque process by which Obamacare was passed. But now they have escalated the gimmick wars, and there may be no going back.

 

.. While the president has succeeded in undoing some major environmental and financial industry rules, a Bloomberg News review of the administration’s list found almost a third of them actually were begun under earlier presidents. Others strain the definition of lessening the burden of regulation or were relatively inconsequential, the kind of actions government implements routinely.

They are really undercutting their own credibility by putting out numbers that are not, quite frankly, very believable,” said Cary Coglianese, a University of Pennsylvania law professor who is also director of the Penn Program on Regulation.

 

.. The vast majority of that $8.1 billion in [regulatory] savings came from the repeal of a single federal contracting rule. The dramatic sounding “22-to-1” [deregulation-to-regulation] statistic is an apples-and-oranges comparison, weighing all deregulatory actions against just a small subset of new rules. And much of the deregulation was done not by Trump himself, but with the help of Congress, which used an obscure law early in his term to repeal 14 late-term Obama regulations. …

So far, agencies haven’t found a ton of expensive rules to roll back.

.. The only aspect of foreign policy this president has excelled at has been the globalization of America’s cultural fissures. Which is another thing that likely pleases social conservatives but puts off actual foreign policy wonks.

.. What Trump has been great at is venting his spleen. When he does so on issues near and dear to social conservatives, they are understandably happy. And to some extent they should be: Trump has governed as the most conservative president in modern history. Beyond that base, however, no one is terribly impressed with the president’s first year in office.

.. Evangelical leader Tony Perkins: President Trump gets a “mulligan” on an alleged affair because it was 10 years ago and “evangelicals understand what a second chance means”

.. The level of cynicism here is startling. Some Christian leaders are surrendering the idea that character matters in public life in direct exchange for political benefits to Christians themselves. It is a political maneuver indistinguishable from those performed by business or union lobbyists every day. Only seedier. You scratch my back, I’ll wink at dehumanization and Stormy Daniels. The gag reflex is entirely gone.

From a purely political perspective, the Trump evangelicals are out of their depth.

.. Evangelical leader Tony Perkins: President Trump gets a “mulligan” on an alleged affair because it was 10 years ago and “evangelicals understand what a second chance means”

When I was an Evangelical, forgiveness required both repentance (a pledge to not do it again) and remorse, neither of which POTUS seems to have remotely expressed here. Without those two things, forgiveness is not theologically possible.

 

.. “evangelicals understand what a second chance means”

Um… By his own admission, this is at least his 3rd chance… He cheated on his first two wives with his second and third wives… Evangelicals apparently understand what endless chances are, unless you are not one of “them”…

 .. When white evangelicals wanted to pick a candidate who upheld their “Christian values” they had a choice among
17 Republican candidates, all with the EXACT SAME stance on all the issues – border security, Islamic terrorism, Supreme Court, abortion, etc.

John Kasich
Jeb Bush
Chris Christie
Jim Gilmore
George Pataki
Bobby Jindal
Scott Walker
Rick Perry
Mike Huckabee

Ted Cruz
Marco Rubio
Rick Santorum
Rand Paul
Lindsey Graham

Ben Carson
Carly Fiorina

 

.. I saw Mr. Graham last night on CNN basically state that Trump’s moral failing is excusable because the stock market is roaring. That is how far adrift white evangelicals are: “We’ll overlook spiritual decay if we obtain material wealth.” All of Mr. Graham’s veils have been removed.

Loyalty to Trump isn’t enough

Trump demands not just loyalty but flattery, too. He insists that his courtiers treat his pronouncements, however absurd or offensive, as infallible holy writ. Members of his Cabinet have made a humiliating bargain: humor him, suck up to him, and maybe — just maybe — he will leave you alone and let you make policy.

.. Trump demands not just loyalty but flattery, too. He insists that his courtiers treat his pronouncements, however absurd or offensive, as infallible holy writ. Members of his Cabinet have made a humiliating bargain: humor him, suck up to him, and maybe — just maybe — he will leave you alone and let you make policy.

.. Retiring Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, encouraged Tillerson to stay on because he, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly “are those people that help separate our country from chaos.”

.. other Cabinet members have made their peace with the Sun King’s demand for unctuous deference. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin looked as if he were in physical pain as he went on the Sunday shows and defended Trump’s demand for NFL players who kneel during the national anthem to be fired.

Chief economic adviser Gary Cohn, who almost quit after Charlottesville, told reporters he stayed on for the “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to enact sweeping tax reform.

.. What these officials don’t seem to fully grasp is that their policy initiatives can be undercut by the president at any time, and probably will. Look at budget director Mick Mulvaney, who has big ideas about shrinking government and the deficit. He didn’t anticipate having to wipe away Puerto Rico’s debt, which Trump offhandedly promised to do.

Why Ryan, Undercut by Trump, May Actually Emerge Stronger

But in President Trump, his mercurial partner in the White House, the speaker deftly found a foil to deflect some of the anger that had felled the man he succeeded, John A. Boehner.

President Trump’s fiscal deal with Democratic leaders in Congress — which passed the House with more than a third of Republicans voting against it — infuriated House conservatives, who struck first at Mr. Ryan, but ultimately turned their ire on the Trump White House. By week’s end, the men feeling the lash were Mr. Trump’s Treasury secretary and budget director. If anything, Mr. Ryan may have emerged stronger.

..  “He didn’t create it; he’s reacting to it. I think he laid out a course that was acceptable to the conference as a whole, and to conservatives as well, and he had the rug pulled out from underneath him.”

.. He singled out Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, and Mr. Ryan by name, saying, “They do not want Donald Trump’s populist, economic nationalist agenda to be implemented.”

.. Mark Meadows, the North Carolina Republican and Freedom Caucus chairman, agreed, warning in an interview that failure on the tax plan would be “extremely damaging for the speaker and for all members of the G.O.P. conference, as well as the president.”

.. By week’s end, tempers among even some of the angriest members of the Freedom Caucus had cooled, and Mr. Meadows insisted that the rumors of a coup in the offing were false.

“I wouldn’t want his job for anything,” he said. “I have a hard enough time keeping 40 members of the Freedom Caucus together.’’

Some moderates said that in cutting a deal with Democrats, Mr. Trump may have done the speaker a favor, demonstrating to hard-line conservatives that they cannot always have their way.

.. As the meeting broke up, some conservatives seemed to feel almost sorry for the speaker. And some of the more unruly voices of the Republican conference were reassessing their uncompromising tone.

Why Trump’s Betrayal Won’t Matter

The president’s base is rooted in a cult of personality, not support for the Republican party or conservatism.

.. it also demonstrated his complete indifference to Republican objectives, since it set up another confrontation with the Democrats at the end of the year over the debt ceiling and likely made it much harder to pass a tax-reform package.

.. While Trump’s overall popularity continues to fall, the people who turn out to cheer him at rallies and who were responsible for his routing of his Republican rivals in the 2016 primaries aren’t going to abandon him because he stabbed McConnell and Ryan in the back. The Trump movement, to the extent that one can dignify it with that term, was never about any ideology, let alone conservatism.

.. he is the object of a cult of personality, not the leader of a political party.

.. But despite his vocal disappointment about the failure to pass an Obamacare repeal-and-replace bill this summer, Trump was largely AWOL during the battle for votes, avoiding the normal give and take with members of the House and Senate that might have secured his objective. Since then he has publicly feuded with McConnell and made it clear that he blames everyone but himself for this failure.

.. If Trump was willing to give the Democrats everything they wanted, it’s not because, as some conservatives have always suspected, he’s a closet liberal. It’s because he’s in business for himself. Trump wants to be seen getting things done, so, if a three-month debt-ceiling deal will prevent partisan squabbling from interfering with hurricane relief, he’ll do it, even if it strengthens the Democrats’ ability to thwart tax reform, budget cuts, or even funding for the border wall he wants to build.

In theory, that ought to make your average Trump voter as mad at the president as Mitch McConnell is. But it won’t.

.. Trump’s base despises GOP congressional leaders, in some cases more than they do the Democrats.

.. Indeed, with a sidelined Hillary Clinton no longer available as a target of their vituperation, the desire of Trump’s fans to “lock up” their idol’s foes now seems to be focused solely on Republicans.

That the irony of calling a war hero like McCain a traitor is completely lost on Trump backers tells you all you need to know about their blind loyalty to the president and complete indifference to anything other than his interests.

.. Trump’s media cheerleaders, such as Fox Business Network’s Lou Dobbs. He reacted to Trump’s embrace of the Democrats as being praiseworthy precisely because it cut Speaker Ryan off at the knees. He seems to think anything that undermines GOP leaders is a triumph for Trump, no matter what it means in terms of legislation.

.. The base’s trust in Trump isn’t predicated on a belief that he will be more skillful at advancing conservative issues; it’s rooted in their desire to burn the system down and replace it with one led by someone who is not merely untainted by past failures but also unencumbered by adherence to the traditional values that the political class cherishes.

.. Nor will a possible betrayal on immigration — the one issue that seems to really motivate the Trump base — damage him. If Congress doesn’t pass a solution to the DACA issue that will give legal status to illegal aliens brought here as children, Trump has already threatened to act on his own as Obama did. Or he might again cut a deal with Democrats on the issue — to exchange something his base would call amnesty if it were proposed by anyone else

Trump Stuns GOP by Dealing With Democrats on Debt, Harvey Aid

However, Mr. Trump’s decision to align with Democrats over the objections of GOP leaders and a member of his cabinet is likely to inflame tensions between the president and his fellow Republicans. Just hours earlier, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) had called Democrats’ proposal to combine Harvey aid and a three-month debt limit increase “ridiculous” and “unworkable.”

Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott said it was “terrible” for Mr. Trump to undercut his fellow Republicans, particularly when their partisan adversaries were witnesses to it. “The president should not do that,” Mr. Lott, a Republican, said. “It is embarrassing to Republican leadership and it shows a split.”

.. During the Oval Office meeting,

  • Mr. Ryan,
  • Senate Majority Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.),
  • House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) and
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin

all pushed for a longer suspension of the debt limit increase, according to people briefed on the meeting, with Mr. Trump cutting off Mr. Mnuchin at one point.

Rep. Kevin Cramer (R., N.D.), a longtime Trump ally on Capitol Hill, told reporters on Air Force One Wednesday evening that he “gasped” when he heard about the deal. “In fact, I sought clarification when the president told us before the flight,” Mr. Cramer said. “When we received that confirmation, I said, ‘wow.’ I was at a dinner last night where that was not in anybody’s dream.”
.. Republicans initially advocated for an 18-month extension, pushing the next vote on the debt limit until after next year’s midterm elections. When Democratic leaders, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York and Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, rejected that, the GOP leaders suggested a six-month extension.

With congressional leaders at a standstill, they planned to agree to disagree, according to a person briefed on the meeting. Instead, the president accepted the deal from Democrats and later singled out only those two leaders in announcing the deal. “We had a very good meeting with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer,” he said.

.. But privately, Senate Republican aides said the deal registered as a rebuke, following a stormy summer

.. Mr. Trump picked a sensitive subject on which to take his stand Wednesday. Republicans have made addressing debt and deficits a cornerstone of their governing philosophy.

Former House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) was vilified by conservatives for his budget and debt limit deals with President Barack Obama, a Democrat, which helped build pressure leading to Mr. Boehner’s resignation in September 2015.

The prospect of having to vote again in three months to raise the borrowing limit—and to do so less than a year before the 2018 elections, and at a time when Democrats will seek to extract concessions on must-pass items like a new spending bill—represented a major concession, some GOP lawmakers said. “The Pelosi-Schumer-Trump deal is bad,” Sen. Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) said in a statement.

..  “We very, very poorly deal with our finances and we’re heading ourselves into a fiscal crisis,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) told reporters Wednesday.

.. Mr. Sessions said he strongly preferred a longer time line for the debt limit and said the next vote in December would be harder. “He is new to the negotiation,” Mr. Sessions said of the president. “Experience teaches you that it’s not this vote that’s the hardest. The next one is.”

.. Democrats had said Wednesday that their offer was designed in part to maintain their leverage in other negotiations over issues including health care and Mr. Trump’s decision Tuesday to end after six months an Obama-era program that shields undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. as children.