Tuesday, April 4, 2017
The Los Angeles Times posted the first in a string of editorials entitled Our Dishonest President. I see Part II is now available. I was a bit put off by the first installment because the editors implied they didn't see it coming. They, like many others in the media, were expecting some sort of "pivot," or as the editors believed,
" ... the White House would act as a check on his worst instincts, or that he would be sobered and transformed by the awesome responsibilities of the office."
I suppose it was easy to give Trump the benefit of the doubt when he sat down with the President in the White House back in November and made a big show about how impressed he was with Obama. However, there were plenty of indicators shortly after that meeting which showed Trump had no intention of honoring Obama's legacy. It was a painful transition in which Trump put up many dubious picks for cabinet posts that gave a very clear indication he would be pushing an alt-right agenda. But, the selections of Mattis, Haley and to some degree Tillerson gave some hope he would balance this agenda with a level-headed foreign policy.
That was shattered immediately when Trump broke off trade talks with Mexico over the Wall. Attempts by Tillerson and Kelly to patch up the broken relationship were "lukewarm" at best. No matter how you dress up the Wall it is a non-starter as far as diplomatic relationships with Mexico and for that matter all of Latin America are concerned, which Obama worked hard to rebuild.
The only glimmer of hope is that Trump has yet to revoke Obama's executive orders regarding Cuba. We still have relatively free travel between the two countries and the embassy has remained in Havana. However, the slashes Trump is proposing in the State Department suggest that ultimately the Havana embassy will be closed once again.
His Trumpness is literally looking for any way to fund his Wall, since Congress has refused to budget it separately. It is kind of like a perverse take on that scene in Dave, where he calls in his accountant friend to help find ways to cut the budget, only Dave was looking for a more humanitarian approach.
Not Trump. His is a budget that has been described as malevolent, with deep cuts in many domestic departments, threatening to defund popular programs like Meals on Wheels. He is also going after the education department, trimming off teacher training, summer programs and subsidized lunches. At one point, Pell grants were on the chopping blocks. In the words of his budget director, Mick Mulvaney, there's just no way to justify these programs to coal miners in West Virginia.
The LA Times would like to pretend they didn't see this coming, but the writing was on the wall throughout his campaign and transition period. The very fact that he kept Stephen Bannon on as his top adviser was a strong indication Trump was going to make every attempt to fulfill those campaign promises, which amount to a total repudiation of the Obama administration. The alt-right is his ace in the hole. It now represents a major segment of the Republican Party, which he can use against Congressional Republicans on pivotal issues.
Unfortunately, I don't see any self-examination on the part of the LA Times and other respected news journals as to why they let Trump get away with many of the things he said on the campaign trail, while going after Hillary tooth and nail over the faux e-mail scandal that proved to be her scarlet letter. What I see instead is a media still trying to capitalize on the revenue Trump brings in. Whether pro or con, there is money to be made off covering Trump.
Throughout the campaign we saw a false equivalence being made between Trump's and Hillary's misdeeds, leading voters to think one was just as bad as the other, so you might as well go with your ideological leanings. The press was so sure the Republican Party would cut its losses, like it did with Dole in 1996 and Goldwater in 1964 and focus on Congressional and state elections. But, obviously the GOP worked with Trump, particularly in key Midwestern states where it was able to swing the vote in his favor. He rewarded Reince Priebus, the GOP chairman, by making him Chief of Staff. How did our vaunted news media miss this? I guess they were too busy pouring over all those hacked e-mails from Hillary's and the DNC accounts.
Trump is Trump. He is exactly how he billed himself. Anyone who thought he would be someone else once he became president is utterly deluded, which is why it is hard to take these LA Times editorials seriously. They begin with a false premise and work from there, hoping to shed culpability.
The mainstream media became so infatuated with Trump, giving him an estimated $5 billion in free media time, obsessing over his every move. They made the election into a reality show, focusing far more on Trump's and Hillary's character than they did issues that concern us. As such, the election become a personality contest, which Trump won.
The damage is done. Even if Trump is taken down by the scandal swirling around his Russian connections, we will still have a Republican administration in the White House and a Republican-led Congress hell bent on undermining the social welfare programs in this country. They couldn't repeal and replace the ACA as easily as they thought, but they will certainly find ways to undermine it to the point there will be very little left of "Obamacare" after four years. There may be no Wall, but Congress will continue to push anti-immigration policies that are eroding our status as a world leader. And, there is nothing to suggest there will be any shift in the battle over environmental, safety and health regulations, which this Congress doesn't feel are necessary.
The time to have gone after Trump is over. What we need to focus on is how to rein in Congress and eventually vote these malevolent legislators out of office. The Dems should have put up more a fight over Trump's cabinet appointments, like they are now doing over Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch. But, hopefully this is a lesson learned and one they can use to focus on the midterm elections. Unfortunately, they will be spending most of their money defending their seats in the Senate, as there are far more Democratic seats up for grabs than there are Republican ones. They can make a big push at the House, which is cracking under the failed leadership of Paul Ryan.
We have to quit thinking about Trump 24/7 and look at other ways to take back our country. State elections are also imperative. We have to oust Republican governors and state houses in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania (state assembly), all states Hillary should have won. This was the big difference between 2016 and 2008. She had to battle against Republican political machines in these states, Obama didn't. Even Illinois currently has a Republican governor.
What Trump was effectively able to do during the campaign is draw all the media attention toward him, allowing the GOP to hold onto key states. Republicans hold a 64-35 edge in the Wisconsin state assembly and a 20-13 advantage in the state senate, essentially making themselves bulletproof. This was a state that was reliably Democrat for decades. Now it is as red as any Southern state.
Democrats have a huge job ahead of them overcoming the losses they took across the board in 2016. They can take some solace in winning governor's seats in North Carolina, West Virginia, and Louisiana, but these states are still by and large conservative. Jim Justice, the new governor of West Virginia, only changed parties in 2014. A billionaire who made his money off coal mining and the agro-industry. Hardly the kind of guy the Democrats want to promote.
This is where the LA Times and other respectable news journals should be wanting to focus their energy, not telling us how bad Trump is. We know that! These periodicals have the ability to make failed governors like Scott Walker (Wisconsin) and Rick Snyder (Michigan) front page news. The LA Times should also be going after its own state representatives like Devin Nunes, Darrell Issa, and Kevin McCarthy tooth and nail.
It is not Trump, but Trumpism that we should be concerned with because it has infected the entire body politic.