By D. J. Webb
Trump was always a symbol; the likelihood was that he would fail in office. And so it has proved. Nevertheless, it is sad to see an opportunity squandered in this fashion. Trump is now become a standard-issue neo-con. The latest dreadful announcement was his pledge to act in some as yet unknown way against the Assad government in Syria over an alleged chemical weapons attack in Idlib. I say alleged, as it is impossible to find out who did this, and even if Assad did it, why is it an American concern? And what is the plan to prevent further instability and further refugee flows? Far better to leave well alone, in my view.
Elsewhere in foreign policy:
*Trump has failed to back Israel as promised in expanding settlements in the West Bank: he should have said that, as an ally, the US had no opinion on this.
*Trump appeared bellicose towards China and then backed down.
*Trump is threatening North Korea, instead of winding down the US presence in Korea and leaving the problem of the Kim Jong-un regime to the North-east Asians.
*Trump has backed down on folding up NATO: at a minimum he could have made clear the security guarantee under NATO was not absolute, and in the event it was called upon, a non-automatic decision would be made whether to assist militarily.
*Trump has failed to recognise Russian possession of the Crimea and to lift sanctions on Russia.
What is he in office for, then?
*His domestic policy has been almost totally focused on a tweak of healthcare that would have harmed his key working-class support base, and failed anyway.
*Now he is looking for tax cuts, another standard Republican cause.
*He failed to respond to the judicial power grab over migration policy: he should have instructed border officials to implement his executive order and not the judiciary’s restraining order. Just as the judges believe they are bomb-proof as impeachment of them is difficult, impeachment of a president is similarly difficult and he could adopt the same reasoning himself.
*He has failed to close down the environment agency, education department and a number of others.
*He has boosted spending on the military, pointlessly.
Bearing in mind his “Muslim ban” applied only to six nations and was only to last for three months (pointlessly), it seems the anti-national policies remain in full force. A million more migrants in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and no Republican president will ever win again. The only straw to clutch is that he has nominated a conservative to the Supreme Court; it remains to be seen what Gorsuch’s actual rulings on the court will look like, as the past is littered with disappointment in that regard. What about requiring university campuses to uphold free speech? What about birthright citizenship? Or official English? Or expelling Puerto Rico (making it independent, so high-crime Puerto Ricans can’t flood in)? What about outlawing positive discrimination and the whole approach of ensuring “equality of outcomes”? What about closing down the H1B visa racket that often requires Americans to train up their replacements from India?
Trump is combative, but it appears to be a combativeness without a political purpose. He is personally tenacious and has involved himself in tussles with the media and the FBI. I could understand this if the point of the tussles were to halt the FBI investigation into his supposed Russia ties in order to implement his promised policy of repairing relations with Russia, but this has already been ruled out. He seems he’s just defending himself, and not a political position.
The FBI investigation appears designed to prevent Trump from achieving a rapprochement with Russia. As such, it has been successful. Comey at the FBI is engaged in the deliberate destabilisation of a sitting president. Flynn was booted out for telling the Russian ambassador not to overreact to a US provocation and expel US diplomats in December (? the guy was 3 or 4 weeks away from becoming national security adviser and was, in my view, correctly telling the Russians to be patient). Now Steve Bannon is off the National Security Council too. Both have been superbly loyal to Trump, a man who is supposed to value loyalty. Their influence is replaced by McMaster, a neo-con general believed to be pushing for war with Syria….
The worst part of all this is the lazy assumption that Russia is an enemy and so any chats to the Russian ambassador are consorting with an enemy. Russia doesn’t have to be an enemy, as Eastern Europe is relatively distant from the US and there are few overlapping interests, other than the general US belief that it has to maintain its role as the only truly global power. Paul Kennedy’s Rise and Fall of Great Powers made clear that imperial overreach did for all previous great powers and will do so for the US too eventually.
Why doesn’t Trump sack Comey? Or give Comey a month to wrap up his investigation and present his findings publicly? After which, recognition of the Crimea as Russian and a lifting of sanctions on Russia would proceed. Or appoint a special prosecutor to examine Comey’s shielding of Obama administration cronies who have leaked classified information to the press? Or examine Comey’s shielding of media outlets that have published this leaked information?
Trump has been boxed in, but all the while has gradually learned to adhere more closely to the standard Republican line. The prominence of the Trump children (are Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump the real first couple?) suggests Trump’s conservative instincts are being toned down by the more centrist inclinations of his children. This is the one formula that cannot make America great again. I have wearied of the Trump Family Regime.
The trouble with the ‘Trump revolution’ as I see it, is that it would be better led by someone other than Trump!
I could say that the main significance of Donald trump was the fact of his election, and that his selling out was the unfortunate but inevitable prelude to a genuine revolution. But I am disappointed. I hoped he would do a little better than stand about opening and shutting his mouth while business went on as usual.
Immigration is his biggest mandate and the one on which the prospects of liberty in the US will pivot on. I’m giving him a bit longer before drawing any final conclusions about him but so far I’m not impressed, particularly with regard to his backing of the gender pay gap myth, plus all the issues noted in the article, plus his appointment of Mnuchin.
Let’s hope he manages to pull off a victory on immigration. If he succeeds there, I’ll consider his whole presidency a success regardless of anything else that might happen thereafter (with the exception, obviously, of WWIII if that should happen – but I don’t think it’s likely).
Unfortunately, I have to agree. I had hoped he would accomplish something more than he has before it was brought to an end. It seems the loss of Flynn coupled with whatever else was happening behind the scenes at the time, was enough to completely derail the foreign policy that was promised. He seems to have folded on every issue of significance in the area of foreign policy – NATO, Russia, Syria, Iran, North Korea.
On the home-front, he seems to have tossed those Republican congressmen with libertarian leanings under the bus and cast his lot with Paul Ryan. If there was any hope left, he would have used the healthcare debacle as an excuse to sabotage Ryan, laying the failed bill at his feet, and backed Rand Paul. Instead he did the exact opposite, laying the failed bill at the feet of the “Freedom Caucus.” Caesar has left the company of his allies and is now ambling about the Senate floor, schmoozing with Brutus, Cassius, Cato, et al.
On immigration, we are also in agreement. What was attempted was not nearly enough and when first confronted with opposition he toned it down a bit and tried again to the same effect. Now he seems to have given up, entirely, and left the matter to be dealt with by an always dubious Supreme Court. I’m not sure what we can expect regarding the southern border at this point, but in the present context it does not look promising.
I could try to be optimistic and say his presidency is still young and he’s got time… but then again, how much can he accomplish now that he’s allowed so many of his allies to be stripped away from him, one by one, in an effort to appease his own enemies?
I had hoped that instead of folding, he would bide his time until the mid-term elections came, and then use the opportunity to clean house. He could have simply come to the American people and told them – “if you want the reforms that were promised, don’t re-elect the following worthless people, … ” and then published a list of all the fifth columnists in the Republican party who were up for reelection. For each one, he could have then endorsed a Republican opponent. Wishful thinking, I know. But a man can dream.
The man is new to politics but appears, from reading his history, to learn very quickly.
He no doubt thought he could apply the same rules when dealing with political associates – both for and against – that every highly successful businessman follows (Real businessmen I mean, not those involved with banking and insurance). He for certain knew he’d be taken on by the media but that they’d all follow the rules already established; the 1st and most important one being, ‘my word is my bond’.
He’s now dealing with real-life rogues and thieves and sadly, it’s taking him longer than expected to realise just how low they’re willing to go. These people cannot make money through hones free enterprise but they’ve become effective at becoming wealthy by conning trusting voters… and of course each other.
They’ve taken a leaf directly out of the book of Islam. That’s how Islam works – lie if it helps you defeat the enemy.
The President should certainly stop trusting those currently around him. There are honourable men out there. Intelligent, time-served politicians. Perhaps a Trey Gowdy or a Jimmy Jordan.
I suspect that those who’ve commented here thus far, thought a few months that Hillary would now be the US President. They got that guess horribly wrong and are still at it. They’re also being cruelly unfair to someone who’s already made all the cash he could ever need and now simply wants to help his fellow Americans survive the scariest times I’ve seen in my lifetime.
More ordinary men and women are broken daily by the press but the worse that can happen with the President is that he decides that if he can’t drain the swamp, he’d better get himself back to dry land.
Cut President D Trump some slack. You need him far more than you know.
I can’t see Trump operating from an idealistic desire to help them American people – more like a giant ego-trip. But that’s fine with me if he can get the job done. I’m not convinced he is smart enough to do it though – he is used to sitting at the top of his food chain giving commands. Politics doesn’t work like that of course. I think the Wall will be his downfall – can’t see it being built – I think it is a foolish endeavour that will come to haunt him.
I actually have no doubts as to his raw ability or intelligence. There are plenty of incompetents in politics who mainly get ahead through nefarious means and based on experience in that corrupt field. It is the latter which he lacks and is now gaining. He is up against a huge, secretive and highly entrenched beast, though, hence I’m reserving judgement on how he fares.