Donald Trump engages in a Twitter battle with the mayor of San Juan Puerto Rico and scolds the island over its finances and behavior. The press, as usual is aghast. The President, as usual, is getting great PR where it counts – with his base.
Trump is treating the Puerto Ricans like little kids that don’t know how to take care of themselves or what is good for themselves. This resonates with the base, who see Puerto Rico as a proxy for Hispanics in general, especially the illegal sort. Calling them out as irresponsible is red meat for the base.
Trump actually has a point here. The Puerto Rican government has not managed its finances well over the past decade as economy slowed down, incentives to invest there were phased out and the population and tax base decreased. They over-borrowed, can’t pay their loans back and need a bailout. Calling them out for sucking on the federal government’s teat is more red meat for the base.
Meanwhile the liberals are making a lot of noise about Trump picking on the helpless, hurricane-ravaged, minority Puerto Ricans. The base just loves this, because the liberals are acting emotionally and the base knows that Trump is right. FEMA cannot stay in Puerto Rico forever and something will have to be done about the massive Puerto Rican debt. The base loves calling out the liberals for knee jerk anti Trump reactions.
Despite all of the issues and drama around the presidency of Donald Trump, he has managed to retain approval ratings of 35-40%. That is not stellar, but considering the turmoil surrounding his administration and his lack of success achieving his legislative agenda, it is amazing it remains so steady.
Trump knows that criticism from the media or the Republican establishment (never mind the Democrats) only strengthens support among his core. He also knows that there are a few things that are sure to turn his core against him. The big kahuna is becoming a loser.
That is why Trump fights so hard on every issue. He needs to ‘win’ every Twitter exchange, every exchange with Congress, every argument. Any time he backs down or compromises he risks becoming a loser. And his base won’t support a loser.
This is not new. The Democrats were desperate for Barak Obama to show up the obstructionist Republicans in Congress when he came into office. Their hearts wanted him to fight hard, but their heads saw the tactics as unseemly (never mind that Obama was not a street fighter). Trump’s supporters have no such reservations, in fact they prefer unseemly and so does he.
Losing on healthcare reform (3 times) didn’t look good for Trump. So did losing on the Alabama senate primary. Trump’s Secretary of State calling his boss a ‘fucking moron’ and getting away with it was another notch in Trump’s loser belt.
We’ll see what happens to tax reform, but that is really not a burning sands issue for his base. Immigrants and the Mexican wall are. And Trump compromised the border wall away in his negotiations with ‘Chuck and Nancy’. The base sees that at a loser move.
Trump finds it easy to rack up wins in the culture wars, so he keeps going after them hoping they will distract the base from his losses. So far it is working. But if Breitbart ever uses a “Losing” headline on an article about Trump, watch out.
Donald Trump continues his mastery over the media. Whenever he gets in a bad spot he ‘squirrels’ the media and sends them chasing after a sensationalist but relatively meaningless story to get himself out of trouble.
Obamacare repeal fails (again)? No problem – toss out a tweet on NFL players disrespecting the flag and the military. Oh look, everyone is following that story now.
Federal help to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico is late, inept and inadequate? Pick a Twitter fight with a local politician so the press will chase that story instead.
It is simply amazing that almost a year after the election the political media has not figured out how to report on Trump’s tweets without being manipulated by them. Trump brought profound changes American politics – it remains to be seen whether the media will be able to adapt. So far, it does not look good.
Donald Trump has a lot riding on Arizona Senator Jeff Flake. Trump’s M.O. is classic bully: threaten someone mercilessly with the expectation that they will kowtow to you because you are stronger. Trump’s message to Flake is, “I can take your senate seat away by supporting your opponent so you’d better get in line.”
If Flake wins his primary battle a year from now (August 2018) then Trump’s threats will be shown to be empty. This could be right around the time that the Senate is considering impeachment charges against Trump, assuming the House actually proffers them. Even if not, senate committees could be uncovering a whole lot of unflattering information about the Donald, his business and his political alliances with the Russians, Arabs and others.
Not a good time to have Flake win the primary and show that your threats are harmless.
Jeff Sessions just announced that he will
redouble retriple his efforts to stop government leaks after pressure public humiliation by Donald Trump. That may probably won’t have an effect on the flow of harmful information about the Trump administration to the media, but that’s beside the point.
The leaks that the media should be really going after are ones about Trump’s business. For all of the media’s investigative prowess, no one has been able to create a score card detailing how much Trump is profiting from his presidency.
Sure, there have been articles exposing conflicts of interest. However, the detailed financial statements are missing. One would think that Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Economist, etc. would be able to put these together. They have the skills, but they are missing the data.
What they need are leakers. They know how to get people in government to talk – let’s see if they are any good at cultivating business people.
The fact that Trump is making millions or more off the presidency probably won’t bother his core supporters. But it could make a bunch of congressmen jealous and even more resentful of him.