One hundred years ago, bully was a good thing. The word meant fantastic, awesome, wonderful. President Teddy Roosevelt thought the presidency was a great platform to preach his message from – he called it a “bully pulpit”.
Bully no longer has that positive connotation but under bully in chief Donald Trump the pulpit lives again. Trump bullies his opponents because it works, just as it does in the schoolyard. Until someone fights back and beats the bully up, the bully will just keep on doing it.
Trump not only bullies his opponents, he bullies his own team. Trump bullied Jeff Sessions unceasingly until he finally fired him.
The latest casualty is John Kelly. Kelly joined Trump’s ‘team’ in the summer of 2017. Within 3 months Trump gave him the bully treatment. Kelly didn’t fight back and from then on Trump owned him. Now he is gone as well.
So far, no Republicans have had the guts to push back on Trump’s bullying. It will be interesting to see if the Democrats can effectively push back once they take control of the House.
Hint: Don’t bet on it.
For a long time he was known as “the Donald” but lately he is looking more like “the Don”. Donald Trump has been channeling his inner Mafia chief, making it crystal clear that he will protect anyone who lies for him.
He did not say so explicitly, but he telegraphed pardons for Roger Stone, Paul Manafort and any other person who helps Trump fend off legal challenges. Perjury, obstruction of justice and other crimes committed will all be forgiven if these people help cripple investigations by Robert Mueller or Congress.
As for snitches, i.e., people like Michael Cohen who insist on telling the truth, they are ‘weak’ and should serve a ‘full and complete sentence’ in prison for their sins. The main sin of course being not falling on their swords for Trump.
The funny thing about pardons is that they only work for people convicted in federal courts. If Mueller shares evidence with state attorneys general and they use it to convict Manafort or Stone, Trump won’t be able to pardon them. That will make someone very upset, but you can bet it won’t be Trump.
Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping will be having dinner this weekend to talk about trade. There has been a lot of speculation about the outcome, but one thing is for certain. Both will declare a win.
Xi has several things going for him. One is that his country makes many of the things Trump’s country needs and has no other supplier for. Also, he’s a better negotiator than Trump. Finally, Xi knows that Trump can be bought off by making nice to his family business, Trump Inc.
That is not to say that Xi won’t give Trump a tidbit he can use to declare victory. In fact, that’s a very likely scenario. The Chinese culture understands the value of saving face.
But once the outcome of their meeting is analyzed, it will probably be clear that Trump didn’t get much. Outcome analysis is another Xi advantage. He has the Chinese state press to sell a biased but thoughtful analysis of how he won to his country.
Thoughtful analysis is not Trump’s specialty. Slogans and tweets are his communication style. He’ll have plenty after the meeting, all designed to forestall any detailed analysis. Because if you think about it, thinking about it generally doesn’t work in Trump’s favor.
Back in the spring of 2018, the US imposed sanctions on a Chinese electronics firm for stealing technology. The sanctions were about to put the company out of business when Donald Trump gave it a lifeline. The company was exempted from sanctions because “Too many jobs in China (would be) lost.”
It isn’t clear why the Democrats didn’t jump on this during the midterm election campaign. Maybe they thought that the job market was so robust that no one would really care that Trump was putting Chinese workers ahead of US intellectual property holders. It was clearly a China first, not America first, move, but Trump seemed to be getting away with it.
Coincidentally, a few days before Trump spared the Chinese company, the Chinese government granted Ivanka Trump some important and valuable trademarks. It smelled fishy, but there was no smoking gun.
Last week, however, it was revealed that Ivanka was channeling her inner Hillary and using her personal email account for government business.
Now that the Democrats control the House and can launch investigations, it is a good bet they will subpoena Ivanka’s mails and more details will come out. Unlike Hillary, she doesn’t run her own server in her basement, so it will be hard for her to delete all the evidence. Lock her up?
Now that the election is over, Donald Trump is cleaning house (again). His first move was to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump was upset that Sessions didn’t do enough to protect him personally. He wanted an attorney general that would shield him from any investigations of his misdeeds.
Sessions wouldn’t do this, even after Trump repeatedly insulted him in public and on Twitter. In retrospect, it shouldn’t be surprising that an accused racist would have a thick skin.
There are several candidates to replace Sessions, but Rudi Giuliani should be on Trump’s shortlist. He has the political chops, he’s a former prosecutor and most importantly, he’s a Trump lap dog.
Sure, it would look bad if the lawyer defending Trump in Robert Mueller’s investigation became Mueller’s supervisor. But hey, the election’s over and who cares what people say. Trump certainly doesn’t – he has a thicker skin than Sessions.
In retrospect, we should have anticipated this. Our assumption was that a last minute election surprise would involve Donald Trump. It didn’t. It involved one of his most loyal wannabees.
Yesterday Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp declared that his office was investigating the Democrats for trying to hack Georgia’s voting system. It was a textbook Trumpian move: if your opponents accuse you of something, don’t defend yourself. Instead, accuse them of the same thing, only worse.
For months Kemp’s department has been accused of unfairly kicking people off the voter rolls to keep Democrats from voting. On Friday, a judge agreed and ordered the voters reinstated. There wasn’t much Kemp could do to defend himself, so instead, two days later, he accused the Democrats of malfeasance.
It is a technique that Trump is a master of. Trump has some kind of Teflon coating, and the media until very recently have been easily distracted by his schoolyard “no you did’ accusations. Kemp is not Trump though, so it remains to be seen whether he’ll get away with it. We’ll know soon enough.
The 2018 campaign is almost over and no matter who wins or looses this week, one thing is abundantly clear. No one comes even close to matching Donald Trump on the campaign trail.
For the past several weeks, Trump has been able to command an incredible amount of press coverage while crowding out anyone from the Democratic side. Yes, Barak Obama got some press, as did Bernie Saunders. And two-time loser Hillary Clinton is still kicking around and acting like she has a political future, which is catnip to the press.
But no one can put out a message on the campaign trail like Trump. Quite frankly, the Republicans are going have to think about lifting the ‘Great Communicator’ mantle from Ronald Reagan and giving it to Trump instead.
For the Dems to have any chance in 2020 they are going to have to find people that can take campaigning to a higher level. Maybe not at the Trump level, but at least close.