Trump’s Brown-Nosing Fails

Donald Trump went to China last month and sucked up royally to Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Trump called China out on all sorts of things during the campaign and after he became president. But once he got mano a mano with Xi, he was all brown-nose.

Trump probably thought that though force of personality he could cut a deal with Xi on trade and the North Koreans. But at least with respect to the latter, this week was a massive fail. North Korea tested its most powerful missile yet and Trump could only whine about the Chinese response.

It looks like the self-proclaimed master of the art of the deal got totally snookered by the Chinese. But who could expect the Chinese to take Trump seriously, when even his own secretary of state thinks he’s a moron?

 

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The Inverse Clinton Equation

The equation is pretty simple. The more trouble Donald Trump finds himself in, the more he calls out the Clintons for illegal behavior.

The equation even translates to Trump’s underlings. The more hot water Jeff Sessions finds himself in regarding Russian connections, the closer he gets to appointing a special prosecutor to investigate the Clintons.

It works because the Clintons are today’s Kennedys – the political family full of drama that can’t stay out of the news, even when they aren’t being investigated. There isn’t a lot of middle ground about the Clintons – most either hate them or love them (and not necessarily equally).

So firing up the Clinton headline machine is the best way to distract from Trump’s woes. The sad thing is that it will work.

Tax Reform Builds A Wall

The GOP tax plan is highly likely to pass in some form or another. Its economic benefits are dubious, and the role reversal of Democrats as deficit hawks is ironic, but the average American is not going to delve into all of the numbers. The sums being discussed are so huge that they are meaningless.

The Democrats can argue that it is slanted toward the rich, but everyone has already accepted that a tax plan designed by Donald Trump and the Republicans would be uneven.

The thing that most people care about is their own wallets. Even if they are only better off by $100, they will shrug their shoulders at the inequity. “The rich always benefit more. But at least I got mine.”

The only effective argument against the tax plan might be a populist one, and that means an argument that does not begin with “if you think about it . . ” or sound like it was conceived by a college-aged Marxist.

The argument might combine the break on inheritance tax with the deficit issue. Most Americans still believe in the American dream. By the time they are 40, they kind of know how it going to work out for them. But almost every parent believes that their kids can do as well or better than they did, and wants them to.

The populist argument is that rich people are screwing your kids out of the American dream while protecting their own. In ten years, taxes and interest rates will be higher but wealthy kids won’t care because of all of the money their folks gave them without paying their fair share of taxes.

The soundbite: “The Republicans are building a wall between your kids and the American dream and making them pay for it.”

Of course, it would take someone with a real populist talent to get this message across. Unfortunately, the only person in US politics with that talent is Donald Trump.

Why Hillary Won’t Go Away

Hillary Clinton continues to be in the news once a week. And, unlike her husband, it is not for humanitarian or charitable reasons. No, Hillary continues to be in the thick of it politically.

The question is why. She is an accomplished policy wonk, but a failure as a politician. Sure she won election as a senator from New York in the afterglow of her husband’s presidency, but that was really his victory, not hers, as he was still president when the election took place.

On her own, she is a political disaster. She lost the race for the 2008 Democratic nomination to Barak Obama. She lost the 2016 presidential election to Donald Trump. Both times, she snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

Nevertheless, Hillary persists in the political arena (sorry, couldn’t resist). Why? Possibly because her ego won’t let her stand down. Or because Donald Trump keeps bringing her up to deflect from his own issues. Or because the media knows a juicy story and won’t leave her alone.

The biggest reason, however, is that a year after the election the Democrats don’t have any new leaders. Bernie Sanders was never a Democrat in the first place, and quickly moved back to his own path after the election. Nancy Pelosi is a great political operative but is completely tainted politically as a far left liberal. Chuck Schumer is the closest the Dems have to a leader, but he has been in Congress for 35 years and in the Senate for 20 and is old news.

Until the Democrats get some new leaders, the spotlight will default back to Hillary. Which is unfortunate for the Democrats, because she is not doing them any favors.

Trump Immune To #metoo

It remains to be seen how much influence #metoo will have. It’s one thing to bring down a few heavy hitters, like Harvey Weinstein. But if hundreds of influential people are tarred with the #metoo brush then the effect will be diluted to just another bad character trait, and harassers will be tolerated just like jackass are.

One thing we already know for sure though. Donald Trump is immune from #metoo. He was probably never very vulnerable to it, but when he boasted about be able to “Grab (women he did not know) by the p—y” to Billy Bush and got elected anyway he effectively vaccinated himself against any further charges of sexual harassment.

If #metoo brings down politicians, don’t look for Trump to defend them though. He is smart enough to realize that doing so won’t reflect well on him. And if it brings down Republicans that aren’t devoutly loyal to him, even better.

Fake News Wins

Donald Trump has won the battle of fake news. The battle wasn’t to get the media to publish ‘truthful’ news. The battle was to give Trump’s supporters a justification for ignoring any news Trump doesn’t like, truthful or not.

Recent polls show that 85% of Trump’s supporters believe that the media is rife with fake news when it comes to Trump. In fact, 45% of the general population believes the same. Trump has effectively armored himself against anything the mainstream media can throw at him.

The battle is over.

Now Trump Owns Kelly

John Kelly probably thought that he was operating by the old rules. There are just things that one did not do. Lines one does not cross.

Yet, after working as Donald Trump’s chief of staff for two and half months why didn’t he realize that Trump doesn’t have any lines? When Trump is attacked, he fights back with whatever he can, even if it means fighting dirty. In fact, Trump’s base is tired of Washington’s version of the the Marquess of Queensberry rules. They want him to fight to win, and they don’t care how.

So Trump had no compulsions about dragging Kelly’s dead Marine son into a Twitter battle that he was having with a Gold Star family and their congresswoman. What is surprising is that Kelly allowed himself to be goaded into defending Trump publicly, even spouting ‘facts’ that turned out to be false.

Kelly, a Gold Star father, publicly lied to defend his boss’ public lies about his conversation with a Gold Star mother.

Kelly’s wife is probably furious with him for not telling off Trump after he brought their son’s death into national politics and for then allowing his integrity, and by extension their family’s, to be publicly compromised.

But what can Kelly do? He likely believes, as Bob Corker pointed out, that he is one of the few people keeping Trump from starting World War Three.  His sense of duty to the country won’t let him quit.

Once a bully finds out he can roll over you, he will keep doing it. Trump rolled over Kelly and got away with it. And now he owns Kelly.