The Democrats’ Missing Message

Does the Democratic Party stand for anything other that ‘not Trump’? One has to wonder. Since Donald Trump won the presidency they have lost two special elections. The key point both Dem candidates were campaigning on was simple and negative: reject Trump. They lost.

At least Trump has a positive message: We’re gonna shake things up with that fossilized bunch of do-nothing blowhards in Washington. And while we are at it we’ll fight for the people that have been left behind by technology, gloabalization, environmentalism, etc.

The Democrats? All they seem to be saying is: “Trump a horrible person. It’s amazing that people are stupid enough to support him. He is going to ruin the country.”

Dissing Trump and his supporters is not a party platform. The Democrats need a positive message, one that resonates right in the gut of the people that agree that Washington is broken and who are hard working but being left behind economically. These folks should be the Democrats’ core constituency but they have given them up to the Tea Party and Trump.

Until the Democrats come up with a compelling, gut-grabbing positive message they will not be able to win many elections. It will probably take a change in the Democrats’ leadership away from elites like Nancy Pelosi for this to happen.

Charles Kushner Pardon Pool

The odds are pretty high that Donald Trump will pardon Charles Kushner before he leaves office. After all, Kushner is the father of his son-in-law Jared. More importantly, Charles Kushner is one of the grandfathers of Jared Kushner’s three children, and Donald Trump is the other one.

The question is only when this will happen? Will Trump wait until the end of his presidency like most other presidents have done when it came to controversial pardons? Or will he just do it when he feels like it?

If your office or political club is looking for a pool to bet on, it is time to set one up for Charles.

Comey’s Call To Arms

James Comey’s testimony before the US Congress this week will not bring President Donald Trump down. There was a lot of circumstantial evidence, but no smoking gun.

In the long term though, Comey might prove to be very influential. He accused Trump of lying about him and, more importantly, the FBI. This was a call to arms to the FBI and the law enforcement community in general: “Don’t let Trump get away with trying to insult and manipulate us.”

The real danger to Trump is that the FBI will take this to heart and redouble its efforts to uncover the Russia connections to the Trump administration. And it may not stop there. Bill Clinton was being investigated for the Whitewater affair, but after finding nothing the special counsel then turned to whether he had sex with an intern. The House voted to impeach him for lying about that.

The special counsel investigating Trump is a former FBI director. If he and the FBI heed Comey’s call to arms, Trump could be in for a very rough ride.

 

Trump to Europe: You’re Fired!

There are some managers that come into a new job and believe that one of the first things they should do is fire someone. It gets people’s attention, puts them on their toes and shows them that it is not going to be business as usual.

Apparently, Donald Trump is one of those managers. A main topic at his first formal meeting with the Europeans was the Paris climate change agreement. They wanted the US to stay on track and worked hard to convince him to do so.

But to Trump, the issue was not about climate change but about letting the Europeans know that it will not be business as usual. And “firing” the climate change deal despite their pleas was a good way to do this.

In the short term, it won’t make much difference to climate change. Business is largely in favor of it and is going to act as if it were in effect for commercial reasons. Environmentally sympathetic state and local governments will do the same.

Meanwhile, Trump scores huge points with his base, sticking up for them against all of the usual suspects: the wishy washy UN, the socialist Europeans, the cheating Chinese, the elite liberals back home, etc. All without having to get Congress’ involved.

Starting his relationship with the Europeans by pissing them off may backfire on Trump. But not as much as pissing off his base by appeasing the Europeans and reversing his campaign promises on the Paris Accords. If impeachment talk ever becomes mainstream, he is going to want need his base solidly behind him.

Putin: We Did It, So What?

Vladimir Putin is taking the long view. Realizing that the investigations into Russian influence in the 2016 elections is likely to show that they were hacking, he admitted that this probably happened. Not by the government of course, but by patriotic individual Russians that felt their government was threatened. He did not say threatened by whom, but the answer is Hillary Clinton.

Putin also let us know told us that we should not expect him or his government to do anything about it. He likened the hackers to artists that wake up with an idea and act on it. And if any connection is ever made between these hackers and Donald Trump, that is their business, not the Russian government’s.

Meanwhile, when pressed Trump is going to say that the Russians did nothing wrong. And he will be right, just like he was right when he said it was smart to pay as little taxes as legally possible. He will point to Obama’s government, which did plenty of hacking, even of our allies, so why shouldn’t the Russians try to hack us? We certainly try to hack them. He will continue to claim that he was not involved, and if the hacking benefited his campaign, so what?

The reality is that the Democrats brought this on themselves. They were irresponsibly lax regarding their computer security. Hillary Clinton set the tone when she decided to use her personal email system instead of the State Department’s, despite repeated warnings.

Both Trump and Putin will claim that it is not their fault that the Democrats left themselves open to hacking, and they will be right.

They will also claim that it was not their fault that people took advantage of it for political reasons, and they would be right about that too.

They will further maintain that they had nothing to do with planning or supporting the hacking, but it remains to be seen whether they are right about that. Of course, even if proven wrong, they have both proven very adept at denying the truth and turning to ‘alternative facts’.

 

It’s the Cover Up, Stupid

Anyone who follows politics knows that when it comes to scandals, it is not the transgression that gets you, it’s the cover up. Nevertheless, politicians continue to cover things up rather than just admit to them, face the music and try to move on.

There was some reasonable expectation that Donald Trump would be different. After all, he was the one that claimed he could shoot someone in Times Square and still maintain his support. But it was not to be, and a few days ago Trump succumbed. He fired the FBI director, apparently for digging too deeply into his Russian connections.

By taking this extreme step that was clearly politically motivated, Trump likely achieves a number of unwanted objectives.

  • He makes enemies of a whole bunch of FBI personnel that can hurt him with their investigations and, more importantly, their leaks.
  • He gives the press renewed incentive to pursue the story
  • He gives his enemies in congress more ammo that he is undemocratic
  • He encourages more leaking by other members of the executive branch that disagree with politicizing the FBI

Inevitably, Trump’s Russian connections will be exposed. They could be around manipulating the election, they could be around his business empire being financed by Putins’ billionaire friends, they could be around his hotels getting sweetheart deals in Russia. There is a good chance it will be all of the above.

Whatever the connections turn out to be, they will not be the impeachable offense. That will be his efforts to cover them up.

Is Trump Becoming Hillary?

Will Donald Trump become the president that Hillary Clinton would have been before Bernie Sanders pushed her to the left? After all, he does not seem to have any real ideology and has no problem reversing his positions. After the public embarrassment of another legislative defeat or two, maybe he will just declare himself party-independent and decide to do whatever it takes to make his presidency ‘successful’.

He has already offered to work with the Democrats on health care. He is looking at supporting Barak Obama’s Federal Reserve chair (Janet Yellen) and some of his economic policies. He is cozying up to China and taking actions that annoy Russia.

Sure, his appointees and executive orders have been nothing like what Clinton would have done. But it is early – Trump has not even been president for 100 days yet. Already Steve Bannon’s influence is being supplanted by a life long NY Democrat – Jared Kushner. There will undoubtedly be more changes to come.

At the end of the day, this president asks himself not what is good for the country, but what is good for the Trump brand. Interestingly, if he decides that political success is better for the brand than ideology, it might also be better for the country.