A WWE State Of The Union

During his campaign for president, Donald Trump famously employed tactics learned as a WWE wrestling personality. For example, he tried to unnerve Hillary Clinton by stalking her during their first debate.

So far in his presidency, Trump has appeared in public alongside fawning staff and sympathetic Republican politicians. But things will be different during his upcoming State of the Union speech.

Sitting right behind his lectern will be the person who just bested him politically, Nancy Pelosi. The cameras will be watching her like a hawk for any reaction to Trump’s speech: a frown, a smirk, a frozen smile, anything.

Trump will do his WWE best to goad her into a reaction that makes her look bad. Without a doubt he will turn around and fire a comment directly at her. The only question is how many times he does this. (The over/under is two.)

The bigger issue is whether Pelosi will be ready for it. One certainly hopes so, because a one-sided WWE match is really boring.

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Give Trump The $5bn And More

Donald Trump wants $5 billion for his wall along the Mexican border. The Democrats have balked on giving it to him.

They should re-consider. Give him the $5 billion, but attach some conditions.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Dreamers become legal
  • Obamacare gets properly supported
  • Robert Mueller can’t be fired
  • Trump has to publish his tax returns

To pay for the wall, the Democrats should close some of the new “tax reform” loopholes for the wealthy, particularly wealthy real estate investors.

Why not give it a try?

Trump’s All Lies About Allies

Donald Trump announced that he was pulling US troops out of Syria last week. Senator Lindsey Graham, normally a Trump cheerleader, criticized the move, noting that it “put our allies . . . at risk.”

Graham might be right, but he should know better than to use that argument on Trump. The man doesn’t understand the concept of ‘allies’. He hasn’t really had any his whole life. He’s had business associates but not allies. The closest thing Trump has to an ally in business is Jared Kushner’s company, but Kushner is both family and an employee (advisor to the president), not an ally.

Trump sees the world in hierarchical terms: what matters is who is on top of who. In his view, ‘allies’ are there only to help him get what he wants. But there is no quid pro quo. When those ‘allies’ need something back, Trump feels no obligation to help out. It is all transactional to him and the deal always has to be tilted in his favor.

So while Senator Graham still expects Trump to support allies, the rest of the world has figured out that he isn’t a reliable partner. They know that when Trump talks about allies, it is really all lies.

 

Work For A Jerk? No Thanks

Unfortunately, most everyone knows what it is like to have a jerk boss. A boss that never supports you, changes their mind all the time, berates you in public, fires people on a whim and so on. In other words, a boss like Donald Trump.

Until now, many smart folks have been willing to overlook Trump’s poor management abilities. For one thing, they were getting to work for the most powerful office in the world. As for the holder of that office, they thought they could work around him, or change him, or it wouldn’t be as bad as it seemed or the famous “it won’t happen to me“.

They were wrong. Working for Trump is like playing Russian Roulette will all six bullets loaded. Eventually you will be whacked. People are starting to figure that out.

Two months ago Nikki Haley resigned as UN ambassador. Haley is pretty smart, and she really didn’t see any upside to working for Trump anymore. It probably didn’t help that the UN laughed in her boss’s face a few weeks before.

Trump whacked John Kelly figuring he had a replacement chief of staff lined up. But the replacement decided he didn’t want to work for a jerk and bowed out. Trump spent a panicked week looking for another sucker person to fill in, with a bunch of high profile names turning him down until he finally found someone.

Is this just a speed bump in the Donald Trump reality show presidency? More likely, the smart rats are starting to sense a sinking ship.

 

Trump’s Bully Pulpit

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.

 

‘Don’ Trump-leone

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.

 

Trump, Xi = Win, Win

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.