Trump is presiding over a complete mess

I confess I haven’t followed the stories closely enough to know what Comey said or didn’t say, why Flynn was fired by Obama and re-hired by Trump, who Sally Yates is and what Steve Bannon’s role really was. But what is abundantly clear is that the White House administration under Trump is an absolute clusterfuck.

With the sacking of Comey the screeching from the media and Democrats (but I repeat myself) is at a pitch which I fear may soon be only audible to dogs. Most of it is in relation to Trump’s supposed Russia connections, a story which won’t die because Trump’s opponents know it’s all they have. Yet nobody has produced any evidence of collusion between Trump’s lot and Putin’s lot, nobody has proof that it was the Russians (or indeed anybody) who hacked the DNC’s servers, and every new outrage on Twitter which renews calls for Trump’s impeachment disappears as quickly as it arrives.

It is somewhat annoying that even smart people like Ben Shapiro lend credence to the Russia thing: it is bollocks, and it always was. Putin, being Russian and therefore denied any hand in the victimhood poker game, is a useful bogeyman on which to blame everything from Trump to Brexit. Even the emergence of papers allegedly showing Macron to be less than squeaky clean was blamed on Trump, and there is no shortage of prominent figures – even those who should know better – who believe it.

But Trump has not helped himself, and if his opponents weren’t so busy shrieking about the End Of Days every time Trump so much as sneezes, they would have plenty to criticise. His “repeal” of Obamacare is a complete fudge which will do nothing to solve America’s healthcare problems. He’s flailing about on the Wall. He flipped on Middle East intervention by firing missiles at Syria, and now he’s arming Kurds. He seems to be dealing rather well with China, less so with Iran. His policies are all over the place, and the fact that he has no experience in politics is now painfully obvious. He isn’t playing 3D chess like some sort of Machiavellian  genius, he’s simply out of his depth.

But the worst part is his organisational skills. For somebody who carries a reputation as being a skilled businessman and negotiator, his administration seems to be lurching all over the place with all manner of intrigues and speculation as to who is really in charge of what. I don’t see any problem with Ivanka taking on the ceremonial role of first lady if Melania doesn’t want it, meeting the wives of other heads of state and chatting about kids, schools, and dresses. But to involve her in policy? Give her an office? What is this, Africa? And what the hell is Ivanka’s husband doing in the mix?

There seems to be no clear hierarchy, no discipline, no organisation. What is most depressing is the influence of James Mattis and Rex Tillerson – both of whom ought to impose precisely those attributes on the administration – is thus far non-existent. This petty infighting, squabbling, poorly executed sackings, and outbursts would never have been tolerated around Mattis or Tillerson in their previous roles.

Trump himself has to carry the blame for this. He should have learned by now to ignore the media and stop going on Twitter. It wouldn’t be so bad if he was actually saying things that were true, but taking to Twitter to praise the mess that is the AHCA just makes him look like the rank amateur that he is. Trump is making the same “overgaming” mistake Milo did, and I wrote about here: he’s used shock tactics to get where he wanted to, but now he’s there he needs to quit with the attention-seeking and knuckle down to the serious stuff. Trump needs to stop campaigning and start governing only, like Obama before him, he seems incapable of doing so. If things keep going like this we’re going to see the likes of Mattis and Tillerson resign in frustration to be replaced by compliant nobodies, and the entire administration turn into something resembling a reality TV show.

It is tempting to blame the media and unreasonable Democrats, and they do have a lot to answer for, but the man in charge is Donald Trump and he is clearly not up to the job. I suspect he will leave office having achieved only one thing of note, which in fairness is the most important of them all: he kept Hillary Clinton out of the White House.


15 thoughts on “Trump is presiding over a complete mess

  1. “And what the hell is Ivanka’s husband doing in the mix”

    Could it be that nobody has explained to the guy that what is appropriate, even though probably stupid, in a fully owned private enterprise is not comme il faut in a public office?

  2. ” I suspect he will leave office having achieved only one thing of note, which in fairness is the most important of them all: he kept Hillary Clinton out of the White House.”

    If he’s rebalanced SCOTUS that would be a second thing. It will depend on Dem judges dying or retiring before the mid-terms I imagine.

    The other big deal is war. If (I say if) he sticks to empty gestures such as the cruise missile strike in Syria and the MOAB in Afghanistan, that’ll do me. If he starts behaving on Clintonian lines, God save us all.

  3. Interesting analysis.

    I’m a bit stumped as to what the importance is (in a broader sense) of Trump ditching Comey.

    Comey managed to piss everyone off in the run up to the election, and his (spirited) defence of his actions at the hearings the other day wasn’t particularly convincing- he did the best he could from the position he was in, but it looked like a face saving thing to me.

    FWIW, I fail to see what Trump could have done- The DAG’s letter was explicit: Comey fucked up, and no one was going to have much faith in the FBI until he was replaced. As soon as the letter was sent Trump was in a no win situation: Sack him and get this drama, keep him and it’s all about Trump protecting the guy that “bought him the election”.

    I also get the feeling after recent changes (NSA sacked, AG sacked, Comey) that Trump is applying his business skills- protect your capital by killing off failing ventures early. He’s assuming his popular political stock is equivalent to capital (which seems reasonable), but he’s a bit blind to the collective weight of increasingly hysterical WaPo headlines and other media coverage.

    Finally- does anyone think that Had Hiliary won, she’d not be in exactly the same position over things like the Clinton Foundation/emails/etc etc?

    As you’ve said before, Tim, this is just the charge that the Dems have got to stick- they went through many many things before- it’s an assault on the President from a hostile establishment. If he goes, it’ll be worse than if he stays, in the long term.

  4. Ivan, are you perhaps too young to remember the Slick Willie appointment of Hellary to reform “health care”?

  5. I quite enjoyed the sacking of that FBI dork, most of what is playing out is staged, including Flynn (he was their Intel Director after all) and the rivalry with the Clintons during the election. As for his kids well they are way more Jewish than the Clinton’s kids, so there.

    We ain’t seen nothing yet and his role is to bring the UN to the brink and they won’t let him out of this deal scot free until he delivers on that.

    Trump is pure bluff, with negotiating tactics of bluster and threats and the New York real estate corruption that he was exposed to growing up. It well worth reading this free first first chapter of an old book on him Trump: The Greatest Show on Earth: The Deals, the Downfall, the Reinvention. The author has added a foreword post election.

  6. “For somebody who carries a reputation as being a skilled businessman and negotiator”

    This is the greatest indictment of the media. They’ve spent decades stating and reinforcing this, simply because he is a media whore and makes good copy.

    If I’m generous, Trump has succeeded in two businesses: real estate and branding. Neither of these is very complicated, or requires armies of people. They aren’t Toyota or Google. When Trump has tried other businesses that do require people, like his casino, it’s been a failure.

    He’s what idiots think a business person looks like, that cartoonish J Jonah Jameson type. Some people think he’s this influencing genius, but really, he’s just a cheap, aggressive salesman who won by telling a bunch of people what they wanted to hear, and what he promised is about as credible as promising unicorns. People criticise Hilary Clinton for her coal speech, and say it was unpalatable, but it was the truth. Even without lots of environmental laws, coal is dying compared to other sources of energy.

  7. I am probably the only person outside the US (and in particular those who voted for Trump) who actually thinks he is doing a decent job. Note please I didn’t say perfect: I presume as he isn’t a dyed-in-the-wool politician he is remarkably ignorant of the wheeling and dealing that goes on. He’s been hampered by things he couldn’t have imagined would surface.

    But whatever his shortcomings I would say all we know is largely through mass media that is still bristling because Killary didn’t get the votes needed. There is hardly going to be a good word on Trump no matter what he does. For reasons best known to themselves, the media is populated by people who purr over left-leaning vague promises of unicorns and undefined happiness but are hyper-critical of any attempt to actually do anything. Sure, the wall looks to remain unbuilt and the Middle East is still the same shithole it was before. Obamacare was and is terrible and any solution — unless the US goes full-on NHS — is going to be almost as bad (and I am no fan of the NHS.)

    By all means blame him, but he will in time go (possibly in four years when he might by then have had enough of trying to herd a column of cats through a small cat-flap) and then might be a better time to evaluate his achievements.

    I have said before that maybe the role of president or prime minister or even benign dictator (if they exist) is more than one person can manage. A country (let alone the world) is too complex, the in-fighting and jockeying for power too intense, for the simple task of guiding people to a better future. We may, in these times, finally be seeing the end of the notion of democracy and large organised political bodies because we look to one person to do what cannot be done.

  8. Most of us supported Trump mainly for being ‘not Hillary’. He remains reasonably good at being not-Hillary so we should be happy. Plenty of unhappy people on the Breitbart comments though. I wouldn’t be surprised if he calls it quits after one term. Not that I’d want Pence as President, hopefully Rand Paul could challenge him; his stock is rising.

  9. “Not that I’d want Pence as President, hopefully Rand Paul could challenge him; his stock is rising.”

    Yes the very statesman and un-Trump like Senators visibility is increasing, we need a crisis though to bring it to a head, Syria or Turkey being the most likely flash point and Govt shutdown due to zero budget the least likely.

    What about four in a row, in one year?


  10. That it would be a clusterfuck was painfully obvious from the get go. Not sure I understand your surprise at any of this.

  11. So far Trump has been disappointing in that he hasn’t got his domestic programme going and he has been embroiled in foreign conflicts he claimed he’d avoid.

    Sound familiar?

    Regardless, I’m with dearime; Trump has saved us from the mad bitch nuking someone and that’s good enough for me.

  12. Are you sure about Ben Shapiro? I listened to his speech odcast this morning and he completely dismissed the idea that Trump had any links with the Ruskies.

  13. Are you sure about Ben Shapiro?

    No, I’m not: I was going off his re-Tweets. I might have misrepresented him.

  14. Have a listen to the recent one about Comey. He offers three theories and says the most probably is Trump has no links with Putin but lost patience with Comey so did the “you’re fired” schtick.

    I.e. Incompetence over conspiracy.

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