One of the most amazing and unsettling things about having Donald Trump as president is the absolute unending string of stories about him, his administration, such as it is, and his policies, to the extent anyone may know anything about them.
Because there is such a deluge of material to read, see and listen to, it is understandable for more and more people to start to tune him out. That would be a mistake. There is too much at stake.
The trick is to focus on the big picture. Who cares about where Ivanka’s clothing or jewelry line is being sold or pulled? We know that any news containing bad numbers is difficult for him to handle, so let all the polls and crowd sizes just wash over him. Leave Barron alone.
There are just a handful of really important subjects that fearless leader has made the cornerstone of his MAGA (Make America Great Again) program. To the extent that we know anything about these things, it is fairly easy to shoot holes in them. In many cases all one needs to do is listen to nervous Republicans try to explain Trump, hide from Trump or even in some cases, criticize Trump. Rest assured that all of that will drive him crazier.
Those who oppose Trump and those who support him may even be able to agree more or less about what the top issues are. Here is my shot at a list:
- World issues. One-by-one Trump has set about alienating our allies, the latest being France. All the while Trump continues kissing Vladimir Putin’s ass. We seem to have here in the Russian dossier a case against Trump with some mighty good circumstantial evidence. Either he is highly invested in Russia, or he is highly leveraged with financiers in Russia, or Putin really does have something incriminating on him. This is why he hides his tax returns. There is a smoking gun buried somewhere in that stack of papers he displayed before the inauguration. Investigators of the world, keep digging!
- Immigration. One word can hardly tell it. The issue has many sub-sets: the Mexican wall; a ban on immigrants and refugees from certain Muslim-majority countries that lack a Trump Tower hotel; a cut in legal immigration; trying to pre-determine fault for any future terrorist attack by waging war on the judiciary and the media. Everyone wants a safe country, but we have a president obsessed with scape-goating. He is, as he has told us last summer, the only one that can fix the world’s problems. Let’s make sure he is reminded of that pledge.
- Obamacare. Ahh, it was going to be so easy. On day one, or soon thereafter, Obamacare would be repealed and replaced. Then it was going to be next month. Most lately, Trump says it may be next year. Some Republicans in Congress talk about 2018 or 2019. Repeal and replace is not going to happen. At some point in time, when Trumpland figures out that their base will be disproportionally hurt by repeal, they will “repair” the law, which will forever thereafter be known as Trumpcare.
- Conflicts of interest and ethics issues. With the president, his White House-affiliated family and his billionaire cabinet loaded to the gills with conflicts of interest and ethical issues, this is an issue that will never go away during this administration, and is likely to grow as a threat to the government as time goes on. Trump appears to have been in violation of the Emolument Clause of the Constitution since January 20th with his Washington Hotel and who knows what else, but the Constitution-loving House and Senate members on Trump’s team choose to look the other way. I guess they can only carry originalism about the Constitution so far. Issues concerning cabinet appointees that in the past have disqualified previous cabinet nominees are ignored. Sooner or later this will blow up into a big scandal.
- Performance of the Trump team. BS can only carry people so far. Trumpkins don’t trust anyone on the outside, and it would seem from all the leaking going on, from the inside as well. Palace intrigue is rampant. They have only appointed about five percent of the officials who need Senate confirmation and many of those appointees don’t seem to have a clue about what they are supposed to do. The rollout of the immigration ban was a disaster and they made their Homeland Security Secretary fall on his sword for the fiasco. And he is supposed to be among the better ones! Sooner or later this will blow up into a big scandal.
- The economy. Looked at nationally, the economy is doing reasonably well. The unemployment rate is basically at a “full-employment” level. The stock market is booming. Despite all that, there are pockets of the country running through the rust belt and Appalachia where things are not so good. The hard reality, however, is that jobs in those areas have mostly been lost to automation, not to outsourcing to foreign lands. Most of those jobs that are lost are not coming back. While the first few months of the Obama administration in 2009 were marked by the bleakest economic news since the 1930’s, only to recover nicely, the first few months of Trump’s time may serve as a high-water mark for the United States economy for the next four years. The giddiness of Trump’s cabinet and friends on Wall Street about the prospects of unregulated business activities will sooner or later turn on Trump as the Trumpkins come to see the chaos of the administration as a threat to business prosperity.
Our unpopularly elected so-called president is not bright, does not study the issues, and has surrounded himself with yes men and women. One commentator recently asked, “Can you govern from the Twilight Zone?” We are about to find out. There appear to be many possibilities for major missteps, and many possible routes to a short presidency.
Whether you are a Trump supporter or part of the resistance movement, a focus on these issues will be all consuming for the next four years. God help the United States of America.
JB Walsh – as intelligent, witty and accomplished as a lawyer can be – passed away on February 5th. His legacy will live on.
This blog posted a couple articles about JB after Editor Paul Fisk and I paid a visit to him in the fall of 2015. He was 88 at the time but as sharp as a whip. We discussed memories about his lobbying efforts for the City of Buffalo and other organizations. We reminisced about his work in producing songs and sketches for the Capitol Hill Club show, sort of a local 1960’s and ‘70’s version of Saturday Night Live, except mostly set in song. JB regaled us with a rendition of one of those songs.
JB was a Democrat but he never held public office. He never let his affiliation get in the way of bi-partisan friendship or a good laugh.
JB Walsh was one of a kind. He will long be missed.