Monday, 20 February 2017
How to Get Trump Out
Last week was such a never ending car crash for the Trump administration it has been hard for us all to keep up. From the discussing of an international crisis over dining tables in Trump's own private members club, to his invading a private wedding ceremony on those grounds with the Japanese prime minister and boasting about how much he has been enriched by the newly weds (so much for him separating himself from his business) to the resignation after 24 days of his National Security Advisor to the revelations that his campaign had regular discussions with Russian officials about his political opponents. In addition there was yet another one of his staffers giving an appalling media performance and repeating lies about voter fraud. Add to this the mere trivia of Trump's bone crushing handshake of world statesmen. The laugh of it is that he crushes their hands to show what a big man he is but then has to hold their crushed hand again because the big man is frightened of steps. Maybe that was why he was a draft dodger because if he had been captured by the Vietcong like John McCain was and tortured for information all they would have had to do was show him a set of steps and he would have admitted that he has silly hair, small hands and he's not really a billionaire. Of course later he would have called it all fake news.
And then there was that press conference. Now was this meant to distract us all from awkward questions about Russia? Maybe it was. But only in part. This was much more to do with Trump's ego and of his being mad and out to get even. And its perfectly true that Trump is his own best press spokesman, if only because nobody is as big and unabashed a liar as he is, nobody is so much of a racist, nobody so much of a fantasist, nobody so gratuitously offensive. Nobody so egregious, nobody so jaw droppingly ignorant and stupid.
Watch and wonder in the video of the whole thing above as he asks a black woman reporter if the members of the black caucus (Trump didn't actually know what this was - it had to be explained to him) are friends of hers and if she can set up a meeting. Watch and wonder as he tells the media that they are very dishonest people only to be picked up by one of them when he repeats, yet again, that he won a record electoral college victory, the biggest since Reagan. Except he didn't. Obama won more both times. Oh he was talking about Republicans he quickly responded. Nope. George HW Bush did better. Oh, he said, I was given that information. So they hand you that same specious and incorrect claim that can be checked in five seconds before every event with cameras do they Donald? Or did you see it on Fox News?
The worst thing is that Trump loves this. He loves it. This is what validates him. He loves spinning bullshit and jousting with the press. Its how he gets his kicks. He misses the cheering of the crowds on the campaign trail, so much so that he had a campaign rally over the weekend despite his only having been sworn in 4 weeks ago. It was going to be a record breaking crowd he informed us all. Yes, you read that right. He lied about the crowd before the crowd even began assembling. He then proceeded to lie about all kinds of other things including a baffling claim about Sweden that has had the Swedes themselves calling Washington to object. Turns out that this was all based on, yep, Fox News again. Nothing of note happened in Sweden on Friday night and certainly nothing terror related. Sweden remains one of the world's most liberal, tolerant, wealthy and respectful places in the world. It does take in a lot of refugees it is true and has slightly recanted on this policy in recent years. It has definitively not suffered a major terrorist outrage. The only Scandinavian country to have done so was Norway at the hands of a white supremacist Nazi.
Facts though are a minor matter to Trump. This is why it is wide of the mark to claim that this is a deflection strategy. There is no strategy. There wasn't a strategy to win him the White House. He won it anyway. There is no strategy to run it now he has it. He doesn't really want the bother. But he does like the hoopla, the attention, the cameras, the crowds cheering. He's just not keen on what people are saying about him. If there is a strategy it is to get him out doing more 'talking direct to the people' without the filter of the media. Because when Trump does that he can say what he likes and lie to his heart's content. That was why the press conference, that was why the rally on Saturday. He became irritated by his press coverage and so tried to get his message out. Unfortunately for him he came across as unhinged. Sure there are some who believed him. But the vast majority will have been appalled.
In Donald's mind he really wasn't ranting and raving last week during that press conference. He even claimed, typically, that it was one of the greatest ever press conferences. There's probably a list of them somewhere. Donald reckons that, by the end of his tenure, he will occupy all of the top ten by constantly exposing the lying media and their fake news based on real but illegal leaks. He honestly cannot understand what is wrong with that. Maybe someone should explain it to him. But with maps and on one page.
This is what Trump does. He creates his own narrative. He heard one thing being said on the news sites he watches, he didn't like that and so he started asserting the opposite. He did it with the Flynn resignation in which he said that people were stopping talking about that and the Russian issue and were now concerned with where the information came from and who leaked it. People? Which people were saying this? But that is what he does. Trump always knows best and always knows what people are talking about, what they are concerned about. Unsurprisingly they always agree with him this unpopular populist.
But here's the bottom line on Trump, he is incredibly thin skinned as we all know. This exhibition of bravado was a clear sign that he is hurting, suffering and very very angry. He knows in his heart that last week was a disaster. And he must know it is going to get worse. Only he knows what his true intentions are with regard to Russia, but he now knows, after last week, that whatever dodgy deal he had planned is now going to be politically impossible. He more or less said as much in the conference after assuring us that that Russia ship off the east coast is 'not good.' He seemed quite emphatic about this. Maybe they had that printed on one of his one page memos in large Donald friendly letters.
Trump's relations with Russia are going to be focused upon relentlessly by political opponents, political allies and the media with laser like focus now. This is the weak point of the administration alongside the president's personality of course. So remarkable as it may seem this may be the start of weeks that will be even worse. There is always some chaos and confusion at the start of all new American administrations. There are lots of new feet to settle under desks, a lot of steep learning curves. They have only made it worse for themselves though by being so very brash and arrogant, of not listening to advice and by getting off to such a bad start with the intelligence services. Most people who serve in government do it, not for the money because there isn't much and not for the prestige but out of a genuine sense of public service and love of country. Many have been appalled and disgusted by how they have been traduced and diminished by Trump and his band of know nothings. Given that Trump has enough skeletons in his cupboard to fit a pet cemetery, he presents an easy target.
For all that he rails against fake news and the dishonest media and claims that satire and SNL sketches don't offend or upset him they clearly do. Which is all the more reason to keep doing more and more. The media and satire are the only real opposition in America right now. They are its best defence against a would-be authoritarian president. He cannot keep giving hour long press conferences and rallies to make him feel better. He has to govern or at least do his impression of governing. And when he does that he comes across disastrously because he hasn't the first clue how to do it and is incapable of asking for help. Worse, he is so obsessed with surrounding himself with people who have never said or written anything disobliging about him that he is struggling to recruit people to that government to help him.
Things may be about to get a whole lot worse before they get better. Or maybe that dishonest media can make Trump quit. Hell, if he says he'll go now, we'll even let him claim that his was the best presidential resignation ever. It will certainly get the biggest crowd.