A dose of reality - Don't Underestimate Trump

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Ricordanza
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A dose of reality - Don't Underestimate Trump

Post by Ricordanza » Fri May 19, 2017 3:44 pm

Amid all the talk of a dysfunctional White House and the possibility of impeachment, this Op-Ed from the Washington Post by veteran political operative Ronald Klain offers a much needed dose of reality:
Don't Underestimate Trump
By Ronald A. Klain
Ron Klain, a Post contributing columnist, served as a senior White House aide to Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton and was a senior adviser to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.

Last October, we were in the midst of debate preparation for Hillary Clinton when news of the “Access Hollywood” tape broke. The senior Clinton team immediately wondered what the event’s impact would be. Would there still be a debate two days later? Would Donald Trump show up? Would his running mate, Mike Pence, take his place? How could Trump survive?

Trump not only showed up for the St. Louis debate that Sunday, he stood on the stage and told Clinton that if it were up to him she’d “be in jail.” Ten days later, Trump insisted at the Las Vegas debate that allegations made against him by nine women of groping and other unwelcome physical contact were so baseless that he “didn’t even apologize to [his] wife” for his actions. Twenty days after that, Trump was elected president of the United States.

The lesson: It is dangerous to underestimate Trump’s survival skills. And so, as the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the Russia mess has Washington buzzing with nascent impeachment talk, 25th Amendment scenarios and rumors about resignation, it is worth remembering how tenaciously Trump pursued power, along with five key assets he has to maintain his grip on it.


First, while he is proving to be an incompetent president, Trump is an incredibly skilled politician. He did not come to the presidency by accident: He spent 30 years laying the groundwork for his run — attacking President Ronald Reagan on trade in the 1980s, putting out a campaign book in 2000, forcing President Barack Obama to release his birth certificate in 2011. He vanquished an all-star GOP field in 2016 — beating a Bush, the Republicans’ Obama (Marco Rubio) and lionized candidates such as Scott Walker and Chris Christie. He resoundingly won the Republican primary in New Hampshire. He was the host of a top-rated television show for almost a decade: no small communications achievement.

Second, there is the power of the presidency, and Trump’s ability to use its allure as a bulwark against accountability. Trump’s staff may feud with one another, but — with two family members ensconced in the West Wing — they seem prepared to defend him by any means necessary. Well-regarded people — such as national security adviser H.R. McMaster and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein — have shown a willingness to sacrifice their own credibility to protect Trump. And a retinue of prominent law firms appear ready to provide legal and public relations cover in defense of Trump and his family.

Third, there is the desire of many observers to try to normalize Trump and get “back to business.” This obviously includes most Republican members of Congress, who have shown a penchant for dismissing concerns about Trump so long as he continues to pursue an agenda of repealing Obamacare and cutting taxes.

But this instinct extends beyond partisans: Remember how media commentators, including some liberal voices, acclaimed Trump’s presidential leadership after one well-executed speech three months ago? It might take shockingly little — a successful foreign trip next week or progress on Obamacare repeal in Congress — for pundits to conclude that he is “back on track.”

Fourth, there is the intensity of his most devout supporters. While Trump has falsely boasted about many things, he was probably right when he said that he “could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody” and still maintain their support. Trump’s “tribal” supporters back him, not because of what Trump does or says, but because they want the affiliation they enjoy as Trump supporters. While these hard-core supporters were not sufficient to put Trump in office — experts believe this group is 25 percent to 40 percent of the electorate — even at the lower end of that range, they make up a majority of Republican primary voters in most Republican-held districts. That is a powerful check on Republican senators and representatives who might stand up to Trump — as House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) learned when he was booed in his own district for distancing himself from Trump during the “Access Hollywood” conflagration.

And fifth, there is the frightening risk that Trump’s die-hard supporters are more devoted to Trump than they are to the rule of law. The United States prides itself on being “a government of laws, not of men,” but polls show that an increasing number of Americans generally, and Trump supporters specifically, have “lost faith in democracy.” Sinclair Lewis’s brilliant novel “It Can’t Happen Here” portrayed an alliance between populist rhetoric and corporatist policies that established an iron grip on government and trampled legal accountability. A Trump campaign email, sent the day the latest Comey allegations emerged, echoed Lewis’s depiction, labelling the growing scrutiny of Trump as “sabotage,” accusing government officials of being against an “America First agenda” and urging supporters to “be prepared to go into the trenches to FIGHT.”

Trump is down but not out. Indeed, he may even be at his most dangerous in “wounded animal” mode. The effort to hold him accountable for any abuses of power will face formidable obstacles in the weeks and months ahead. He should not be underestimated.

jserraglio
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Re: A dose of reality - Don't Underestimate Trump

Post by jserraglio » Fri May 19, 2017 5:33 pm

A provocative piece. Yes, Trump still is extremely formidable and dangerous, not to be taken lightly by any means, but he shouldn't be overestimated either.

CNN reports tonight that lawyers in the Trump WH counsel's office are contemplating the "distant" and "unlikely" possibility that he will be impeached but are preparing and researching impeachment procedures anyway out of an abundance of caution. So his WH lawyers have caught a "dose of reality" and are now preparing for impeachment down the road.

Trump made a massive, perilous political blunder by firing Comey. Did he not have a single adviser to warn him that Comey's unpopularity among Dems would not translate into their support for his firing? Would he have even listened to such advice, given his tendency to think that politics equates to one's likes or dislikes? Trump's glaring weaknesses: his naive penchant for seeing domestic and foreign affairs as an extension of his own personality; his inordinate need for adulation; and his habit of underestimating opponents and antagonizing them needlessly: these shortcomings may in the end bring him down, even absent impeachment.

Meanwhile, true-blue Sean Hannity warns his viewers that the appointment of a Special Counsel has put Trump's presidency in jeopardy and tries valiantly to rally their support for his agenda. Laura Ingram looks crestfallen, Bret Baier and Tucker Carlson are openly critical of the president's lack of discipline while Ann Coulter eyes the nearest lifeboat.

If Trump is forced out in the short term (I think he does need to go, and soon), most likely it won't be via impeachment. But in less than two weeks, impeachment has gone from being a gleam in the eyes of crazed leftists to a possibility openly discussed in politic circles, so much so that Mike Pence's move (apparently unprecedented for a first-term VP) to form PACs for 2018 and 2020 independent of the GOP apparatus is being regarded by some as an attempt to position himself for a WH run if Trump should falter.

This story is way more multifaceted than Watergate. Prof. Alan Dershowitz has a point in telling folks to focus on the president's most flagrant misdeed: putting our nation's and an ally's security at risk and agents' lives at risk by releasing top-level secrets to our Russian adversary. In the same meeting, giving the Kremlin free-of-charge information about the inner workings, purposes and motives of his administration, info they would ordinarily have to spy on us to get. In effect, kow-towing to Moscow as if the USA were Russia's client state. These acts alone, quite apart from anything that happened with Flynn, Carter, Manafort, Kushner, et al, may call into question his ability to govern.
Last edited by jserraglio on Sat May 20, 2017 4:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

lennygoran
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Re: A dose of reality - Don't Underestimate Trump

Post by lennygoran » Fri May 19, 2017 7:54 pm

jserraglio wrote:
Fri May 19, 2017 5:33 pm
Prof. Alan Dershowitz has a point in telling folks to focus on the president's most flagrant misdeed:
Come on, Dershowitz is a nutjob! Regards, Len [fleeing] :lol:

PS-still he's a fellow Brooklynite! :lol: :lol: :lol:

jserraglio
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Re: A dose of reality - Don't Underestimate Trump

Post by jserraglio » Sat May 20, 2017 6:32 am

lennygoran wrote:
Fri May 19, 2017 7:54 pm
still he's a fellow Brooklynite!
God's big acres lie in the lush Western Reserve and vast Northwest Territory corridor, as a defeated presidential candidate has discovered to her chagrin. I eagerly await David McCullough's “The Pioneers,” his forthcoming book about the settlement of the Northwest Territory with free universal education and a ban on slavery. Only landhuggers call it flyover country.

jserraglio
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Re: A dose of reality - Don't Underestimate Trump

Post by jserraglio » Mon May 22, 2017 7:04 am

This disturbing article reminded me of the 5th point in Ronald Klain's excellent W. Post op-ed piece printed at the top of this thread.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/pow ... 84a4ebe1b1

A black congressman called for Trump’s impeachment. Lynching threats followed, he said.
By Kristine Phillips May 21 at 1:08 PM

U.S. Rep. Al Green said the phone calls came in not long after he called for the impeachment of President Trump.

“Hey, Al Green, we got an impeachment for you. It’s going to be yours,” one caller said. “Was actually gonna give you a short trial before we hang your n—– ass.”

“You’re not going to impeach anybody, you f—— n—– … You’ll be hanging from a tree,” another one said. “I didn’t see anybody calling for the impeachment of your n—– Obama when he was born in Kenya. He’s not even an American. So f— you, n—–.”

Green, who is black, said the messages followed his criticism of Trump for firing former FBI director James B. Comey. The seven-term Democrat from Texas played recordings of the two voice mails, which appear to have come from male callers, during a town hall meeting in Houston on Saturday.

Green said he wanted his constituents to “decide for yourself what we’re dealing with.”

“It does not deter us,” Green said, the Houston Chronicle reported. “We are not going to be intimidated. We are not going to allow this to cause us to deviate from what we believe to be the right thing to do, and that is to proceed with the impeachment of President Trump.”

Police officers were present at the town hall, and attendees had to go through a security check, according to the Chronicle.

It’s unclear whether there is a police investigation of the calls, though hate crime charges are not likely. The FBI defines hate crimes as crimes committed based on a bias against a person’s race, color, religion or national origin. But for a crime to exist, there must an accompanying act of violence, such as murder, arson or vandalism.

“Hate itself is not a crime — and the FBI is mindful of protecting freedom of speech and other civil liberties,” according to the FBI’s website.

It’s also unclear how many calls Green received, but the Chronicle reported that they were made to his offices in Houston and Washington.

The Washington Post was unable to reach Green on Sunday.

Green went on the House floor Wednesday and made the case for impeaching Trump for allegedly trying to obstruct an investigation into possible Russian ties to his campaign. He said he does so “with a heavy heart” and “a sense of responsibility.”

He said the tumultuous past weeks in the Trump administration justify his call for impeachment.

“Mister Speaker, our democracy is at risk. Mister Speaker, this has occurred before our very eyes. It is perspicuous,” Green said, adding later: “We cannot allow this to go unchecked. The president is not above the law … I am a voice in the wilderness, but I assure you that history will vindicate me.”

He was one of a number of congressional Democrats who talked about such actions, though others wanted to focus on the investigation.

Trump fired Comey this month. Comey was heading a counterintelligence investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The White House initially said Trump relieved Comey in response to recommendations from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who wrote in a memo that Comey mishandled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.

Trump later contradicted his aides and told NBC’s Lester Holt that firing Comey had been his decision all along. The president said he fired the FBI director because of the investigation of Russia, which he dismissed as “a made-up story.”

Several White House officials told The Post that Trump directed Sessions and Rosenstein to explain in writing the case against Comey.

A few days after the dismissal, Trump suggested on Twitter that there may be “tapes” of conversations in which he said Comey told him that he was not under investigation. Critics, including Green, view the president’s tweet as a threat to the man investigating Trump’s campaign associates. White House press secretary Sean Spicer denied that the tweet was meant to intimidate.

The New York Times reported last week that Comey had kept a detailed account of a private meeting with Trump in February. In describing Comey’s notes to The Post, associates of the former director said Trump asked him to drop the probe into Michael Flynn in the wake of the former national security adviser’s resignation.

The notes raised new questions about whether Trump may have stepped into the realm of criminal behavior by urging the FBI to end an investigation. Comey has agreed to testify publicly before the Senate Intelligence Committee. A date will be set after Memorial Day.

lennygoran
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Re: A dose of reality - Don't Underestimate Trump

Post by lennygoran » Mon May 22, 2017 7:36 am

jserraglio wrote:
Mon May 22, 2017 7:04 am
This disturbing article reminded me of the 5th point in Ronald Klain's excellent W. Post op-ed piece printed at the top of this thread.
How terrible-I found some material about laws for this--wonder if there's more out there so these people could be prosecuted in some way. Regards, Len :)

https://vacode.org/2016/18.2/9/6/18.2-427/

http://communications-media.lawyers.com ... sment.html

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