Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Warning Signs in the Base: Trump Transitions to W

What looked like a certainty in January, that Obamacare would be repealed within weeks, is now anything but certain. Tea Party activists are mau-mauing Republicans in Congress just as they did Democrats in Obamatime. (See the delightful "From ‘Repeal’ to ‘Repair’: Campaign Talk on Health Law Meets Reality" by Michael Shear and Robert Pear.)

The GOP is at the inflection point promised by Trump on the campaign trail -- to scrap the Affordable Care Act and cancel health coverage for tens of millions -- and it finds itself wanting to think things over for a little while. Trump is now talking about years instead of weeks:
In a brief aside in an interview with Bill O’Reilly of Fox News broadcast before the Super Bowl on Sunday, Mr. Trump went further than he ever has in acknowledging the reality that any hope of quickly replacing the Affordable Care Act has been dashed. 
“Yes, I would like to say by the end of the year, at least the rudiments, but we should have something within the year and the following year,” the president said.
Buyer's remorse is bound to settle in with the Trumpian base. Tomahawking Obamacare was litmus test number one.

Realignment in foreign policy was also right up there. There has to be buyer's remorse there too as Trump bends over backwards to satisfy the Gulf Arab monarchies. Trump's decision to list the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization is driven by the Saudis et al. According to Peter Baker in "White House Weighs Terrorist Designation for Muslim Brotherhood":
In his short time in office, Mr. Trump has already come under pressure from Arab allies eager for such a designation. He had phone conversations with Mr. Sisi; Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi; and King Salman of Saudi Arabia. But he also spoke with Mr. Erdogan on Tuesday.
A top Arab official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity according to diplomatic protocol, declined to discuss what was said on the calls, but added, “It’s safe to assume since U.A.E., Saudi and Egypt have all designated the M.B. as a terrorist organization, that decision would be welcome by those countries and several others in the region.”
Soon it will become apparent to white rural America that Trump is really no change agent; rather, he is the Second Coming of George W. Bush. And George W. Bush was extremely unpopular.

The approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline is also a litmus test, but one that is a huge opportunity for the left to counterattack. If the left proves supine and easily rolled, Trump will be able to make his transition to a W.-like presidency of incoherence and ineffectiveness, settling in for four years of more of the same. But if the left's counterattack is robust and victorious, that's more alienation for the Trumpian base.


  1. My assessment: As a casual observation, the hardcore right, which I've seen over the years estimated as around 27% of the US voting population, seems to be sustaining itself by schadenfreude and vinegar, so that no matter what Trump announces they presume Trump is doing it to someone else. How long it takes for them to feel pain from Trump/the Republicans' moves to continue to dismantle the remnants of FDR's legacy is approximately how long it will take for the eventual Republican collapse to take place. I don't see any progressive movement strong enough to dislodge the corporate Dems from power.

    Trump went after immigrants first because he (incorrectly) thought that no one would give a damn about Muslims. The anti-Trump left is now hypersensitive and that turned out to be an overstep. Plus, he doesn't help himself by saying no one should question his executive orders.

    However, in six months if the new Secretary of Education moves a few billion from this column to that column, not so much. In Nazi Germany it was called the "salami tactic", wherein a little slice is removed until all of a sudden there's no salami. Trump, the emperor with no clothes, likes bombast. He'll have to rein in his grander gestures unless they accompany Deep State goals.

    When the CIA started floating stories about Trump and golden showers it was pretty evident that post-election negotiations weren't going well. I think an understanding has been reached.

    Sometimes it's hard to figure out where Trump is going because he contradicts himself all the time and he has a strained relationship with "truth", but it seems he will eventually get onboard with the Deep State's targets. For example, Iran hasn't used its military to attack anyone in hundreds of years and has been out of the "terrorism" business for decades with the exception of Hezbollah, which is now more of a political organization defending Shia in Lebanon. So the whole Iran obsession has more to do with the control of the oil market for the US Deep State. It fits with the Saudi/Sunni religious wars, and Israel's self-interest in keeping down Shia disturbances around the expanding Israel. (part one)

    1. There is a Politico story about the CIA opposing a terror listing for the Muslim Brotherhood, which should remind us that the deep state is not monolithic. The Saudis want it, but the CIA likes to keep the MB around as a cat's paw to pester the sheikhs.

      I think you're right, Bob. I think an accommodation has been made. Was it the golden showers? Why not? Most of the Fake News/Russian hacking stories disappeared shortly thereafter.

      Trump's huge backstop is that the mainstream no longer has the allegiance of the masses. We'll see this on display in the Le Pen-Macron match-up this spring. It would be wonderful to see the left rise and shed its corporate, mainstream carapace. But I think you're right. The corporate Dems will survive in control. Elizabeth Warren for all her fine points is a corporate Dem. Let's see how the activists do at Standing Rock. Maybe there's some hope there.

      Thanks for your excellent comments.

  2. (part two)

    I haven't figured out what Trump's beef is with China. As it is, the pivot to Asia seems to have failed (for ex, Duterte, TPP), and the chances for some kind of success there (by whatever means you would judge success) seems to be shrinking.

    Likewise, the tide has turned in Syria. The fact that the US, Saudi Arabia et al are running this phony war in Syria and the media continue to lie about it won't help rescue ISIS et al. New lies will be necessary to explain off this fiasco.

    I see a similar dilemma in Ukraine.

    I am not sure what will happen along the Russian border but it appears that that is still the main underlying drive in America's foreign policy (elimination of Russia as an energy supplier, economic partner with Europe). The whole "revolution" in Ukraine appears to be reaching its endstage, and western Europe has no stomach for a hot war with Russia. Some of the former Warsaw Pact countries, infected with neo-Nazis via national endowment for democracy types, are still itching for war, but the actual industrial machines of NATO see Ukraine as a failed state without value.

    The Ukrainian leadership itself knows that its time is limited unless it can rally Europe and the US against Donbass and Russia, and only a hot war will be able to unite the fractured rump state. That was undoubtedly behind the strategy of "Putin hacks US election" propaganda. The Deep State wanted something big enough to justify a war against Russia, and they still haven't given up. However, it is just as likely that if Ukraine tries to start a hot war it won't be able to carry it out successfully (Russia will provide just enough support to sink it without having to send in its own military) and what remains of Ukraine could fracture further. But that could happen anyway. I can see a lot more of Ukraine, north of Donbass, along the coast to Odessa, even Kiev itself, sloughing off the rump state.

    Considering the state of the world economy the EU (with perhaps Germany excepted) doesn't need any large influx of foreign workers, which is really the only thing that Ukraine has to offer now.

    Essentially, the US has used Ukraine for its purposes, Russia has successfully limited the damage (although there are hints that Rachel Maddow was pitching Belarus as Ukraine II Monday night), and making the EU suffer for American adventurism is coming to an end.

    All of the above could signal the end of NATO, depending on how Germany goes. Economically, Germany would do well to look east.

    And so, ass-backwards and without any real strategy Trump could destroy NATO and bring about world peace.

    Heh heh heh. Or not.