Notes on Trump – 5

Things still drifting along as weirdly as ever but an increased flow of articles starting to notice some aspects while still ignoring others.

Here’s WAPO’s Aaron Blake continuing the daily obsession with the latest incitement from Trump to please keep talking about Russia.

Why did Trump meet with Putin again? Here are three possibilities.

1. There is something nefarious going on

(preferred explanation, with several paragraphs of the usual)

2. Trump is oblivious to how this might be perceived

(Trump is so stupid he does not understand that being perceived talking to Putin with no other Americans present will cause journalists to blather endlessly – the default explanation of why they keep on blathering about Russia whenever he tells them to being Trump’s stupidity, not theirs)

3. Trump is simply addicted to causing controversy and/or sees it as a GOP base play

“Whenever a politician does something suspect, the analyst in me is trained to look for the political advantage. Trump’s unexpected victory in the 2016 election had plenty of folks hailing his little-understood political genius and suggesting the media simply missed what appealed to Trump supporters.

There is also a significant chance that Trump loves the kind of coverage that ensues from these kinds of meetings. He’s got plausible deniability that anything unsavory happened — after all, who is going to contradict that? Putin? The interpreter? — and it gets the media in a fuss about what may have happened. Trump seems to love the idea of wielding all of that fuss and using it to decry the “fake news media” to rally his base.

And perhaps that’s the calculation. But at this point, Trump and his team have to be wondering: What’s the payoff? What is he really getting out of it? Trump’s approval rating is the lowest in modern presidential history, the GOP-controlled Congress hasn’t passed any signature legislation, his party split on one of his major promises on the health-care bill, and all Trump has to show for it is a mostly intact group of Republican voters who say they still like him.

If Trump has designs upon being a great president and winning so much that people would get tired of it, stuff like this sure doesn’t seem to be paying dividends.”

The above shows a faint glimmer of understanding. But only faint.

This guy’s job as an “analyst” depends on him not understanding the following:

  1. The media did not fail to understand what appealed to Trump voters. They actively helped him wipe out all the mainstream Republican candidates with masssive free publicity about what an outrageously anti-establishment outsider he was, knowing that this appealed to supporters and expecting it would result in the Republicans nominating him as a candidate so grotesque he couldn’t win even against Hilary Clinton and the completely degenerated party she represented.
  2.   Trump’s overall approval rating is indeed very low. But still well ahead of the media, Hilary Clinton and BOTH parties in Congress.
  3. Trump’s party has not split on health care. He DOES NOT HAVE a party in Congress. Pretending that the Republican representatives in the House and Senate are Trump’s party goes together with “forgetting” that the media helped him defeat the Republican party in the presidential primaries.
  4. The payoff for Trump is that by consolidating his base and keeping them fired up about the biased media he will keep his opponents in Congress intimidated for fear of defeat by Trumpist candidates in the 2018 primaries and will replace many of them, emerging with a large Trumpist party in Congress (even if the Democrats get a majority in the House of Representatives). Obviously having a party in Congress is a necessary preliminary to doing any “winning”, including on healthcare.

I haven’t got much new to add since I figured out this much in the first article in this series, written before inauguration day.

But it is really quite illuminating that six months later, even after starting to notice that their coverage helps Trump consolidate his base, the “analysts” still don’t get it. Their livelihood depends on them not understanding. How could they continue doing their jobs if they did understand?

Here’s a slighly less faint glimmer. The Atlantic explaining What Congressional Republicans Really Think About Trump and Russia

“Even as alarm has reached fever pitch among Democrats, most in the GOP see the reaction as little more than partisan noise.”

Reasonably clear that no chance of removing Trump from office with this Russia stuff that only strengthens his base.

As editor David Frum said It’s Trump’s Party Now.

A positive feedback loop is now well established that will ensure it remains Trump’s party at least through the 2018 primaries. Not only the “Never Trumpers” like David Frum, but many mainstream Republicans are simply giving up and ceasing to consider themselves part of the same party.

As usual, the New York Times can only look at this from a Democrat perspective Why Trump’s Base of Support May be Smaller Than it Seems

No doubt the 85% to 90% of Republicans who approve of Trump could be the same fraction of a shrinking Republican base as they drive others away. Great news for Democrats and the New York Times! But they are the people who will be voting in the 2018 Republican primaries. If any of these analysts had a clue they would be analysing the consequences of that. It doesn’t even require far sightedness. A completely different political situation is less than two years away.

Here’s Janet Albrechtson in the Australian on The Genius of Donald Trump: Liberal media in a frenzy over president it created

She gets it pretty well about how the liberal media is playing into Trump’s hands. But her obsessive hatred of her political opponents and delight in them making idiots of themselves results in her not even noticing that it is her own “conservative” side of what passes for mainstream politics that has been completely humiliated and wiped out by Trump.

“Normal programming cannot resume until the media starts reporting news and offering considered analysis rather than trying to get even with a modern-day President it helped create.”

But why then does she not attempt some “considered analysis” rather than merely endlessly celebrating the stupidity of her opponents? She could for example consider and analyse the consequences of a large bipartisan majority supporting isolationist and protectionist policies that she and other conservatives oppose. With a Democrat majority and a mainstream Republican wipeout by Trumpists is she still going to be celebrating?





9 thoughts on “Notes on Trump – 5

  1. Second meeting with Putin, Secret second meeting with Putin, Come on people get a grip they were at a 40 guest banquet and Trump changed chairs to go and have a talk with Vlad. Of course it upset everyone heres the 2 guys that everyone despises spending in your face time together and shock horror they only used Vlad’s interpreter and when asked about it Trump told the NYT that they had been talking about adoption (theres your last clue as to how much this matters)
    Real story is Trump has ceased support for people fighting Assad. Finally an Obama policy that he can reverse.


  2. Al Jazeera doesn’t confirm wapo, just repeats it and adds commentary.
    Claim that decision was by Trump personally and for benefit of Putin is “very wapo” and unlikely to have much to do with reality.

    But I have no idea what is actually happening as I just haven’t been following and it would be very difficult to have a clear picture from english language sources even if I could put the time into it.

    Still seems clear enough that Assad regime is going to be transitioned out under Russian supervision and the various factions are already preparing to fight over the aftermath.

    Trump’s worldview gives good reason to fear compromise with Assad and refusal to commit needed forces. But actions so far a slight improvement on Obama. That isn’t saying much considering how isolationist Obama administration was, but it seems likely that the troops already committed to fighting Daesh will also help prevent Al Qaeda benefiting and also provide protection from regime forces.


  3. I know that you don’t trust the Washington Post but what about when they directly quote a named General defending the position of cutting off the Syrian anti Assad forces
    As to Trump being better than Obama well thats setting the bar pretty low but is that really the argument Obama v Trump I always thought that it was the people v Assad looks like Assad will win solely on the basis that the international players eventually came to an agreement on this.


  4. Arthur I disagree with your idea that Assad will be transitioned out. For Assad to be transitioned out the question must be asked who will the Russians transition in? Any alternative to Assad would be seen as a downgrade to Putin’s prestige and a downgrade to Russia as a world power and seeing that the decisive Russian effort has been to protect Putin and Russia’s prestige it would seem odd for them to throw this away. Victory for Putin is seen as him calling the shots on the world stage anything but President Assad will be seen as a loss. Putin didn’t descent to the bowels of hell to come up empty. Iran must have a say in the outcome but do they have a realistic alternative to Assad?
    I completely agree that Assad is at the mercy of his “friends” but for his friends to remove him some better outcome must be at hand and it just isn’t, at least not from the point of view of Russian and Iranian governments.


  5. Some “international players”, including candidate Trump prattled about agreeing on the Assad regime remaining. I haven’t been following the details (or much at all- and was surprised by Aleppo falling to the regime, contrary to my expectations).

    But it still seems obvious that the ceasefires doom the regime, not the opposition. Both Europe and US are obsessed with Daesh, not supporting democratic revolution. But that regime continuing simply isn’t a viable option so pundits claiming otherwise are just ignorant (like candidate Trump).

    US media is obsessed with Trump and Russia and wapo article was actually about that, not Syria.

    Same theme continues in CNN:

    “The ceasefire agreement in southern Syria is a welcome respite from the fighting, but it allows Iran and Hezbollah to grow roots in the places they hold, just as the US appears to be stepping back from the post-ISIS phase of the conflict and giving away its own bargaining chips.”

    Reality of course is that Hezbollah are Lebanese and Iranians are persian. Neither has any more hope or even inclination to grow roots in Syria than Russians – or Americans in Vietnam.

    Meanwhile local governments are forming. Free of regime attacks they will consolidate a national government replacing the regime rather than succumb to Daesh, Al Qaeda or the regime.

    Not able to discuss Syria more. This thread is about Trump. The wapo slant is merely another illustration of the media’s obsession with Trump and lack of interest in Syria.

    WAPO was not the source of the US general rebutting their claim it was a sop to Russia.
    Reuters report was earlier:

    I have no way to evaluate what is actually happening in Syria. Hopefully the CIA will no longer be able to hinder the arrival of MANPADs from Turkey and Qatar. (But they may not be needed if, asreported the regime air force is now sheltering in Russian airbases).

    But I can continue to explain what is happening in the US media. They are continuing to obsess about Russia in a manner that we have both experienced elsewhere makes actual analysis of Syria or anything else impossible.


  6. I don’t get your point that “…the ceasefires doom the regimen.”
    The cease fires have generally been a swap, the regimen gains territory and anti regimen fighters are allowed to leave. These deals are always done between the regimen and isolated groups of rebels and they are often done to divide the anti Assad forces. Heres a report on the Aleppo ceasefire which clearly paints it as a regimen victory


    • 1. I repeat:
      “Syria link does sound bad.
      I havent been following. Dont trust wapo.”

      That response is the ONLY direct connection between Steve’s desire discuss Syria and the topic of this thread,

      2. A further illustration that the wapo item is about Trump/Russia rather than Syria can be seen in not only in the CNN link I gave previously but also in the corresponding New York Times report:
      “Trump Ends Covert Aid to Syrian Rebels Trying to Topple Assad”

      3. Again:
      “I have no idea what is actually happening as I just haven’t been following and it would be very difficult to have a clear picture from english language sources even if I could put the time into it.”

      “Not able to discuss Syria more. This thread is about Trump. The wapo slant is merely another illustration of the media’s obsession with Trump and lack of interest in Syria.”

      4. I did bloviate on Syria when it seemed necessary to express an opinion and would have felt some slight obligation to respond to further discussion in that thread, despite clearly labelling it “half-baked”.
      Steve chose not to respond further there.

      5. But I am about as interested in discussing the future of Syria with people who focus on what Putin is up to there as I am interested in discussing American politics with people who have a similar obsession as to what Putin is up to in America. I an very interested in the phenomena of Putin derangement as a symptom of the collapse of serious political analysis but simply cannot spend time arguing with people influenced by it.

      6. WITHOUT any intention to respond further I will simply note the following:

      7. I did not previously notice Steve’s comment of 22 July 10:04am and my subsequent comment was not in response. Now that I have seen it I am still not interested in going down that rabbit hole.

      8. Of course Aleppo was a regime victory (and as I mentioned, not expected by me).

      9. My understanding is that the regime went to war to prevent opposition protests turning into an alternative government. Areas no longer under armed atack will proceed to form such a government, locally and then nationally. That does involve and require division in the anti-regime forces (especially a split with Al Qaeda who would be the main post-regime enemy of democratic revolution after the united front with them to crush Daesh). There are also all sorts of other post-regime conflicts (Kurds/Arabs/Turks) emerging and becoming central. The West is still preoccupied with Daesh but that cannot last. Meanwhile there is now an international armed conflict between the USA and the regime. The overt armed intervention in support of local allies against Daesh including defence from regime attacks may make covert CIA operations rather less important to the US government whether wisely or not. I would not know.

      10. But there is still no sign of providing adequate occupation forces that the regime could surrender to and I am still pretty confident that the regime is no longer hoping for victory but is simply unable to surrender without getting massacred yet.

      11. Russia does not share the delusions of others about its capability to or interest in fighting a war on the Mediterranean. They are there to help end it. Neither do Turkey or any of the regional powers share such delusions about Russia. My only interest in these delusions is as a symptom of the collapse of serious analysis. I am not going to argue about the superpower ambitious of a country with about the same GDP as Australia.


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