Tuesday, October 03, 2017


Breaking news: Donald Trump is a Republican.
The Trump administration formally backed a House bill Monday that would ban abortions after 20 weeks.

The administration "strongly supports" the bill and "applauds the House of Representatives for continuing its efforts to secure critical pro-life protections," the Office of Management and Budget wrote in a statement of administration policy.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), will come up for a vote in the House on Tuesday.

It would make it a crime to perform or attempt an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, with the possibility of a fine, up to five years in prison or both.
Remember when Trump spend a few days talking to Democrats and making one deal with them, and everyone in the press corps decided that he'd stopped being a Republican -- no, wait, he'd never been a Republican to begin with -- and was now the first independent president? Even I nearly fell for it for a moment, though I was mostly skeptical. Since then, Trump has backed a strictly Republican health care bill, has promoted a strictly Republican tax plan, and has attacked the mayor of a drowned city as a Democratic partisan.

Hey, press corps, you're not going to let yourself be fooled again, are you? You fell for "Trump is post-partisan" -- surely you won't fall for "Trump is a unifier"?

Oops, I guess some of you are. Erik Wemple of The Washington Post notes that CNN is the worst (but not the only) offender:
On CNN, [Trump's speech on the Las Vegas massacre] was a marvel of possibly historic proportions. “Look, pitch perfect from the president right there,” said John King, anchor and chief national correspondent for CNN. “I’m sure already there are some people out there because of the polarized environment we live in who won’t like something they heard or won’t trust something they heard or won’t find truthfulness or credibility in something their president just said. I would hope that they would take a breath and let the president have his piece here, in the sense that he came out, he said he wanted to unify the country.”

... Agreement followed King’s assessment. Host Poppy Harlow said, “This is the time to bring the country together — that is exactly, John King, what the president did with those remarks. This is not a time for politics, nor did he inject them at all in those remarks.”

Jeff Zeleny, when his analytical turn came up, said, “The president clearly, as John said, striking a pitch-perfect tone.”

And analyst David Chalian: “That’s everything you would want to hear from a president of the United States, everything that you wanted to hear there. I agree with what John and Jeff were saying — this was certainly pitch perfect.”
Wemple also quoted this tweet from Jackie Calmes of the Los Angeles Times

I thought Wemple's Post colleagues Michael Scherer and Philip Rucker were falling into the "Trump is unifying America" trap when I read the headline of their piece -- "Another Tragedy but a New Tone: Trump Calls for Unity After Las Vegas Massacre" -- but even though they quote Ari Fleischer calling Trump (of course) "pitch perfect," they're still skeptical, noting that Trump changed his tone only because his go-to scapegoats were unavailable:
Trump long ago conditioned both his supporters and detractors to expect him to do the unexpected in the face of tragedy — and time and again, he has capitalized on terror to advance his agenda....

But the Las Vegas massacre was different, both because investigators have found no evidence linking the shooter to a terrorist organization and because he was a white American, as opposed to a Muslim immigrant.

The emerging facts prevented Trump from following his typical playbook — to rally his supporters against Islamic extremism while speaking and tweeting in a combative, even belligerent tone....
And Scherer and Rucker got this damning quote:
“You compare Trump to other presidents when they’ve seen tragedies in this country, be it from natural phenomenon or from disturbed or troubled people, and he just seems so remote and removed from the suffering,” presidential historian Robert Dallek said. “He just demonstrates such a lack of compassion and understanding for the troubles of those who are in greatest need and are limited by their circumstances.”
By contrast, Mark Landler and Maggie Haberman of The New York Times give us this self-evident nonsense:
Christopher Ruddy, the chief executive of Newsmax Media and a friend of Mr. Trump, insisted the president had an impulse to unify people in his previous life as a real estate developer and entertainer. “I think politics brought out a side of him where he feels like he has to strike back every time,” he said.
Yeah, that Central Park Five ad, and the racial discrimination at Trump's properties in the 1970s, and that time he said Indian casino owners weren't really Indians -- what a unifier he was.

Landler and Haberman aren't as naive as you'd expect, but unlike Scherer and Rucker, they suggest that Trump might remain a unifier, or at least could manage it, though it's more likely that the grinding pressure on him will force him, alas, to weaken:
The week will pose the greatest test yet of whether a president who plays to America’s divisions can also appeal to its sense of national unity, whether it is binding the wounds left by a rampaging gunman or the wreckage left by a deadly hurricane.

Whether Mr. Trump can sustain his empathetic tone over what promise to be two emotional, exhausting days also is an open question — particularly as critics attack his position on gun laws, or if he faces further criticism from local officials in Puerto Rico over the slow-to-start relief effort there.
Yes, it will be his critics' fault, because, poor exhausted dear, he just can't help himself.

Journalists, don't fall for this. He read a prepared speech off a Teleprompter yesterday. In Vegas, he had no non-white or female target to attack. He hasn't changed. And he won't.

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