Wednesday, April 25, 2018


Coming from President Trump, this isn't surprising, I guess -- but what's the reasoning behind it? What does it accomplish for him?
The White House rallied around Ronny L. Jackson’s nomination to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs late Tuesday as the president’s doctor was besieged by accusations that he improperly dispensed drugs, created a hostile workplace and became intoxicated on duty.

The administration’s decision to fight on in defense of the nomination came hours after President Trump publicly suggested that Jackson should consider pulling out because of the “abuse” he was facing. But by late afternoon, Trump had huddled with Jackson, and White House aides vowed to fight the charges.

“I don’t want to put a man through a process like this,” Trump had said earlier when asked about Jackson’s nomination during a joint news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron. “It’s too ugly, and it’s too disgusting.”

Trump added: “I said to Dr. Jackson, what do you need it for? To be abused by a bunch of politicians? ... If I was him ... I wouldn’t do it.”
What will Trump get out of continuing to fight this battle? More bad headlines, and quite possibly a Senate vote to reject Jackson. And for what? It's not as if Jackson is a committed right-wing warrior in the mold of Scott Pruitt, someone Trump defends because he believes in privatization and climate-change denial. Trump wants privatization at the VA, but surely there are others in the conserv-o-sphere who are true believers in the dogma and who not only have more relevant administrative experience than Jackson but also have fewer personal skeletons in the closet. Why not just dump Jackson and be done with it?

At least in part, I think it's because fighting is central to Republican ideology, especially in the Trump era. Past administrations, even Republican ones, would have bailed on a guy like Jackson, because the shame of his misdeeds and the failure of his nomination would rub off on the president.

But this president doesn't care -- not only is he personally beyond shame, but he gains esteem in the eyes of his base every time he won't give up a fight, regardless of whether he's right. The fight is the point. It doesn't matter what's revealed about Jackson. We could find out that he killed someone with an ill-advised prescription and it wouldn't give Trumpers pause, because they just want Trump to crush his enemies.

It isn't only Trump who's like this. Consider Missouri governor Eric Greitens.
Gov. Eric Greitens, who faces two felony charges in St. Louis and mounting legal troubles, is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at a St. Louis Area Police Chiefs Association prayer breakfast on Wednesday.
You're the governor and you've been accused of rape, blackmail, and campaign fraud. Do you resign? Do you at least hunker down and keep a low profile? Not if you're Greitens. You stay in your job, defy the accusers, and pray with cops, as if you're the embodiment of moral rectitude. And while Greitens's job approval rating is down to 37%, 57% of Republicans still approve of him.

Keeping the respect of Rage Party voters may not save Greitens's job, or Trump's, but that's the strategy the two of them are following and they're sticking to it.


Or an alternate theory: Trump is sticking with Jackson because Jackson is too dumb to quit and Trump is too cowardly to fire him (or too lazy to restart the candidate search).

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