Thursday, April 05, 2018


A brief item from Rick Klein at ABC News:
“Nothing concrete has actually happened,” Larry Kudlow, President Donald Trump’s brand-new top economic adviser, said yesterday.

Kudlow was talking about action on tariffs, in what amounted to an effort to declare a truce in an emerging trade war ....

Beyond tariffs that won’t be what he said they would be, the president isn’t actually removing U.S. troops from Syria, and he won’t be deploying regular military troops to the U.S. border with Mexico, but instead working with governors to have the National Guard assist – as other presidents have. A president who thrives on words is signaling that his words don’t actually dictate policy.

Trump is getting his way – if his goal is to be able to say what he wants. But if his goal is do as he says he pleases, he’s running into barriers more formidable than his declarations.
If a normal president wanted to do big, transformative, perhaps shockingly disruptive things, he or she would lay the groundwork first, researching the ramifications (or at least ordering staff to do research), so that the big new initiatives would be fully formed and ready for implementation.

Trump doesn't do that. He just talks about stuff, gets people worked up, then learns that getting his own way requires more than just demanding it.

But maybe it doesn't matter. If the threatened tariffs prove to be a big nothingburger, if the troop deployment to the border is no more significant than similar deployments by Barack Obama and George W. Bush, if U.S. military policy in Syria doesn't change dramatically, Trump has still riled up the base by talking tough.

And isn't that the rhythm of Trump's beloved Fox News? Find multiple stories to rile up the audience for a few days, then rotate some of them out and add new ones. Repeat, ad infinitum. Some stories never go away, but most linger only briefly, then disappear. What's important is that the audience is constantly riled up.

Trump may weaken his own tariffs, but his base heard that he's sticking it to the Chinese. Trump may arrange for the deployment of only a few thousand National Guard troops to the border, just like Obama and Bush, but his base heard that he's sticking it to the caravan. He just has to play on the base's emotions every day -- it doesn't matter if the follow-through is weak.

Trump may have always had a short attention span, but his TV addiction, even more than his Twitter addiction, reinforces that attention deficit. Fortunately for him, his base has the same attention span, derived from the same source.

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