Monday, February 13, 2017


Mike Flynn's head might roll soon, or maybe not:
The White House is reviewing whether to retain National Security Adviser Mike Flynn amid a furor over his contacts with Russian officials before President Donald Trump took office, an administration official said Sunday....

Mr. Trump’s views toward the matter aren’t clear. In recent days, he has privately told people the controversy surrounding Mr. Flynn is unwelcome, after he told reporters on Friday he would “look into” the disclosures.

But Mr. Trump also has said he has confidence in Mr. Flynn and wants to “keep moving forward,” a person familiar with his thinking said.
And Flynn might not be the only Trumper who lacks job security:
Yet Trump’s concern goes beyond his embattled national security adviser, according to conversations with more than a dozen people who have spoken to Trump or his top aides. He has mused aloud about press secretary Sean Spicer, asking specific questions to confidants about how they think he’s doing behind the podium. During conversations with Spicer, the president has occasionally expressed unhappiness with how his press secretary is talking about some matters -- sometimes pointing out even small things he’s doing that he doesn’t like.

Others who’ve talked with the president have begun to wonder about the future of Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.
Yes, we know that Priebus is in trouble because Christopher Ruddy -- another right-wing media bigwig who's befriended Trump -- has blabbed about this:
The friend, Christopher Ruddy, the chief executive of Newsmax Media, said in an interview that Reince Priebus was well meaning and well liked. But he said Mr. Priebus was in over his head, and he hinted that Mr. Trump may already be growing weary of the man he chose to run the White House.

“He doesn’t waste a lot of time,” Mr. Ruddy said of the president. “If he thinks somebody is not performing, he moves pretty quickly.”
There's chaos at the National Security Council, and incompetence:
Three weeks into the Trump administration, council staff members get up in the morning, read President Trump’s Twitter posts and struggle to make policy to fit them. Most are kept in the dark about what Mr. Trump tells foreign leaders in his phone calls....

Two people with direct access to the White House leadership said Mr. Flynn was surprised to learn that the State Department and Congress play a pivotal role in foreign arms sales and technology transfers. So it was a rude discovery that Mr. Trump could not simply order the Pentagon to send more weapons to Saudi Arabia ... or to deliver bigger weapons packages to the United Arab Emirates.
And Trump just keeps getting into fights with people:
The morning after North Korea launched a ballistic missile into the sea, apparently to test President Trump’s resolve in his first days in office, the new commander in chief wanted to make one thing very clear to the world: Mark Cuban, the billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner, was not smart enough to have his job.

“I know Mark Cuban well,” Mr. Trump said Sunday morning on Twitter.... “He backed me big-time but I wasn’t interested in taking all of his calls. He’s not smart enough to run for president!”

It was not clear what provoked the insult....

He swiped at Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, for criticizing the counterterrorism raid in Yemen that resulted in the death of a Navy SEAL....

The same day, the president took on Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, for revealing that Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, Mr. Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, had called Mr. Trump’s attacks on judges “demoralizing” and “disheartening.” ...
Are Trump fans upset about any of this? Nope. Here's what a Politico reporter tells us about a weekend trip to Terre Haute, Indiana:
“Oh, Trump -- I’m still all Trumped up,” Jane, a retired insurance broker, told me....

What I heard, in conversations with nearly a dozen Trump supporters, is that ... most of Vigo County is still “Trumped up.” ... You hear it in chatter at eateries like Logan’s and in coffee shops and diners such as Boo’s Crossroads Cafe & Corner Grind.... And the grist of the coastal media’s hot takes? The lies, the fumbles and faux pas that have rattled the D.C. establishment and global allies? None of it seems to resonate here.
Are they upset about the chaos and the Twitter beefs? Nahhh.
Nor are voters like Kelly lamenting his Twitter tirades: “He’s speaking directly to the people. Like Reagan!” Dick told me over lunch. Trump’s brusque, shoot-from-the-hip conversations with world leaders and allies? “We’re not going to go to war with Australia,” Kindsvatter said.

“I think he’s pretty much following The Art of the Deal,” said Ken Warner, 60, who works in the finance industry. “He’s got the price of fighter jets down. It’s not something we’re used to. It’s a little unorthodox. Listening to his Carrier negotiation, you have to shrug on the means but can’t disagree with the ends. You don’t want to be picking winners and losers. You don’t want to see a president calling out people on Twitter. However, the results so far have not been bad. So I can’t say it’s wrong.”
What I'm thinking is that these people aren't just tut-tutting "the means" while applauding "the results." I think they assume that anyone of their own political persuasion who's getting press this bad must be doing something right. I think the chaos reinforces the sense that Trump is "shaking things up."

Paul Krugman writes today:
At this point, someone is bound to say, “If they’re so dumb, how come they won?” Part of the answer is that disdain for experts -- sorry, “so-called” experts -- resonates with an important part of the electorate. Bigotry wasn’t the only dark force at work in the election; so was anti-intellectualism, hostility toward “elites” who claim that opinions should be based on careful study and thought.
I think chaos and incompetence are part of the secret sauce that signals to Trump voters that he's a refreshing change from the pols who've disappointed them in the past. Eventually, whewn the dust settles, they'll know they've been cheated. But -- if we haven't all died in a thermonuclear war or plunged into an economic depression by then -- it might not be until well into his second term.

Trump voters see crowd-pleasing policies accompanied by turbulence. They say the turbulence doesn't bother them. I think they see it as an affirmation of their worldview, and a sign that their champion is hard at work on their behalf.

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