Wednesday, February 06, 2019


Here are a couple of tweets from Ezra Klein in response to last night's State of the Union address:

Klein wrote this at Vox after the speech:
I’ll be honest. There were parts of President Donald Trump’s 2019 State of the Union that I liked. But then I remembered the reality of his presidency.

I liked when he called on the country to “reject the politics of revenge, resistance, and retribution, and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise, and the common good.” But then I remembered America is only 10 days past the longest government shutdown in history, which Trump triggered when he refused to compromise or cooperate with Democrats. And I remembered that Trump’s acting chief of staff just said the president is willing to do it again....

I liked when Trump said that the nation’s priority should be to “lower the cost of health care and prescription drugs, and to protect patients with preexisting conditions.” But then I remembered that his policies had led to 7 million more people becoming uninsured, and that he had fought (and failed) to pass legislation ending protections for preexisting conditions.

I liked when Trump told Congress that an infrastructure bill was “not an option,” but “a necessity.” Then I remembered that Trump has been president for years now, that he had control of Congress for most of that time, and that he has never prioritized either proposing or passing an infrastructure package.
There were more examples. Klein went on to write:
Trump’s speech tonight could have been a victory lap. He could have bragged about the roads being repaired and the bridges being built by his infrastructure bill. He could have talked about the lives being saved by his massive mobilization to staunch the opioid crisis. He could have pointed to tax cuts focused on the middle-class, a border wall built in exchange for protecting DREAMers, a health care effort that did what he promised and expanded coverage while cutting deductibles. And all of it would have come in context of the strongest economy since the 1990s.
But the president many observers told us to expect -- a guy who has few political convictions and just wants a win -- is not the real Trump. The Trump of Klein's second tweet -- "The president you get when you just let Trump talk" -- is not the real Trump. The real Trump is the Trump who's very easily talked into fighting, even if the fights he's talked into are fights he can't win.

Trump's nature means that he can't even compromise strategically. Remember the George W. Bush presidency? It started with the bipartisan No Child Left Behind education bill, proposed by Bush three days after his inaugural. In retrospect it's clear what Bush was doing -- he was reaching across the aisle once, in a high-profile way, before reverting to a high level of partisanship. It worked. After proposing No Child Left Behind, Bush got his tax cuts, his deregulation, and his wars.

An infrastructure bill in the first days of 2017 could easily have been Trump's No Child Left Behind. Chuck Schumer was eager for it. If it had been a real infrastructure bill with real money for real projects and not a phony attempt to make the rich richer by allowing them to leverage the bill's incentives in order to fund for-profit projects, it would have passed easily. But Trump, for all his ideological inconsistency earlier in his life, discovered Fox News a decade or so ago, and now he's in a partisan gang, and he likes it that way. It suits his nature. He's had some wins -- tax cuts, judges -- but they've been partisan wins masterminded by veteran GOP partisans.

There's are pleasure centers in Trump's brain that light up when he's approaching a moment of agreement with an opponent. But he doesn't like compromise -- it makes him feel "weak," one of his most-used words -- so he'd rather have the much greater rush of pleasure he gets from telling the opponent to fuck off.

Pay no attention to the "nice" Trump we saw in parts of last night's speech. We know that the Kumbaya words in Trump's speech were his staff's idea, an effort to start selling Trump and the GOP to swing voters ahead of the 2020 elections, and we know from Peter Baker of The New York Times that Trump wasn't pleased.
As [Trump] and his team have drafted his address in recent days, he has groused about the text, complaining that it is too gentle on Democrats, according to people briefed on the matter.

The president has sought to sharpen various lines, and while aides have urged him to congratulate Speaker Nancy Pelosi on her ascension after the November midterm elections, which handed control of the House to Democrats, they were not entirely clear that he would.
Oh, and at whose behest was this leaked?
For public consumption, President Trump planned to use his State of the Union address on Tuesday night to appeal for bipartisan unity. But at a private lunch for television anchors earlier in the day, he offered searing assessments of a host of Democrats.

Mr. Trump dismissed former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. as “dumb,” called Senator Chuck Schumer of New York a “nasty son of a bitch” and mocked Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia, who he said “choked like a dog” at a news conference where he tried to explain a racist yearbook photo, according to multiple people in the room.
Many White House leaks are embarrassing to the president, but I'm sure he wanted this out, because the speech he was handed to read last night wasn't the real Trump. The real Trump is a nasty SOB.

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