Tuesday, May 2, 2017 at 7:55 AM

Advisers Treating Trump Like that Crazy Uncle…

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

It behooves everyone else to do the same.

Since day one of his presidency, we’ve been treated to the spectacle of Trump blurting out outrageous and erroneous statements of policy only to have one or another of his advisers correct him. This was the case, for example, when he said he would

  • Kick out NATO members who “can’t pay their bills”;
  • Rip up the nuclear deal with Iran;
  • Name China a currency manipulator;
  • Abolish the Export-Import bank;
  • Get Mexico to pay for his border wall;
  • Defund Planned Parenthood.

In each case, his advisers prevailed upon him to flip-flop in favor of the more sensible policy. This is why people from Washington to Beijing have taken to mocking him as having a big mouth and small hands, which he reinforces by making idle threats and using both hands to sip a small glass of water, respectively.

Sure enough, here is how this farcical dynamic of the crazy uncle played out again last weekend with respect to South Korea:

South Korea said the United States had reaffirmed it would shoulder the cost of deploying the THAAD anti-missile system, days after President Donald Trump said Seoul should pay for the $1-billion battery designed to defend against North Korea.

In a telephone call on Sunday, Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, reassured his South Korean counterpart, Kim Kwan-jin, that the U.S. alliance with South Korea was its top priority in the Asia-Pacific region, the South’s presidential office said.

(Reuters, May 1, 2017)

Incidentally, Trump had pundits across the political spectrum in a state of utter bewilderment yesterday. This, after he declared that he would be “honored” to meet with North Korea’s menacing dictator, Kim Jong-un.

But I have maintained for years that any president who meets with the repressive leaders of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Turkey cannot standoff on principle when it comes to meeting with the repressive leaders of other countries. Indeed, propagating the notion that US presidents only meet with leaders who have committed no human-rights abuses is as patently disingenuous as propagating the notion that the Olympics only permit athletes who have never taken steroids to compete.

This is why I took exception when these same intellectually dishonest pundits excoriated Obama for declaring his willingness to meet with the repressive leader of Iran. Mind you, Obama wasn’t so stupid as to say he would be honored to do so. But stupid is as Trump does. (Just call him Forest Drumpf!)

Then, of course, there’s the way Trump has his surrogates continually scrambling to clarify the stunningly stupid and often reckless things he says. This is especially the case with remarks that betray what I call his dictator envy. It refers to his untenable fondness for dictators, despots and demigods – like Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the aforementioned North Korean President Kim Jong-un, respectively.

I hasten to note here my unbridled contempt for TV commentators who are “making bank” by spinning into specious points the outrageous and erroneous things Trump says. Frankly, they are nothing more than political hired guns who couldn’t care less about the truth and consequences of their spin.

Of course, if the producers of cable news had any concern for the integrity of public debate, they wouldn’t put these commentators on air to shoot their crap. Unfortunately, the zeitgeist today – in which the superficial and mercenary trends of social media predominate – is such that crap sells. This explains why Trump is president of the United States, after all.

More to the point, everyone in politics seems interested only in making bank. This explains why only a handful of politicians seem bothered that Trump is turning nepotism into a virtue and the White House into a clearing house for his family businesses. Meanwhile, I had cause only yesterday to hail his “First 100 Days” as “mainly the feat of an idiot, full of lies and hypocrisy, accomplishing nothing.”

That said, many commentators are suddenly parroting the crazy-uncle allusion. But here is how I made it several weeks ago – as I explained the implications of this farcical dynamic between Trump and his advisers:

Such blunders are becoming a feature of his presidency. This is why political and business leaders worldwide are beginning to treat him like a crazy uncle, who is liable to say anything. Instead, they are looking to his cabinet secretaries to explain official US policies.

(“Hail, Erdogan – Nouveau Sultan of Turkey,” The iPINIONS Journal, April 19, 2017)

Beyond this, the world should thank God for the constitutional checks and balances that limit the damage a crazy president like Trump can do. But, to be fair, it bears stressing that he was sensible enough to appoint smart advisers to correct his congenital blunders.

As it happens, though, he had his beleaguered surrogates scrambling again yesterday. This, after he claimed that the Civil War would have been averted if only, instead of the “Great Emancipator” Abraham Lincoln, the “tough,” slave-holding, Indian-killing Andrew Jackson were president.

It’s fairer to honor Tubman by dishonoring Andrew Jackson, whose face now graces the $20 bill. …

Jackson owned slaves. He also nearly wiped out Native Americans in the Southeastern United States, highlighted by forcing thousands of Cherokees on the “Trail of Tears” – which makes the Bataan Death March look like a Sunday stroll – as the White man’s solution to their “Indian problem.”

(“US Putting Woman on Wrong Dollar Bill,” The iPINIONS Journal, June 22, 2015)

Trump has made quite a show of hailing Jackson as his historical mentor, much as Obama hailed MLK as his. Except that Trump appears to have nothing more than soundbite interest in Jackson, which is the kind of interest he shows in most things. Because just browsing the very entertaining Jackson biography, American Lion (2008), would have disabused him of such glaring ignorance. Especially given that it was written by Jon Meacham, one of the TV pundits he treats like political tutors.

In any event, resigned indignation with these dynamics of his presidency would spare us venting pointless outrage every time Trump acts like that crazy uncle; you know, the one who is always speaking with absolute authority and complete conviction on things he knows nothing about.

Related commentaries:
First 100 days
Dollar bill

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