The campaign to destroy Trump takes 2 steps forward

Summary: The campaign to cripple or replace Trump, leapt ahead this week with the release of two new stories. Only the Republicans can destroy Trump. There is evidence that this is beginning to happen.

Trump impeachment clock: tck, tck

The latest political sensation, an anonymous op-ed in the NYT!

I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration

Op-ed in the NYT by a “senior official in the Trump administration.”

“I work for the president but like-minded colleagues and I have vowed to thwart parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.”

The chat-o-sphere went wild!

“The phrase ‘The sleeper cells have awoken’ circulated on text messages among aides and outside allies.” {From the WaPo.}

One of the great and wise at the NY Times plays it straight, saying the superficial and obvious things about this event.

This Is a Constitutional Crisis
By David Frum at The Atlantic.

“A cowardly coup from within the administration threatens to enflame the president’s paranoia and further endanger American security.”

“If the president’s closest advisers believe that he is morally and intellectually unfit for his high office, they have a duty to do their utmost to remove him from it, by the lawful means at hand. That duty may be risky to their careers in government or afterward. But on their first day at work, they swore an oath to defend the Constitution – and there were no “riskiness” exemptions in the text of that oath.”

But outside the charmed circle of our coastal gurus, some people have actual insights.

The New York Times Proves the Deep State is Alive and Well (Oops).”
By David Blackburn at DB Daily Update.

“The New York Times this week ran an anonymous op/ed, supposedly written by a ‘senior administration official,’ who says that he is part of a cabal of government employees embedded in the executive branch working to undermine the Trump presidency.

“That’s the definition of the term “Deep State,” guys and gals. …If anyone doing this to Obama had identified himself to the editorial board of the NY Times, the Times would have publicly outed him immediately and referred his case to the U.S. Attorneys at the Southern District of New York. …

“The pre-planned constant disruptions …continued during the second day of hearings over Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Some of the disruptions came from the same people who had been ‘arrested’ for doing the same thing on Tuesday. …They are taken to a nearby police station, booked, assessed a fine of $50, and released. That’s it.

“At the end of the day, what it all added up to was the Democrats getting exactly what they wanted:  Capitol Hill was your basic three-ring circus. Expect more of the same today.”

Rogue journalist Caitlin Johnstone gives a more acerbic and insightful analysis

We Are Being Played.”

“If any evidence existed to be found that Donald Trump had illegally colluded with the Russian government to rig the 2016 presidential election, that evidence would have been picked up by the sprawling surveillance networks of the US and its allies and leaked to the Washington Post before Obama left office.

“Russiagate is like a mirage. From a distance it looks like a solid, tangible thing, but when you actually move in to examine it critically you find nothing but gaping plot holes, insinuation, innuendo, conflicting narratives, bizarre mental contortions to avoid acknowledging contradictory information, a few arrests for corruption and process crimes, and a lot of hot air. The whole thing has been held together by nothing but the confident-sounding assertions of pundits and politicians and sheer, mindless repetition. And, as we approach the two year mark since this president’s election, we have not seen one iota of movement toward removing him from office. The whole thing’s a lie, and the smart movers and shakers behind it are aware that it is a lie.

“And yet they keep beating on it. Day after day after day after day it’s been Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia. Instead of attacking this president for his many, many real problems in a way that will do actual damage, they attack this fake blow-up doll standing next to him in a way that never goes anywhere and never will, like a pro wrestler theatrically stomping on the canvass next to his downed foe. What’s up with that? …

“The op-ed’s author claims to be part of a secret coalition of patriots who dislike Trump and are ‘working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.’ These ‘worst inclinations’ according to the author include trying to make peace with Moscow and Pyongyang, being rude to longtime US allies, saying mean things about the media, being ‘anti-trade’, and being ‘erratic’. …The final paragraphs are spent gushing about John McCain for no apparent reason.

“I strongly encourage you to read the piece in its entirety, because for all the talk and drama it’s generating, it doesn’t actually make any sense. While you are reading it, I encourage you to keep the following question in mind: what could anyone possibly gain by authoring this and giving it to the New York Times? …

“The op-ed says essentially nothing, other than to tell readers to relax and trust in anonymous administration insiders who are working against the bad guys on behalf of the people (which is interestingly the exact same message of the right-wing 8chan conspiracy phenomenon QAnon, just with the white hats and black hats reversed). …

“What are the results of this viral op-ed everyone’s talking about? So far it’s a bunch of Democratic partisans making a lot of excited whooping noises, and Trump loyalists feeling completely vindicated in the belief that all of their conspiracy theories have been proven correct. Many rank-and-file Trump haters are feeling a little more relaxed and complacent knowing that there are a bunch of McCain-loving ‘adults in the room’ taking care of everything, and many rank-and-file Trump supporters are more convinced than ever that Donald Trump is a brave populist hero leading a covert 4-D chess insurgency against the Deep State. In other words, everyone’s been herded into their respective partisan stables and trusting the narratives that they are being fed there.”

Johnstone is correct about the essential fact about this op-ed. Trump is accused of behavior unsuited for a president, unorthodox conservative policies, and failure to wage the Cold War against Russia — whose GDP is 8% of that of the EU (18% of the EU’s at purchasing power parity).

Fear: Trump in the White House
Available at Amazon.

Another perspective on Trump

Through no coincidence, this same week Bob Woodward’s new book was released: Fear: Trump in the White House. He got dirt on Trump from inside Team Trump. Explosive revelations! The NY Times gave it a big launch.

In Fear, Bob Woodward Pulls Back the Curtain on President Trump’s ‘Crazytown’” by Dwight Garner.

Jim Mattis Compared Trump to ‘Fifth or Sixth Grader,’ Bob Woodward Says in Book” by Mark Landler and Maggie Haberman.

“At another moment, Mr. Trump’s aides became so worried about his judgment that Gary D. Cohn, then the chief economic adviser, took a letter from the president’s Oval Office desk authorizing the withdrawal of the United States from a trade agreement with South Korea. Mr. Trump, who had planned to sign the letter, never realized it was missing. …

“In April 2017, after President Bashar al-Assad of Syria launched a chemical attack on his own people, Mr. Trump called Mr. Mattis and told him that he wanted the United States to assassinate Mr. Assad. “Let’s go in,” the president said, adding a string of expletives. The defense secretary hung up and told one of his aides: “We’re not going to do any of that. We’re going to be much more measured.”

5 Takeaways From Bob Woodward’s Book on the Trump White House” by Noah Weiland. All five are small stuff. Equally sensational stories could have been published about the JFK, LBJ, and Nixon administrations. Equally sensational stories were published about the Carter and Reagan teams. My favorite: Carter was lost in the job, focusing on what he could understand (e.g., checking the arithmetic in the budget books, scheduling the White House tennis courts).

Impeachment buttons

Conclusions

The key insight from all this is that large forces are moving against Trump. Invisible forces. Private forces. We see only their surface effects. Which explain why so little of these stories makes sense.

We can guess at the goal of many Republican officials: they want to replace Trump with VP Pence. Pence is a reliable and doctrinaire conservative, and a skillful politician.  (The Democrat’s goals and motives for wanting Pence are obscure.) Their back-up plan is to weaken Trump so that he does not run in 2020. But they cannot directly act while Trump’s job approval remains around 40%. This week’s news are two more volleys attacking Trump’s support.

While our elites pursue their usual short-sighted goals, remember the big picture: removing Trump would changing our political system forever – probably for the better.

For More Information

Ideas! For shopping ideas see my recommended books and films at Amazon.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about RussiaGate, about the Trump years in America, and especially these …

  1. What Trump told Russia, why it matters, and why journalists ignore the smartest man in Washington.
  2. Status report on Trump: a president in peril.
  3. Hidden polls show Trump’s defense against impeachment.

Tw of the first crop of books about the Trump years

Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic by David Frum (2018).

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff (2018).

Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic
Available at Amazon.
Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House
Available at Amazon.

25 thoughts on “The campaign to destroy Trump takes 2 steps forward

  1. He’s got the entire evil war criminal Bush clan against him now. The problem is, at the grassroots, the RP doesn’t want the Bushwaites to run things anymore. There are some weak-minded Repugs who gave in. Like the dying McCain, who had to know better than anyone else, how the Bush people destroyed him more than anyone in politics in the US. But still he decided to end his life making it sound like Trump was the big problem.

  2. The Democrats and their supporters would do well to consider JFK and how well he’d fare today.

    As a thought experiment, imagine him as president now, with a hostile press and groups of people prepared to dig up and weaponise whatever dirt they could find. Father’s prohibition gangster past, womanising, potential drug addiction and impaired judgement from the treatment of Addisons disease.

    Imagine the fun that will be had with the precedents currently being set in the efforts to unseat Trump.

    1. Steve,

      Such thought-experiments are fascinating ways to see how we’ve changed. Imagine Lincoln on TV!

  3. So a person who has no provable existence says that Trump is a stoopid doodyhead and he doesn’t like him and is secretly working against him means that the campaign to destroy Trump has taken two steps forward? And as for Bob Woodward, well, maybe Bill Casey came back from the dead and gave him another interview.

    Trump’s Presidency may be cut short by natural causes or assassination, but not by the goobers who write this kind of drivel. This isn’t fake news, since we knew already that official Washington hates Trump, but it is non-news. Nothing materially has changed. There are things Trump needs to worry about, but people trying to play Hero Of The Resistance by penning anonymous pieces for the Times aren’t on the list.

    The news is that every effort is being made to depress voter turnout among people who might vote for a GOP Congress. How effective that will be I have no idea. I do remember a line from the court martial scene in the movie Flight Of The Intruder, where Fred Thompson reminds Brad Pitt and Willem DaFoe that they swore an oath to uphold the elected government. If you go back through history, he tells them, the men who were elected weren’t always right, or wise, or even smart. But they were elected. Whatever you think of Trump, he will, like every President before him, eventually leave office and go home. Chill, have a couple of drinks, and let him go.

    1. The Man,

      “So a person who has no provable existence”

      If you think the NYT is lying, you’re kidding yourself.

      “Trump is a stoopid doodyhead ”

      By now the evidence that Trump’s associates consider him to be a reckless clown is very strong. Many news stories, several books.

      “The news is that every effort is being made to depress voter turnout among people who might vote for a GOP Congress”

      Suppressing voter turnout is mostly being done by the GOP. For example, countless instances of having few voting stations — with short hours — in areas with large minority populations.

  4. It’s interesting how incapable Trump is at heading off disloyal elements, or even recognising them, he is obviously a smart guy, he knows how to work a crowd, but on the personal level he seems not to understand peoples motivations.
    I’ve meet a few Trump like characters in my working life, usually guys that run their own business, flattery and appeasement usually works with them, don’t challenge them head on, let them know you respect their experience, and defer to there judgement, always give them credit for your ideas(“i was thinking about what you said boss, what if I…”), and never try to pressure them into a decision cause they like pressure as much as they like to fight.

    Although Alpha is over used those days, Trump is a classic Alpha personality, unfortunately he seems to want to assert his dominance through force, rather than building alliances (more chest beating, less mutual grooming).
    His need to put himself (the USA seems to be an extension of his ego) in the dominant position is leading to him taking decisions that are self harming.

    Take the trade negotiations with Europe, Trump begins to bully the EU on trade tariffs by hitting them with steel tariffs saying that EU tariffs on cars are unfair, the EU retaliates by targeting Republican states with sanctions on important state industries. Then Junker arrives and says very conciliatory things to Trump, says that he has made very important points on car tariffs, and that the EU will look to move toward US demands. Feeling that maybe he has been out maneuvered a little Trump declares that he would like all tariffs removed on cars and light trucks, the EU commision almost takes his hand off. Say what you want about Obama, but he would never have given away access to the American light truck market so easily.

    1. Gerard,

      “It’s interesting how incapable Trump is at heading off disloyal elements, or even recognising them”

      Clown.

      “he is obviously a smart guy”

      Why do you say that? He inherited a fortune, and in a lifetime of strong economic growth has managed to not lose it. We don’t know his wealth, but it does not appear to have grown.

      Don’t confuse money and brains.

    2. I’m not, he can work a crowd, run a successful campaign, manage not to lose any money doing it. Dont dismiss him as an idiot, that’s what all the other presidential hopefuls did. I’m pointing out significant character flaws, and how they are undermining what was once a strong position.

    3. Gerard,

      “Dont dismiss him as an idiot, that’s what all the other presidential hopefuls did.”

      He’s not a “idiot.” I doubt any of the other candidates believed that.

      They believed he had minimal managerial competence, no clear understanding of policy or politics, and a temperment quite unsuited for a president. They were astonished that almost half of American voters selected him. But then a large fraction of Americans thought that Sarah Palin was a political whiz and should be VP.

      As I’ve said before, our elites believe — increasingly believe — that Americans are no longer capable of self-government. Time will show if they are correct.

  5. I have a different take on Trump, and opinion to what is happening. Trump sees interactions different than most people, especially persons who want Washington to reflect what they themselves are comfortable with.Thomas Stephen Szasz remarked “Crazy people are just like normal people, only more so.” Trump fits this bill for them but not lots of Americans, IMO.

    I see lots of speculation about Trump, but the only conclusion I see evidence strongly supporting is that he is a real butthole. But being such does not make one crazy, and it is not illegal. Being wrong or even stupid about policy isn’t either.

    I also see that the evidence to date supports Caitlin’s observation that it doesn’t make sense. So let me offer my opinion on what I think the evidence indicates.

    Both parties want a President. Both parties want an imperial President who can use their power. Congress does not want to be responsible in such a way as to affect their re-election. Thus both parties want to hobble a President of the other party, but not actually make impeaching and convicting a President easy. Thus all the sound and fury with nothing getting done about the conviction of a President.

    I think Sasse had something to say that needs to be considered:

    https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2018/09/04/sen_ben_sasse_supreme_court_must_not_become_substitute_political_battleground_.html

    The consideration is where are we failing in impeachment and why, if you believe in conviction and removal is the goal.

    IMO, if “This week’s news are two more volleys attacking Trump’s support” the cannoneers need to be replaced. As evidenced by Caitlin’s point “Trump loyalists feeling completely vindicated in the belief that all of their conspiracy theories have been proven correct” I would not expect a loss of base. I have to ask, how does vindicating a person’s Tribal belief, in a tribal war, cause that someone to want to leave the tribe?

    IMO, it appears more likely to me that distraction and camouflage are being pursued by those who want to work their will. Any secondary benefit will be secondary, not primary.

  6. New job data reported today. 225,000+ jobs added. Construction worker’s wages are rising. Yesterday approval number reported at 44%. It doesn’t look bad for “the orange clown”, the NYC Arse. He and DeNiro are two peas in a pod.

    I’m glad you posted that link to your previous post about removing Trump. I read it again to refresh and reassure myself. Excellent Post!

    Trump did just as I expected. He kicked the furniture all around D.C. He rattled the cages all over the world. Mostly I wanted him instead of Clinton because she would have been more difficult to impeach.

    I watch what is going on since the election with glee. I enjoy it because of the liveliness and drama. I can enjoy it in the knowledge and belief in your post about our country being well governed. I have hope and try to stay positive.

    I pray we come through this better off. We work to make it happen.

    Longtrail CMC Out.

    P.S. CMC is an inside joke for Bill Lind. If you have read Victoria by Thomas Hobbes, I know you get it.

    1. Longtrail,

      (1) “New job data reported today. 225,000+ jobs added.”

      That’s only sorta true. Job growth — year over year percent change in non-farm jobs — has been flattish for seven years. The August number is in the lower end of the range. The numbers are noisy, so YoY is the best way to see the trend. It peaked in February 2015, and has been in slow decline since then. A decline which has continued thru Trump’s term.

      YoY Percent Job Growth thru August 2018.

       

      (2) “Construction worker’s wages are rising.”

      That’s trivia pursuit, not politics or economics. Real wage growth was strong during the last two years of Obama’s term. It’s negative now, and getting more so — because inflation is rising faster than wages. It’s called the “money illusion”, as people believe they’re getting ahead — but are falling behind. Trump’s massive debt-fueled fiscal stimulus will boost inflation AND the national debt. It might go into the history books as the worst economic policy error since Bush Jr’s massive debt-fueled tax cut (under Clinton we were on target to payoff the national debt in a decade or so).

      YoY change in Hourly Wage Growth vs. Inflation

       

      (3) “I enjoy it because of the liveliness and drama”

      Yes, that’s exactly why America is going down the toilet. See this post.

      (4) “I can enjoy it in the knowledge and belief in your post about our country being well governed.”

      I first wrote that seven years ago (and have repeated it many times). I said that America is well-governed by and for the 1%. Repeat: they will govern in their own best interests, not ours. Just as shepherds take care of sheep, but for their own ends.

    2. Here is one news thread that perhaps FM could pursue. I just saw an article at Yahoo News (aggregated from Huff Post or Salon, can’t remember) in which it is claimed that opioid use is lowering workforce participation rates in many states of the US. I suspect false causality or at least causality that is much more complex than that. I doubt most people even know what workforce participation rate is, how it is measured, and what its situation is right now for the US.

  7. Fabius,

    I have read your link on item#3 and that post was also very good. Your Quote about the “Good Shepherds” was ingrained when I read it. I quote you on that and the “monkeys in the Control Room of a Nuke Plant”.

    Thanks for the graphs and data to give me a better picture. As for my opening paragraph, I was quoting Drudge headlines. I take all that with a bucket of salt.

    Thank you for your reply.

    Warm regards.

    1. Longtrail,

      Good point about Drudge. If I might quote another of my fav sayings: “We’re ignorant because we read the news.”

      BUT — I’m not sure if that is correct. What’s the causality? Perhaps we get the kind of news we demand. It’s a free market, so the news media companies have to provide what we want.

  8. I think a lot of why the Republican elite have been OK with the Donald is that he has thus far almost entirely done their policy preferences. Once Kavanaugh is on the SCOTUS they may decide they’ve gotten all they can out of him.

    The Democratic elite probably thinks they can whip Pence in the election. (Given that he was having trouble in Indiana prior to getting on the ticket, I think they are, if perhaps not totally correct, not hallucinating.) They may also reckon that Pence is basically making domestic policy anyway, so the main difference would be removing the small-but-non-zero chance of Tweet-induced Armageddon.

    1. SF,

      “I think a lot of why the Republican elite have been OK with the Donald is that he has thus far almost entirely done their policy preferences”

      I agree. That this would be so was obvious from his initial appointments (people are policy). But he is wandering off the reservation with his disinterest in the laboriously started New Cold War, his attempts to start a new cycle of trade wars, his growing instability, and the growing scandals. I predicted after his election that the GOP leadership might eventually find Trump to be more liability than asset. IMO, that’s still the way to bet.

      “The Democratic elite probably thinks they can whip Pence in the election.”

      That’s a great point, one that I had not considered. Pence would be a more effective conservative President than Trump, but as 2020 approaches preparing for the next term becomes more important than this term. I find it difficult to imagine that Trump would be more difficult to bear in 2020 than Pence, but who can tell in these strange days.

      The Nov elections will reveal much.

    2. “I find it difficult to imagine that Trump would be more difficult to bear in 2020 than Pence, but who can tell in these strange days.”

      Trump is able to make the entire news media apparatus look at his butt, like the proverbial monkey up a flagpole, and is also able to rally his base pretty effectively. (We will see to a real extent how far that gets him in this midterm.) Pence is much less inspiring if you are not already in his affinity group – and that affinity group is doctrinaire Republican for the most part already.

    3. SF,

      “Pence is much less inspiring if you are not already in his affinity group”

      After 19 months of Trump, that is extremely true of Trump as well.

      Also, few Presidents are “inspiring.” Generally presidents are elected for being competent and experienced. Wanting “inspiring”, like a rock star, is a recent fetish of American voters. It’s a sign of senescence in of the Republic that voters have become like children. It’s one of the many reasons the 1% consider themselves best fit to rule America.

  9. Trump has repeatedly shown that the bipartisan Washington establishment has no clothes. He has disrupted a corrupt system. The Military Industrial Media Intelligence Complex has been exposed and the neocons are off in NeverTrump lunacy.

    If the Republicans impeach Trump, it will kill the party. It is pure politics now, and, even if they don’t like it, they have to stand behind him.

    The scandal of the week is prue soap opera and holds the attention of the people, whose jobs are getting better and better paid.

    Trump’s deviations from Republican norms on trade and alliances and such, are really a return to traditional norms. Liberal internationalism of Woodrow Wilson is the deviation from American norms and far from true Republicanism.

    I have been very surprised by Trump’s successes so far. This is Trump’s economy and he is restoring what never should have been destroyed. That he has done so in face of the most hostile and biased media ever faced by a president is remarkable.

    Trump most likely will have 2 full terms. In the process, he will correct the courts, our foreign policy, our trade policy, and our economy. And many people will resist acknowledging how remarkable his presidency actually was….

    1. Gaius,

      (1) “Trump has repeatedly shown that the bipartisan Washington establishment has no clothes. He has disrupted a corrupt system. The Military Industrial Media Intelligence Complex has been exposed and the neocons are off in NeverTrump lunacy.”

      Trump has implemented standard GOP policies, except for his mad efforts to start a trade war. His intemperate tweets and possibility of revelations from Mueller probably worry GOP leaders. The former is serious. Such things have gotten many CEOs fired.

      However, as I have repeated said since the election (most recently in Hidden polls show Trump’s defense against impeachment), the GOP cannot move against Trump while he has high job approval among the GOP core.

      (2) “This is Trump’s economy”

      It is a long-standing but daft American tradition to blame or reward Presidents for the economy. Much like primitive tribes hold their Chief responsible for the rains. In fact, the President has little effect on the economy — and what tools he has take 18 – 24 months to begin to take effect.

      The current economic acceleration began in 2015, under Obama (although he had little to do with it).

      The Fed has a much greater influence on the economy through its influence on interest rates and lending. But it is unclear if they have any substantial role in this acceleration.

      More probably, the economy just took a long time to recover from the great recession, and has now resume its normal growth path.

  10. Larry,

    Without Trump’s policies, this economy would still be in the deep doldrums of the Bush-Obama era.

    It isn’t just the tax cuts. It isn’t just the deregulation.

    It is fighting for the American worker. It is rejecting globalism. It is junking bad trade deals. It is fighting immigration.

    Trump isn’t following the GOPe playbook of the last 30 years.

    Over the last 30 years, open borders plus free trade have been the biggest redistribution of wealth plan in American history. The American working and middle class were fleeced and the money given to the domestic rich and the Chinese.

    Wages stagnanted since 1972, adjusted for inflation, after America became free trade nation. Compensation became divorced from productivity for the first time in American history.

    We went from a world in 1970 where a high school drop out could earn a middle class income to a world today with college grads being unemployed with a huge debt.

    Trump is not following the GOPe playbook. If Jeb were president, he would be doing a lot of things differently, not the least of which would be pushing amnesty and appointing moderate weak judges.

    No other Republican candidate would have put in Trump’s policies, though Cruz would have been the closest. I doubt the economy would have been above 2.3% GDP growth with Jeb, if that.

    And any Republican president was going to be savaged by the contemporary extremely biased media. Every Republican is a fascist racist after all, whether it be McCain, Romney, GWB, or anyone else.

    The Republican Party was happy to lose to Hillary. The oligarchs want open borders and free trade and world policeman, and do not give a damn about the country and the people.

    Trump was not my guy. I was extremely disappointed he was the nominee. But I have been very happy with his policies so far and celebrate how he is correcting the errors of the neocons and libertarians that entered into the Republican Party.

    1. Gaius,

      “Without Trump’s policies, this economy would still be in the deep doldrums of the Bush-Obama era.”

      Not even remotely true. I explained that in my comment. It’s Economics 101.

  11. Gaius Gracchus is quite correct. Economics 101 demonstrates that Obama was on the road to disaster which Clinton would have happily maintained.

    1. Lucius,

      “Economics 101 demonstrates that Obama was on the road to disaster”

      What was this “road to disaster”?

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