The Open Thread for February 18, 2017

Ryan Lizza says Trump needs an enemy: “Last week, a senior White House official shared a candid theory with me about why President Donald Trump and his team have been adrift since November: they’ve yet to adjust to the post-election reality, and they haven’t yet learned how to operate without a single, common enemy—Hillary Clinton—to focus on. It was a frank admission that a team built for winning a campaign has so far failed at governing.”

“Incoming Presidents usually trade in some of their political tacticians for experienced Washington hands when they take office, but Trump installed his entire senior campaign leadership into top positions in the White House, a place where few of them have ever worked before.”

As if on cue…

Playbook says Republicans could not have had a worse start: “Republicans control the White House and both houses of Congress for the first time in more than a decade. After eight years of Barack Obama, GOP lawmakers had big plans: repeal Obamacare, overhaul the tax code, pass a massive infrastructure, just to name a few. But so far, Republicans have made little progress on any of President Donald Trump’s grandiose campaign promises and the daily dramas of his administration are starting to take their toll on everyone, most notably elected officials on the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue.”

“Republicans say they won’t be distracted by his tweets or his missives, but they are starting to be the defining characteristic of his administration. Trump’s press conference on Thursday was supposed to be a reset moment. Instead, the event became an extended sideshow of epic proportions. It’s unclear how, or if, Trump will be able to lead his administration into calmer waters.”

Mike Allen says Republicans are starting to get worried: “Top Republicans tell us they’re as rattled as ever by President Trump and his White House — and want an intervention. Their gravest long-term concern (beyond the Russia scandal): Trump’s devil-may-care effort to run the free world in the same improvisational, family-focused style that worked so well with for his campaign and business.”

“To Trump, this will feel laughably familiar to the Republican establishment whining when he announced, when he won the nomination, when he stumbled in debates, when he surely couldn’t win the presidency. He truly believes this had been the best start to a presidency in history, and no one around would ever disagree to his face.”

“John McCain is increasingly mad as hell about President Trump. And on Friday, he went after Trump — hard,” the Washington Post reports.

“During a speech at the Munich Security Conference in Germany, the Republican senator from Arizona delivered a pointed and striking point-by-point takedown of Trump’s worldview and brand of nationalism. McCain didn’t mention Trump’s name once, but he didn’t have to.”

“The White House budget office has drafted a hit list of programs that President Trump could eliminate to trim domestic spending, including longstanding conservative targets like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Legal Services Corporation, AmeriCorps and the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities,” the New York Times reports.

“Work on the first Trump administration budget has been delayed as the budget office awaited Senate confirmation of former Representative Mick Mulvaney, a spending hard-liner, as budget director. Now that he is in place, his office is ready to move ahead with a list of nine programs to eliminate, an opening salvo in the Trump administration’s effort to reorder the government and increase spending on defense and infrastructure.”

Robert Harward made his decision to decline the role of National Security Advisor after watching President Trump’s press conference, NBC News reports.

A new Gallup poll finds a record-high 72% of Americans see foreign trade as an opportunity for economic growth.   This is up sharply from 58% last year, after much debate about trade during the presidential election cycle.

A new Des Moines Register poll finds 42% of Iowans approve of the job President Trump is doing, while 49% disapprove.  “Trump won Iowa on his way to the White House by 9 percentage points in November, his widest victory among states believed by many to be swing states.”

Washington Post says the Trump family lifestyle is costing taxpayers a fortune. “Barely a month into the Trump presidency, the unusually elaborate lifestyle of America’s new first family is straining the Secret Service and security officials, stirring financial and logistical concerns in several local communities, and costing far beyond what has been typical for past presidents — a price tag that, based on past assessments of presidential travel and security costs, could balloon into the hundreds of millions of dollars over the course of a four-year term.”

“Adding to the costs and complications is Trump’s inclination to conduct official business surrounded by crowds of people, such as his decision last weekend to host Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for a working dinner while Mar-a-Lago members dined nearby.”

­­­­­ Time: “Little takes place in the White House these days without a complication or contradiction… The result of all the melodrama is a sense of constant chaos for a watchful nation and a crippling anxiety for White House officials. Some aides now refuse to communicate by email… Others are skittish about even picking up the phones…. At the center of this tempest of confusion Trump has continued to hold court and set the tone, doing things as he has always done them, in his own way.”

“Ultimately, Trump is the only person who can calm the storm, fan it further or just let the show go on. Aides say he would like there to be less celebrity-like coverage of every staff skirmish, and he has become increasingly concerned about the leaking, from within both the White House and the intelligence community. But he has so far resisted many binding efforts to create a more conventional order around him, encouraging aides who color outside the lines on television, maintaining walk-in power for each of his senior staff members and starting each morning with a tweetstorm that often upends the news cycle in unexpected ways. Bottle up the disruptive methods and Trump fears he could lose the magic that made him President.”

CBS News: “While Rex Tillerson is on his first overseas trip as Secretary of State, his aides laid off staff at the State Department on Thursday. Much of the seventh-floor staff, who work for the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources and the Counselor offices, were told that their services were no longer needed.”

“These staffers in particular are often the conduit between the secretary’s office to the country bureaus, where the regional expertise is centered. Inside the State Department, some officials fear that this is a politically-minded purge that cuts out much-needed expertise from the policy-making, rather than simply reorganizing the bureaucracy.”

“There are clear signals being sent that many key foreign policy portfolios will be controlled directly by the White House, rather than through the professional diplomats.

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

2 comments on “The Open Thread for February 18, 2017

  1. Steven Newton

    What happens when the military is the only organization left with a functional administrative bureaucracy?

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