The Open Thread for July 31, 2017

David Smith on the disastrous week that was for Donald Trump.  “What went wrong? Take your pick: healthcare, transgender troops, the fallout from his savaging of Jeff Sessions, the Boy Scouts speech – it was the worst week in Trump’s short presidency.

In five torrid days, the US president alienated conservatives by savaging his own attorney general; earned a rebuke from the Pentagon over a rushed ban on transgender troops; watched impotently as the Senate dealt a crushing blow to his legislative agenda with the fall of healthcare reform; ousted Priebus; and threw a human grenade – the new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci – into his already dysfunctional White House.”

“Hackers at at a competition in Las Vegas were able to successfully breach the software of U.S. voting machines in just 90 minutes on Friday, illuminating glaring security deficiencies in America’s election infrastructure,” The Hill reports.

“Weary Republicans in Washington may be ready to move on from health care, but conservatives across the United States are warning the GOP-led Congress not to abandon its pledge to repeal the Obama-era health law — or risk a political nightmare in next year’s elections,” the AP reports.

“The Senate’s failure to pass a repeal has triggered a new wave of fear and outrage among the party. Conservative groups say senators who voted against the bill are ‘sellouts.’… Trump’s allies pledge to run conservative challengers against uncooperative Republicans. And party leaders are warning of deep disillusionment and cynicism among the most passionate GOP voters.”

National Review: “Trump is the political version of a pickup artist, and Republicans — and America — went to bed with him convinced that he was something other than what he is. Trump inherited his fortune but describes himself as though he were a self-made man. We did not elect Donald Trump; we elected the character he plays on television.”

“He has had a middling career in real estate and a poor one as a hotelier and casino operator but convinced people he is a titan of industry. He has never managed a large, complex corporate enterprise, but he did play an executive on a reality show. He presents himself as a confident ladies’ man but is so insecure that he invented an imaginary friend to lie to the New York press about his love life and is now married to a woman who is open and blasé about the fact that she married him for his money. He fixates on certain words (‘negotiator’) and certain classes of words (mainly adjectives and adverbs, ‘bigly,’ ‘major,’ ‘world-class,’ ‘top,’ and superlatives), but he isn’t much of a negotiator, manager, or leader. He cannot negotiate a health-care deal among members of a party desperate for one, can’t manage his own factionalized and leak-ridden White House, and cannot lead a political movement that aspires to anything greater than the service of his own pathetic vanity.”

Speaker Paul Ryan, “who spent weeks urging his members to hold their fire and give Senate Republicans some space to get a health care deal, didn’t hide his frustration at a closed-door meeting in the Capitol basement on Friday. He effectively threw the Senate under the bus, telling his colleagues that the House of Representatives was the only arm of the government that was working,” CNN reports.

Yelled Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL): “Low bar, low bar!”

One House GOP member in the meeting summarized Ryan’s remarks as “essentially, we are the functioning chamber. We did our work. This one is on them.”

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll finds a majority of Americans are ready to move on from healthcare reform at this point after the U.S. Senate’s effort to dismantle Obamacare failed .

“Nearly two-thirds of the country wants to either keep or modify the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, and a majority of Americans want Congress to turn its attention to other priorities.”

Jack Goldsmith: “The Trump Presidency is a strange combination of menacing and impotent.  It is also fractured internally like no presidency in American history.”

“The menacing element is plain.  Trump sets everyone on edge with incessant verbal attacks and relentlessly indecorous behavior.  The maelstrom that is his presidency seems like it could at any moment push the country off the rails—massive pardons to kill the Russia investigation, a Justice Department meltdown as a result of firings and resignations, a North Korean miscalculation, or who-knows-what-other-crazy-thing.  Many people worry how the impulsive Trump will handle his first crisis.”

“As for impotence, Trump has accomplished nothing beyond conservative judicial appointments.  His administration is otherwise a comedy of errors in the exercise of executive power.  What is most remarkable is the extent to which his senior officials act as if Trump were not the chief executive.  Never has a president been so regularly ignored or contradicted by his own officials.  I’m not talking about so-called “deep state” bureaucrats.  I’m talking about senior officials in the Justice Department and the military and intelligence and foreign affairs agencies.  And they are not just ignoring or contradicting him in private.  They are doing so in public for all the world to see.”

Ruth Marcus on the instability in the White House.  “The Trump White House is imploding. The only real thing to debate in that sentence is the tense. “Has imploded” is certainly arguable. Still, as the events of the past few days have shown, implosion, in politics as in physics, is not a moment but a process. The damage continues. It builds on itself as the edifice collapses.

The temptation, of course, is to begin with Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci and his profane rant against soon-to-be-former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon.

But the more powerful, more ominous evidence of implosion and its consequences is found in the collapse of congressional efforts to repeal/replace/do something, anything, with the Republican Party’s chief nemesis over the past seven years: the Affordable Care Act.”

Jonathan Stevenson on why we can’t count on generals to save the day.  “At the beginning of the administration, most Democrats (myself included), and even a few Republicans, publicly hoped that a cadre of generals and former generals — Mr. Mattis, John Kelly at Homeland Security, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster at the National Security Council (who replaced retired Gen. Michael Flynn, a Trump loyalist) — would check Mr. Trump’s worse instincts. On Friday, Mr. Trump moved Mr. Kelly into the White House to serve as his chief of staff, replacing Reince Priebus, asserting that his military background would bring order to a tumultuous executive.

But six months later, it seems that hope was misplaced. The generals have done little to curb Mr. Trump, let alone give some shape to a dangerously incoherent foreign policy.

Consider North Korea: As Pyongyang defiantly ignored Mr. Trump’s martial strutting, he indicated that the United States was counting on the Chinese to bring financial pressure; praised the skills of Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader; and offered to negotiate. A few months later, Mr. Trump has already ditched that approach, closing the door on the Chinese and going back to military threats.”

This story reads like a shot across the bow of Team Biden, what with the focus of the story mostly on the affair of Hunter and Hallie Biden.




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5 comments on “The Open Thread for July 31, 2017

  1. cassandram

    And Scaramucci is out.

    At least as WH Comms Director.

  2. Ah there’s good news tonight! Word is he’s not circling the bowl but well and truly flushed. But we shall see, we shall see.

  3. I wonder how this whole turn of events will impact his already tenuous claim to tax breaks on his sale of Skybridge. His stupidity has likely cost him millions.

  4. Not that his going will make a damn bit of difference – after all, we’ve seen this show before.

  5. LOL!

    Simon Maloy‏Verified account @SimonMaloy

    Scaramucci resigning to spend less time with his family

    BTW, does Trump spend any time with Baron? I never see them together. I could be missing it, tho.

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