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Trump and Circumstance
Live-Blogging Trump’s Address To Congress [CLOSED]

10:25 HZC: Try to watch Gov. Beshear from the perspective of a Bernie-supporting college student — someone angry about Ellison losing. That crowd isn’t buying this speech. The question is whether Democrats can calm the base enough to move to the center as Beshear is doing now, or whether the future of the party really is in the hands of the identity politicians.

10:24 JW: The tone of the Democratic reply to Trump’s address seems substantially less left-wing than Hillary Clinton’s campaign—evidence that Trump has moved the political center of gravity to the right in a major way.

10:22 WRM: The speech seemed to demonstrate that the political ideas and sensibility that President Trump brought to national politics is here to stay.

The Democratic response given by exactly the kind of person that many leading Democrats are trying to marginalize: centrist, fiscally responsible southern white men.

10:14 NMG: Now that it’s over, safe to point out that not a word was said about any supposed amnesty plans. According to CNN he actually did say something earlier today at the White House, so maybe something will happen. But clearly it is not enough of a White House priority to make it even into a laundry-list speech that mentioned immigration in several places, as was speculated. Much of the media spent the afternoon chasing their tails on this. Entire news cycles have become just not worth listening to lately; it’s a real problem.

10:10 WRM: The strongest Trump speech I’ve seen. The speech unifies Republicans, puts Democrats on the defensive, and didn’t give an inch on his core issues.

10:06 HZC: Three times he has said 250 years since the Declaration. It has been 241…

10:05 NMG: “America is friends today with former enemies…” Not a coincidence that CNN then cuts to Sen. John McCain, who’s been instrumental in repairing our ties with Vietnam—which now stands at the center of our anti-China policy.

10:04 WRM: Jacksonian foreign policy here: if other countries don’t attack us, they can live however they want.

10:03 WRM: European leaders have given Trump one of his biggest wins by a) failing to pay up under Obama and b) giving in to Trump.

10:01 NMG: There’s something deeply unseemly about showcasing grieving families on national television for transient telegenic moments, and that it’s become a traditional part of the SOTU makes it no better.

9:56 NMG: During the buildup to the 1924 restrictionist bill, sensationalized stories of immigrant crime – both in the form of gang crime (the Italian mob), terrorism (Eastern European anarchists), and random street crime – proved remarkably effective, if very dirty, way of mobilizing support for the restrictionist cause. President Trump is playing with some tropes with very ugly antecedents here in American history here—but critics should not underestimate the potency of what he’s doing, either.

It’s fine to be appalled by the idea that the President wants to feed stereotypes about all aliens being criminals; it would be a grave mistake to do so in ways that sound like you care more about speaking in politically correct ways than about the victims of violent crime.

9:56 WRM: Every right wing politician in Europe is watching this speech. And learning.

9:53 WRM: Trump understands that support for the police is one of the most powerful political themes in American culture.

9:52 NMG: Things that have not changed, part II: the Democrats still have to stand and clap for the pro-cop lines.

9:51 NMG: The fact that Trump did not actually mention a Right to Try bill in a section that so clearly alluded to its core concept — that the terminally ill should be free to try drugs before they’ve cleared every bit of FDA tape to make them “safe”— indicates how divorced from setting concrete policy ‘asks’ this speech has been. Maybe that’s smart; most Americans don’t care about the technical details, and those who do — largely in DC — will know what the President is talking about anyway. Or maybe it will make it difficult to link the speech to drives for real policy deliverables.

9:50 JW: Trumpism (so far) is looking like conservative boilerplate with a dash of working class-bait on immigration,trade and culture thrown in.

9:47 NMG: The rare disease portion of this event reminds me of Joe Biden’s cancer moonshot—and of how like Biden Trump is, in many ways. They share skills that have helped both of their careers, and that many of their colleagues lack.

9:46 WRM: Paid family leave: the Liberal (i.e. conservative) government in Australia did very well with this.

9:45 NMG: One of the reasons for major addresses like the State of the Union is supposedly to make clear to the Executive departments what the President’s priorities are. This speech has been a laundry list – and a very long one, of many major requests. If you were an executive-branch functionary, would you have any idea which of them the President wanted you to prioritize? (The fact that several hundred positions remain as of yet unfilled exacerbates this problem.)

9:44 JW: Trump’s healthcare “principles”—focusing on health savings accounts and federalism—closely mirror Tom Price’s plan—the consensus approach among Republicans.

9:44 WRM: Which state will become the Delaware of health insurance?

9:44 WRM: At talk of lower drug prices, the Dems rise.

9:43 WRM: A Jacksonian approach to health care: help from the government to buy the plan that you want.

9:42 WRM: As the speech wears on, Trump veers off-script more. This could get very interesting.

9:41 WRM: This is the most polarized reaction to a Joint Address I’ve ever seen.

9:40 NMG: We’ve written about the turn toward legal immigration restrictionism for the last eighteen months (see here), following a historic pattern of America in America of veering from wide-open periods in immigration to very restricted ones. We’re not at the total restriction of 1924 yet, but we’re definitely in a different phase than we were even a few years ago, when a bill that would not only grant amnesty but practically double legal immigration enjoyed bipartisan support.

9:39 HZC: There’s a lot of truth to this “we make bad deals” rhetoric. Compared even to other developed countries, America gets terrible results for very high cost on health care, infrastructure, education, and many other key services. See Tyler Cowen on this from a few days ago.

9:37 WRM: A third ring of suburbs?

9:36 NMG: Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada has preened himself mightily over Trump’s refugee EO, and liberal Americans have genuflected his way. Let’s see what they make of this.

The American immigration system is one of the foremost instances of American exceptionalism. It’s a shame President Trump’s opponents spent the last eight years talking that phrase more or less out of the national vocabulary.

9:34 WRM: Ryan stands on a Trump trade line; the apocalypse is near.

9:33 NMG: Trump’s approach to the Islamic world, in this speech at least, is very Jacksonian: no better friend, no worse enemy. (To steal a line from classical history that’s enjoyed a newfound popularity in the U.S. military.) We stand with our allies, our enemies are to be wiped from the face of the earth. But it remains to be seen how well this will work, particularly given the contrast with his rhetoric on the executive order, where the dichotomy is Muslim nations versus others, rather than friends versus enemies. But American commentators may be underestimating something: the Sunni nations who are our most important allies are locked in what they see as existential struggles with Iran and with destabilizing jihadi forces. (In that order—which may or may not be Trump’s.) The promise of loyal friendship to those who help us, and eternal enmity to mutual enemies, may outweigh some visa troubles in the minds of their governments.

9:32 WRM: One of Trump’s strongest assets, in the campaign and now: the foreign policy establishment has been responsible for a succession of, as he says, ‘tragic failures’, but has shown no real sign of a creative rethink.

9:31 HZC: It’s a pretty effective speech so far. Clearly laying out what seem to most Americans like obvious goals of their government. Fight terror, secure the border, etc. The issues on which Trump was elected, but expounded on in the form of a more-eloquent-than-usual speech.

9:30 DM: As the language gets more truculent, the President hits his stride. Trump’s age is a savage one.

9:28 WRM: Andrew Jackson smiling from the Great Beyond as Trump denounces the ‘network of lawless savages.’

9:26 JW: It was widely reported that Flynn’s replacement as National Security Adviser, H.R. McMaster, lobbied Trump to back off the term “radical Islamic terror.” Apparently McMaster has not prevailed on him (at least not yet).

9:25 WRM: Major divide: the Democrats don’t stand for the war on terror applause line.

9:22 WRM: This speech is also aimed at splitting white working class voters even farther from the Democrats. As Senator Joe Manchin’s applause indicates, it’s working.

9:19 WRM: This part of the speech is the worst nightmare for Democrats. How can you not applaud these things? They’re very popular, but Democrats have to sit there silently.

9:17 WRM: Trump doubles down on every promise he made during the campaign. A lot of hostages being given to fortune tonight.

9:15 DM: Trump’s got a new fitted suit—looking statesman-like—but he looks uncomfortable in it, constrained. And he’s not channeling this supposed optimism well. No “American Carnage”, this speech.

9:12 JW: Trump has so far refused to condemn high-profile hate crimes of the last few weeks; he has responded defensively to allegations that his campaign or rhetoric was related to such acts. But he just bit the bullet and said the words his critics wanted. They make it easy for him—he will get a lot of credit for jumping through a tiny hoop.

9:09 WRM: Standing ovation for President Trump at the start; not all DC traditions have died in the new era.

9:09 HZC: 

8:58 JW: From PJ Media:

The editor of The New Yorker, David Remnick, says that the Russians weren’t trying to aid Trump’s campaign; he says they were trying to destabilize Hillary’s inevitable presidency. His contention is that, like everyone in the media, the Russians thought that Secretary Clinton was going to be the 45th president, and the hacks and leaks they released were intended to damage her leadership. Remnick says that the Russians are actually now fearful of Trump’s off-the-cuff attitudes and that “there’s a lot of buyer’s remorse.” This totally flies in the face of the liberal narrative that the Russians essentially put President Trump in the Oval Office.

As Trump prepares to deliver his first address to Congress, we have noticed a substantial shift in opinion on Trump’s Russia connections. Even center-left partisans seem to be backing off the idea that Russians were engaged in a conspiracy to try to elect Trump president of the United States. That doesn’t mean there aren’t still important questions about potential contacts between Trump and the Kremlin, but the more hysterical tinfoil-hat allegations seem to be declining in significance. See Walter Russell Mead’s essay about how the media went off the rails with the “Putin’s puppet” narrative.

8:55 NMG: It seems coincidental, even symbolic, that President Trump’s first Joint Address comes on Carnival (or Mardi Gras.) The President’s critics see Trump’s election as an outpouring of the grotesqueries in American life, of aspects of behavior and the psyche that should normally be kept under control. They view his Administration itself as a Carnivalesque freakshow. But The Donald himself, the consummate showman, would be the first to acknowledge that the people like a show—and that it’s been to his advantage (and a sign that he understand them) to give them one from time to time. Stephen Bannon would probably argue also that there are parts of the spirit that should be given their season, and that for too long have been repressed—that what has resulted from this Puritanical repression has been twisted and self-serving hypocrisy, rather than a pure spirit of public service, and that he is restoring the balance. Either way, we’d better hope the nation as a whole does not wind up in sackcloth and ashes come our (figurative) tomorrow.

8:52 WRM: Many Republicans are rending their garments and wearing sackcloth and ashes over Trump’s evident refusal to take on entitlement spending in his first budget. They should calm down. Despite the DC urban legend that presidents should take on the tough issues early in their tenure, it’s actually much smarter for any president, and especially this one, to win peoples’ trust before taking unpopular steps.

The presidency, despite President Obama’s boasts about his phone and his signing pen, is not as powerful an office as many think, especially where domestic policy is concerned. Presidential powers on paper are limited; what makes presidents loom large is their ability to browbeat and intimidate opponents. That power waxes and wanes with presidenital popularity. A president whose favorability ratings are in the high sixties is like the 900 gorilla; he sleeps wherever he wants. Congressmen would vote to raise their mothers’ taxes to get a photo op with the president then. But let those popularity numbers drop into the thirties, and the bully pulpit stops working.

It’s possible that someday the American people will be willing to see Washington deal with entitlements, but for that to happen there would need to be much more confidence in the abilities and the good intentions of the political elite than Americans now have.

If Trump wanted to take on entitlement reform, he’d first need to pile up a lot of political capital, and a lot of trust in the bank. The way to do that is to honor a critical mass of your campaign promises, enact some high profile legislative changes that your constituents like, and hope that the economy does well and that your poll numbers rise. Once that happens, and people begin to trust you, you can take on some tougher tasks.

The Jacksonian core of Trump’s support is much less interested in budget deficits than in the protection of government programs that help the middle class — especially after decades of worsening economic outlook for the white working class.

Trump didn’t get where he is by telling voters things they didn’t want to hear; it would be the biggest surprise of the evening if President Trump calls for any cuts in middle class entitlements. Those are exactly what he was elected to protect.

8:46 WRM: As President Trump prepares for his first appearance before the joint houses of Congress, there is no sign that the upheaval that his election signaled has come to an end. He hasn’t filled the White House with frontier revelers in coonskin caps, but many in the Establishment would prefer drunken pioneers, fleas and all, to some of the White House appointments the new president has made.

The biggest question before the country today is whether the new President can assemble a governing coalition in Congress — and for what policies? The Democrats loathe him; so do many Republicans. Neither party establishment really wishes him to succeed. What holds many Republicans in line is the fear that angry Trump voters in their districts will primary them if they don’t support President Trump, but if Trump should lose his hold on his base, that threat would dissipate. Recent outsider politicians at the state level — pro wrestler Jesse Ventura in Minnesota and Arnold Schwartzenneger in California — disappointed in office.

To hold his base, Trump must stoke the flames of populist revolt and indignation that got him this far; to succeed long term, he has to work out a deal with a part of the Washington establishment that his base despises. It’s a tough job, and there is absolutely no guarantee that he will succeed; tonight we  will begin to see how he hopes to thread the needle.

8:43 WRM: This remains one of the most dramatic presidential transitions in history. One of the most dramatic came in 1801, when Thomas Jefferson and his Democrats replaced John Adams and the Federalists after a hard fought campaign that some feared would divide the country. It was the year after George Washington died; many wondered if the country he so laboriously had assembled would remain united in his absence. Jefferson rose to the occasion, called for national unity, and, though party divisions would remain, an important precedent had been set: the transfer of power in the United States from one party to another would proceed peacefully if not always graciously.

The next fraught transition saw the inauguration of Andrew Jackson, the controversial backwoods populist who most of the Washington elite viewed with the mix of horror and contempt they now reserve for Donald Trump. Jackson rubbed their noses in the drama of transition, throwing the White House open for an all-comers-welcome inauguration bash that saw grizzeled frontiersmen in coonskin caps swilling cider and wine where Dolly Madison had once entertained. Jackson’s administration would be as tumultuous as his inauguration; he picked one fight after another with the establishment of the day, culminating in his second-term attack on the Bank of the United States. At one point Jackson’s entire cabinet with one exception resigned in protest at what they saw as his disregard of basic moral standards. If Donald Trump’s entire cabinet resigns in his first term, and he closes down the Federal Reserve in his second, we’ll have some idea what it was like to live through the Jackson years.

The next big transition came in 1861, when almost half the country seceded after Lincoln’s election. Warned that his life was in danger, Lincoln entered the capital in disguise; mobs in secessionist Baltimore tried to stop trains coming from the North. Lincoln would go on to lead the country through the bloodiest conflict in our history; things had still not settled down when his assassination brought Andrew Johnson into the White House.

Grover Cleveland’s inauguration was the next shocker; his election victory was the first time the Democrats, the bulk of whose strength lay in the former Confederacy, had controlled the White House since the Civil War. The fears that Cleveland would embrace wild eyed populism or ex-Confederate disloyalty proved unfounded; he governed the country much like a moderate Republican would have done, and although he remains the only American president to serve non-continuous terms in office (1885-1889 and 1893-1897), the stability of his administration (in the face of tough economic times) demonstrated that the old era of sectional tension was fading away.

FDR’s inauguration in 1933 was another nail-biter. Not only was the country in the depths of the worst economic depression in its history; a mass bank panic swept across the country in the final weeks of the Hoover presidency, and by the time Franklin Roosevelt took the oath of office, not a single bank was open for business anywhere in the United States. This was before the era of credit cards and ATMs to say nothing of federal deposit insurance. Nobody in the United States could cash a check or get cash; nobody knew if their money would still be there when and if the banks reopened. The unemployment rate was in the neighborhood of 25 percent; the stock market had lost about 90 percent of its value, and foreign economies were in as much trouble as the United States. FDR got the banks back in business and in his first 100 days ended the drift to paralysis and collapse. It would take World War Two to truly end the Depression, but FDR’s first 100 days set the standard for all subsequent presidents.

The transition of 2017 is not, thankfully, taking place in the shadow of a depression or an impending civil war. But it is a stressful one. While Donald Trump did not gain a majority or even a plurality of the popular vote,2016 saw a sweeping repudiation of the bipartisan American establishment on an unprecedented scale. Add the Bernie vote to the Trump support, and a clear majority of Americans were voting for radical change last year.

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  • Boritz

    The TAI live blog game: far right = chug a shot of tequila.

    • Disappeared4x

      Please clarify. If TAI posts that a point made is ‘far-right’, do they have to chug a shot of tequila? Do all of us deplorables get the worm pate encrusted with Dead Sea Salt on a slice of lime before we get to chug a shot of tequila? Who’s on first?

  • WigWag

    Your live blog on election night was excellent. The best on the internet. Damir or someone at TAI should figure out how to install a reset button which makes following the live blog much easier for your loyal readers.

  • WigWag

    Watching the video of the chambers as the arrival of the President is awaited, it’s hard not too notice how truly repulsive many Democratic and Republican members of Congress truly are. Have we ever had a worse group in our legislative branch? Do these people have any redeeming values at all.

    If they weren’t so incompetent and, in many cases, even venal would Trump have won in the first place? Our Senators and Representatives represent a status quo that is destroying our country.

    • f1b0nacc1

      They are repulsive, but to be fair to them (which is more than they are to us) we must remember that television and social media bring them closer to us now, so we get to see them warts and all. Politicians are a loathesome bunch in general, I suspect the current crowd is little worse than in the past.

      • Jim__L

        John Adams complained about the general unattractiveness of the delegates to the Continental Congress.

        I guess some things never change. It doesn’t bother me that much.

        • f1b0nacc1

          you are a more reasonable man than I am…though I confess that is probably setting the bar a bit low…

  • Disappeared4x

    FLOTUS Melania, Standing ovation – nice. Normal.; and her Senior Advisor, Stephanie Winston-Wolkoff, are sitting together.

  • Disappeared4x

    Gillibrand is a better listener than Warren.

  • Disappeared4x

    Mr. Mead: Manhattan already has at least four rings of suburbs. Transportation networks, 100 mile each way commutes are not unusual.

  • Angel Martin

    “During the buildup to the 1924 restrictionist bill, sensationalized stories of immigrant crime – both in the form of gang crime (the Italian mob), terrorism (Eastern European anarchists), and random street crime – proved remarkably effective, if very dirty, way of mobilizing support for the restrictionist cause. ”

    All the speeches of politicians can’t have the impact of mass terrorist events like the Wall Street Bombing.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wall_Street_bombing

    (using a horse drawn carriage bomb didn’t endear the terrorists to animal lovers either).

  • leoj

    10:06 HZC: Three times he has said 250 years since the Declaration. It has been 241…

    I know, I keep wondering what he is talking about. I can only assume he is speaking in the future perfect tense from the standpoint of 2024.

    • Disappeared4x

      Interesting, in that, I got that he was referring to the innovations by 2026, as the bracket to his descriptor of the 100th in 1876.

      • leoj

        Right, beginning now… So where will we stand looking back eight years from now on the cusp of 250 years

        • Disappeared4x

          It does not matter if the breakthrough(s) is in nanotech, genetics, electricity. What matters is being motivated by inspiration, not fear, especially for the tinkerers, not burdened by either regulations, or the “you can’t do that” attitude that stifles too much, a bad trend of the past 15 years.

          Signing off, time to eat.

          I’ll be happy if we are getting to Normal, instead of “resistance”.

      • Jim__L

        Good lord people, haven’t you heard of rounding up?

        • Disappeared4x

          Thought I was ’rounding up’. Perhaps it was a new math test…not!

          copied from news.google, about the bracket from 1876 to 2026:
          “Trump tries on normal” Politico – ‎14 hours ago‎

          “One White House official said Vince Haley, another Trump speechwriter, had come up with the idea of framing the speech around the upcoming 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence….”

          Just love the sound of Normal today.

          • Jim__L

            I don’t think it’s necessary to infer any futurism from his comments… it’s more likely the man was being inexact. (Would that really be out of character for him?)

          • Disappeared4x

            1876 major innovations to 2026 was the frame for this speech; the theme: Renewal with Aspiration, not Fear. paraphrasing: “We will remember tonight as when a New chapter of American Greatness began”

            Only inexact in how people heard it? Does any of this matter until his next speech?

            TeamTrump will continue to act too fast for most of the media to recognize what is news.

  • WigWag

    The Democrats cannot be happy.

    • Disappeared4x

      Some of them were, by accident. Oops 🙂

    • Wayne Lusvardi

      There is nothing to unify the country around given Trump and his base are pinched between his adversaries on the Left and Right. Obamacare? Nope
      Energy? Nope
      Budget? Nope
      Defense? Nope
      Environment: Double nope
      Immigration? Nope but Trump now rumored to be seeking a compromise. But his SOTU speech and spotlighting victims of migrant crime is a bridge to nowhere to Dems.
      Infrastructure? Nope now that Jerry Brown has been caught negligent about dam safety but had plenty of bucks on hand to prevent a near catastrophic dam event but didn’t. Trump shouldn’t underwrite a choo-choo train, water tunnels under the Sacramento Delta or new dam building in California
      Was it a divide and conquer speech by necessity however?

      • Jim__L

        Trump knows he doesn’t have to worry about the Democrats, he’s run off with their base.

        Given economic success, plain facts that Trump’s opponents cries of “racism” are hysterical and inevitable assimilation will peel away enough minorities that a second term will be very likely.

        It’s far more likely that the Democrats are going to have to follow Trump’s lead (to have a prayer of winning back some of their old base) than Trump will offer substantive compromises.

    • f1b0nacc1

      My gums bleed for them

      • Disappeared4x

        A tablespoon of cod’s liver oil will help you. Them? more raw garlic please.

        • f1b0nacc1

          Garlic will help almost anything!

          • Disappeared4x

            Garlic is a miracle cure.,
            tainted with implicit bias that garlic is a Russian plot, and not tax deductible because no FDA approval…
            🙂

  • ვეფხისტყაოსანი

    NMG: on immigrant crime, read Ann Coulter’s Adios, America. Yes, it’s a long fallacy of composition — but she does point out how odd it is that a government obsessed with counting minorities has no idea how many illegal aliens are in American jails and prisons.

  • WigWag

    The weakest part of the speech was the section on Obamacare. Trump and the GOP are as clueless about fixing healthcare as the Democrats are.

    Trump talked about reducing the spiraling cost of health insurance. You can’t reduce the costs of health insurance if you don’t reduce the cost of health care. Trump got applause from both sides of the aisle when he criticized the escalating costs of prescription drugs, but drug costs account for only 10 percent of health care costs.

    Physician compensation and hospital costs are what’s driving health care inflation. If you don’t dramatically reduce physician pay and hospital charges you will never drive down health care costs and it won’t make a damn bit of difference what insurance system we adopt.

    • FriendlyGoat

      You’ll know what you’re getting when “selling insurance across state lines” is really defined. I expect it to mean no federal policy standards and the policy standards from the worst-governed state somehow imposed on citizens in all states. If this passes, I expect lowered standards to be offered to employers who will buy those lower standards over time in the same manner they replaced pension with 401K. We’ll see.

      • WigWag

        Unfortunately you are right. It will be the lowest common denominator when it comes to health insurance that we may all get stuck with.

        There is an irony here; most health insurance plans are regulated by state insurance regulators. Decisions are made locally; just the way you would think the GOP likes it.

        By creating a federal mandate requiring states to accept health insurance plans emanating in other states like it or not, you are actually federalizing the system which is just what the GOP is supposed to oppose.

        But this doesn’t mean that Obamacare is not dying a slow or not so slow death. Neither political party has the chutzpah to attack the real problem; spiraling health care costs.

        As you’ve heard me say before, it is literally impossible to make a significant dent in health care costs without reducing physician compensation and hospital charges.

        • FriendlyGoat

          It’s not clear to me that “across state lines” can be done on reconciliation—–so there is going to be a process to this, I think, and we have seen neither the bill language nor the process. But citizens need to understand that the “competition” claimed to be coming from insurers NEVER means that any private insurers write money-losing insurance. They can’t and they’re not going to. So—–if its cheap to buy, it is cheaper on possible benefits paid. That’s the real economics of it.

  • FriendlyGoat

    David Remnick may be right about Russian intentions in furnishing hacked information to WikiLeaks. They may have only sought to denigrate a president they expected to not like, rather than contribute to the election of one they could have reason to like less even less as time goes by. This possible screw-up on the part of Putin with respect to Putin’s own interest does not mean that what amounts to the Watergate break-in of 2016 is okey-dokey, and especially when the unexpected president who won by a hair——maybe that hair—–was noted for “loving WikiLeaks” (and the break-in hackers who fed them) during the process.

    • leoj

      With those comments he’s obviously trolling the ‘establishment’–of both parties, but especially the Dems and the media. It’s definitely not ‘presidential,’ but look at what those emails revealed. However disturbed you may be by Trump’s “loving Wikileaks” those emails are deeply damaging to the credibility of the ‘establishment’ that is supposed to uphold standards of presidential behavior. This touched both progressives (the railroading of Bernie) and conservatives (confirming the worst suspicions about the ‘MSM,’ thereby proving the GOP-e to be the squishes everyone always suspected,etc.) and is definitely a factor in the appeal of Trump’s brand.

      Honestly, it’s hard for me to see why we care so much about what Putin thinks or whom he may have wanted to become president. Clearly the government needs better cybersecurity, this was obvious a few years ago. But this was a private email account. It sucks to fall victim to a phishing expedition, but it is very damaging to the Democratic party’s longterm credibility to concoct an insane story about a vast underground conspiracy that reaches from the Kremlin to the top of our military establishment and even into the WH just to cover your technical ineptitude. But this is where the Dems found themselves by nominating Clinton…

      • FriendlyGoat

        In other words, you are happy about whatever you got away with, aided by burglar accomplices who happen to be enemies of the United States.

        • leoj

          I’m not a hacker, FriendlyG. I’m familiar enough with that world not to fall prey to their traps. For sure, I feel a little sad for those who get taken in by them. There are little old grandmas getting played by confidence men and then there is John Podesta. All in all, probably best for the country that he and those who employed him don’t have too much power.

          As for the content that was revealed in those emails–that’s the real travesty.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I’m for and with the little old grandmas who are nationally being played by political confidence men even as we speak. When I grew up in a conservative family and place, most of the conservatives I knew then were on the side of the grandmas too—-not on the side of the confidence men.
            Your post with that example, though, is a clear demonstration of the utter flip-flop on such matters which has taken place in conservatism.

          • leoj

            Read the post again, I’m not on the side of the confidence men but of the grandmas. But being on their side does not mean we need to hand over the country to them and their unfortunate habit of occasionally placing their trust where they shouldn’t.

            Reading your posts about ‘conservatism,’ high end tax hikes, etc. it’s clear that you are having a tough time reading what’s going on in politics and seeing what is taking shape around you. You’re an old fella so this is not too surprising.

            Of course, you will offer me a panegyric to high end tax hikes which i’ll lightly scan, confirmed in my suspicion that you are mostly just a hidebound ideologue. Fun to poke, but mostly spouting yesterday’s sloganeering. So let me have it, FriendlyG…!

          • FriendlyGoat

            I am clearly reading what is going on in politics and recognize it as an unfortunate development for most people. Wealth and power are going straight up at astonishing speed in 2017——a shenanigan perpetrated by those who promised the opposite—-and which was only enabled by the votes from people who put a misplaced trust in the confidence men. We just did “hand over the country” to those who stole a trust they did not deserve to have. The big lie was told to church people——and they bought it. Their children and all other children not born in dynastic wealth will be left to wonder why, and for a long, long time forward.

          • leoj

            Bravo! What brio!!!

          • FriendlyGoat

            Candor.

          • Jim__L

            He makes it so easy. Still, two ears and the tail for you. =)

          • Anthony

            FG, here’s context (perhaps) to what may drive some TAI exchanges (conservatism and its current manifestation): https://amgreatness.com/2017/02/26/who-cares-about-conservatism/

          • leoj

            That’s about right. For me, if you want to go deeper you should look at Kotkin’s The New Class Conflict and Lasch’s The True and Only Heaven and The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy.

          • Anthony

            Kotkin has an audience agenda and Christopher Lasch wrote much and varied. Still, America’s, as it goes through an era of social/economic change, answers (and opportunities) lie not on internet threads but through earnest effort where you are.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I hardly know what to make of that article. Borrowing from Prince, the musician (when he had to use a different name for a while as result of contractual problems), “The Artists formerly known as Conservatives” are winning every policy they ever hoped for by means of having “brought out the hate” (per Bannon), so now they are suggesting that they call themselves something else—-admitting in first line of last paragraph of that article that even they are unsure of “ultimately, whatever comes next”?

            Allowing “people to govern” as touted there actually means whatever 51% of any body can get away with in any given moment. At this moment, it looks to me like white wins politics, Calvinism and raw Nationalism win religion, those already possessing capital win Capitalism, propaganda wins education and media, might wins any debate about right, and mob mentality wins over conscience.
            Curiously, the Conservatives who made all this possible are NOW looking to become incognito with a disguising makeover and a name change?

          • Jim__L

            “I hardly know what to make of that article.”

            Anthony posted it. What more can indeed be said?

          • FriendlyGoat

            Anthony didn’t write it. Conservatives, suddenly alarmed about the precariousness of their future reputations, wrote it.

          • Anthony

            Yeah, I found article straining also (I read it a couple days ago, and after your exchange thought it apropos to your tete-a-tete). But, FG, I am not conceding and 73 million others voted another way this past Nov. Yet, we must make do with the phenomena currently astride our politics without losing ourselves in the proverbial fog.

            Ignorance wears many masks. Penetrating masks and revealing what “actually” lies behind requires both discernment and fortitude (you have them both). These are not new times (generally referencing socially) and old antagonisms cannot redefine themselves as some unfollding ism (something other than its raw essence). However, reading ideas, points of view, perspectives, agendas, etc. of others ought to make you redouble effort to reveal errors in ideas, etcetera and deeply question what motivates such. Here’s something that may be of interest: http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2017/02/27/don-give-trump-voters-pass/dEg1kFpDAtxxSzedwKOpCJ/story.html

  • WigWag

    The most depressing part of the evening was watching Trump’s cabinet enter the House Chamber; what a bunch of hacks and nincompoops. Of course they aren’t any worse than Obama’s cabinet but they are just as bad.

    Trump was elected to shatter the government into a thousand pieces and rebuild it. He ran as the Trump the Destructor.

    Unfortunately, once he was elected it proved too difficult to find appointees who hadn’t cut their teeth advocating for all the policies that he ran against. That’s why we are stuck with the NATO-loving Mattis, the Common Core loving DeVos and our plain vanilla Secretary of State. All of them are card carrying members of the Uniparty.

    Can Steve Bannon keep this mediocre group under control?

    • FriendlyGoat

      The cabinet members should inform the president that they have no intention of following one word from Steve Bannon. Mattis, DeVos, Mnuchin, Ross and Tillerson all actually do have the chops to do that if they wish. None of them need these jobs for any particular reason and though they ARE Republican hacks (as you said) and mostly devoted to the GOP hack agenda, there is never any reason for any of them to take one word of lip from Bannon. I doubt they intend to.

    • Angel Martin

      It was always going to be tough to staff a new Administration when the candidate was, in effect, the first third party presidential winner since the 19th century.

      It could have been much worse. If Bush had won we would be looking at Glenn Hubbard, Dan Senor, Ed Gillespie, Meg Whitman and Ed Rendell.

      http://www.politico.com/story/2012/08/whos-on-the-inside-track-for-a-romney-cabinet-080233

      And, of course, there was always the prospect of a cabinet including Carly Fiorina, Robert Zoellick and Joe Lieberman.

    • f1b0nacc1

      You neglected to mention Pruitt, hardly a member of the Uniparty, and while you don’t care for Mattis, DeVos or Tillerson, they are hardly beloved by their new subordinates, nor do are they particularly likely to be business as usual sorts.

      I don’t agree with Mattis on NATO (anyone who has seen my comments here knows that!), but he is right about much else, so perhaps we must accept compromise and not make better the enemy of good enough. More to the point, Mattis has spoken quite toughly to the EUnicks, so if he is a NATO lover, it is a tough love at best.

      DeVos has a fondness for Common Core I don’t share, but she also wants to shatter the death grip that the educrats have on education in America, and if she succeeds in the latter, the former will mean little. She treated the gotcha questions prepared for the Senate by the NEA and their illiterate ilk with the contempt that they deserved….like an astronomer faced by a group of astrologers. Her discussions regarding political bias in the educational system may not prevail (though I have my hopes), but she is willing to say what needs to be said, and that is a start.

      Tillerson has managed to dispose of some dead wood at Foggy Bottom, and my contacts there tell me that more is to come. Given the hidebound nature of the place, changes will come slowly, but what we see so far gives some hope for change. I will wait to see what sort of response we get from our allies (and our enemies) as they realize that Obama’s feeble dithering is gone, and the new president actually intends to change the way the game is played. Let’s touch base in six months, that should be enough time to see how matter develop. In the meantime, I am impressed with Tillerson as an administrator, that will be necessary no matter what.

      Pruitt has made it clear that the reign of the Warmongers is over, and that the EPA is about to be brought to heel. The fight with his staff should be amusing to watch, but he has had to deal with that sort of thing before, and his record is good. He hasn’t had much time thus far, so once again…this is a wait and see….

      Personally, I think that the best thing that could be done with most of the executive agencies would be to bar the doors of their offices and set the buildings alight with them inside, but for some reason that policy doesn’t seem to attract a lot of adherents. Barring this, we need to see able administrators who can run their organizations while at the same time steering and hopefully shrinking them at the same time. What I see so far looks hopeful, this is far from the Bennetton-themed group of non-entities that we saw with Obama, suitable only to check off the various diversity boxes to keep some administrative HR drone happy.

      Let me propose that we revisit all of this in say six months or so…better still, at the next SOTU, and see what we will see. There should be plenty to chew over, and I suspect that whatever our disagreements, we will be pleased with the direction that events have taken.

  • Andrew Allison

    Shouldn’t something like the State of the Union address be viewed as a whole rather than a meaningless live blog (the latter being the specialty of the so-called MSM)?

    • Disappeared4x

      Good point. As I checked the web today, the range of starting points for analysis reminded me of your question. The few ‘live blogs’ I have checked after event seem to be one ‘pundit’. This was my first read/comment in real time.

      Apologies for this shorthand stream-of-thought.

      Four + very different point of views, and final take-aways I am still processing.

      I read 48 million viewers, less than a third of the 2016 electorate. What echoes is what counts.

      Another POTUS speech Thursday, on the USS Gerald R Ford. More details on the Defense budget?

      whitehouse.gov posted a series of issue statements yesterday. Here are the bulletpoints on Infrastructure: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/02/28/president-trump-working-rebuild-our-nations-infrastructure

      I do not think the punditocracy understands the corporate language of bullet-points about goals, accomplishments.
      Veritable Tower of Babylon.
      Am listening to Apocalypse: Stalin marathon, about to finish Follett’s Vol.2, with the Red Army about to find concentration camps.
      TY! Just wanted to see more normal, less ‘resistance’.

  • Jim__L

    10:22 WRM – Bill woulda won, eh?

    10:06 HZC – You’re taking him literally instead of taking him seriously. Mistake on both counts.

    10:01 NMG – Agreed.

    9:56 NMG – In 1901, an anarchist immigrant SHOT AND KILLED PRESIDENT MCKINLEY. In 2001, Islamist immigrants KNOCKED DOWN THE WORLD TRADE CENTERS. What sort of numbness is necessary to disparage the gravity of these events by calling them “sensational”??

    I read Trump’s immigration order. Objectively speaking, it is the plan of a prudent executive looking for time (3-4 months) to put in place effective oversight into immigrant vetting processes. Trump is being reasonable, and his critics are not.

    9:36 NMG – The only thing more American than an open-borders immigration policy, is an open-borders immigration policy punctuated by periods of closed borders.

    8:58 JW – This is far more credible than anything else I’ve seen on this topic. We now get to see what happens when the dog catches the car. =)

    8:46 WRM – I guess Trump has the advantage that he never appeared in the movie, “Predator”? I wonder if we’ll actually see any serious political commentary involving “Predator vs. The Apprentice”… Sounds like a class in a modern university.

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