Open Thread: Never Let It Be Forgotten

The entire GOP leadership was willing to sell out the country to a foreign power, in return for their own petty perks and prerogatives. We’re past kleptocracy and into kakistocracy, and Donald Trump is the perfect figurehead for the band of hypocritical traitors that put him into the Oval Office.








For the Record, First Draft of History: Sidebar to Adam’s Post



Thursday Evening Open Thread: Seems Longer Than That, Doesn’t It?

Which Rep. Cummings knows — as do we all — is not gonna happen.

This is on every single godsdamned Republican, down to the lowliest school board committee member and drainage department monitor. Thanks a whole fucking bunch for giving this monster his big chance, GOP!

Apart from continuing to #Resist, what’s on the agenda for the evening?








Long Read: “No One to Blame But Trump”

Elizabeth Drew — who has long studied terrible presidencies — in the NY Review of Books:

There’s been a great deal of speculation about shifting alliances among Trump’s White House staff—it’s virtually a daily exercise—but in the end Donald Trump defines his administration. Trump has a mediocre staff, whom he doesn’t treat well. They’re hesitant to give him news he won’t like for fear of being screamed at, a frequent event. Experienced potential aides haven’t been keen to work in a Trump White House and though it’s not widely known by the outside world many of those who are there are unhappy. As one close observer put it to me, “They came to work for the president but found themselves working for Donald Trump.” The moody man at the top is strongly affected by what’s in the news. But so far only one significant aide has seen fit to quit, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus’s deputy Katie Walsh; while some reporters described her departure as part of a White House “shakeup,” it’s more likely that Walsh left because she couldn’t stand the unpleasantness of working for Trump. According to reports, with things not going well for him, the atmosphere in Trump’s White House has grown progressively worse. The removal of White House adviser Steve Bannon from the National Security Council is being much examined for its implications, but if Bannon continues to get in Trump’s head it may not mean much at all.

Yet despite the weakness and disorder of the president’s staff, and though previous White House staffs have tried it (if not as thoroughly but without success), Trump and his top aides seem particularly determined to hold power throughout the government. This is why even more than halfway into the first hundred days most of the Cabinet officers are home alone. It’s not accidental that few of them have a deputy, not to mention the legally established complement of assistant secretaries and deputy assistant secretaries—some 550 appointments the president makes and the Senate confirms. As of now, Defense Secretary James Mattis is the only newly confirmed official in the entire Pentagon leviathan, but the wars he has to fight and the crises he has to try to avert won’t wait until he gets his own staff. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is also without a deputy, the one he wanted having been vetoed by Trump because he’d criticized him during the primaries. Such a consideration would rule out a great many potential presidential appointees. Tillerson is another tycoon who is more than a little lost in government. The generals whom Trump has appointed (three of them) are more accustomed to a political atmosphere and to dealing with elected politicians. This is no guarantee of success but they do tend to be less bewildered in their new positions of power. At least two other cabinet officials are under a legal cloud—Tom Price, secretary of Health and Human Services, for allegedly using his inside knowledge to fatten his financial portfolio while he was working on health legislation in the House; and EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, who allegedly lied during his confirmation hearings.

Yet the thinness of the ranks of officials to propose and implement the laws is actually also how Trump and his top aides want it. “A lot of those jobs, I don’t want to appoint someone because they’re unnecessary to have,” Trump said in late February. “In government, we have too many people.” Trump, Bannon, and son-in-law Jared Kushner have been particularly keen to keep control of the government in the White House. Kushner now has more assignments than any single figure known of in a modern White House and shows no inclination to devolve power. These people may well be taking on the impossible, and this would be true even if they’d had any government experience…

When the subject comes up, as it does incessantly in Washington, of whether in fact Trump will end up serving as president for four years, a major argument against his somehow having to leave office (for reasons other than health) is that he has a strong base. Richard Nixon also did, until he didn’t. Gradually, Nixon’s onetime backers became disenchanted for one reason or another; he still had support at the end, but it wasn’t strong enough to save him. How long will Trump’s base stick with him even in the face of seeing their hopes betrayed? This isn’t a fanciful question: a recent poll by Geoffrey Garin for Priorities USA, showed a ten-point drop in support among Trump voters in the third week in March (the week the health care bill failed).

A lot of Republicans who had deep misgivings about Trump went along with him before and after the election because they assumed that he could produce legislation dear to their hearts. But what if it turns out that he can’t? Politicians are highly pragmatic people; they will support a president as long as he isn’t too costly to them. But if he becomes too expensive to their own reelection, all bets are off. The discontent with Donald Trump on Capitol Hill runs very deep and also very wide. I’ve been told that upwards of two-thirds of the Senate Republicans, in particular, discuss—in the gym and in clusters on the Senate floor—their desire to see him gone. These senators talk rather openly—even with their Democratic colleagues—about their fear of Trump’s recklessly getting the country into serious danger, about the embarrassment he causes it in the world (his petulantly refusing to shake hands with Angela Merkel was just one example of his mishandling of foreign leaders), about his overall incompetence…








Late Night Sketch-y Comedy Open Thread: Sgt. Peeper’s Lonely Pharts Club Band

[Laughter]

Here is the interview from which that quote came:

The Haberman/Thrush interview is getting all kinds of attention, because it is just full of what might be called “nuggets” (aka “lies”). This no doubt pleases them, since H&T seem to have decided to play court jesters in Lord Smallgloves’ four-year promotional project, but what seems IMO to be under-discussed is the degree to which the people around Donald Trump just don’t trust him to be left unsupervised. The NYTimes “partial transcript” reads like a reboot of the Marx Brothers’ Night At the Opera stateroom scene

At least six White House aides were sitting in: Gary D. Cohn, President Trump’s lead economic adviser and a former president of Goldman Sachs; Reed Cordish, an assistant to the president; Sean Spicer, the press secretary; Hope Hicks, a long-serving Trump aide; and eventually Vice President Mike Pence and the chief of staff, Reince Priebus…

Also — and not for the first time — if your grandpa couldn’t stay on topic any better than this, you’d be planning to hide his car keys and checkbook before something terrible happened:

GLENN THRUSH, White House correspondent: Why do you think Democrats feel the need to oppose Gorsuch? What do you think the politics is?

TRUMP: Well, I think that some of it had to do with the election. They thought they were going to win. You know, winning the Electoral College is, for a Republican, is close to impossible and I won it quite easily. And I think they are still recovering from that, but they are recovering now. I think the Susan Rice thing is a massive story. I think it’s a massive, massive story. All over the world, I mean other than The New York Times.

HABERMAN: We’ve written about it twice.

TRUMP: Huh?

HABERMAN: We’ve written about it twice.

TRUMP: Yeah, it’s a bigger story than you know. I think —

HABERMAN: You mean there’s more information that we’re not aware of?

TRUMP: I think that it’s going to be the biggest story…
******
HOPE HICKS, White House director of strategic communications: Can we get to infrastructure? [Laughter.] Because I know we are sensitive about time.

HABERMAN: I understand. I just want to ask one last follow-up on that note, and then we’ll move on, not on O’Reilly.

TRUMP: You certainly covered O’Reilly big. Not Susan Rice, boy, O’Reilly [unintelligible]. He’s taking my place. He’s taking my place.

HABERMAN: Sir, if you could give us more information about Rice. If the administration would give us more information —

TRUMP: No, you have a lot of information. No, you have so much information…

THRUSH: [Transportation Secretary] Elaine Chao said that [Trump’s infrastructure bill] would likely come “later in the year.” Are you thinking about accelerating?

TRUMP: I am. I’m thinking about accelerating it. I’m thinking about putting it with another bill. Could be health care, could be something else. [Cross talk.] Could be tax reform.

HABERMAN: What’s your time frame, at this point, that you’re looking at as an accelerated?

TRUMP: Well, we’re working — you know when people said, when you guys, because you know we have a very solid administration. We have some very, very good people. This man was the president of Goldman Sachs. I mean, he was, like, the president of Goldman Sachs…

It’d be mildly funny, in an improv skit, with the right cast. But I actually found myself thinking, Well, I’m 61 years old, I’ve had a pretty good run, if they manage to break the world…

We.Are.So.Fucked.

THANKS, REPUBLICANS!