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“President In Name Only”: There Are Presidential Duties Trump ‘Doesn’t Want To Do’

Paul Manafort, a controversial Republican lobbyist, joined Donald Trump’s team in late March, and at least initially, his task was to help oversee delegate recruiting. It wasn’t long, however, before Manafort worked his way up to effectively running the entire operation: less than two months after joining the campaign, he’s now Trump’s campaign chairman and chief strategist.

Yesterday, Manafort sat down with the Huffington Post’s Howard Fineman for a fairly long interview, and while the two covered quite a bit of ground, there was one exchange in particular that stood out for me.

The vice presidential pick will also be part of the process of proving he’s ready for the White House, Manafort said.

“He needs an experienced person to do the part of the job he doesn’t want to do. He seems himself more as the chairman of the board, than even the CEO, let alone the COO.”

This is no small acknowledgement. For months, it’s been clear that Trump has no meaningful understanding of public policy or even how government works at a basic level. By any fair measure, his ignorance and incompetence about affairs of state is unlike anything Americans have ever seen in a major-party presidential candidate. The question has long been when we can expect Trump to get up to speed.

And the answer is, he has no intention of doing any such thing. Day-to-governing and overseeing the executive branch apparently represent “the part of the job he doesn’t want to do.”

President Trump, in other words, would prefer to be more of a big-picture kind of guy who isn’t overly concerned about details and roll-up-your-sleeves kind of work.

As for who, exactly, might be the best person to “do the part of the job he doesn’t want to do,” Manafort added that there’s a “long list” filled with contenders who have “major problems.”

We should not, however, expect to see diversity on the Republican ticket. Choosing a woman or a member of a minority group to run as vice president, Manafort said, “would be viewed as pandering, I think.”

As for what else we learned from the interview:

* Manafort thinks Trump will be elected president easily. “This is not a hard race,” he said.

* The campaign chairman believes Trump may “moderate” his proposed Muslim ban a little.

* We shouldn’t expect to ever see Trump’s tax returns.

* Manafort believes Trump won’t budge on building a border wall: “He is going to build a wall. That is a core thing with him.”

As for the GOP candidate’s ability to demonstrate his preparedness for the Oval Office, Manafort added, “Does he know enough? Yes, because he knows he has more to learn.”

I’m honestly not sure what that means – it sounds like he’s saying Trump knows enough because he knows he doesn’t know enough – but in Trump Land, making sense is generally an annoyance that’s better left to others.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 26, 2016

May 27, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Executive Branch, Governing | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Clinton vs Trump: A Shift In Gender Roles”: This Campaign Has Come Down To Fear vs Getting Things Done

One of the criticisms we’ve heard often about President Obama is that he doesn’t do enough to show us that he feels our pain. That has been a staple of pundits like Maureen Dowd who wrote this about the President during the Gulf Oil Spill in 2010.

Once more, he has willfully and inexplicably resisted fulfilling a signal part of his job: being a prism in moments of fear and pride, reflecting what Americans feel so they know he gets it.

That critique resurfaced over his two terms, most notably during the Ebola scare and the attacks from ISIS. It tends to place more emphasis on reflecting America’s feelings than it does on the actual “signal part of his job” – taking action to address the problem.

I thought about that when I read the report from Greg Sargent on his interview with Hillary Clinton’s chief strategist, Joel Benenson, about how she plans to take on Donald Trump in the general election. This part is revealing:

“This isn’t about bluster. It’s about having real plans to get stuff done. When it comes to the economy, Hillary Clinton is the only candidate with plans that have been vetted and will make a difference in people’s lives.”…

A certain species of fatalism has taken hold among our political classes in general and among Democrats in particular. The idea is that, because Trump has successfully broken so many of our rules…it must mean he has a chance at blowing apart the old rules in the general election, too.

And so, you often hear it suggested that Trump can’t be beaten on policy, since facts and policy positions no longer matter; that he is going to attack in “unconventional” ways, so there is more to be feared;…and that he has some kind of magical appeal that Democrats fail to reckon with at their own extreme peril.

That might be what this campaign comes down to – a contest between someone who is trying to reflect our feelings of anger and fear and someone who is determined to tackle the challenges we face as a country.

Beyond the importance of us getting that one right, it strikes me that these two candidates have completely flipped the script of who might be expected to take which side of that argument. When I was growing up, it was the Eisenhower Republicans who claimed the mantle of being the policy wonks to the Democrats who – even as rabble rousers – were the purveyors of peace and love. Whether you see that through the prism of Mommy and Daddy parties or the Myers/Briggs binary of “thinking vs feeling,” the roles between Republicans and Democrats have been completely reversed.

But the bigger cultural dynamic will come from having a woman be the thoughtful wonk and the man being all about the bluster of feelings. That is why I found the comedy of Samantha Bee to be so prophetic when she said this about the Republican presidential hopefuls as a group: “I don’t mean to sound sexist, but I think men are just too emotional to be president.”

That is a huge shift in our perception about the genders. It might help explain why so many voters still have trouble “getting” Hillary Clinton – she’s not playing the traditional woman role (just as Obama challenged the stereotypes about the angry black man). When she talks about breaking down barriers, one of the big ones she’s challenging is that a woman can be a thoughtful, intelligent leader.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 18, 2016

May 21, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Fearmongering, General Election 2016, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dear Bernie Bullies, I’m So Over You

In early August 1968, just weeks after Bobby Kennedy was killed, my father and I took a walk through the fields of my great-grandmother’s house and plotted my career.

We didn’t know that at the time. I was only 11. He was 31, a father of four who had already worked for more than a decade at the local power plant. Those few facts about him make me shake my head at how young he was, how overwhelmed he must have felt so much of the time.

My beloved grandma BeBout’s farmhouse was a half-hour and a world away from our home in small-town Ashtabula, Ohio. I was supposed to spend just two weeks with her, which is why Dad was there. Minutes after his arrival, our collective tears persuaded him to let me stay longer.

For the first time, it occurred to me that my father was capable of missing me. He wasn’t in a hurry to leave, and he asked whether I wanted to go for a walk. We trudged through the cornfield and kept going, Dad jingling the coins in his pants pocket with one hand as we strolled.

I had just finished reading a paperback about Bobby Kennedy’s life. It was one of those quick-press editions sold down the street at a newsstand owned by a woman we all called Aunt Louise even though she was no relation. She often let me sit in the back of the store to read paperbacks free. When the Kennedy book arrived — I think its cover was glossy white with a small black-and-white photo of Bobby at the top — she gave it to me as a gift because she knew how sad I was that he had died.

I don’t recall how I brought up the book to my dad, but I do remember being surprised at how he paid attention as I told him about what I’d read. At one point, I made my announcement. I remember the wording only because he never forgot it.

“I think I’ll go into politics, Dad,” I told him. “Maybe write books about it or something.”

My father didn’t laugh or make fun of me. He just nodded his head and assured me that after I went to college — a nonnegotiable in our family — I’d be able to do anything I want. Politics would be a fine profession, he said, as long as I remained a Democrat.

“Maybe one day,” he said, “you could even be president.”

I’m not sure he believed that, but he wanted me to, and I don’t have any doubt he’d vote for Hillary Clinton if he were alive today. Not because he was a feminist. Lord, no. His affection for strong women began and ended with his three daughters, but our persistence would have gotten him there.

I grew up in a time when a woman who owned her own newsstand was famous because she was so rare. Aunt Louise was unmarried, which the grown-ups tirelessly pointed out as the reason she could do such a thing. What else did she have to live for?

I share this story from my childhood to illustrate just how long I’ve been waiting for something I could imagine at such a young age. There are so many women like me. We were born in a time when most of the country believed that white women should be sequestered at home, but we dared to believe we would grow up to be evidence to the contrary. I emphasize the privilege of our race because so many women of color never had the option to stay home.

Plenty of good people support Bernie Sanders, but his bullies are out of control. I am so over them. I no longer care when they accuse me of voting my gender. How interesting that they think there’s something wrong with so many women who want, for the first time in history, to see themselves reflected in the most powerful person in the world.

I support Clinton for a long list of reasons. The Sanders bullies say that makes me part of the “establishment.” I wish my working-class parents had lived long enough to hear that. How they would have howled.

There was a time when I got worked up over those voices of superiority telling me who I am because I don’t want what they do. I couldn’t care less now. My roots are my legacy, and I don’t owe anyone an apology or explanation for who I am.

When I was 11 years old, my dad told me a little girl could grow up to be president.

Forty-eight years later, I believe him.

 

By: Connie Schultz, The National Memo, May 19, 2016

May 19, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Sanders Supporters | , , , , | 1 Comment

“An Alarming History”: Trump Needs To Clear A Higher Bar When It Comes To Women

The New York Times published a rather brutal piece over the weekend on Donald Trump’s problematic history with women. It painted a painful picture:

The New York Times interviewed dozens of women who had worked with or for Mr. Trump over the past four decades, in the worlds of real estate, modeling and pageants; women who had dated him or interacted with him socially; and women and men who had closely observed his conduct since his adolescence. In all, more than 50 interviews were conducted over the course of six weeks.

Their accounts – many relayed here in their own words – reveal unwelcome romantic advances, unending commentary on the female form, a shrewd reliance on ambitious women, and unsettling workplace conduct, according to the interviews, as well as court records and written recollections. The interactions occurred in his offices at Trump Tower, at his homes, at construction sites and backstage at beauty pageants. They appeared to be fleeting, unimportant moments to him, but they left lasting impressions on the women who experienced them.

The article, according to a spokesperson for the Times, is the most read political story the newspaper has published in 2016.

In response to the piece, we’ve seen some curious reactions from women close to the Republican candidate. His spokesperson, Katrina Pierson, said yesterday, for example, “Women know Donald Trump is a very successful businessperson. He’s raised a wonderful family. His own wife endorsed him for president.”

In a separate interview, Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, said, “I’m not in every interaction my father has, but he’s not a groper.”

And Melania Trump, the candidate’s third wife, added in a different interview, “We know the truth. He’s not Hitler.”

So, let’s review. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee has an alarming history with women, but (a) he’s not a genocidal groper; and (b) he’s capable of picking up a campaign endorsement from his own wife.

Maybe, when looking for a national leader, Americans may look for a presidential candidate who can clear a higher bar, but this is nevertheless where things stand in the 2016 race.

As for the embarrassment this may cause Trump’s party, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus argued over the weekend, in reference to a question about the Times article, “I’ve got to tell you, I think that all these stories that come out – and they come out every couple weeks – people just don’t care.”

Well, Republican primary voters didn’t seem to care, but the national electorate may bring a very different perspective to the table.

Postscript: One of the notable parts of the Times article highlighted an anecdote in which Trump asked Brook Antoinette Mahealani Lee, Miss Universe at the time, for her opinion about his daughter’s body.

” ‘Don’t you think my daughter’s hot? She’s hot, right?’ ” Lee recalled him saying. ‘I was like, ‘Really?’ That’s just weird. She was 16. That’s creepy.”

Olivia Nuzzi explained why Trump may have said something like this: “Trump says creepy things about Ivanka being hot because, to him, hot is the most valuable thing a woman can be. It’s not about wanting to sleep with his daughter. It’s about his daughter’s worth and, by extension, his own worth.”

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 18, 2016

May 19, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Nominee, Reince Priebus | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Just Be Glad That’s Not Your Job”: Spare A Thought For Those Condemned To Defend Donald Trump

There’s a perfectly logical reason why any Republican would decide that getting behind Donald Trump is the least bad option they face. If you genuinely care about conservative policy goals, the chance that you’ll see the government move in your favored direction under President Hillary Clinton is approximately zero, while with President Trump you’d at worst see many of those goals come to fruition. You’d get a conservative Supreme Court, an executive branch filled with Republicans, and probably many areas where Trump, who plainly doesn’t care at all about the details of policy, just tells the congressional GOP to write whatever bills it wants and he’ll sign them. In short, ideology demands Trump, ironic as that may be given that he was the least ideological Republican running.

And yet, the end point of that perfectly logical chain of thinking is still supporting Donald Trump. Donald Trump the ignoramus, Donald Trump the liar, Donald Trump the buffoon, Donald Trump the xenophobic sexist narcissist all-around jerk. And supporting him, in today’s media-saturated world, also means defending him.

This is the reality of contemporary partisanship: While there are people (like yours truly, thank goodness) who are permitted to be equivocal about politicians, partisans have no such liberty. Their guy must be defended almost no matter what, while the other side’s champion is cast as a model of perfect villainy, worthy of not a single vote. It’s a ridiculous ritual, and it takes a candidate as ridiculous as Trump to make that clear. Just as the Constitution mandates that even the most heinous criminal should be granted a vigorous defense in court, our media demand that even the most despicable politician have someone defend him on cable news. If you find it depressing to watch some party “strategist” or elected official laboring painfully to argue that Trump’s policy choices are quite clever, or that his latest outrageous statement actually contains a kernel of timeless wisdom, just imagine how they feel doing it.

Look at what we’ve heard about Trump in the last few days. There’s the extensively-reported story in The New York Times of Trump’s sleazy treatment of women over the years, including those with whom he had romantic relationships, those who worked for him, and participants in the Miss Universe pageant he used to own (which in no way did he purchase because he wanted to bang beauty queens, absolutely not, how could you think such a thing). The story is pretty much what you would expect, which means it details behavior on Trump’s part ranging from the comical to the rancid. And that followed a Washington Post story on Trump’s old habit of calling up reporters pretending to be a Trump PR guy named “John Miller” or “John Barron,” who would then wax rhapsodic about his boss’s extraordinary accomplishments, both financial and sexual.

What would you say about all that if you were a Trump supporter staring into a camera? You’d probably say what RNC chair Reince Priebus did in his round of Sunday show interviews, dismissing the allegations one moment and trying to change the subject the next, then arguing that it’s irrelevant when what we should really be talking about is Benghazi.

As one Republican said on Twitter, “I can handle Trump. But watching people I once respected and ought to know better rationalizing and validating him makes me physically ill.” Fair enough, but what is Reince Priebus supposed to do? I suppose he could say, “You’re right, we really screwed the pooch by nominating this train wreck of a candidate. This is a living nightmare.” But he has to put as brave a face as he can on things, because that’s his job. And he really does want to help Trump get elected, even if he wishes someone else had won the nomination, because from where he stands the alternative is much worse.

Keep in mind that there are going to be many more stories like the ones this weekend, because we have seen only the tip of the lurid iceberg that is Donald Trump’s oppo file. You can bet that the Clinton campaign has many stories about Trump that it will be feeding reporters on a regular schedule between now and November. Some may not check out, but others will, and I seriously doubt the media will be deterred from pursuing them by Trump’s insults (and they’ll be doing the same thing to Clinton, just as they have for the last couple of decades).

As the campaign goes on, it will be nearly impossible for Republicans to escape questions about Trump, since whenever it’s been a while since a juicy revelation, Trump will help out by saying something disgusting or appallingly dumb (the latest: He says that Syrian refugees are coming to the U.S. carrying phones with ISIS flags on them, and ISIS is also paying their phone bills. Which, you have to admit, is pretty poor tradecraft if you’re trying to smuggle terrorists into America). In a better world, politicians would be able to be completely frank about a situation like this. They could say, “Yeah, the guy’s a monumental pig, not to mention a fool. Who knows what the hell we’ll be in for if he becomes president. But I just don’t want another Democrat elected, and that’s what it comes down to.”

They can’t say that, because we’re all so used to talking about presidential campaigns not as ideological contests but as personality contests. So Republicans have to pretend that they oppose Hillary Clinton not just because she’s a liberal and they’re conservatives—which ought to be more than reason enough—but also because she’s some kind of cartoonish psychopath who would strangle your children’s puppy if she had the chance. They have to say that Clinton is a worse person than Trump, or that he’s somehow more qualified to be president because he’s a businessman, or that his can-do spirit is just what we need to clean up Washington.

They don’t believe any of it. How could they? But they have no choice but to keep on saying it, no matter how it eats at their souls. Just be glad that’s not your job.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect, May 16, 2016

May 17, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Reince Priebus | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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