Am I the only one who’s finds the daily whirlwind of controversy, accusations, counter-accusations, allegations, breathless reporting from anonymous sources, non-answers, implausible excuses, implausible spin, angry protests, and shameless behavior that makes up the Trump presidency increasingly . . . boring? Increasingly predictable?
This morning, Mike Allen of Axios opens his newsletter by reemphasizing that everything we’ve seen from the president and his family in the past few weeks is “not normal.” No kidding. Normalcy departed around the time Scott Walker left the presidential race. Normalcy isn’t coming back until the Trump presidency ends, and only God knows whether that will occur seven years from now or sometime sooner.
But we’ve lived with the abnormalcy for so long now, it may not seem all that new or surprising anymore. Heck, it’s almost predictable.
At some point, either today or in the coming days, President Trump will tweet something that will shock and appall his critics, delight his fan base, and get re-tweeted tens of thousands of times. Trump will probably tweet out something is “sad!” or “Fake News” or “the lying media” or a particular media figure. Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski and their roundtable will shake their heads in consternation and stern disapproval. Scarborough will ask what happened to his party — er, his former party.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders or Sean Spicer will stand behind the lectern at the White House and repeat, over and over again, that she or he has not discussed that topic with the president yet. He or she will insist that the president’s tweet speaks for itself. White House correspondents will complain that they’re getting nothing useful or newsworthy out of these briefings. Then they will flip out at the suggestion that the briefings be ended or no longer be on camera.
Vice President Mike Pence will do something far from the president, offering anti-controversy at whatever event he’s attending. He will ignore a shouted question about the latest controversial statement from the president and focus on his remarks thanking our veterans, our men and women in uniform, our law enforcement, our teachers, our doctors, or whichever other group is hosting him that day.
House Intelligence Committee ranking member Adam Schiff (D., Calif.) will declare that the latest revelation is “deeply troubling,” “extremely important,” “very significant,” and “profoundly disturbing,” and that he will want that person — whoever is in the news — to testify before the committee.
There will be a rumor that Senate Republicans will be close to a deal on health care. And then there will be rumors that they don’t have the votes. And then there will be talk that with just a few more tweaks, they could reach 51 votes, and that it should be done before the shortened August recess. Or right after.
At some point, liberals will gather in large numbers to protest the president, the administration, congressional Republicans, and the existence of the Right in general. They will give heated, angry speeches about how all of this must end. They will cheer and chant. And then they will go home, and someone else will pick up the litter they leave behind.
Some liberal pundit you’ve either never heard of or barely ever heard of before will write something that appears to endorse violence against Trump, his family, GOP congressional leaders, or conservatives in general. The liberal pundit will insist they never meant that, and that it was only a joke or only sarcasm. Conservatives will scream for that person’s firing; liberals will insist that a controversial political statement should not cost someone their job. Then a few weeks later, a conservative figure will do the same and most people will instantly reverse their positions.
Someone, somewhere, who has a long history of mental problems will steal a gun and attempt a mass shooting. Liberals will blame the NRA and gun owners. The NRA and gun owners will argue about the need for better mental-health programs. Subsequent reporting will detail many red flags and warnings ignored. Voices in the mainstream media will insist it’s time for a “real national conversation” about guns, as if that real national conversation hasn’t been going on for years now.
Someone on a sports channel will insist that the reason former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick hasn’t been signed by a new team is a reflection of political pressure, intolerance in the Trump era, censorship, or racial bigotry. Other people who actually watch football will point out that Kaepernick’s performance really slid last year and he appears to be on the downward slope of his career.
While all of this is going on, some other predictable things will be occurring outside the realm of politics, some good and some bad.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average will reach another new high. You’ll feel a little more relief when you get your quarterly statements for your 401(k). ISIS in the form of the aspiring nation-state will continue getting pulverized in Iraq and Syria. Almost entirely obscured by the national controversies, reforms will move forward at the Department of Veterans Affairs, and new Secretary David Shulkin will continue incremental improvement where it is needed. (Seriously, read my article on this, as reforming the VA may end up being one of the most significant accomplishments of the Trump administration’s first year.) Conservatives will continue to high-five every time they read a Supreme Court opinion written by Justice Neil Gorsuch.
There will be more rumors that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is going to retire. And then there will be rumors that no, he’s going to hang on for one more year.
Some bad predictable things will continue. ISIS in the form of the Islamist terrorist movement will continue to inspire angry, often mentally troubled young Muslim men, who have largely failed at life, to attempt acts of mass murder. A lot of struggling, poorer communities will continue to feel disconnected and shut off from any national prosperity. The jobs numbers will be “eh, okay,” but nothing special compared to past economic booms. American politics at the grass roots will continue to be marked by a widespread seething contempt for the other side.
Oh, and while I’m listing safe predictions, the Jets will stink this year.
Look at Who’s Enjoying the Fruits of Outsourcing to Foreign Labor!
It’s been nice knowing you, Senator Donnelly. Might as well pack up your office now.
An Indiana senator railed against Carrier Corp. for moving manufacturing jobs to Mexico last year, even as he profited from a family business that relies on Mexican labor to produce dye for ink pads, according to records reviewed by The Associated Press.
Joe Donnelly, considered one of the nation’s most vulnerable Democratic senators up for re-election next year, has long blasted free-trade policies for killing American jobs. He accused Carrier, an air conditioner and furnace maker, of exploiting $3-an-hour workers when it announced plans to wind down operations in Indiana and move to Mexico.
However, an arts and crafts business Donnelly’s family has owned for generations is capitalizing on some of the very trade policies — and low-paid foreign labor — the senator has denounced.
For more than a year, Stewart Superior Corp. and its subsidiaries have been shipping thousands of pounds of raw materials to Mexico, where the company has a factory that produces ink pads and other supplies, according to customs records from Panjiva Inc., which tracks American imports and exports. The finished products are then transported back to a company facility in California, the records show.
Stewart Superior, which also has an operation in LaPorte, Indiana, says on its website that the company’s Mexican factory “brings economical, cost competitive manufacturing and product development to our valued customers.”
Although Donnelly’s brother runs the company, the senator previously served as a corporate officer and its general counsel before he was first elected to Congress in 2006. In a financial disclosure form he filed in May, Donnelly reported owning as much as $50,000 in company stock and earning between $15,001 and $50,000 in dividends on it in 2016 alone.
You can picture the attack ads already, right? “Senator Donnelly says he stands for working Hoosiers . . . but for years, he’s been profiting from outsourcing jobs to Mexico.”
Correcting the Record . . .
Supporters of Representative Evan Jenkins contend I got one of the facts wrong in Monday’s Corner post when I wrote: “From 1994 to 2013, Jenkins served in the state legislator as a Democrat, he supported Hillary Clinton for president in 2008, and he and his campaign committee donated $2,000 to Manchin that year.”
The claim came from backers of Jenkins’s primary rival, state attorney general Patrick Morissey, who cited a July 27, 2007 article in the Huntington, W.Va., Herald Dispatch; the relevant sections are quoted below:
HUNTINGTON — Cabell County Democrats are heading to Charleston’s West Virginia State University today to hear presidential hopeful U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., discuss her economic policy.
“Any time you have a presidential candidate from any party come to the state, it’s a time to rally the troops and energize those involved in the political process,” said state Sen. Evan Jenkins, D-Cabell. “It’s important not to miss an opportunity to hear a candidate speak about the issues that matter to the people in this state.”
“It’s a good idea when a candidate is on our turf, our home state, to listen to their thoughts about the issues important to the state,” Jenkins said.
With Clinton’s stop in Charleston today, Democrats have said that major presidential candidates are now taking notice of the state’s importance to the party.
“One by one we’re getting attention by the presidential candidates,” Jenkins said.
Clinton’s Economic Policy Town Hall will take place today in WVSU’s Wilson Student Union in room 135 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. The seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The argument from the Jenkins camp is that this inferring an endorsement or explicit support where none was intended: “He never says Hillary Clinton’s name; he does not refer to her campaign or support; and the event was not a campaign rally — it was a policy town hall tucked in a room in a university student-union building.” This strikes me as a fair objection and I regret the inaccuracy.
The argument from the Morissey camp is, “He attended a Hillary Clinton rally in 2008, which is not something you do as an elected official unless you support Hillary. If a Republican attended a Bush rally and didn’t voice opposition to Bush at said rally, it would be fair to assume he supported Bush.” (For what it’s worth, Jenkins attended an event with President George W. Bush focusing on Social Security in April 2004; he was a Democratic member of the state legislature at that time.)
At the very least, the claim that Jenkins “supported Hillary in 2008” is unproven without any explicit statement of support from Jenkins from that year. Jenkins says he voted for John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012. On the other hand, he did make the decision to show up to the Hillary Clinton event, so it seems fair to characterize Jenkins as not a critic or foe of Clinton at that time.
At this time, the primary is scheduled for May 2018. Great, just ten more months of these campaigns arguing.
ADDENDA: A new edition of the pop culture podcast is coming . . . probably tomorrow.