Monday, February 20, 2017

Making Sense of Trump's Attack on the Media

With regard to President Trump I take the position that Trump is not an idiot; he only plays one on TV.

So what are we to think about Donald Trump's broad-based attack on the media, those chappies that Glenn Reynolds calls "Democratic operatives with bylines."

It all seems as plain as day to me. But maybe I have got it wrong.

Anyway, here goes.

The Republican base has been getting very angry lately that its leaders do not "fight." We mean that Republican politicians, at least since the first President Bush, tend to cave to the Democrats, so that Republican governance became Democrat-lite. During the George W. Bush administration this became official policy, with "compassionate conservatism" and the No Child Left Behind Act compromise with Sen. Ted Kennedy.

According to the conservative narrative this attempt to make nice with the Democrats was a failure. In the first place, Democrats never conceded the 2000 election and encouraged their partisans to believe that Bush was "selected no elected," and secondly the Democrats went into full anti-war mode when President Bush "did something" about 9/11 by executing on the bipartisan policy of "regime change" in Iraq.

The Obama administration, according to the conservative base, was a direct attack on America as we know it, pushing every liberal nostrum without attempting to do any bipartisan compromise. Particularly egregious, from my view, was the abandonment of welfare reform and its central policy of a work requirement. BIg-time government welfare, on my view, is not merely injustice; it is cultural genocide on the recipients.

Then, of course, there was the Obama administration's culture war agenda that amounted to cultural war on Christian conservatives, using the power of the state to punish conservatives for their views, from weaponizing the IRS on the Tea Party to the demand that Christian conservatives provide services for gay weddings.

(Parenthetically, this is why Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act. He felt, as a libertarian, that the civil rights acts should apply only to government. He wanted it to be illegal for government to discriminate by race, but not be illegal for business to discriminate by race. He just wanted to undo Jim Crow laws and Davis-Bacon Acts that forced business to discriminate by race.)

Fast-forward to the 2016 presidential race. The leading candidate after the extinguishing of Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), turned out to be Ted Cruz, who had made a point about getting in the face of the Democrats as a rookie Senator. Oh, and then there was Donald Trump, but he was a joke.

It turned out that Donald Trump was way better at getting into peoples' faces than Ted Cruz. That's probably because Trump is a people person, and Ted Cruz is manifestly not. People just don't like Cruz, face to face.

Now, put yourself in the shoes of President Trump. He has been elected to stick it to the opposition. But Trump is a deal-maker; he knows that sooner or later he is going to have to make deals with Democrats over immigration, Obamacare, taxes, whatever. So it is not a very good idea to attack Democrats, the very people that he is going to have to deal with. Politicians are touchy about insults and slights. How did things work out for Obama, who made no bones about attacking Republicans?

So what does President Trump do, to stick it to the opposition, while still serving his supporters with red meat to snack upon?

Simple. He attacks the liberal media, the MSM of who you've heard tell, the Democratic operatives with bylines. He appoints the liberal elite media as the official opposition. Is that brilliant, or what?

Now look at what happened at last Thursday's press conference that was either a train wreck or the most amazing thing since sliced bread, according to your partisan affiliation. Trump took a question from a young black reporter that asked him about talking to the Congressional Black Caucus. Oh yeah, said Trump. He had thought he had a meeting with Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), but Cummings backed out. Could the reporter arrange a meeting?

This is, as they say, trolling, Grandmaster Level. The result, after lots of huffing and puffing, is that Trump has a meeting set up with Cummings and the Congressional Black Caucus. Those were the chaps, you may remember, that boycotted his inauguration.

Fast forward to Trump's rally at Melbourne, FL on Saturday, Feb. 18. The warm-up was conducted by a couple of black women, using the cadences of the black churches, and around the podium were placards reading Golly, what could that be all about?

Look, the longer that liberals keep insisting that Donald Trump is a fool and that his month-old administration is a train wreck the better. There is a new game in town, and liberals don't have a clue how to play it.

Could it be that the Trump administration is executing on a deliberate strategy to confuse the opposition with multiple initiatives, with noise and confusion, to make it difficult for the opposition to achieve strategic concentration in opposing the complete range of his policies?

It is a commonplace to remark that businessmen don't know how to operate in the political arena. But suppose that a businessman like Trump is more like an army general that has learned how to run a battle and keep a cool head despite the utter confusion and conflicting signals and fear and panic? Our modern politicians seem to like everything calm and quiet, with a somnolent bureaucracy to execute on policy in its own sweet time.

Obviously, the Trump administration is not going to be like that.

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