Syria, North Korea on Front-Burner This Week as Congress Disappears…

President Trump isn’t going to be able to “move on” quickly in the aftermath of his Syrian airstrike and, just as he did with healthcare, he’s likely to discover Syria is “so complicated.” Nobody knew, right?

  • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is expected to tell Russia to stop supporting Assad during his trip to Moscow later this week. Tillerson may suggest Russia “bears at least partial responsibility for Wednesday’s chemical attack,” according to the Washington Post. Getting tough on Russia also helps Trump fight back suggestions and his campaign colluded with Putin during the election.
  • The hypocrisy of ordering airstrikes to send a message after Trump saw “beautiful babies” killed in the chemical bombing, while at the same time refusing to let those beautiful babies into the US is a hard argument to defend. CNN’s Jack Tapper asked UN Ambassador Nikki Haley “Certainly you don’t think Syrian children pose a risk to the American people?” Haley replied that “Syrian children have to come with Syrian adults” and then said its hard to know based on the vetting process. [Huffington Post]
  • Haley also tried to defend Trump from his stunning policy reversal on Syrian. You’ll recall, Trump tweeted to Obama in 2013, in all CAPS, so you know he was serious: “TO OUR VERY FOOLISH LEADER, DO NOT ATTACK SYRIA – IF YOU DO MANY VERY BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN & FROM THAT FIGHT THE U.S. GETS NOTHING!” Haley’s weak response: “Well he wasn’t president in 2013.” [Huffington Post] 2013 Donald Trump might have some big issues with 2017 Donald Trump. When the media get the next chance to question Trump, will they ask him about this change of view?
  • Some of Trump’s biggest supporters are wondering WTF happened to “America First.” Inside the White House, reports say Steve Bannon argued against the airstrike, but couldn’t convince Trump. For more, check out this article from Newsweek this weekend on “The Death of ‘America First.’
  • Dan Rather wisely called out fellow journalists for their coverage of the Syrian Air Strike in a recent Facebook post. He wrote “The number of members of the press who have lauded the actions last night as ‘presidential’ is concerning. War must never be considered a public relations operation.” He didn’t single out anyone by name, but the worst offenders were CNN’s Fareed Zakaria who said “Donald Trump became president of the United States” when the attacks started and MSNBC’s Brian Williams, who called the deadly Tomahawk attack “beautiful” several times. We will call out the left as well as the right media when they deserve it.

North Korea Next?

  • It isn’t unusual for the US Navy to move ships around, but it is unusual to publicly announce a redeployment. So the fact that the Pacific Command told everyone a carrier group is currently being redirected to the Korean peninsula is significant. Navy Times. This as North Korea has adopted a more threatening stance against the U.S. and its allies, and is making more aggressive claims about its capabilities. While North Korea frequently makes aggressive claims about a lot of things, we do know it has nuclear weapons. What we don’t know is the range of these weapons. Mainly, could they reach the U.S. mainland? That may not matter if the targets are U.S. military bases in South Korea and Japan.
  • As Russia:Syria, China:North Korea. So it’s worth watching what China does. Reuters Although China may also let scenarios play out a little further to gauge the Trump Administration’s resolve.

The Second Coming…of Andrew Jackson?

  • There’s been a lot of speculation of an imminent cabinet shake-up. We do not report on purely speculative stories: when something happens, we’ll tell you. So far the only somewhat significant move is offering NSA #2 K. T. McFarland an ambassadorship to Singapore. This is important only because when McFarland’s original boss, General Michael Flynn, resigned as chief of the NSA, President Trump insisted she would stay. Bloomberg
  • And there’s some interesting history here: President Trump views himself as a modern-day Andrew Jackson, (even though Jackson founded the DEMOCRATIC Party), and reveres the man so much, Jackson’s portrait hangs prominently in the Oval Office: 
  • This is where it gets interesting: when Jackson got elected, he brought along the people who’d helped him along, and gave them all cabinet positions. By his 2nd year in office, every single one of them (except for the Postmaster General) had been replaced. You can read more about it here Now, there were many fewer cabinet members in those days (and Postmaster General is no longer a cabinet position.) And many in Jackson’s original cabinet continued to hang around, forming what was called the “Kitchen Cabinet”. So if we look at history, and President Trump looks to emulate Jackson: big shake-up seems more likely than not.

Congress Takes A Holiday

  • The White House is likely to come under more scrutiny in the next week or two as congress disappears for spring break. (April 10-21.) In years past, this is most typically when members of congress would go on junkets, which are trips to faraway places they didn’t have to pay for because lobbyists did. But those have been curbed to a large extent. Most will return to their home districts, and may hold a Town Hall or two. It’s worth looking them up if you’ve got something you want to say face-to-face.