Since Big Obamacare Loss, Trump Heightens Attacks On Those In His Own Party
We are focusing The Chaos Report on a single topic today: the President’s refocusing of his message to further isolate himself from his party, and push the idea to the American people that he is a true iconoclast: his floundering stems only from the fact that he is being stymied by a meddlesome congress, by Washington in general. (Except for making the stock market go up, which he takes all the credit for.) Leave him alone, be loyal to him, this line of argument goes, and watch him do great things.
Evidence? Let’s start with the closing sentence of a statement Trump issued after reluctantly signing a new Russia sanctions bill (more on that below): “I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress.”
This intensifying of the President’s strategy traces back at least to the failure of the Obamacare repeal, a week ago tomorrow. It’s been reflected in the President’s own messaging: for instance, calling Republican Senators “fools” and “quitters“. And it’s been reflected in right wing media: for instance, pro-Trump media figures, who have long savaged Paul Ryan for not being faithful enough to the President’s agenda, are expanding that to “Ryan and McConnell” (which is ironic, since Ryan did deliver on health care).
And smear attacks have redoubled against National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, (Breitbart headline this AM: “McMaster Fired NSC Official For Memo on Globalists Undermining Trump, But Obama Holdovers Stay!…”), even though he works directly for Trump (and has retained the President’s loyalty, at least for now).
Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, long a Trump foe (and also not widely loved by Republican apparatus), is being widely praised for his anti-Trump essay this week on Politico. In it he admonishes his colleagues that “unnerving silence in the face of an erratic executive branch is an abdication.” But Flake’s piece has also provided sustenance for those out to prove the President can’t count on anybody but himself. And part of Trump’s strategy seems to include an unusually active role for the White House in future elections, including an ongoing effort to “take Flake out.” One possible opponent confirmed to NPR that Trump pledged $10-million out of his own pocket to fund a PAC aimed at achieving this goal.
And it all still seems to “play” with Trump’s base. CNN’s story about Trump supporters in Nebraska echoes much of what’s been coming lately from the President (and may have even been ahead of the President on this, as Trump tried to play nice with congress for a while.) “Just let him be president….He knows what to do, he’s a businessman.”
Trump Signs Sanctions Bill In The Interest Of “National Unity” Then Stamps His Feet, And Suggests He’s Interested In Anything But
We predicted Trump would sign this bill, because he had to. It passed with such huge bipartisan support in both the house and Senate, had he vetoed it, an override would’ve been a cinch. And he would’ve come away looking like a “loser”. Trump coupled his signing with a statement bashing congress for passing it in the first place.
The bill imposes additional economic sanctions against Russia, North Korea, and Iran. Perhaps more importantly, it limits the President’s ability to lift them.
Trump’s statement stops just short of calling the bill “unconstitutional”. Saying instead things like “it improperly encroaches on Executive power”.
Trump Also Belittles His Generals
NBC News reports on a meeting on Afghanistan with his top military advisers that took place 10 days ago. In it, Trump defined the basic problem as “We aren’t winning, we are losing.” And he suggested firing General John Nicholson, the Commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
Later, Trump told them a long rambling story about “lousy advice” given by “expensive consultants” which resulted in a bungled restaurant renovation New York, saying if the waiters had been consulted instead, the restaurant’s owners would’ve gotten to the bottom of the problem much sooner.
But Never Fear, Congress, Trump Will Still Embrace You If You Support His Agenda
President Trump threw his backing behind a long-shot bill proposed by two Republican Senators that would severely limit legal immigration. Under new measures proposed by Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia, legal immigration would be slashed by 50% over the next 10 years, and the number of refugees America takes in would be capped at 50,000 annually. The “Green Card Lottery” would be ended. Many Republicans, especially in states with lots of agriculture, have already come out against it.
The bulk of legal immigration in this country is family members of people already here legally, and that’s where most of the cuts would come. Visas offered to well educated people with well-paying job offers would remain the same. The bill also features a language test: you don’t speak English, you don’t get in. Meaning Trump’s own German grandfather would’ve probably been turned away…
“Must Read” of the week: The Washington Post has a heartbreaking story on a law-abiding family torn apart lightning-fast by Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration, and more evidence it isn’t just the “bad hombres” who are getting rounded up.
Haven’t We Heard This Before?
As part of a blistering exchange in the White House briefing room, Trump senior adviser Stephen Miller lectured CNN’s Jim Acosta about how the poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty wasn’t part of the original statue, so the statue does not actually symbolize an open-arms policy toward immigrants.
Immediately, we realized we’d heard that argument somewhere before. But where? Oh, yeah: White Supremacists. In fact, it’s an “all-time-greatest hit” as documented by ThinkProgress’ Rebekah Entralgo. The only thing Miller didn’t mention that they almost always do: the author of the poem, Emma Lazarus, was Jewish.
You can watch the full exchange here:
The poem at the base of the statue goes like this:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”