“I’m Not Gonna Blame Myself”

Trump’s Version Of Damage Control And Managing Expectations

The President held two impromptu briefings with the media, both of which seemed to be designed to dispel the impression he is at war with his own party, and refute accusations he isn’t getting things done.

The upshot: almost nothing was cleared up, a lot became even more confusing, and new controversies arose.

• During the first briefing Trump expressed anger at some Republicans (calling out only John McCain by name) for not repealing Obamacare, but also used that as proof that nothing is his fault, and he’s doing a great job. Watch here:

• During the second briefing, at which he appeared with oft-attacked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (“we’re closer than ever before, our relationship is very good“), Trump gave himself all the credit for triggering bipartisan health care talks, which have in fact been going on for months.

• He attacked Democrats for obstructing the confirmation of the federal judges he wants, and also warned if Democrats don’t support his tax cuts, they’ll be in big trouble on election day.

• But what seemed to be the big point of the joint appearance was managing expectations on those tax cuts, which both he and Republican leadership repeatedly swore would happen by the end of the year. While both Trump and McConnell said it’s still their intent to get it done by year’s end, they pointed to other Presidents like Reagan and Obama, who took much longer to get their landmark legislation passed. (But wasn’t Obama the epitome of a “loser” President?) You can watch that part here:

• Trump also brought up his intention to fight high prescription drug prices, which is something he likes to talk about when he wants to drum up support (is anybody against lower drug prices?), but as of yet has done nothing about.

• New controversy came in the form of Trump’s rambling, changing-on-the-spot comments about why he hasn’t yet contacted the families of soldiers killed in an ambush in Niger, Africa last week. His answer: Obama didn’t call the families of fallen soldiers. When asked what evidence he had of that, Trump answered:

“I don’t know if he did. I was told that he didn’t often….President Obama I think probably did sometimes, and maybe sometimes he didn’t. I don’t know. That’s what I was told.”

To which Obama’s former Deputy Press Secretary Tweeted: “that’s a f*cking lie!” San Antonio Spurs coach and Air Force Academy alum Gregg Popovich, called Trump a “soulless coward“.

McCain’s Rebuttal

Trump mentioned only John McCain by name when expressing anger at Republicans who didn’t expressly do his bidding. Later in the day, McCain did not mention the President’s name, but issued a de facto rebuttal in Philadelphia, during his acceptance of the Liberty Medal.

Though frail, the Arizona Republican spoke forcefully, condemning “people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems”: calling out their “half-baked, spurious nationalism” as “unpatriotic”. We’ve cued up that part of his speech for you here

Obama’s Vice-President Joe Biden hosted the event. His son Beau died from the same form of brain cancer McCain was diagnosed with in July.


In Defense Of The Koch Brothers

Democrats have got to stop wasting time arguing that Mike Pence would be worse than Trump. He’s not. For the simple reason that if Pence lost an election, he’d most likely gracefully concede. No way that’s ever gonna happen with Trump.

In a much-talked-about story out today, Jane Mayer in the New Yorker details the perils of Pence in great detail. We love Jane Mayer. Her book, “Dark Money” is amazing and we recommend everybody read it.

And while we completely agree with her premise that a Pence Presidency would mean a power shift in the White House from the Bannons of the world to the Koch Brothers, we’d argue that as evil as the Kochs may be, we’ll take that deal any day. Why? Because the Koch Brothers are incredibly consistent in their beliefs and actually do believe in something. We may furiously disagree with them but it does amount to something more thought out and substantial than just “tear it down and blow it up”.

When Steve Bannon worries aloud in the article that “[Pence’d] be a President that the Kochs would own”, given the “ownership” we’ve got now (and the fact that it’s Bannon out there warning us about it), that doesn’t seem like the worst of all possible outcomes.

The Kochs generally want:

• Deregulation of everything: especially important because many of the industries they’re in are heavy polluters and they’ve been fined heavily in the past. (Trump’s already all over that).

• Obamacare to be obliterated (and most programs that mostly benefit the poor).

• Big tax cuts, especially for the rich. The Kochs are very much against their tax dollars going to pay for Federal government programs they personally oppose. They make no secret of the fact they don’t really care about the taxes of anyone else. (But they also don’t pretend they do).

They’d rather give rich people more ability to decide where their money goes, and they do set an example: unlike Trump, they give away a sh*t ton of their own money. Some of it to Universities to endow chairs and set up centers that peddle their personal philosophies (and it’s tax deductible!)

But they also gave former NFL star Deion Sanders $21-million to support lower income neighborhoods in North Texas. $100-million for cancer research at MIT, $150-million for patients at Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center, $100-million to Lincoln Center in New York, to support the arts. The list goes on: this fawning (and poorly written) press release from the Metropolitan Museum of Art makes it seems like David Koch hauled the granite and installed hundreds of LED lights by himself when he renovated the museum’s famous fountains.

And if we were to ask you: would you like to decide what your tax dollars pay for, once the military, police and fire get paid? Wouldn’t you answer “yes”? (Especially now, when many of us find ourselves in a position where we’re donating more and more of our money and time to causes that are fighting things our tax dollars are simultaneously paying for). That’s what the Kochs are trying to accomplish (and have been somewhat successful at, at least for themselves.)

In addition, the Koch’s support increasing immigration, and same sex marriage. So I guess what we’re saying is even though they’re close to pure evil, at least they have some respect for civil society.

David and Charles Koch