Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018 August 2018 September 2018 October 2018 November 2018 December 2018 January 2019


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Tuesday, August 01, 2017

The new sheriff in town, blah, blah, blah

by digby

I wrote about General Kelly for Salon this morning:

There’s nothing quite like the breathless excitement of Beltway pundits at the prospect of a manly father figure striding into town to whip the political system into shape. CNN’s Gloria Borger must have said “there’s a new sheriff in town” at least 467 times in the space of one afternoon after the news that the colorful White House communications adviser of just 10 days, Anthony “the Mooch” Scaramucci, was out on his ear at the hands of the new White House chief of staff General John Kelly.

The thrill of having a swashbuckling military man bringing the hammer down on his very first day brought mainstream media commentators to the kind of collective swoon we haven’t seen since President Trump hired Gens. H.R McMaster and James “Mad Dog” Mattis a few months back and everyone declared that the grownups were back in charge.

Ben Domenech of the Federalist explained on “Face the Nation” on Sunday that Kelly’s hire is a turning point. Normally this would lead to a prediction that Trump is finally going to “pivot,” but by now everyone seems to realize that the president is incapable of “pivoting” to anything resembling presidential behavior. Never mind that; Domenech has a new pivot theory:

It’s potentially a turning point in the early stages of this administration, a pivot away from perhaps loyalty to a GOP establishment which had been injected into this White House after a campaign in which they were very often at odds.

On CNN, GOP strategist Mark Caputo gave the official Beltway line:
I’ve known the president for quite a while now, several years. And I know that he responds very, very well to flag officers. It’s a group of people that he’s very respectful of. I think that if he and General Kelly sat down … I trust that the president is going to stand by whatever commitments he made to the general. This White House could use a Marine officer in charge. We all agree about this. I think we’re going to see some good things.
It’s true that Trump likes the idea of a granite-jawed man in uniform but in practice those relationships haven’t worked as well as people predicted. Bloomberg’s Eli Lake reported a couple of months ago that Trump was “disillusioned” with McMaster, his national security adviser, the last general everyone assumed would take command and give Trump the structure and focus he so clearly lacks.

That hasn’t worked out too well. Trump doesn’t like getting advice and reportedly complains that McMaster talks too much. He believes the general has “undermined his policy” by seeking to clarify the president’s muddled message in the hopes of averting international incidents. Just last week the president showed his great respect for his secretary of defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff by not bothering to consult with them before he tweeted out a ban on transgender military members, apparently on a whim.

On the campaign trail, Trump hailed World War II generals George Patton and Douglas MacArthur, both of whom were disciplined for insubordination, although Trump never gave the slightest indication he was aware of anything but their reputations as tough guys. Of course there was one general in his administration with whom he seem to truly bond: Michael Flynn, the unstable short-term national security adviser who is now under investigation for being in the pocket of foreign governments. Trump still loves the guy and has remained loyal to him despite pretty much betraying every other member of his administration, most recently devoted Attorney General Jeff Sessions, doglike press secretary Sean Spicer, chief of staff Reince Priebus and now Scaramucci, his designated hit man.

Perhaps Gen. Kelly will have better luck. Trump certainly admired his ruthless approach to dealing with immigration during his stint as director of Homeland Security. It is ironic that a man who is being extolled as a rigid disciplinarian made his name at DHS as a leader who allowed rank-and-file ICE officers and Border Patrol agents to run wild and do whatever they deemed necessary regardless of the law. This is not the mark of a strict and controlled leadership style.

According to Dara Lind at Vox, Kelly has also recently adopted Trump’s florid rhetorical style, ranting to an audience at George Washington University, “Make no mistake — we are a nation under attack. We are under attack from criminals who think their greed justifies raping young girls at knifepoint, dealing poison to our youth, or killing just for fun,” which apparently surprised people who have known him for a while and saw him as a more nuanced and sophisticated thinker. Trump undoubtedly appreciated such a validation of his worldview that the United States is at war with immigrants.

I wrote about Kelly’s disturbing tenure at DHS a few weeks ago, and frankly I think he’s better off working at the White House scheduling the president’s time and refereeing the dysfunctional Trump family circus than overseeing that vast police agency. In a way, Trump’s unfitness for office may serve to rein in Kelly as much as Kelly will rein in Trump.

Of course the Scaramucci firing dominated the news on Monday and overshadowed what should have been a very big story about Kelly that will shape his relationship with the president more than anything they may have in common. CNN reported that Kelly was extremely upset about the way Trump handled the firing of FBI Director James Comey back in May, and even considered resigning over it. In fact, Kelly apparently called Comey while the latter was on his way back to Washington that very day, and Comey told him not to quit.

This story didn’t get much play but you can bet Trump has heard about it. The president’s insistence on blind loyalty is well known. He probably thought he had it in Kelly, whom he sees as a “tough” leader like himself. Now he knows that Kelly went behind his back and commiserated with his hated nemesis.

Trump predicted on Monday that Kelly “will go down, in terms of the position of chief of staff, as one of the greatest ever.” But the minute things go sideways or Kelly tells him something he doesn’t want to hear or Jared and Ivanka whisper complaints in his ear, Trump will turn on him. He knows that Kelly wanted to resign in protest against his behavior. The president will never be able to get that out of his mind and will never fully trust Kelly because of it. I’d guess that the general’s not long for Trumpworld.