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Hullabaloo


Monday, January 21, 2019

 

Two years in

Tom Sullivan

MLK Day. Two years into the Trump presidency. Is it hump day or halfway to hell? David Faris summarizes the president's first two years in one paragraph for The Week:

We know that President Trump has, perhaps permanently, transformed the presidency with his malevolence, ineptitude, and divisiveness. Donald Trump is by far the laziest and least informed person ever to inhabit the White House. In two years, he has defined deviance so far down that he may have forever altered the expectations of the office of the presidency itself. As we have learned from a thousand anonymously sourced news analyses, the president's time is largely unstructured, filled mostly with blocks of compulsive Fox News watching, an activity that he telegraphs to the public by live tweeting it. America's voters are constantly being told, by the president of the United States, to watch particular Fox programs and to applaud quotes by right-wing gadflies uttered without any serious pushback from other guests on what is now effectively Republican state television.
Actually, Faris was just getting warmed up, but you get the idea. It ain't pretty. But you knew that.

Like other federal holidays, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a secular feast day celebrated with speeches and community events, but also with pro forma marches and other trappings of a civil rights era that is atrophied but still sorely needed. It is year three of The Resistance, the weekend marked with women's marches across the country (and one with near-single-digit wind chill here).


2019 Women's March, Asheville, NC.

So far, none of the street actions have moved the needle on removing Trump or getting furloughed federal employess back to work and paychecks. The sitting president spent Day 30 of the Trump shutdown tweeting instead of making deals. The self-proclaimed consummate deal maker is consummately terrible at it.

"It’s like McDonald’s not being able to make a hamburger,” Republican strategist and Trump critic Mike Murphy told the Washington Post. Mr. “I alone can fix it” cannot, but he can screw things up royally.

Russ Buettner and Maggie Haberman of the New York Times offer a major reason why:

His lack of public empathy for unpaid federal workers echoes his treatment of some construction workers, contractors and lawyers whom he refused to pay for their work on his real estate projects. The plight of the farmers and small-business owners wilting without the financial support pledged by his administration harks back to the multiple lenders and investors who financed Mr. Trump’s business ventures only to come up shortchanged.

And his ever-changing positions (I’ll own the shutdown; you own the shutdown; the wall could be steel; it must be concrete; then again, it could be steel) have left heads in both parties spinning. Even after his televised proposal on Saturday to break the deadlock, Mr. Trump has no progress to show.
Trump cares about one thing: portraying himself as a winner. And he doesn't care who he screws in the process.

David Leonhardt reports the small scale of protests over the Trump shutdown baffle Europeans "shocked that Americans have not begun protesting the shutdown in large numbers." Leonhardt continues, "If this were happening in Europe, as Luigi Zingales of the University of Chicago told me, people would be pouring into the streets." In the U.S., only scattered rallies.

Two years in, perhaps it is Trump fatigue. Watching the nation decay from behind a screen makes it worse.

Counties between Charlotte and Fayetteville, NC along the South Carolina border will have no representation in Congress for the foreseeable future. A decision on holding a new election is pending completion of an election fraud investigation by a state Board of Elections that will not be sworn in until January 31. But the prospect of having a new election in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District brings with it the likelihood the contest could make Jon Ossoff's 2017 race for GA-6 look penny ante. It would be a four-ring media circus. For field operatives, it would be just what the doctor ordered to treat Trump fatigue.

"Is this a private fight, or can anyone join in?"