Priorities

Fortunately Donald Trump has his priorities in order.  In a week when his only potential legislative achievement – which would take healthcare away from millions of Americans – was slowly dismantled, until only a skeleton remained and even that could not pass the US Senate, the president was bullying his Attorney General, gave a speech at the Jamboree for which the leadership of the Boy Scouts of America had to apologize, unbeknownst to the Pentagon tweeted that transgender people can no longer serve in the military, and encouraged a Wall Street hedge fund Mafioso, who is slated to become his Director of Communications, to start a knife fight with his Chief of Staff.  Nice work if you can get it.   Searching for rationality in Trump’s actions is usually a futile endeavor, but this time his motives seemed clear: he wants Jeff Sessions to resign so that he can appoint someone who will fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and he wants as many underlings as possible to compete for his favors, just like participants did on ‘The Apprentice,’ the show that never left him.

In terms of effectiveness his results were meager.  Sessions, his very first supporter in Congress, said Trump’s attacks were hurtful but that he did not intend to resign, the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff stated that nothing would change until a policy had been announced via the appropriate channels, the Boy Scouts did not transform themselves into ‘Trump-youth,’ and Anthony Scaramucci turned out to be a monumental foulmouth and just about the worst communicator on the planet.  To get rid of Sessions Trump would have to fire him, but Chairman Grassley of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee has already stated that no new Attorney General would be confirmed, so that a recess appointment would be Trump’s only option.  As Lindsey Graham declared, however, all hell would break loose if Mueller was fired, and many Republicans in Congress who are slowly distancing themselves from Trump would consider it obstruction of justice, an impeachable offense.  If anything, the president’s antics show how worried he is about what Mueller might find in his financial records.

In retrospect, this might be labeled as ‘the week Trump broke with the GOP.’  He blames the failure to dismantle Obamacare on Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, who in his perception gave him a politically leaking football to carry into the end zone.  Reince Priebus resigned or was finally fired on Friday, and with him and Sean Spicer gone Vice President Mike Pence is the only link left with the Republican Party, and so far that has not worked very well.

Trump is easily bored and likes to be entertained by chaos, but with Scaramucci spewing vulgarities and terrorizing the White House staff someone convinced him to ask Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to become Chief of Staff.  As a retired four star general Kelly is used to being obeyed, but since he has no policy expertise it will be fascinating to see how his tenure develops.

According to Lawrence O’Donnell the first thing Kelly has to do is kick Scaramucci out of the White House, and then he has to make sure that Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon report to him, not to Trump, who will have to promise that no tweet goes out without Kelly’s approval.

Hugo Kijne

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