And So It Begins….
Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
Maybe it was all hope or maybe it was exhaustion but there was an initial thought that maybe campaign bluster would convert to sane governing mode. Trump himself undoubtedly was totally surprised and overwhelmed—even shocked–that he had been elected president and now needed to prepare himself to govern. There was a belief that the gravitas of the office might actually affectively change the bombastic campaigner. There was a hope that he understood, was ready, willing to listen and learn how the job actually worked. Two weeks since Election Day 2016, there are numerous signs that this was a misguided assumption. What is being seen over the past two weeks is that the people whom he expects to help him govern, may be signaling that the situation was even worse than once had been feared.
It now is beginning to appear—today’s New York Times interview today notwithstanding—that President-elect Trump is likely to govern exactly as he ran his businesses and his campaign. The single exception is addition of his own Svengali or Rasputin in the person of Stephen Bannon. The signs are bad and getting worse by the moment:
- Trump’s entire appointment process seems clearly built around creating a team of sycophants. This is not to suggest that Christie’s doesn’t have baggage—especially now– or that Romney did not “speak nicely” about him during the campaign or that Mike Rogers disagreed with some of Trump’s ideas on national security or that even Newt Gingrich might not have be so controlled. As during his campaign, Trump cannot abide anyone who refuses in any way to march to Trump’s drum beat.
- Trump—especially now with Bannon ensconced next to him—has no intention to disassociate himself with the alt-right or with the White nationalist movement. He certainly will not challenge supporters, regardless of the racist, misogynistic, sexist, or anti-Semitic charges that they allege suggest about what is wrong with America.
- Trump appears to unwilling or incapable of repudiating the remarks of the white supremacist Richard Spencer at the National Policy Institute’s annual conference on Saturday or at dinner of many of his supporters at a Washington area restaurant? On both occasions Heil Trump signaling was used as the white nationalists rallied their forces. Only the Italian restaurant, which was blind-sided by the party, reacted with dignity in turning over their evening’s $10,000 in profits to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
- As the New York Times concluded today and as has been suggested here as well, creating a very hardline national security team may imply a very scary direction for U.S. foreign and defense policy. Could perhaps Trump still have in mind the creation of an elite para-military unit to assure that no maverick military brass try to oppose what might become an overly aggressive military policy direction?
- Is America about to be governed by a person who is so thin skinned that he tweets the cast of the musical hit Hamilton to demand and apology for calling out one member of the audience–Vice-President-elect Mike Pence—to please make sure that the Trump Administration upholds American values for all Americans?
- Why should the American people view with magnanimity Trump’s decision not to seek the further investigation and/or prosecution of Hillary Clinton? This is especially so given the fact that the President-elect needs to understand that a President can only recommend actions to the Justice Department and to Congress. The President does not decide for them whom to investigate.
- Why should the American people be impressed that Trump agreed to a $25 million settlement in the law suits being brought against Trump University after denying he was wrong throughout the campaign?
- Trump scheduled a meeting with the publishers of the New York Times, then cancelled it and then re-scheduled it all the while blaming the “failing” Times for changing the terms of the meeting. For how long does Trump actually believe he will get away with such nonsense?
Stay tuned as it undoubtedly might get scarier.