President Donald Trump at Six Months: A Failure of Leadership

Neil Gorsuch was an uncontested layup for President Trump. Gorsuch was a replacement for Antonin Scalia hand-picked by The Federalist Society for President Trump. There is little doubt, Neil Gorsuch will make an excellent Supreme Court justice as we saw a glimpse of that as the court finished their latest term.

Executive orders have defined the bulk of Trump’s successes so far during his tenure, and while I agree with most of what he’s done, executive orders are only good for so long as he’s in office. If Trump loses in 2020, you can mark it down whatever Democrat takes over will reverse nearly all of the EO’s President Trump signed.

Now that we have President Trump’s “victories” out of the way let’s examine after six months how the president managed to reveal a total lack of ability to lead the way, even with a Congress under Republican control.

Trump’s approval in the Real Clear Politics average sits at 40 percent. It’s an abysmally low number for a new President. Gerald Ford had numbers this low, but he also had the shadow of Richard Nixon and Watergate looming over him. President Trump has no such excuse. The economy is doing relatively well. The stock market is at an all-time high. The country is not in middle of a major military conflict. Trump should be at a job approval level giving him the political capital to help push through legislation, but instead, he wasted it on his obsession with being the supposed subject of a “witch hunt” of which he provides more ammunition, nearly every day for Democrats to use against him.

As for the Obamacare repeal debacle, it’s laughable but not at all surprising to see hard-core Trump supporters absolving him of all blame and pinning it entirely on Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan. The favored scapegoats of Trumpers everywhere, Ryan and McConnell, do share some of the blame. After all, they’ve promised to repeal Obamacare starting on the day President Obama signed it into law. But they’re also dealing with a president who is not fully engaged in the process and knows little about the legislation he wants to sign. Trump’s behavior is also so unpredictable, and it’s likely Congressional leaders are concerned about what they do, given the president’s inability to maintain focus on moving the ball forward.

A perfect illustration of Trump’s unpredictability comes in the form of having a Rose Garden celebration in early May when the House of Representatives passed the AHCA. “They’re not even doing it for the party,” Trump said at the time. “They’re doing it for this country because we suffered from Obamacare.” A little over a month later, Trump campaigned against the same bill calling it “mean” and saying it needed more “heart” and “more money.” If you’re Paul Ryan, it’s a hair-pulling moment.

With President Trump’s words flipping the tables, it became incumbent upon the Senate to draft a bill different from what their counterparts in the House passed. Once that happened, the entire process went off the rails. The Senate version, while still coming across as too “harsh” for some moderate Republicans, couldn’t pass muster with a handful of conservative Senators. With too many defectors among Republicans and zero support from Democrats, the effort is pretty much dead.

Trump supporters are already absolving the President of blame, saying it is the fault of Congress for not getting a bill to his desk. The attitude reflects a willful ignorance the role presidents play in getting legislation through the House and Senate and to his desk to sign. It also ignores the words of Trump. Here is candidate Trump in 2016:

“Nobody can do that like me.”

Now he’s blaming Democrats and some Republicans:

Trump couldn’t maintain the same posture about Obamacare in a ten-hour span. He tweeted the following at 10:17 pm on July 17:

The next morning he tweeted:

If you’re Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell, how do you react to what he did? It went from, “Repeal Obamacare, and we’ll replace!” to “Let Obamacare die, and we’ll replace!” in less than 24 hours. 

President Trump’s inability to maintain a cohesive mindset on any one issue for more than a few days at a time is partially why he sits so low in the polls. He constantly contradicts his people. He’ll do something relatively well only to blow it up within days because of his complete lack of impulse control. He is obsessed about Russia, never shutting up about it and leaving it to spokespeople to handle. He tweets about it incessantly, and as a result, it dominates the news cycle. President Trump is his worst enemy, and he doesn’t even realize it nor is there anybody around him willing to say it.

People argue, “It’s still early. He can turn things around.” True. He can. But to do so requires change Trump doesn’t care to make. It requires being more engaged with Congressional leaders. It requires less time playing golf and spending a weekend here or there talking with policy experts and getting the information needed to have input when dealing with Congressional leaders. It requires turning off Fox and Friends and forgetting about Twitter to focus on doing work.

Being the president is not the same as throwing your name on bad steaks and bottles of water. It requires discipline, hard work and as Trump himself said, a willingness to get everybody in a room and hammer out a deal.

That’s leadership. Through the first six months of Trump’s presidency, he’s exhibited none. That alone is his failure.

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From “Drain the swamp!” to “That’s politics!” for President Trump

When asked why people supported Donald Trump over other GOP contenders during the primary, one of the answers was almost always, “He’s not a politician.” Donald Trump was different because he wasn’t beholden to anybody. It would not be politics as usual with Donald Trump.

Then came the phrase, “Drain the swamp.” Donald Trump managed to sell his supporters on the notion that he was different. He wasn’t going to be the same, inside-the-beltway politician that others were going to be.

The meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and Russian nationals, hoping to secure damaging information to Hillary Clinton campaign is revealing in several ways. I wrote about the absurd conspiracy theory Trump supporters have embraced to make it seem like the entire episode was a concoction created by Democrats. To put it all in context, here is what President Trump tweeted this morning:

The narrative is one that keeps shifting. First, Trump and others around him promised for months that no meetings took place between anybody associated with the Trump campaign and Russian officials or anybody from Russia in 2015 or 2016.

That was not true. Once that balloon popped, Team Trump started saying, “Ok, but what happened is entirely legal!” I am not a lawyer, but I tend to agree with Jonathan Turley that Trump Jr. broke no laws. It was, however, sleazy to take the meeting at all. The Russians may not have ties to the Kremlin, but Trump Jr. thought they did and he didn’t care. They had dirt on Hillary, and that’s why he met with them.

The narrative is shifting again. With Trump tweeting what he did, he’s saying, “This is no problem! It’s just politics!” What’s worse is watching a bunch of people excusing what Trump did and buying into his “It’s just politics” excuse.

Does anybody remember his pledge to do away with the kind of politics we’ve gotten used to invading our homes every few years? Now he doesn’t care that his son met with someone who he thought was working for the Russian government?

Trump’s “I’m not a politician” ruse turns out to have been just another one of his cons. He has no intention of draining the swamp. He just wants to fill it with creatures he’s comfortable to have swimming around.


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Latest Job Approval Poll for President Trump? Awful

The chicken and egg theory about President Trump’s low job approval numbers is an interesting one. Trump supporters argue the media scrutiny of Trump is responsible for his poor numbers while Trump critics say the media scrutiny wouldn’t be so intense if Trump just stopped tweeting.

Whether you believe those explanations or believe something else entirely, doesn’t matter. Trump’s numbers are bad, and the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll has more bad news:

Americans give President Donald Trump the lowest six-month approval rating of any president in polls dating back 70 years, punctuated by questions about his competence on the world stage, his effectiveness, the GOP health care plan and Russia’s role in the 2016 election.

Just 36 percent of Americans polled in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll approve of Trump’s job performance, down 6 points from his 100-day mark, itself a low. The previous president closest to this level at or near six months was Gerald Ford, at 39 percent, in February 1975.

Russia weighs heavily, and people say it is affecting his ability to get things done:

Sixty-three percent in this poll, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates, say it was inappropriate for Trump’s son, son-in-law and campaign manager to have met with a Russian lawyer during the campaign. Six in 10 also think Russia tried to influence the campaign, and among those who say so, 67 percent think Trump aides helped, similar to results in April.

Yet the Russia controversy is just one on the list of Trump’s troubles. Just 38 percent say he’s making significant progress toward his goals;

The response to this will range from, “Who cares?” to “Yeah, the polls are always right just like they were for the election!”

The national election polls were right. National average on the day before the election showed Hillary winning by a +3.5 margin and she won +2. Factor in the margin of error and the pollsters were damned close to spot on correct.

For anybody to think at this point, his constant tweeting is not hurting him is a fool’s errand. He tweets. The media covers it. People learn about this and it translates to poor poll numbers.

An interesting experiment would be for the president to stop tweeting for one month except for official announcements and see what the poll numbers look like after that time.

Do you think there’d be any change?

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The ‘Democratic Plot’ Conspiracy Theory About Trump Jr. Meeting Is So Dumb It’s Hilarious

It’s hard to fathom how reasonably intelligent people fall into the trap of believing the most ridiculous of stories. Dr. Theodore Woodward came up with the aphorism, “When you hear hoofbeats, think of horses, not zebras.” It was a warning to medical students who want to believe the common cold is an exotic disease. Law enforcement uses the phrase as well. The solution to a crime is usually the simplest explanation, not a twisted web of events.

The meeting Donald Trump Jr. put together in June 2016 with a Russian lawyer stinks to high heaven. The straw man argument that it’s “no big deal” because it wasn’t illegal is similar to talk I heard from Clinton defenders in the 1990’s. Caught with their hands in the cookie jar, supporters of Bill and Hillary Clinton argued what they may have been immoral, but it didn’t matter because it was not illegal.

Whether it was illegal or not, is irrelevant. The fact is, Donald Trump Jr. was happy to meet with people he thought might have connections to the Russian government and who had information damaging to Hillary Clinton. Trump Jr. didn’t care and that makes what he did, at the very least, sleazy.

However, since the news broke, Trump defenders have engaged in mental gymnastics that not even Ripley would believe. Convinced the meeting was nothing but a setup by Democrats, their delusion grows deeper day by day to the point where Alex Jones is giggling at the absurdity of it all.

The basic premise of their theory is Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, worked with Fusion GPS, the opposition research company who helped put together the infamous Trump dossier working with former British intelligence officer, Richard Steele. Veselnitskaya accomplished this in part due to the efforts of the Obama administration’s justice department who allowed Veselnitskaya to enter the country, despite an earlier denial of a visa. Also at the meeting was Rinat Akhmetshin, another person with a shady past with ties to Fusion GPS. Trump supporters believe the meeting was set up with the implicit purpose of using it to damage the Trump campaign and make it appear as though they were in bed with the Kremlin.

Are you dizzy yet from the gymnastics?

To believe this fiction requires one must first accept the Obama justice department knew in 2015 that Trump would be the eventual GOP nominee and therefore allowed Natalia Veselnitskaya into the country despite a visa denial to get the ball rolling on the plot.

Second, the meeting was set up by Democratic operatives and Russians working on their behalf as a means of furthering the narrative Trump was under the influence of the Kremlin and Vladimir Putin. I’m sorry but in June of 2016? That narrative had not even taken hold. Wikileaks hadn’t even published the DNC emails at this point. That didn’t happen until the following month.

Finally, the big question to ask is this: Why wasn’t this information leaked before the election? Trump supporters argue it didn’t get leaked because they were certain Hillary would win. Huh? They went through the trouble of setting up a meeting to further a narrative about Trump yet didn’t leak it to the press because they didn’t think Trump would win? On what planet does this make any sense?

Granted, Democrats excel in incompetence, but nobody is that incompetent. Trump supporters selling this snake oil want you to believe a conversation like this went down:

“Hey, Lynch allowed that lawyer to stay in the country.”

“Okay, good. It’s October 2015. Let’s try and get this meeting set up with Fredo in June of next year.”

“Got it. When completed, how long do we wait to leak it to the press?”

“Why would we do that?”

“To damage the Trump campaign.”

“We don’t need to do that. Hillary is going to win easily.”

“So why are we doing it?”

“Well, based on the off-chance that Trump by some miracle, does win, we can release it down the road. It will play into the narrative Putin controlled the Trump campaign.”

“That’s a narrative?”

“It will be a year after this conversation takes place.”

“Okay, how about this? If Trump wins, we’ll release it July of 2017. It’s the middle of summer. Nobody is paying attention to politics. People are wrapping up their summer vacations. What do you think?”

“That’s perfect! They’ll never suspect anything!”

For the sake of all that is holy, why can’t Trump supporters just admit that Trump Jr. cared only about getting damaging info about Hillary Clinton and didn’t much care who had the information? There are those on the anti-Trump side making the silly argument the meeting amounted to an “in-kind” contribution to the campaign and since it involved foreign nationals, those contributions are illegal. That is also ridiculous.

But please, people, spare us the goofball conspiracies, ok?



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President Trump: You Bragged About Your Dealmaking Abilities So Get The Health Care Bill Done

The GOP health care plan hangs by a thread, and President Trump appears to be staking out ground where he can blame Congress if the deal doesn’t get done.

In what’s become a familiar refrain, people are making the argument any failure to pass a health care bill rests solely with Congress. “Trump will sign a bill. Why aren’t they getting it done?”

Trump tweeted this morning:

When you get through the word salad, what he’s doing is putting the onus on the Senate to get things done.

Technically that is true. The President is the executive, and Congress writes legislation. But for people to say the President has no role in helping to shape and shepherd legislation through the process ignores decades of examples of when presidents got heavily involved.

The Great Society programs did not happen with Lyndon Johnson sitting with his feet up in the Oval Office. Ronald Reagan required Democratic support for his tax cuts packages that spurred economic growth in the 1980’s. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush both worked with Congressional leaders to get important legislative agendas passed.

Donald Trump, in a 2016 GOP debate said the following about his ability to make deals and what has to happen to make great deals:

“With Congress, you have to get everybody in a room, and you have to get them to agree. But you have to get them to agree with what you want. That’s part of being a dealmaker.”

He also took a swipe at President Obama for playing golf instead of sticking around to “make deals.” Perhaps President Trump should heed his advice, and instead of running off to one of his golf resorts on the weekends, he can stick around and help this health care bill get to his desk.

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NBC Report: Former Soviet Counterintelligence Official Attended Meeting With Trump Jr.

NBC is alone in reporting this for now, but if it gets any traction, I’d expect we’re going to see Donald Trump Jr. before a House or Senate committee, sooner rather than later.

From NBC:

The Russian lawyer who met with the Trump team after a promise of compromising material on Hillary Clinton was accompanied by a Russian-American lobbyist — a former Soviet counter intelligence officer who is suspected by some U.S. officials of having ongoing ties to Russian intelligence, NBC News has learned.

NBC News is not naming the lobbyist, who denies any current ties to Russian spy agencies. He accompanied the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, to the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower attended by Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort.

The Russian-born American lobbyist served in the Soviet military and emigrated to the U.S., where he holds dual citizenship.

Again, the details are sketchy, but sooner or later the White House will be asked to confirm or deny the report.

Once again the sycophants will be out in force attacking straw men like a Trump defender version of Wolverine. “It’s not illegal!” “It’s oppo research! Anybody would take the meeting!” “This is a nothing burger!”

Except for all of the denials, month after month of there being zero meetings between members of the campaign and Russians. They don’t get to walk from that one.

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Charles Krauthammer Slams Conservatives Defending Trump Jr. and Rightly So

It’s difficult to remember how many denials we’ve heard from Donald Trump and everybody around Donald Trump how there have been zero meetings between him or anybody on his campaign with anybody from Russia. Over and over again they’ve denied it, called it “fake news,” or said, “It never happened.”

But it did happen. Donald Trump Jr. made it happen with Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner in attendance. It was a meeting set up by a foreign national (in this case, a Russian) promising damaging information about Hillary Clinton supposedly tied to the Russian government’s attempts to help Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton.

There are a lot of accusations flying around with people arguing Trump Jr. may have violated election laws to screams of “Treason!” The former is a stretch. That latter is absurd. The problem is the apologia coming from conservatives over what happened. I am not talking about “new right” morons such as Mike Cernovich and Jack Posobiec. I am talking about conservatives who’d have never excused such behavior from a Democrat.

Charles Krauthammer, a constant Trump critic but also somebody who thinks the “Russian collusion” story is overblown, was talking with Martha MacCallum on Fox News when he got frustrated with her excuse-making. Watch:

“That’s pathetic.”

He’s right. Claiming the story is “no big deal” since Jr. didn’t get any information out of the meeting is absurd. He was thrilled when he found out and set up the meeting in the hopes he would get damaging information. To write this off now as a “nothing burger” or to argue it happens “all the time” is ridiculous.

As Krauthammer said, for months the White House position is there was “no contact” with the Russians during the campaign. We know now that’s not true. The question is, “How many other meetings took place with Russians we don’t know about?”

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The Latest Conspiracy Theory: Donald Trump Jr. Meeting With Russian Lawyer Is Democratic Plot

It ‘s hard to keep up with all of the nonsense flowing from the White House on a daily basis. Donald Trump Jr. got into some hot water when it was revealed he took a meeting with a Russian lawyer who claimed to have damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

The New York Times spells out how Trump Jr. had two different versions of why he met with Natalia Veselnitskaya, and it makes him sound either incompetent or dumb.

The best theory to come out of the story, however, is the idea it is all one big Democratic plot.

From Yahoo News:

U.S. President Donald Trump’s eldest son Donald Trump Jr. and son-in-law Jared Kushner confirmed late Saturday that they met with a Kremlin-linked lawyer in June 2016 during the election campaign—but President Trump’s attorney is laying the blame firmly with the Democrats.

“We have learned that the person who sought the meeting is associated with Fusion GPS, a firm which, according to public reports, was retained by Democratic operatives to develop opposition research on the President and which commissioned the phony Steele dossier,” Mark Corall, spokesperson for President Trump’s lawyer Marc Kasowitz told NBC.

“These developments raise serious issues as to exactly who authorized and participated in any effort by Russian nationals to influence our election in any manner,” Corall continued.

Did you get that? To believe this, you have to believe Democrats, who supported Hillary Clinton, used an opposition research firm to set up a meeting between a Russian attorney and the Trump campaign……to give them damaging information about Hillary Clinton. 

Makes sense, right?

Of course, this lunacy is making its way into the pro-Trump fever-swamps as is evidenced by this tweet from a Trump sycophant:

After you stop laughing at the absurdity of it all, the central question that arises out of this goofball theory is this:

If Democrats were trying to set up Trump to show an appearance of impropriety, why wait until July of 2017 to release the information?

Wouldn’t it make sense to release it in October of 2016, just before the election?

Oh, wait! Now I get it! This is all part of the Democrats plan! Get Trump elected so they could break out this information eight months after the election to light the fuse for impeachment!


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The New York Times Excuse For Smear of Sarah Palin Doesn’t Pass The Sniff Test

On June 14 of this year, the New York Times published an editorial entitled, ‘America’s Lethal Politics,’ on the day James Hodgkinson, a left-wing Democrat and Bernie Sanders supporter, shot Congressman Steve Scalise and three others at a congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia.

In the editorial, they repeated a long-debunked lie about Sarah Palin and her “connection” to the Tuscon, Arizona shooting of Representative Gabby Giffords and the killing of six others in 2011. They wrote:

Was this attack evidence of how vicious American politics has become? Probably. In 2011, when Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a supermarket parking lot, grievously wounding Representative Gabby Giffords and killing six people, including a 9-year-old girl, the link to political incitement was clear. Before the shooting, Sarah Palin’s political action committee circulated a map of targeted electoral districts that put Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs.

They also wrote this:

Though there’s no sign of incitement as direct as in the Giffords attack, liberals should of course hold themselves to the same standard of decency that they ask of the right.

The New York Times said a direct link between Sarah Palin and the Giffords shooting existed. The accusation is a flat out lie. Jared Loughner, a man with schizophrenia, stalked Giffords after she refused to answer an odd question he asked her at a previous town hall meeting. The shooting had nothing at all to do with politics, and everybody knows this and has since 2011.

After a tidal wave of criticism, the New York Times removed the language from the editorial, admitting no connection between Palin and the Loughner shooting existed. Sarah Palin filed a defamation lawsuit regardless and now the Times is offering up a laughably pathetic defense:

Sarah Palin’s defamation lawsuit against The New York Times should be tossed because the paper made “an honest mistake” when it said she incited a 2011 shooting that severely wounded Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords and killed six people, a lawyer for the Gray Lady said on Friday.

“There was an honest mistake in posting the editorial,” lawyer David Schultz told Manhattan federal Judge Jed Rakoff.

An honest mistake? How is it that The New York Times, the “newspaper of record,” didn’t read their own stories to know there wasn’t a link to Palin? They published enough stories about it. Of course, in their rush to get the “other side did it too” narrative on the editorial page the same day of Scalise’s shooting, they had no time to go through their clip files. If they did, they’d have found the following:

Suspect in Shooting of Giffords Ruled Unfit for Trial

Tucson Shooting Suspect to Have More Treatment

Before Attack, Parents of Gunman Tried to Address Son’s Strange Behavior

There was no honest mistake. The actions of the New York Times was either deliberate and reckless or at the least, profoundly careless and sloppy.

It would be inexcusable for the judge to throw out the case based on the Times flimsy excuse.

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It Took About 12 Hours For Trump To Undercut Steve Mnuchin on Russia Cyber Security ‘Partnership’

Donald Trump must enjoy throwing people on his team under the bus. It’s difficult to keep track of how many times his aides, press people, and cabinet people say something about Trump or what he’s doing, only to be undercut by Trump down the road.

The latest victim is Steven Mnuchin. Appearing on ‘This Week’ with George Stephanpolous, he responded to Trump’s early morning tweet about the supposed cyber security task force idea he floated with Vladimir Putin. Here is what Mnuchin said:

As I wrote earlier,  Senator Lindsey Graham wasn’t impressed saying, “It’s the not the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard, but it’s pretty close.”

Along comes President Trump to blow the whole thing up:

It’s a serious problem. You have smart people like Mnuchin, McMaster, and Mattis for example, all working there and President Dunce does everything he can to make them look ridiculous.

Let’s see how his sycophants explain this one away.

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