Thursday, November 01, 2018

What Hath Got Wrot?

Neither a picture of Trump nor an act of political violence

I know it's a bit depressing, but think about this:  what has Trump accomplished?  Yes, he's put two Justices on the Supreme Court; no small thing.  But the Supremes haven't done anything for the people since they gutted the VRA, the effects of which are being felt from Montana to Georgia just now, and many points in between (hello, Dodge City, Kansas!) and that was long before Trump came along.  But what has Trump wrought?  A travel ban that was finally upheld, in its third iteration, by the Supreme Court?  A family separation policy that was a debacle and a catastrophe?  A tax cut no one remembers in November, or feels (except, maybe, Sheldon Adelson)?  What else?  Coarsen irrevocably the political discourse of the country in ways that make Newt Gingrich envious?   No, I mean as a matter of governance:  what has his Administration wrought? His supporters keep saying he's done things (or hope he'll do things); but what has he done?  Let's take his press conference today as an encapsulation:

He announced no new policy changes, despite a policy announcement being the premise that got cable networks to carry the speech live. But he did offer up claims ranging from ridiculous to racist:

As Trump prepares to send more troops to the border, he said that asylum seekers who throw rocks should know “we will consider that a firearm. Because there’s not much difference.”

He insinuated that there’s “a lot of money” moving around in the immigrant caravan, a reference to conspiracy theories about George Soros’s secret involvement.

He said American women should fear men coming across the border, a near-verbatim use of the racist trope that men of color are a sexual threat to white women.

He claimed there are immigrants who come to America with “big medical problems before they get here.”

In response to a question about a Georgia governor’s race, he volunteered that Stacey Abrams, a Yale-educated black woman with years in public service, is not qualified to serve.

The whole affair echoed the 2016 campaign, when cable news was criticized for airing Trump’s rallies uninterrupted. CNN changed its policy during the campaign, but on Thursday they aired his address in full, posting live chyrons quoting the president making objectively false claims, like “We’re not allowing migrants in.”
And, if you'll note, he never even made a policy announcement.  The whole thing was a sham, a ploy for free campaign airtime for the GOP.  Plenty of coarsening of the discourse there; but not any substance; nothing to show for it.  Remember his military parade?  Something else he could do all on his own.  Yeah, that's dead, never to be heard from again.  Anybody willing to take bets on how many U.S military personnel actually end up on the 2000 mile U.S. border, "assisting" Border Patrol and trying not to get shot (or shoot) right-wing militias who think they are government agents without the training, the oversight, or the authority?  (Not remotely the "well-ordered" militia referred to in the 2nd Amendment, but do you think you'll hear Trump parsing that Constitutional phrase anytime soon?)?  He's raised the number from 500 to 15,000; how many actually show up is probably going to be a function for the same calculus that shut down the parade.  The closest Trump got to the promised announcement today was to say plans for something on immigration are being "finalized."  That, of course, could include his crackpot idea to eviscerate the 14th Amendment by executive order (at some point even non-military government personnel have to realize they can't be required to enforce illegal orders).

This is the sum total of his accomplishments:  what he says he has done, can do, or will do.  He said he could estimate the size of the "caravan" in Mexico, although he can't seem to estimate their time of arrival very well (anytime from December to February, most calculations say.  Gotta get those troops down there now!).  He says his wall is being built:  it isn't.  He says billions of dollars have been allocated for it:  they haven't.  He says he won't allow migrants in:  the Border Patrol can't stop them, and the National Guard (still there!  Remember?) and the Army can't do it for them (can barely assist them in doing it).  He's talking to himself.  He's the old man at the Thanksgiving table recalling his glory days that never were, swearing up and down as he drifts in and out of awareness that he was the reason the sun rose every day of his life.

Since he's the President it's hard to ignore him, but frankly, today, what his National Security Advisor said is of more import than anything the President has said in the last six months, and will certainly be more significant than anything Trump has accomplished since he took office.  Except for those two Supreme Court Justices; that's gonna do damage for a long, long time; but not because Trump got anything through Congress.

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