“The Education of Donald Trump”: Politico Accidentally Shows Why Everything is Scary. (Bonus! The Most Newt Gingrich Quote Ever)

 

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“They might even impeach him! Who’s ever heard of such a thing!”

 

I don’t really have time to get into the fullness of how depressing and terrifying and bitterly funny this Politico article, “The Education of Donald Trump”, really is. It’s about how none of them knew that being President would be hard, and how it is especially hard because Trump doesn’t take the job seriously. It isn’t so much his education as how the people around him are learning how to manipulate him. I’ll just put in a few choice quotes.

He turned to his relationships with world leaders. “I have a terrific relationship with Xi,” he said, referring to the Chinese president, who Trump recently invited for a weekend visit at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

By all reports, they got along fine. Which is to be expected; only for Trump is not insulting a foreign leader the mark of a great relationship. But he won’t shut up about it. He mentions his great relationship with Xi once a day.  It’s like how he constantly brags about getting a Supreme Court nominee on the bench, when he has an open seat and a Senate majority. That’s literally the least you can do, you idiot.

Trump remains reliant as ever on his children and longtime friends for counsel. White House staff have learned to cater to the president’s image obsession by presenting decisions in terms of how they’ll play in the press. Among his first reads in the morning is still the New York Post.

I bet he still cuts out pages where he’s mentioned and sends them to friends, circling his name with his childlike hands. “They wrote about me again, Reince! I’m on the cover. Are you?”

As president, Trump has repeatedly reminded his audiences, both public and private, about his longshot electoral victory. That unexpected win gave him and his closest advisers the false sense that governing would be as easy to master as running a successful campaign turned out to be. It was a rookie mistake.

It’s not a rookie mistake; it’s an idiot mistake. Who would ever think that? How could any human think that?

As he sat in the Oval Office last week, Trump seemed to concede that even having risen to fame through real estate and entertainment, the presidency represented something very different.

Like with healthcare being complicated, this is something that no one knew.

Between Priebus and Vice President Mike Pence, who once served in House leadership, Trump thought he had the experts he needed and wouldn’t have to worry about Congress that much. But Priebus is a political insider, not a congressional one. And Pence, who was governor of Indiana before joining Trump’s ticket, has been absent from the Hill during the rise of the House Freedom Caucus, the ideological hardliners who delivered Trump the most stinging defeat of his young presidency.

Hey, not to belabor it, but these are things people knew in advance. Like, did you not know that Priebus has never had office? Leadership!

As Trump is beginning to better understand the challenges—and the limits—of the presidency, his aides are understanding better how to manage perhaps the most improvisational and free-wheeling president in history. “If you’re an adviser to him, your job is to help him at the margins,” said one Trump confidante. “To talk him out of doing crazy things.”

Maybe you shouldn’t have helped get a guy who does crazy things elected! That was something you cold have done that was a little nobler, Mr. Confidante. Or Mrs. This might actually be Ivanka.

But they’re learning. One key development: White House aides have figured out that it’s best not to present Trump with too many competing options when it comes to matters of policy or strategy. Instead, the way to win Trump over, they say, is to present him a single preferred course of action and then walk him through what the outcome could be – and especially how it will play in the press.

“You don’t walk in with a traditional presentation, like a binder or a PowerPoint. He doesn’t care. He doesn’t consume information that way,” said one senior administration official. “You go in and tell him the pros and cons, and what the media coverage is going to be like.”

This is literally saying that the President is a child who can’t handle making decisions, but if you tell him something will make Steve Doocey happy, he’ll do it. “He doesn’t consume information that way” is the polite way of saying “The President is a vastly unqualified idiot, and I mean that in every sense: there is nothing to qualify or ameliorate his idiocy, and he should not be President, and every day I work for him I am complicit in this disaster.” Granted, that’s a mouthful, but it is the whole story.

But the really prize isn’t really anything to do with Donald Trump. It is how Newt Gingrich, sycophant to the stars, justifies Trump having problems.

“I think he’s much more aware how complicated the world is,” said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who serves as an informal administration adviser. “This will all be more uphill than he thought it would be because I think he had the old-fashioned American idea that you run for office, you win, then people behave as though you won.”

Now, obviously, I didn’t hear Newt say this, but you can hear it. It’s a sneer against the liberals. He is obviously being sarcastic about “old-fashioned American idea”, and how it really shouldn’t be old-fashioned, but should be respected. Trump won, and the Democrats aren’t letting him do so. What happened to decency?

Newt Gingrich is saying this. Newt Gingrich. About Donald Trump. Donald Trump, whose political career started by literally saying for five years that Barack Obama wasn’t a US citizen and so an illegitimate President. And it wasn’t just Trump: Gingrich said this about him in 2010“What if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together [his actions]?…This is a person who is fundamentally out of touch with how the world works, who happened to have played a wonderful con, as a result of which he is now president.” 

I guess he is saying that Obama was President, but it isn’t exactly behaving as though he won.

He’s saying this after the GOP did everything they could to obstruct the Obama administration, even nullifying his Constitutional duty to appoint a Supreme Court justice.

And, holy god, Newt Gingrich is talking about how no one is showing respect to the election results. Newt Gingrich impeached Bill Clinton over an affair. He shut down the government to try to force Clinton to do what he wanted. He had Congress investigate everything the Clintons had ever done. Again, just to be clear, he impeached a twice-elected President over an affair.

But listen to how aggrieved he is. How unfair the whole thing is. How victimized the Trump administration is by Democrats not recognizing his enormous mandate. There is no one, not even Ted Cruz, who is as self-righteously hypocritical and deeply unprincipled as Newt Gingrich. Mitch McConnell is cynical, but Newt actually believes this. He can say that and feel good about it.

This quote should be on Newt’s tombstone.

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Well, Newt, You Gave It Your Best Shot!

 

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Pictured: the face of a man who isn’t going to get to be the leader (possibly) of the civilizing forces. (Screengrab from TPM)

 

This is a man who isn’t getting the VP nod.

“A great deal of the coverage of what I said on Fox last night has been distorted,” Gingrich said. “The news media went into a hysteria overnight trying to over-exaggerate what I was saying. This is not about targeting a religion.”

“This is about looking for certain characteristics that painfully, we have learned time after time, involve killing people,” he elaborated.

But he seemed to take a different tack while discussing how to deal with a pattern of terrorist activity from American citizens, saying that it would be “impossible” to deport them.

“With an American citizen, deportation is impossible,” he said. “It’s not appropriate under the Constitution and there, historically we’ve always said, if you fought against the United States, that the correct answer were basically jail as opposed to deportation. I think we have to talk through what should be the right way of handling people who are here, but are not citizens.

And this was the man who still thought he had a chance.

“Western civilization is in a war. We should frankly test every person here who is of a Muslim background and if they believe in sharia they should be deported,” Gingrich told Fox News’ Sean Hannity.

Or, in the words of Hollywood Mark Perrone, “Once again the liberal media’s unabridged replay of the video of everything I said on a national broadcast just last night is dividing this nation.”

It’s a testament to Newt’s incredible mendacity and absolute lack of principle’s that he’s willing to disagree with his 12-hours-ago-self once he realized that being hatefully anti-American and totally fascistic wasn’t enough to get him a job he wanted. But he sure gave it the ol’ college try, if the college is the University of East Berlin. The man needs a team of Sherpas just to reach the moral basement.

How Not To Keep A Free Society: Newt Gingrich Edition

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“I’m a really deep thinker, frankly.”

In the last post, we talked about how the kind of mutating terrorist attacks like we saw in Nice will happen in a free society. Newt Gingrich, whose VP dreams have yet to be crushed, eschews all talk of free society.

“Western civilization is in a war. We should frankly test every person here who is of a Muslim background and if they believe in sharia they should be deported,” Gingrich told Fox News’ Sean Hannity.

“Sharia is incompatible with western civilization. Modern Muslims who have given up sharia, glad to have them as citizens. Perfectly happy to have them next door,” he added.

There’s no real need to point out everything that is wrong with this, right? Forget how hideously unconstitutional and un-American it is to have everyone of a single faith line up for loyalty testing. That’s standard Newt: he knows it is what Trump wants to hear, so he’ll say it. (Bonus Newtism: he always says “frankly” when he’s about to say something really dumb, because he feels it gives it intellectual heft. Once you notice that, you’ll see it is always true.)   Let’s also forget for the moment that believing in Sharia is not, in and of itself, against the law. There are a lot of people who don’t believe in the Constit

Let’s also forget for the moment that believing in Sharia is not, in and of itself, against the law. There are a lot of people who don’t believe in the Constitutional order, and as long as they aren’t acting on it, that’s ok. Let’s also ignore the insanity of someone saying that a belief is “incompatible with western civilization” when he’s literally proposing mass expulsion based on a religious-based ideological litmus test, which seems pretty goddam incompatible with Western civilization, to me.

No, what’s really stupid– what makes Newt so world-historic dumb at times — is that he proposes this as the realistic and tough-guy way of dealing with a threat. Tthe attacks at Nice were the “fault of Western elites who lack the guts to do what is right, to do what is necessary,” he told Hannity, and between the two, the perfumed machismo must have been through the roof.  This is, frankly, incredible. How exactly does he imagine this is going to go down? Does he actually think that people dedicated to the destruction of America and the death of all its citizens are also incapable of lying? That after waiting in line for hours, after the Muslim Registration Act, which won’t do much to change their attitude toward the US, they won’t be able to plot a complicated web of deceit, i.e., saying “no” when asked if they are a terrorist?

The most charitable interpretation of this is that Newt actually believes this will work, and that it will allow good Muslims to stay in the US and have everyone be happy. It’s barking madness, of course, and deeply antithetical to the kind of free society that is at the end the final bulwark against radicalism. But if he believed this would work, or was a good idea, at least you could argue from there.

But he probably doesn’t, at least not in any way that doesn’t require the cognitive dissonance that is the heart of the modern right wing. He decided this sounded good, and would appeal to Trump, who appeals to millions and millions of voters. They want the tough guy who will trample our values, because it feels good. In less than a week the GOP is going to nominate someone who brags about his willingness to employ torture. They are appealing because their idea of America is one of soil and blood and steel, and not the actual values that make this country great. They have the same boot-stomping atavistic lure of LePen and Orban and the Brexiters.

ISIS and al-Qaeda want a civilizational clash. They are experts at provoking one. It’s their great good fortune that they have enemies who want to give it to them. What Newt said wasn’t in a vacuum. It’s the direction in which the whole world is lurching.