The Dow Jones hit the lowest level of Trump’s presidency today, barely, then came up again. The day is down about half a percentage point. Yesterday I saw an article asking if the Trump rally was going to be stopped by Trump’s actions. There’s a growing awareness that Trump’s loose cannon approach is probably not super great for business.
Yesterday the New York Times wrote that a trade war has already begun. After all, when you loudly declare America First, even your friends are going to suss out what that means. One person was quoted as saying “When you push away your friends, don’t be surprised when they find new friends.”
Trump's Trade War May Have Already Begun
On Wednesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany spoke by telephone with Premier Li Keqiang of China. "The two spoke…
Then the president of China stood up at Davos<?> and positioned themselves as the next global leader. So there you go. America isn’t just losing its grip on power, it’s actively running from the role and responsibilities inherent in leading the world. And it’s hard to see how it ever wins that power back. If we can vote for a Trump once, we can do it again.
I think a lot about 2018, and this article says 2018 is in play:
President Donald Trump is off to a fast start, but that aggressiveness could produce the same sort of reaction that…
The analysis is a lot more positive than mine, but it has the same general point. Democrats need 24 seats. The party in power tends to lose seats during midterms. If you look at seats that were won by 13% or less (meaning a 7% swing can eliminate it) you can reach 24 seats. The article calls out a few additional seats based on more details like the age of the congressperson or the demographics of the area.
And of course Trump’s continued unpopular policy ideas make those seats even more in reach. If a 7% swing is possible, a 9% swing is possible, and that would put the House firmly in the grasp of Democrats. So as counter-intuitive as it sounds, Trump is doing a big favor to Democrats when he acts like a loose cannon.
Today the media realized that Bannon is going to have to go through Senate confirmation for his NSC seat. That’s probably not something Bannon is particularly excited about. And I don’t know if he’ll win confirmation, but it seems like he’d have more of an uphill climb than most have.
On that note, Devoss and Sessions had their confirmations delayed by the Democrats. They’ll still make it through, of course. The Republicans have the votes. But these delays are really getting on Trump’s nerves. It’s funny watching the GOP say that this kind of obstruction has no precedent when Garland has so recently been denied even a hearing.
Speaking of the Supreme Court, Trump is going to announce his Supreme Court pick in a few hours. Apparently it’s going to be during primetime on the east coast. And the rumors are that both men have been invited to the White House. Both? Does that mean he’s going to do an Apprentice trick and keep it a secret until the moment he names the other? That would be sick and beneath the presidency or either man.
Another idea is that he signs an executive order that states he can nominate both picks to the Supreme Court. I think the person who floated that idea on Twitter was joking, but that’s the “down is up” world we’re living in.
Business Insider says that a man named Hardiman might be Trump’s pick. (http://www.businessinsider.com/trump-supreme-court-nomination-frontrunner-2017-1) I have no opinion on that other than the fact that Hardiman is actually considered more liberal than John Roberts according to Five Thirty Eight (https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-trumps-nominee-will-alter-the-supreme-court/) .
So if I could choose between Pryor, Kethledge, Gorsuch, or Hardiman, there’s only one in that list that’s not considered more conservative than even Scalia: Hardiman. That doesn’t mean I’d agree with him on every topic. But he stands in stark contrast to the other three men. If he did put this guy up, a few things would happen. First, Democrats would have to respond. They can’t be seeing liking a Trump appointee, even someone who got a 95–0 vote last time.
So it means the GOP can jump over the 60 vote threshold fairly easily. Which means they don’t eliminate the filibuster because they don’t have to. It means the difference between Hardiman and Garland actually isn’t as extreme as you might imagine. It means that the Senators who vote for him get more primary challenges because right now agreeing with Trump is not a popular thing to do on the left.
So if Trump is ok with someone who’s not completely ideologically lockstep with the right (as Clarence Thomas is) then this would be a brilliant strategic pick. He’d use all the anger on the left and jujitsu it against them.
But it’s too smart. Trump picks people that will harm the other side the most on the surface, even when it harms him the most in the long run. Even when it’s a strategic blunder. So by that estimate, the two most extreme judges he has to pick from are Kethledge or Gorsuch. They both score essentially the same — much more conservative than even Scalia, but no one comes close to Thomas.
That will put forth a much more obvious dynamic. Far right judge, howls of protest, a filibuster, fund raising on both sides, fight fight fight, then the court will tilt further right than it did with Scalia. That’s how Trump plays the game.
Speaking of Thomas, there are signs he wants to retire. If he retires in the next four years, it won’t change the makeup of the court. And in fact almost any replacement would be more liberal than he is. But it’s another missing opportunity for the Democrats. It would have been good to replace a Thomas with a Kagan. That’s how we’d reverse Citizens United, something most voters strongly agree with.
But justices have a habit of becoming more liberal the longer they’re on the bench. And in fact John Roberts has ruled from the center for much of his reign. He’s the reason Obamacare wasn’t dismantled. So the court isn’t as straight-forward as it’s described. Not with Scalia, not after Scalia, not with Gorsuch or Kethledge. And definitely not with Hardiman.
Last night the acting attorney general under Trump refused his immigration order, so he fired her. But he didn’t just fire her, he used words like “betrayal.” He believes if he sets a law, it becomes legal. I don’t think he’s a big fan of following the constitution first and foremost. And that’s a big reason why Sessions hasn’t been nominated yet.
The featured article on Medium today was all about head fakes and secret coups and liberals missing the point by protesting. I’m getting annoyed by this line of thinking. Protesting what you think needs protesting is good. Giving money to causes you think will help is good. Calling congresspeople is good. But second-guessing everything everyone is doing is bad.
Things definitely feel like a coup. Trump has no interest in governing in a way that will limit his power even a smidge. Bannon has spoken of wanting to make the whole system collapse. So I don’t think anyone is taking the threat to our Democracy lightly.
But when we have to read article after article about how we’re being played, we’re missing the real news, we’re protesting and that’s playing into the hands of those in power, it’s demoralizing. And guess what, that’s the point. It’s called concern trolling. It’s a thing. It works. And the best way to handle it is to put your head down and just move forward without so much second-guessing.
One other note. The Trump administration was considering picking a fight with the LGBT community over protections signed by Obama in 2014. But today they announced they wouldn’t. This means they either didn’t want to do it in the first place, or they changed their mind for some reason. Who knows why they changed, but I’d like to think it’s because of fatigue. You can only take on so many issues at a time. After the worldwide condemnation he’s received so far, maybe they thought this was a bridge too far. Maybe.