Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Two Weeks In And Counting

The election was two weeks ago today, and two weeks is roughly the period of short-term memory, the time in which most people can remember what happened day by day with those memories highly salient while things before then become "long ago."  So we are now deep into getting used to Trump becoming president, even as Clinton's popular vote lead has now surpassed 1.7 million and continues to grow. I also note that of the highly salient two weeks just before the election had 9 out of the 14 days dominated by the totally off-base Comey/FBI plunge into Clinton's nothing emails, with how so little she did really was remotely criminal becoming clearer as Trump has dropped his plan to have a special prosecutor go after all that nothing.  Too bad for all those people who go so worked up chanting "Lock her ups!"  I do think the Comey bit looks like the leading factor in tilting some of those parts of WI, MI, and PA that put Trump over the top.  A few other random observations.

1)  If Trump can avoid pulling something that tanks the economy, he may end up getting credit for doing well with the economy. This is because the economy is now doing quite well, growing more rapidly than almost any time since the Great Recession, with wages actually beginning to grow.  This should go to Obama's credit (or nobody's), but Trump will claim it if it continues and will probably get this accepted by much of the public.  I doubt his fiscal stim will do much, especially given what a scam his "infrastructure spending" plan appears to be. But under current circumstances, all he has to do is avoid doing something drastic that would slow down what is already going on and will probably continue for awhile.

2)  Foreign policy remains very scary and very up in the air, especially given the extremists he has been appointing to national security posts combined with his apparently massive ignorance and thin-skinnedness.  But even here, again, if he can avoid blowing everything up (not a trivial mater), he may also claim credit for something that is really the doing of Obama, namely defeating ISIS.  It is down to controlling only two major cities, and the assault on the bigger of the two, Mosul, is in full swing, and while slowed down, will probably succeed, possibly before Trump takes office. The assault on al-Raqqa has just barefly begun, and is likely to have more trouble getting united support by those in Syria against ISIS, but probably it too will fall in the not-too distant future, but almost certainly after Trump takes office, and he will certainly take credit for it, repeating the argument that ISIS was all Obama's fault anyway, even though it never would have come to be if Bush had not invaded Iraq in the first place.

3)  Another thing that may well work in Trump's favor is that it looks like as of yesterday's You Tube from him that he may be backing off or holding back on some of his more extreme campaign promises and themes, although in some cases he simply said nothing so we do not know, and he is clearly very unpredictable, one of his more worrisome aspects.  But there was no mention of ending Obamacare, and his only mention of immigration was the almost trivially minor matter of going after people with visa problems.  If that is all he does, well, fine with me, although clearly he is appointing awful people to many jobs, with his leading candidates for SCOTUS apparently exceptionally awful.  We have a lot of bad stuff still to see.

4)  Finally we have a very weird contradiction or problem that I have yet to see anybody really nail down.  It is this business of his having some of his kids, especially daughter Ivanka, sitting in on meetings we think they should not, like ones with foreign leaders.  I mean, Ivanka does not have a security clearance and was not vetted, quite aside from all the conflict of interest issues with she and her siblings supposed to run the Trump business empire, and also all those anti-nepotism laws in place.  But it may turn out that we will want her in those rooms, probably with no official position and preferably removed from running his business, if he can figure out what he needs to do with that so as to avoid getting impeached for violating the anti-emoluments clause of the Constitution.  The problem is that it seems that there are very few people who can talk to Trump with him taking them seriously at all, with Ivanka maybe the most important one who can.  And given his ignorance and thin-skinnedness, we shall need somebody who can and can hopefully hold him back from doing the really crazy and dangerous things he might do on the spur of a moment.  It is rarely discussed, but almost certainly First Ladies have quietly played such a role, with those since Pat Nixon almost certainly doing so, popular, intelligent, reasonably knowledgeable, and with good common sense. But, unfortunately, Melania Trump does not appear to be any of those and will not provide that private ballast, with Trump needing it far more than any of his predecessors.  So, we shall really need for him to get Ivanka legalized so that he can rely on her to keep him from doing something really seriously crazy, if she can.

Barkley Rosser.

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