Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Trump Needs To Learn That Revenge Is Sweet, But To A Calm And Considerate Mind, Forgiveness Is Sweeter

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No one doubts that Trump is a vengeful asshole. Aren't all authoritarians? It's in their DNA. Interviewed about his own experience with Trump last year on MSNBC, British businessman Richard Branson recalled Trump as "a very vindictive, rather dangerous, rather sad man. I would feel very uncomfortable-- very, very uncomfortable-- with somebody like Donald Trump in the White House.
Some years ago, Mr Trump invited me to lunch for a one-to-one meeting at his apartment in Manhattan. We had not met before and I accepted. Even before the starters arrived he began telling me about how he had asked a number of people for help after his latest bankruptcy and how five of them were unwilling to help. He told me he was going to spend the rest of his life destroying these five people... I left the lunch feeling disturbed and saddened by what I’d heard. There are a lot of frightening things about this election; not least that policy has been pushed so far down the agenda. What concerns me most, based upon my personal experiences with Donald Trump, is his vindictive streak, which could be so dangerous if he got into the White House. For somebody who is running to be the leader of the free world to be so wrapped up in himself, rather than concerned with global issues, is very worrying.
And now members of Congress-- on both sides of the aisle-- wonder if Trump plans to come after them... and what it will mean it their careers. There is, after all, a lot of opposition to his ambitious legislative agenda-- from the wall and eliminating Obamacare to his expensive infrastructure program. Republicans seem to live in fear of his mighty twitter account. And everyone senses he's likely to hold rallies-- he enjoys them more than governing-- against Democrats in states where he's popular to threaten their reelection chances-- Tester in Montana, Heitkamp in North Dakota, McCaskill in Montana, Donnelly in Indiana... states he won with, respectively, 56.5%, 64.1%, 57.1% and 57.2%. He could even start in relation to his horribly flawed Supreme Court nominee. If Republicans like Dean Heller (NV) or Jeff Flake (AZ) their states could see the Trump Show live again too.

Mark Sanford (R-SC), who hasn't always towed the line, told The Hill's Scott Wong yesterday that "He's going to take names. He’s going to look at the people who are supportive and who aren’t. I suspect he will be rigorous in calling attention to those he believes are hampering his legislative efforts."
[S]everal Republicans said it’s only a matter of time before Trump cracks the whip on Capitol Hill.

He’s already given rank-and-file lawmakers a taste of what could be coming if they don’t fall in line. Last month, a series of tweets from Trump derailed House Republicans’ plans to gut an independent congressional ethics office.

And just last week, Trump launched a blistering attack on Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), tweeting that they’re “weak on immigration” and “always looking to start World War III” after the senators slammed his executive order on refugees.

Those types of personal attacks from Trump are certain to fire up his loyalists and could inspire primary challenges to his GOP targets.

“He could whip votes from Twitter,” said Rep. David Joyce (R-OH), who saw Trump personally get involved in his state’s GOP chairmanship race to defeat the handpicked candidate of rival Gov. John Kasich (R), a onetime presidential rival. “He’s definitely got an agenda and he wants to push it through. He’s going to use every arrow in his quiver to get those things accomplished."

“When he gets focused on something and he wants to get it done, he gets after it. That’s definitely a lesson I learned,” Joyce continued. “An enraged Twitter finger could really hurt somebody.”

...GOP fissures are forming that could complicate or delay several top Trump priorities. Freedom Caucus leaders are aggressively calling for the repeal and wholesale replacement of ObamaCare, while GOP chairmen have argued a more measured “repair” of the healthcare law is the right approach.

Writing for The Atlantic, McKay Coppins speculates that #NeverTrump Republicans are bracing for Revenge of the Asshole that Branson described. "Trump," he reiterated, "has never made a secret of his penchant for personal vengeance. He boasts about it, tweets about it, tells long, rambling stories about it on the transcontinental speaking circuit. When, last year, he was asked to identify a favorite Bible passage, he cited 'an eye for an eye.' And in his 2007 book, Think Big and Kick Ass, he devoted an entire chapter to the joys of exacting revenge. 'My motto is: Always get even,' he wrote. 'When somebody screws you, screw them back in spades.' For those who have crossed Trump, then, these are understandably anxious times. As he enters the White House and takes the reins of the most powerful government in the world, a small cadre of high-profile conservatives-- the haters, the losers, the Never-Trumpers who never fell in line-- has found itself wondering whether their party’s president will use his new powers to settle old scores."
“The question is not whether he’s vengeful,” conservative columnist Ben Shapiro told me. “The question is how willing he is to use the levers of government to exact that revenge.”

This is no idle question for Shapiro. The California-based commentator emerged in 2016 as one of Trump’s most vociferous-- and most frequently targeted-- critics in the conservative movement. He spent months relentlessly prosecuting the candidate on TV and Twitter, and in March set off a media frenzy when he abruptly quit his job at Breitbart and blasted the company’s then-CEO Steve Bannon for being a “bully” who had turned the site into “Trump’s personal Pravda.”

Now that Trump and Bannon are both in the White House, Shapiro says he has no intention of trying to make amends-- but can’t help but worry about his standing with them. “Trump has an extremely long shit list...I don’t want to flatter myself and say I’m top 10, but I’m certainly top 50,” he told me. “I’ve been half-joking for almost a year that my IRS audit is already being drawn up.”

In fact, he’s taking the threat of retaliation from Trump and his allies quite seriously. A favorite target of the alt-right troll army that Breitbart helps marshal, Shapiro told me he’s already purchased a shotgun and installed a high-end security system in his home. When we spoke the night before the inauguration, he was deliberating over whether to delete his entire personal email archive before spies or Russian hackers could infiltrate his inbox.

He knows all this may sound a little paranoid, but he doesn’t want to take any chances. “They can fight very ugly and very nasty,” he said of Trump and Bannon. “And they do have power now, where if they feel like destroying you, they can.”

For Glenn Beck, there’s nothing new about the fear of payback from a power-crazed president and his minions. The right-wing talk radio host spent much of the past decade preaching against the tyrannical terrors of the Obama administration, and twitchily looking over his shoulder as a result. Now, it looks as if Beck-- who spent the 2016 election bitterly feuding with Trump-- is consigned to repeating that experience for at least another four years. He believes the new president is “dangerously unhinged,” and he travels with two bodyguards by his side, fearing the death threats he’s received from Trump supporters.

“It is not fun,” Beck told me. “I don’t cherish it, but I value the truth more than I’m afraid of retribution.”

...Last month, the Washington Post reported that more than 100 national-security veterans in the GOP establishment are said to be “blacklisted” from administration jobs because they signed a public letter during the campaign opposing Trump’s candidacy. In another episode, the president-elect aggressively campaigned behind the scenes to unseat a state party chairman in Ohio who had fought him during the election.

Trump also spent weeks during the transition publicly weighing two of his most stubborn 2016 foes-- Ted Cruz and Mitt Romney-- for top cabinet posts, only to unceremoniously dump them once they’d been seen cozying up to the president-elect. Transition officials insisted these meetings were all in good faith; Trump’s longtime adviser Roger Stone claimed otherwise.

 “Donald Trump was interviewing Mitt Romney for secretary of state in order to torture him. To toy with him,” Stone said on the Alex Jones Show. “And given the history, that’s completely understandable. Mitt Romney crossed a line.”

...For many Republican politicos who were critical of Trump during the campaign, the fear of personal retribution from the leader of the free world is softened somewhat by their unwavering conviction of his incompetence. Several consultants and operatives, who requested anonymity so as not to provoke the president’s wrath, said Trump would likely be too overwhelmed and disorganized in office to keep working his way down the enemies list.

“I don’t think anybody’s too worried about Trump death-starring their business, because he’s still struggling to even make the Death Star operational,” cracked one strategist.

“When you’re really dealing with Putin and Turkey and Syria, is that county chair in Iowa who turned on you gonna get the attention of the president of the United States?” asked another. He paused and then added with a laugh, “Of course, that’s what staff is for.”

Indeed, Trump’s administration is not lacking for enforcers who share his instincts. Reince Priebus, now the White House Chief of Staff, publicly threatened Republicans who were withholding their support from the nominee in the final weeks of the election. And according to two knowledgeable sources, White House press secretary Sean Spicer used to maintain a “bad reporters” folder in his inbox to keep track of journalists he believed had treated him or the RNC unfairly.

But if consultants are worried about their contracts, and party officials about their positions, some of Trump’s opponents harbor deeper and more serious concerns. For Evan McMullin-- who quit his job as policy director for House Republicans to launch a long-shot indie bid in 2016 under the #NeverTrump banner-- the question of how President Trump plans to get even from the Oval Office is a singularly important one. Petty partisan punishments are one thing, McMullin told me. But as a former CIA officer, he has witnessed firsthand the rise of despotic regimes abroad. “If Trump uses state power to exact revenge on political opponents, that will be a very clear sign that he is a true authoritarian."

During the election, McMullin’s candidacy unexpectedly threw his native Utah into contention, sending the Trump campaign on a frantic last-minute scramble to lock down the deep-red state. By the end, Trump managed to eke out a plurality win there, but he was left seething at McMullin’s meddling. The future president lashed out repeatedly at McMullin in the final days of the race, calling him a “puppet” for moneyed establishment interests. And the attacks only intensified once Trump won and embarked on his post-election victory tour.

McMullin told me that watching the president-elect rail against him at raucous rallies was a “chilling” experience. “I remember at one of his rallies when he was attacking me, he said something like, ‘He’s sort of a bad guy, this guy.’ I immediately recognized that as something I’d seen before overseas in places where authoritarians takes power. They try to criminalize their political opposition. They tried to do it with Hillary Clinton… and they could do it with more of us.”

McMullin made clear that it’s still too early to know whether Trump will cross that line. “Despite my concerns, I genuinely still have hope that he will not govern in the way that he said he would during the campaign,” he told me. “At least, I hope that’s the case, because it would certainly make my life a lot easier.”
Clearly, though, neither Trump nor #PresidentBannon has ever thought about Martin Luther King's aphorism: "Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love." This morning's NY Times carries an explosive piece by Jason Horowitz about Bannon's intrigues against Pope Francis with, among others, crackpot Raymond Cardinal Burke. The anti-Pope Francis forces have rallied around the Trump Regime. "While Mr. Trump, a twice-divorced president who has boasted of groping women," wrote Horowitz, "may seem an unlikely ally of traditionalists in the Vatican, many of them regard his election and the ascendance of Mr. Bannon as potentially game-changing breakthroughs. Just as Mr. Bannon has connected with far-right parties threatening to topple governments throughout Western Europe, he has also made common cause with elements in the Roman Catholic Church who oppose the direction Francis is taking them. Many share Mr. Bannon’s suspicion of Pope Francis as a dangerously misguided, and probably socialist, pontiff... [I]n Mr. Trump, and more directly in Mr. Bannon, some self-described '“Rad Trads'-- or radical traditionalists-- see an alternate leader who will stand up for traditional Christian values and against Muslim interlopers."



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4 Comments:

At 6:59 AM, Anonymous Hone said...

The Malignant Narcissist will surely follow through with his penchant for vindictive retribution and use all of the power of the Oval Office to do so. Anyone who thinks differently is drinking kool aid. McCarthy will pale in comparison.

Nancy Pelosi, you'd better get a move on. Why have you stated that you are waiting until he commits an illegal act? What about the Emoluments Clause? What about Congressional authority to demand tax returns and what they may reveal? When the hammer drops, and it surely will, you will have earned some of the responsibility for the ensuing damage and for waiting too long.

 
At 7:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps it would be better if you did NOT posit something in the title that the article then utterly proves the position ludicrous on its face.

 
At 10:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is this "Run from" or "Down WithTyranny"? So what's the message of the post "fear Trump?" or as Machiavilli posited "it's better to be feared than loved?". Sorry ass cowards I say. Can ya give us an FDR quote please......"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

 
At 2:01 PM, Blogger samuel glover said...

Nancy Pelosi, you'd better get a move on. Why have you stated that you are waiting until he commits an illegal act?

Heh.

You're expecting something from the "leader" whose devotion to the rule of law was summed up as, "impeachment is off the table"?

 

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