Saturday, August 01, 2020

What Is Trump Really Up To? It Sure Isn't Helping The GOP Suckers Who Enabled Him All This Time


On Wednesday, Brookings published a report by Jon Valant, School reopening plans linked to politics rather than public health, which is bound to be more than concerning for millions of parents and teachers. "One of the most enduring-- and maddening-- aspects of Betsy DeVos’s legacy as secretary of education will be the way she has politically charged complicated issues in education. By reducing nuanced issues to a simple directive or judgment, she has attached her reputation-- and President Trump’s reputation in turn-- to those positions, making the issues as polarizing as the two of them... [W]e need to be clear-eyed that national politics-- and the strings attached to federal resources-- can affect the decisions of local and state leaders. Politicization has become an immediate concern for the COVID-19 relief package, which now threatens to withhold funds from school districts in severely affected areas that need to build remote learning capacity. As Sarah Reber and Nora Gordon have argued, Congress needs to move quickly and generously, without playing games with school reopening politics. Now is a time for local and state policymakers to focus on the best interests of their communities, apart from how that relates to matters of ideology and national politics. Of course, better leadership from the federal government would take us a long way in that direction. How can the Republicans be rushing headlong into this minefield right before an election when the vast majority of Americans are skeptical-- at the minimum-- about reopening schools willy nilly, the way Israel did, much to its chagrin as the pandemic exploded across the country causing a worse shutdown than the first one-- as well as a case total of 70,970, the 33rd worst total in the world for a tiny country with the 96th biggest population? Because of the totally botched school reopening, Israel now has more cases than European countries with much bigger populations, from Holland, Belgium and Portugal to Poland, Greece and Czechia.

Is it possible that Trump just doesn't care that he's dragging the entire Republican Party down the toilet with him? The #NeverTrump conservative Republicans at The Bulwark have a theory about that. Although they assert that not losing is Trump's top priority, none of his other priorities include helping any Republicans below him on the ballot. In an intro to the theory, they quoted Bob Dole-- an institutional conservative Republican who very much did care about the well-being on the GOP, even as he was losing his 1996 election bid-- who more recently said of Señor Trumpanzee: "This man, in addition to his general bad character and unfitness for office, has no interest in the Republican party as an institution and will burn it to the ground if he thinks it will profit him one iota. Ceding control of the party to a person whose incentives have previously, and may in the future, wildly diverge from the party's incentives is an invitation to disaster."

That leads one to wonder about what Trump is doing for the party as election season approaches-- aside from tweeting out his lame and utterly insincere one-size-fits-all Twitter endorsements. This is how The Bulwark columnist sees Trump's hierarchy of priorities right now
(1) Win the election.
(2) Avoid blame for losing the election.
(3) Bind his voters more tightly to his own person.
(4) Establish a framework for his next venture.
You will note that "Protecting Congressional Republicans" is not on that list.

It is becoming clear-- even to Trump-- that barring extreme outside events, his primary goal is off the table. While it remains possible that some event intercede-- a meteor strike, a shooting war, a health crisis-- there is nothing that Trump himself can really do to change the outcome of the election.

And so as you move down Trump's incentive structure, he has pivoted to items (2), (3), and (4).

In furtherance of those goals, we should expect Trump to be more erratic and outlandish, more openly racist, and to flirt even more openly with outright delegitimization of the election.

Why? Because these actions will shift blame away from himself, activate and validate the bitter-enders who are part of the Trump cult, and provide him with a launch pad for his post-presidential scheme, where he can promise to give people the real story of what happened with the election. (For just $9.95 a month.)

All of this will be-- just objectively speaking-- good for Trump. It will make him money, enhance his hold on the Republican party, and pave the way for him to be the decider on the party's 2024 nominee.

It is unlikely to be good for the Republican Party.

In all the hand-wringing about how the awful, no-good Never Trumper types want to "burn it all down" you rarely see any Republicans complaining about how it's Trump who's doing the actual burning.

Which only proves my point. The party made a deal with a man they did not fully understand. And now they're trying to pass the bill to someone else.
They deserve Trump and I have no tears for them. They inflicted Trumpism on the rest of us with, in most cases, eyes wide open. No tears when I see careerist hacks like Susan Collins, Steve Daines, Joni Ernst, Dan Sullivan, Martha McSally, Cory Gardner, Michael McCaul, Roger Williams, Donald J. Bacon, Fred Upton. John Katko, Ken Calvert and dozens and dozens more out on their asses after the first of the year. My eyes will be dry.

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At 1:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if his sole motivation for not losing power is that he is rightfully afraid of going to jail for instigating and participating in the same crime that Michael Cohen went to jail for. For an extreme narcissist, there is no price too great for other people to pay to keep him out of jail.

At 5:02 PM, Blogger Ten Bears said...

C'mon anon, he's not going to jail regardless a full conviction. His age, health, ideologically stacked courts of non-elected partisans. Billy Bullshit Barr flew that flag last re. Stone's commutation. It will be dead before it runs out to resolution in the courts.

Yes, it.

At 6:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ten Bears: That may be the way it works out, but in his mind it's "all about him" and he isn't taking any chances.


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