Friday, May 12, 2017

This Trumpworld Grab-Bag is a Showboat

There's a certain frustration that goes with seeing a beautiful lie get destroyed and the realization that so many people--like VP Mike Pence, like Sean Spicer's gifted understudy Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and all the folks who went to bat for the idea that Donald Trump was acting on the advice of AG Jeff Sessions and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, who both submitted letters about why James Comey had to go--was just so much stage dressing for the real decision-making, which was Trump and Trump alone. He decided Comey had to go, for whatever reason he did decide, which almost certainly still could not possibly be about his treatment of Hillary Clinton's email investigation, and equally almost certainly had to do with the Russian hacking inquiry. It's frustrating because we may never know how clowned those people must have felt when their careful story got blown.

I think the best part of the Lester Holt interview is where Trump calls Comey a "showboat", mostly I suppose for appearing on Trump's television giving testimony for this and that--because the House or Senate had requested him to. Comey is a "showboat" coming from gold-plated everything celebrity tv reality show-guy seems, I don't know...just mighty rich. Comey investigating Trump was this thing called "a job", and briefing Congress was a part of it (see "checks and balances" and "Constitution" and stuff).

For an even more bizarre take on what Trump even expected from Comey, we have a report that he wanted him to "pledge loyalty" to him. (Yes, I linked to Ben Shapiro's take deliberately. This thing should be as perplexing to folks on the right as on the left because of a thing called a "republic" where public servants don't pledge loyalty to any person, but to the Constitution--this sounds very much like a cult of personality, not like patriotism.)

But there's more: Trump explained his claims that Comey had admitted three times that Trump was not under FBI investigation for the Russia hacking inquiry by explaining that Comey had sought contact with him in hopes of "staying on" and that Trump also sought him out to be sure of where the inquiry stood with respects to himself.  Both of these things are pretty awkward. For one thing, Comey had a ten year appointment and so did not have a reason to automatically suspect he wouldn't be "kept on" (like an old family retainer once the young laird has come into his inheritance, one did not add). Also, remember how some people saw former President Bill Clinton speaking with Obama's AG Loretta Lynch on the tarmac in Phoenix? Well, maybe President Trump reaching out to the lead in the investigation into the Russian interference is also a cause for a kind of concern. But Comey's associates say Trump's tale is bosh altogether.

But this is just speculation--the more instant obvious thing Trump's admissions does is cast doubt on all the stories other people in Trump's circle tried to tell to explain something that only really was clear in the mind of Trump, himself. This is not great leadership because he doesn't explain and doesn't seem to grasp that he is a public servant: meaning explanation and accountability to the people are part of the job.

There is more concerning business regarding Trump and his understanding of his job, though. Two other recent interviews are a little alarming. In one, to The Economist, he seems to think he came up with the idea of "priming the pump', which has been a colloquialism since the 1800s and an economic term since the 1920s. 

And to Time Magazine?  There's this one really odd passage everyone has seen by now, right? It's this:

On the future USS Ford-class carriers

You know the catapult is quite important. So I said what is this? Sir, this is our digital catapult system. He said well, we’re going to this because we wanted to keep up with modern [technology]. I said you don’t use steam anymore for catapult? No sir. I said, "Ah, how is it working?" "Sir, not good. Not good. Doesn’t have the power. You know the steam is just brutal. You see that sucker going and steam’s going all over the place, there’s planes thrown in the air." 

It sounded bad to me. Digital. They have digital. What is digital? And it’s very complicated, you have to be Albert Einstein to figure it out. And I said–and now they want to buy more aircraft carriers. I said what system are you going to be–"Sir, we’re staying with digital." I said no you’re not. You going to goddamned steam, the digital costs hundreds of millions of dollars more money and it’s no good.

No, I get this; you don't, but I do. Trump is going to insist carriers use coal-fueled steam-boilers for the catapults, which will create who knows how many coal-related jobs. Capital thinking, old chap. Why aren't we steaming everything? Planes, boats, rice, trains, infrastructure. Gilt and steam. That's some trans-continental railway to the 21st century he's talking about! Next stop--Jim Crow 2.0! Who's a showboat now?

No comments: