Donald Trump has been trying to celebrate his one-year anniversary as president, and all he gets is terrible political news. His party got skunked in Tuesday’s elections, his associates keep getting tied to the Russians and the Republicans in Congress are flailing around like a bunch of panicked gerbils.
In the latest episode of Cabinet Members off the Rails: the sorrows of Wilbur Ross Jr.
A new investigative report detailed connections between Ross and a shipping group linked to Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law. Even worse, Forbes announced it was taking Ross off its list of richest Americans, concluding that most of the $3.7 billion Ross told the magazine he owned was fictional.
Something must be done. If there is anyone who doesn’t belong in the top levels of American government, it’s a guy pretending to be a billionaire when he really isn’t.
The Trump campaign adviser Carter Page made quite a splash with his rambling, six-hour-plus testimony before a congressional committee that demonstrated not only that he had been in contact with Russians during the campaign, but also that the man Trump picked to be one of his top coaches on foreign policy issues is … sort of nuts.
“I am not a smooth Russian speaker. Maybe you could say that about my English as well,” explained the former college lecturer with a doctorate from the University of London. One committee member described the whole performance as “really eccentric behavior.”
And then came the elections! The biggest race was for governor of Virginia, where Trump had done robocalls and tweeted for the Republican, Ed Gillespie. When his candidate got trounced, Trump quickly and supportively announced that it was Gillespie’s own fault for having failed to “embrace me or what I stand for.”
The president did not mention the results in New Jersey, where voters rose up in revulsion to Chris Christie and elected a Democrat as his successor. You cannot entirely blame Trump for Christie’s unpopularity, but the governor’s nose-dive really did accelerate when the two of them started hanging out together.
While a campaign observer might have imagined the nation was obsessed with immigrants and Confederate statues this season, it turned out the actual voters were way more concerned about health care. It was the thing Virginians brought up most often to election pollsters. In Maine, referendum voters demanded Obamacare expansion.
And this month Obamacare enrollment season opened with a big surge of sign-ups despite the president’s attempt to keep the enrollment opportunities more secret than his tax returns.
Trump, however, is trying to attach an Obamacare repeal onto the Republican tax bill. It was only one of his helpful efforts to assist his party members in Congress. This week he also had a phone call with moderate Democrats, trying to promote the GOP plan. Participants reported that he told them the original version of the bill was “so bad for rich people, I had to throw in the estate tax just to give them something.”
People, how do you think the nation would respond to the idea that we have to get rid of the estate tax so rich people won’t feel left out? Discuss.
Trump also told the Democrats that his accountant had warned him he’d lose a lot of money if the bill went through.
Question: If you were a Democratic senator, how would you have responded?
A) Show us your tax returns
B) Show us your tax returns
C) Show us your tax returns
The president was abroad on Election Day, visiting South Korea and making preparations for a dramatic secret visit to the Demilitarized Zone. Which had to be canceled because it was raining.
Really. There was bad weather and his helicopter turned around, leaving South Korean President Moon Jae-in waiting at the DMZ for the guest who never arrived. Moon apparently had no trouble making the trip because he drove.
Trump also gave a speech to the South Korean parliament – a success in the sense that he read stuff other people had written. As usual, he bragged about the stock market. The lawmakers looked as if they could care less, and you have to wonder if this constant stock market talk is a good strategy. This week former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers offered that it was “crazy” for the president to keep connecting himself to rising prices, since it was inevitable that they would drop again sooner or later.
When that happens, do you think Trump will take responsibility? Refuse to acknowledge it’s happening? Blame Barack Obama? Blame terrorism? Discuss.
In another oratorical high point, the president managed, in a speech about the evils of North Korea, to work in a plug for one of his properties. (“The Women’s U.S. Open was held this year at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, and it just happened to be won by a great Korean golfer. …”)
Meanwhile, back home, Republicans in Congress are announcing their retirement plans in droves.