Archive for the ‘Trump presidency’ category

Trump: The President at War

November 23, 2017

Trump: The President at War, FrontPage Magazine, November 23, 2017

Editor’s note: Below are the video and transcript to remarks given by Steve Bannon and Pat Caddell at the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s 2017 Restoration Weekend. The event was held Nov. 16th-19th at the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida.

 

Steve Bannon: The last time I was in this room was a couple years ago.  I made a film, “Occupy Unmasked,” about that war starring David Horowitz and Andrew Breitbart, which was actually the film we were making when Andrew passed away and David was kind enough to take a bigger role in that.  But that film, I think, showed the precursor of a lot of what laid the groundwork for the Trump victory.

When I stepped into the campaign in mid-August of 2016, I think it was August 14th — these numbers are rough — but roughly, the candidate was down anywhere from 12 to 16 points, basically double digits down in every battleground state, every state that had to be won.  Not a lot of money, and as you’ve seen from revelations in this investigation with Manafort, not a lot of organization.  The campaign from the time that Corey Lewandowski had left until the time I stepped in in August had really deteriorated into a pretty disorganized mess that left the best candidate I think we’ve had since Reagan in real extremis.

And that’s what I knew we had.  I knew we had a great candidate.  I knew we had an individual who I believed was the finest orator in American politics since William Jennings Bryan and, more importantly — and I told the President, or the candidate this when I took the job on the 13th and 14th: “Don’t pay attention to any of these numbers.  Don’t worry about how many points down we are.  Don’t worry if we’re in the battleground states.  It’s not relevant because what is relevant is the themes that you’re going to run on and how we’re going to bring this home.  We only get 85 days, but we’re going to compare and contrast Hillary Clinton as tribune of a corrupt and incompetent elite.  And we’re going to focus on a handful of themes that show you as an agent of change, and all we have to do is give people permission to vote for you as that agent of change, and we’re going to win this.”  And I told him that day on the evening of the 13th and then the day of the 14th, because he’s a percentage player and he was asking what percentages. I said, “You have a 100 percent chance.  Metaphysical certitude of winning.  Not a question.  100 percent.”  And we’ll get into it later about Billy Bush week, etc. “But you have 100 percent chance.”

The reason is what David said.  This is a war.  This is a war for our country.  This country, we’ve been in this war for a while.  It’s going to take another 15, 20, 25 years and we’re going to be one thing or the other on the other side of this.  We’re either going to be the country that was bequeathed to us by the 14 or 15 generations that came before us, or it’s going to be something radically different.  And David Horowitz has been the leader of telling you what that radical difference is going to be and what this country is going to be if we don’t fight and fight every day to take it back.

The reason that I could step in with a team of Dave Bossie and Reince Priebus and Katie Walsh and others and help the President — because he’s really the one that won it; basically gave him the platform so that he could drive his message home — is for years I had been spending time listening to a guy that I came to greatly respect.  That guy’s Pat Caddell and Pat had been doing research.  There’s another of the unsung heroes, a gentleman who came to Restoration Weekend every year.  It’s a Palm Beach resident named Lee Hanley.  Lee Hanley’s like when you read the history of the American Revolution or the Civil War, all these great events, you find out about these individuals in back that never won any credit, but if it was not for them, the victory would not be achieved.  Lee Hanley for years was a big believer. Although a guy of tremendous wealth and lived in Palm Beach and throughout the rest of the world, he had an incredible appreciation for the grassroots.  He had a real love of the hobbits, of the deplorables, and he put his money where his mouth was.  He’s a big supporter of the Tea Party movement and Tea Party causes.  But I think what he’ll be known for is that he was the guy that really became the sponsor for the analytical work and the intellectual work that Pat Caddell did over a number of years.

And this work, two things epitomized the Trump revolution or the Trump revolt.  It’s J. D. Vance’s book, “Hillbilly Elegy.”  If you haven’t read it, it’s quite powerful, the sociological content of the Trump revolt. But as important was Pat Caddell’s analytical work on where the country was, and that’s what I told the candidate that night.  I said, “Hey, two-thirds” – is it two-thirds or one-third?  “Two thirds think the country’s going in the wrong direction. Seventy-five percent think America’s in decline. Virtually none of the electorate believe that Obama brought the fundamental change they wanted, and people are looking for an agent of change.”

Now the mainstream media doesn’t cover that.  You wouldn’t know that by the campaign in mid-August 2016.  That was never talked about.  But that tone below the surface is the foundational element, the keystone that really drove the Trump campaign. And so, Pat, I’d like, if you could, just tell us what it is — and this is very important.  We’re going to talk about how we won, and what the underlying analytics of that was, and then, to get to David’s point: It makes total sense when you see that on the left, there was no honeymoon, right?  Because they will never concede, ever, that the basic working-class Americans think America’s in decline.  Because it’s been their watch.  And the elites in this country will never admit to that, and that’s why from Day One, the second part of this talk will be about the nullification project. Because since 2:30 a.m. on November 9, when AP called the election, the progressive left, the opposition party media, and the Republican establishment have been on a nullification project.  Pat, you want to talk about the math?

Pat Caddell: First of all, let me echo what Steve said about Lee Hanley.  Back in 2011, 2012 actually — 2012 or 2013 — after the Romney disaster election or as I call it, the confluence of the Republican consultant lobbyist core of gangsters, the “RICO campaign.” Anyway, I said, “I think something’s happening in the country.”  Lee said, “You know, I think something may be too.  I want you to go out and just find out.”  He wasn’t for anybody or any cause.  It was basically to discover what was there, and it was the most startling research that’s ever been done.  It has been public for some time.  The press has never paid attention.  The political class won’t pay attention.  But what we found from the beginning was the level of discontent in this country was beyond anything measurable, and I believe worse than any time that we have ever seen in our country.

Steve mentioned a couple of the attitudes: about things going in the wrong direction, the 70-75 percent of people who absolutely believe the country was in decline, a narrative so different from what Washington was telling us or the mainstream media if you looked at the way they covered the conventions even.  Oh, my God!  It’s so dark.  It’s like the inaugural speech. That’s so dark! It’s terrible! No. It happened to be the truth, but they’re not allowed to speak that.

And then another attitude, which is really important, was the fact that in a country where we believe that if you work hard and play by the rules, you can get ahead (as Bill Clinton used to tell us), about 15 percent of the people believe that’s what works and 85 percent believe that the rich and powerful have rigged the rules and have the advantage, which is also a truth.

When I was at Harvard — I was at my class reunion, which I’d never been to before for a reason — I had to do a survey of my class, the Class of ’72, which was, I would describe, the epicenter of the white Ivy League privileged class, they actually were higher. The only thing they were higher than the American people on was 95 percent of them knew that’s the way it worked because that’s how they worked it.  But in any event, those things all led to also the fact that a couple of attitudes have maintained themselves, which I realized the real question about them is, would anybody weaponize them? Let me just give you a couple examples because they’re important.

“Political leaders are more interested in protecting their power and privilege than doing what is right for the American people.”  Eighty-one percent of the Americans agree. By the way, we have a divided country except when it comes to how Americans from left to right really think of how this country works.  It isn’t partisan.  At this point, it’s overwhelming.  “The power of ordinary people to control our country is getting weaker every day.  Political leaders on both sides fight to protect for their own power and privilege at the expense of the nation’s wellbeing.”  Seventy-nine percent agree. These are from just a few months ago. “Powerful interests from Wall Street banks to corporations, unions, political interest groups, have used campaign and lobbying money to rig the system for themselves.  They’re looting the national treasury of billions of dollars at the expense of every man, woman and child.”  That’s 72 to 75 percent who agree.

“I believe the government is working for the people’s best interest.”  Twenty-eight percent say that’s true.  Sixty-seven percent don’t think it’s true.  “Politicians really care about me” — when I first started polling and then Bennet wrote this question, the result was it was about a 40/50 split.  It’s now 19 percent say yes, agree, and 76 disagree.  And perhaps most interesting of all is the question we asked on whether the Declaration of Independence says that the government receives their authority from the consent of the people.  “Does the federal government today have the consent of the people?”  And it’s 68 to 75 percent we’ve ranged saying no, and I call that, when I first saw that result in 2013, a pre-revolutionary moment.  And the question was whether anybody would speak to any of this.

And from the beginning, Donald Trump, a lot of his own instincts were – it’s not exactly the way I would’ve designed it – but he managed to make a campaign and he stood up against 16 other people who were, in their own ways, essentially epitomizing the political class or the ideological class of their party, when the issue was neither ideology or the right of kings of our political class to rule.

I said the day before the election, I wrote a piece because I needed to get it out, because I’d been doing some work for Breitbart and had been doing some polling, and we were asking some more in-depth questions and I could see what I had found in a big study we had done in September, which was that you had a quarter of the country who were not favorable to either Clinton or Trump.  Most of those people were concerned about Trump’s qualifications, whether he had the temperament to be President, things that would’ve normally disqualified.  Hillary Clinton was viewed as a, let’s put it this way: 75 percent of the people, including almost a majority of her own people, believe that there are two sets of rules of law, one for everyone else and the one for the Clintons.

And corruption is a problem and we’ll talk about that today, but at the heart of much of this was a sense of the corruption and loss of our country.  Those people started breaking for Donald Trump.  Well, I was waiting for that to happen.  I’d seen some evidence in a different situation in 1980 with Reagan and Carter, but what was important was when I saw the exit polls. Everyone saw the exit polls when we got them at 5:00, 5:30, the networks and everyone were going, “Oh, Hillary’s got it!  Hillary’s got it!”  Well first of all, nobody remembers that those polls are always wrong because of the bias in them, but more importantly, nobody bothered to look inside. The people who had said that they were unfavorable to both were now breaking to Trump by 18 points.  And I called Steve and said, these exit polls are all wrong.  This is a key break.  And it is breaking for Trump.

I do believe, and I don’t want to get into it, but this mistake of early voting: we were supposed to have an election, not a rolling election.  It is a problem with all the unintended consequences, people vote who will change their mind.  So, there you have it.  Trump won and everyone else in the media was stunned because they would not look at the country that they actually deplore.

Steve Bannon: What do you think was the specific messaging that drove those low propensity voters to actually, at the end of the day, pull the trigger for Trump?

Pat Caddell: Yeah, as I said, my question all along had been whether those voters would respond.  Alienation can often make people depressed and not participate.  What did it, I think, is if you look at the last 8 to 10 days of Trump’s message, where he said, “This isn’t about me and Hillary.  This is about you and them.”  Essentially a campaign that said your country is going to hell.  You have to do something.  And whether it was on immigration, which was a big issue, trade, where the country had taken a huge leap, or basically the idea, which I think was the most powerful of all, of “drain the swamp” and the corruption. Enough people felt that they, with good reason, would want a change, and they took the biggest gamble in history.

By every other measure we have had, this never should have happened.  But the reason it did is because the country has never been where we are except twice before. I believe in the 1820s and the Civil War – well three times – and the Great Depression.  And what we have is a new paradigm in politics.  This isn’t the traditional Democrat/Republican, Liberal and Conservative.  This is inside, outside, us, them and the question of who’s country it is, and I have said to Steve the other day, and I’ll end on this note: At the heart of it is a perception. The subtext is that they know that their leaders are trying to manage the decline of America.

Steve Bannon: This is the key point.

Pat Caddell: They think that their job is to make –

Steve Bannon: The reason, okay, we’re going to frick and frack this a little bit.  This is the key point.  The American people have a great common sense.  Right?

Pat Caddell: Yes. That’s the ideology of America.

Steve Bannon: When Pat Caddell starts to stand, we’re in trouble.

Pat Caddell: Yes, you are.  Yes, you are.

Steve Bannon: Now he’s really about to go Old Testament prophet. If you remember CPAC a couple of years ago, he was in a ballroom this size, and people were Tweeting, “you gotta get up there.”  Caddell was so over the top. He was Caddell unchained.  I thought they were going to throw a net over him and, you know, escort him out.

Pat Caddell: And they never had me back after that.

Steve Bannon: No, the issue of the polling and the analytical work, which was so thorough — this is not some slapdash poll like is done all the time. This was really deep analytical work.  The question that the American people answered — 75 percent of your countrymen think America’s in decline. And what they understand is the country is in decline, right?  Particularly vis-à-vis the rest of the world.  And that’s what the elites, that was the whole contrast in the campaign.  Hillary Clinton and the Republican elites are very comfortable managing that decline.

Pat Caddell: Yes, they believe their destiny, I think, is to make sure it’s soft, we’ll be like the British.  I have news for them: this election in 2016 and the ones that are coming are really about the fact that this country will not go gently into that good night of decline.  They will rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Steve Bannon: Now here’s the great news is that who understands this is the American working man and woman. I mean, that’s why Trump’s brilliance of “make American great again” resonates so strongly.

Pat Caddell: The single greatest slogan in my lifetime in American politics, in terms of what summed it all up.

Steve Bannon: That was compared and contrasted to — what was Hillary’s? “Happy together”?  What was that? “Forward together” or whatever it was. “Happy forward together.”  Always forward, never back.

Pat Caddell: The millions of dollars they spent to come up with the dumbest slogan I’ve ever heard of is amazing.

Steve Bannon: Before we get to the victory and talk about what happened the next day, you’ve got to remember — and this is very pertinent, I think, to the folks in the audience.  I think 85 percent of the votes in the Republican primary, if you totally take away all the bistate stuff and you look at the total vote count, I think 85 percent went to Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Dr. Ben Carson. But you couldn’t get three more anti-establishment guys, right? It shows you the party — this is what McConnell and the donors don’t get.  The votes are with the working men and women of this country, the Republican Party.

Pat Caddell: Well, let me make a point on that.  All during the primaries, I was on a show we had on Fox which a lot of people watch called Political Insiders with Doug Schoen and John LeBoutillier, and all along we kept noticing — they’d look at the vote of the anti-establishment candidates everywhere you go, and you’re right.  Yes?

Audience Member: Give Steve some time on the microphone, please.

Steve Bannon: Hang on, we’re fricking and fracking, we got it. My agent right there.  I’d like to introduce my agent. Thank you.  As you were saying?

Pat Caddell: Nah, I’m done. I know when I’m not wanted. No, this is the fact that in both parties — look what you have with Bernie Sanders. And we’ll hopefully get to a point to talk about that rigging of that system.  But Bernie Sanders, who nobody ever cared about and whatever, he rolls up, he and Trump were, as I like to say, were supping out of the same trough.  Like on trade and corruption and whatever, Wall Street.  The same thing on both from opposite ends.  And that’s what the unity of these numbers were about.

Steve Bannon: And the numbers show you — and the strategy we had, we had kind of two plans.  But the first plan we had to take — remember this is 85 days to go.  You’re basically going to get blown out, and if you read their books, they thought they were going to win by 25 or 30 points.  Take the House, the Senate, the courts.  It was basically over.  Break the back of the Republican Party.  But the key, we had to win Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, and Iowa just to get to the table.  And by the way, I don’t think in living memory any Republican has done that. You had to get there just to get to the final, that was the bridge that got you to the final. We had a Plan A and a Plan B, but Plan B, which was shattering the blue wall in the upper Midwest, we did some very specific demographic analysis around how the messaging that Pat had overall talked about was playing. And we see could see it in places like Youngstown, Ohio, and Dubuque, Iowa, and other places, that the message was resonating with not just Republicans, but with blue-collar Democrats or Independents that had not voted for a Republican in living memory.  And that’s why we could see western Pennsylvania, we could see Wisconsin, we could see Michigan. We could see that something was changing, and that was the message, this underlying discontent in the country and wanting fundamental change. And Trump’s ability to be the instrument or the messenger that was starting to galvanize people.

It was interesting, the only question I had internally is that the math looked so dramatic. And we kind of knew. We were working on this and it was coming together, because we could see the crowds were getting bigger at the rallies and were getting more vocal. The Facebook and all the social media stuff was working. Her campaign specifically didn’t come to these places.  They didn’t come to Wisconsin until — they never came to Wisconsin.  I don’t think they came to Michigan until the very 11th hour, and so we really knew that there was something underlying the Trump message, and that’s this discontent in the country that’s still there today.  In fact, I would actually respectfully submit it’s probably greater today than it was even a year ago, and that’s about the progress or maybe the lack of progress that’s been made.

I want to talk about the morning after.  And Pat, you’ve got a thing with the Clinton campaign of one of her books. David talked about a honeymoon.  There was no intention of a honeymoon, and here’s why.  They do not think that this was a legitimate election and that we won legitimately.  They will never be able to admit that the working men and women of this country basically revolted, essentially from both political parties, and elected a total and complete outsider.  Someone who’s not a professional politician.  Someone who can connect and does not use the vernacular of the political class, but somebody that can connect viscerally with the working men and women of this country and had an agenda of being a complete disrupter among the institutions that really govern the imperial city.  If you think about it, and I’ll talk a little bit more about it tonight, the geopolitical situation we’re in that’s driving the economics of this country.  But the ascended economy of Silicon Valley and Wall Street and Hollywood and the imperial city of Washington, D.C. is completely detached from the reality of everyday life in the rest of America.  And they will never ratify the election of 2016, because to ratify it is actually calling into question their own tenuous grip on power.  We saw that immediately, and Pat’s got a very interesting quote he’s pulled out from one of the Clinton books.

Pat Caddell: The book “Shattered,” which was written by the two embedded reporters in the Clinton campaign, who were to chronicle the great victory and ascendancy of Hillary Clinton, and this is what it says. This is how it started.  “The strategy had been set well within 24 hours of the concession speech.  Mook and Podesta, the campaign manager and chairman, assembled their communications team at the Brooklyn headquarters to engineer the case that the election wasn’t entirely on the up and up.  For a couple of hours, with Shake Shack containers littering the room, they went over the script they would pitch to the press and the public.  Already Russian hacking was at the centerpiece of their arguments.”  And that’s how it began.

Steve Bannon: Yeah, this nullification project, which was both from the left and also from, I think, the Republican establishment, started immediately on the morning of the 9th and the 10th. They had to come up with an excuse for why they lost.  It wasn’t the fact they had $2.2 billion.  It wasn’t the fact that they spent $750,000,000.00, I think is the number I’ve heard, on negative ads against Donald Trump.  It’s not the fact that they had, I believe, the worst candidate for President of the United States in memory.

They kept saying how brilliant she is, how genius she is, how smart she is.  I think she’s dumb as a stick. She’s doing her book tour.  It’s another 900-page book that she’s written.  In fact, I would just like to have the corrupt media and publishing industry just write her a $10,000,000.00 check and don’t force another 900-page book on us. But no, I do think, in her current tour, or at least until the Donna Brazil situation came up, that Pat will talk about in a minute, that she’s got every intention of testing the water to run again in 2020. And my response is, “Bring it baby.  Bring it.”  Would you not love to see a rematch of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton?  C’mon.

Pat Caddell: As Saturday Night Live predicted last week, with her in the final episode for the Democrats, “One more time for me.  Maybe one more time.”

Steve Bannon: Let’s talk about this nullification.  The Russian whatever this thing is, the collusion project, is, look, as the campaign CEO in the last 85 days as we drove to victory, I can tell you categorically that we had a very difficult time colluding between the Trump ground game in Pennsylvania and the RNC. So collude that. It’s a complete phony, hide-the-football misdirection play, but it shows you their desperation.

Pat Caddell: Let me make just two quick points on this.  First of all, the one I wanted to make, if Barack Obama knew about this in August, so did the “intelligence team,” those hacks, that as Trump described them, which they are. And if it were such a threat to America, why was the President of the United States keeping his mouth shut until the day after the election, and how come nobody bothered to tell America it was under attack?  Because it didn’t matter.  On the Facebook stuff, Mark Penn, who had run Hillary’s great campaign in 2008, did say the $100,000 on Facebook ads, $56,000 of it after the election, half of it in states that were California, New York and Texas? Let me tell you something, the Stanford University Economics Department did a major study on this, and they found nobody believes what they see on Facebook.  It’s the least credible source.  And, yet, you know why they have to glom on to that?  Because underlying is the subtext that you people, the American people, are too damn stupid that you could — all of the billions spent, the debates, people know what they’re getting.  They’re weighing this heavily.  No, no, no.  You’re so stupid, you can be misled because you didn’t listen to us, and that is their message.

Steve Bannon: That is why it’s so important I think for the defense of the President is we’re seeing something unprecedented here in American history. And I think it’s very important we fight it and we drive it into the ground as much for the Democrats as for Republicans. And the fact that if we allow this nullification project to continue to go forward, if we allow this nullification project to really get traction and to try to bring charges or whatever against the President, every election here on in, trust me, is going to be contested.  We’ll be like a banana republic.  You won’t have elections that matter.

Now, let’s talk about the nullification project where they’re trying to drive the President into the ground.  There are currently, I think, five or six major investigations going on with the President right now.  You’ve got — and this is what upset me so much when I left the White House.  My specific project was against Republican leadership because you have three, count them, three committees on Capitol Hill with full subpoena power and the unlimited budgets.  You had Devin Nunes today, one of the great young men on Capitol Hill. He’s a hero, and he should be running the investigation on the House Intelligence.  Why is he not?  Because Paul Ryan doesn’t have a spine.  The media screwed Paul Ryan.  By the way, Paul Ryan’s a nice guy.  He’s a good guy, but he doesn’t have backbone in this regard.  The Republicans, the media can spook these guys and they’ll run.  Nunes has turned it over essentially to Schiff, so you have a Democrat running the House Intel Committee.  You have Mark Warner, who’s going to run for the presidency in 2020 against President Trump, you have him running the Senate Intelligence because Burr’s just taking a pass on this. So you have two Democrats running this and leaking everything to the media.  The thing’s gone way outside Russian collusion.  They’ve got Michael Cohen and his lawyer and other guys up there talking about real estate deals, taxes, whatever.  The Judiciary Committee is hauling in Don, Jr. and these other guys.  Can you imagine, can you imagine if Hillary Clinton had won?  Would Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi have three committees on the Hill investigating Hillary Clinton and her campaign and her finances and let two Republicans run it?  No.  Because they are professionals.  They run the Democratic Party like it’s supposed to be run, and they never give up, and they understand this is a war, and they understand the way they’re going to win is be unified.

In addition to that, you’ve got Bob Mueller. And I was one of the biggest advocates in the White House saying, “You can’t fire Comey.” For a whole host of reasons, because, at the end of the day, you’re going to end up with something like a special council like a Bob Mueller, and I’ve been adamant.  Bob Mueller, in regards to his mandate of looking at anything with Russian collusion, he should be able to do that.  He should have a budget for that, but I support Ron DeSantis.  When he’s outside the range there –and on Manafort, all 12 indictments are about back taxes and “money laundering” and stuff he took from other people.  Rick Gates didn’t even have — he walked in with a public defendant.  He didn’t even know that he was under investigation.  So this thing, I think, has gone way off the rails in the fact that it’s much too broad and not within a mandate.  And look, Jeff Sessions, I consider him a dear friend, but I think Sessions and people on the Hill got to support the DeSantis Amendment, which says hey, there’s going to be a time period and a budget to look at collusion with Russia.  Anything else is off limits.

Pat Caddell: Yeah.  Well, I want to add just a quick comment to this, which is I want to hear from my good friend Mr. Abrams.  When he speaks about the Justice Department, it seems to me that department is still embedded deeply with the people who have been in the business of supporting whatever the political class and particularly Democrats want done.  And let me say something.  When you get someone appointed like Bob Mueller, who is “highly respected by everyone in Washington,” grab your wallet.  The last person that they told me that about was James Comey.  I mean really.  Anybody who everyone says is this great, respectable guy, you got to watch out because he is there doing business that is not going to be very productive for the country.

Steve Bannon: The nullification project, also, is a joint venture.  It’s both the Democratic Party and the Republicans.  Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, in fact, it has taken tremendous pressure on them even to say these things have got to be brought to an end.  They’ve got to end around Christmas, and they got to have joint reports.  You can’t let them have two reports. And that’s not officially done yet, but these guys are just as culpable in this as the Democrats that are baying from the left.

Pat Caddell: Look, Donald Trump’s greatest opposition is not from the Democrats.  It is from the Never Trump Republicans who fill now several networks, cable news networks, with people whose virulence to Donald Trump makes the Democrats in those places look tame.  And the Jennifer Rubins, the Washington Post and its 15 pieces a day attacking Trump, the New York Times, all of which, by the way — and it’s another point that we’re getting a little progress on the rest of the corruption.  It seems to me that the notion that we should move on, and, by the way, all this other stuff never happened, which I don’t know if we’ll get to, but it’s just bullshit, but pardon my language, but it is.  The corruption here is so deep.

And the difference with the Democrats and the Republicans as, David pointed out and Steve just said, let me tell you something, the Clintons, as I once wrote in 1998, have forced the Democrats to squeeze themselves into that tiny little space that’s known as Clinton morality.  My party’s had to give up all of its principles in order to sustain corruption, which is why the left is in motion.  And, by the way, one point, when you have a large majority saying both the Democrats and the Republicans are out of touch with the country, that coalition is in jeopardy except as long as you fight them.  And the Republicans not only don’t fight, they stab themselves in the back and their President.

Steve Bannon: See, that’s the point.  Remember, the point of the nullification project is, their ultimate goal is to remove President Trump from office or to force him to resign.  That’s their goal, but they’ve got a second goal, which they’re just as comfortable with, and that is to so damage him in the eyes of the American people that he’s very restricted on what he can do and what he can accomplish, and so that’s why every day you see this drumbeat.  And I will tell you, outside of Breitbart and Gateway Pundit and a handful of others, the sore losers in the media, in the conservative media, starting with my beloved Wall Street Journal owned by Rupert Murdoch, they’re just Never Trump organs every day.  The Never Trump guys have a complete ability to just launch on the President, and so I think if you’re a supporter of President Trump, we’ve only really started this fight because this is going to get really gnarly over the next couple of months.  I think it’s going to get, by the end of the first quarter of 2018, I think it’s going to get quite volatile, and so the President is going to need all of his supporters to fall in and have his back on this thing.

Pat Caddell: Let me say, I’ve been thinking about 2018 election, and now I know what this is going to be about. And I believe the Democrats can’t control their left.  It’s going to be from beginning to end, if the President is smart — and sometimes I don’t understand, frankly, the politics around the President, because in some ways I think he is being misled and taken down the primrose path by the very people he clobbered and wiped out. And I’m sorry, I’m independent.  I can say this.  It makes me very sad because the swamp — I won’t even get into the tax bill, which I think is an example of this, but let me tell you what, the campaign starts on the issue of if the Democrats win, they are going to impeach the President in the House for sure.

The question we’re going to have is the one we kind of had in Wisconsin.  Do we have what Steve said: our democracy collapses now because now we can throw out who’s in there that we don’t like, and that question is bigger than Trump, and it is about the democracy.  And the real question is who is sovereign in this country, and the American people intend to be the sovereign masters of their country.  And you got to appeal to them on that basis in this kind of fight.

Steve Bannon: One thing to keep in mind on the 14th, the first phone call I made was to Reince Priebus at the RNC to work out a partnership in which we could work together.  I’m a fire-breathing populist and a nationalist, and I am damn proud of it.  But in order to win, we win as a coalition. And this is one thing I could never forgive Bush 41 for when he said the other day in this book, “The Last Republicans” — I think it would be better titled, I hope, “The Last Bush Republicans.”  When old man Bush, between grabbing women in the oval –yeah, I went there — when he says that he voted for Hillary Clinton and when Bush 43, the most destructive president and the most destructive presidency in the history of our country, including James Buchanan, when he says he didn’t vote; he voted some write-in or he didn’t vote for President Trump, that’s all you’ve got to know about those guys.  If they can’t see the basic fundamental difference between what the regime of the Clintons would be versus what President Trump offered, then I’ve got no time for them.  Right?

But to Pat’s research, it shows in high relief exactly what we’re fighting.  Everything you see on cable TV, everything you see in the foreground is just pro wrestling.  It’s really to divert the attention of what’s really going on.  At the end of the day, the Bushes, this is the Bush that goes around with Bill Clinton and he says it’s like the son I never had.  Old man Bush is going around saying Bill Clinton, because the permanent political class is inextricably linked with themselves, and you see it on this current tax bill.  The donor corporatist lobbyist consultant apparatus that runs Washington, D.C. — and I’m very proud of Peter Schweizer, that hero. A true patriot hero.  Peter Schweizer’s effort in the three books, “Throw Them All Out,” “Extortion,” and then “Clinton Cash,” which exposed how the apparatus works and why the seven of the nine richest counties in the country surround Washington, D.C.; why the per capita income in those counties is higher than the per capita income in Silicon Valley for the first time in our history.  And Silicon Valley is the greatest generator of wealth in human history.  So you see, it’s a business model, and they’re not prepared to give it up, and they’re not prepared to go. They’re not prepared to go quietly.

But on that campaign, the establishment, at least some of them, came together and worked with us, and that’s how we got a win.  We have to be unified.  We’re not going to get everything.  I’m much more of a protectionist when it comes to trade.  I happen to think that free trade is a radical idea.  I think it’s a radical idea, particularly against a mercantilist authoritative dictatorship like China.  You cannot allow your markets to be totally open.  Not everybody agrees with that.  A lot of guys at Heritage don’t.  A lot of guys at Cato don’t.  A lot of guys at AEI don’t.  But we’ve got to work together to pull this off because if we lose we’re never going to get this country back.

Now, you’re seeing that, I think David brought up this point on our show this morning.  He just brought it up here in his introduction.  The question before us is very simple as conservatives.  Does the establishment that still controls the apparatus of the Republican Party, is it better for them to control that apparatus in a minority or is it better for us to take that apparatus and keep a majority?  Because, quite frankly, they would rather be in a minority as long as they control that apparatus because it’s central to their business model.

Pat Caddell: Right.  Exactly.  They never cared about losing.  I learned that in 2012.  The most important thing was to maintain their piece of the action.  And let me just say something because this is a time for real, thoughtful, intellectual, political debates about where to go.  My problem with the Republican Party is the voters want nothing to do with their leadership.  They have proven that over and over.  Look at the latest poll in Alabama where McConnell has a rating of 21 percent favorable and almost 60 negative among Republicans.  The people know this.  They voted them out.  They beat them every chance they could, and the question is whether that group — and I’m concerned about the Independents who supported Trump.  And many Democrats on the other side, particularly labor, blue-collar people, that is a governing and ruling majority if one can achieve it.  And how this all works itself out is the real challenge.  But I think you have to go to high ground.

The issue is the country.  It’s not which party.  It’s going to be who owns the country, them or you.  And the question is is America going to go into general night of decline or are we going to turn things around for our children and grandchildren.  These are great moral questions.  And that is the new battleground that needs to be fought.  And let me just say something.  The media. The press, which was you could argue is adversarial, but what we have is not adversarial.  We have a partisan opposition press which works hand in glove with the Democrats, which is the most corrupt media, and which, by the way, as a believer in the First Amendment, totally threatens the First Amendment, because as I have tried to say to people, when they figure out, which they have, that they can not only tell you who you must vote for, but they can tell you what truth you’re allowed to know or not to know, as we have seen in all of this other stuff with Russia, all of the stuff with the Clinton Foundation, all these things. The real question becomes why do we need a First Amendment if they’re not going to do their job, which is to be the tribune of the people and instead become the outriders of one political movement or another.

Steve Bannon: See, I look at it differently than Pat.  I like having the media as the opposition party because they’re so dumb and lazy.  I detest them.  I detest them.  Dumb, lazy, worthless.  A great opponent.  One last thing, we’ve got to wrap up here, is that it’s about the President.  It’s about Donald J. Trump.  Look, I got the great opportunity.  I’ve known him for years, but I didn’t know him that well until I got into the campaign.  I saw it every day.  Here’s a guy, everything you see in the mainstream media is basically nonsense.  Here’s a guy that was worth, I don’t know, five, six, seven, eight billion dollars.  I don’t know the exact number, but a lot of money.  He was 70 years old.  He has a lovely wife, a great family, great kids, grandchildren.  The friends he’s got from the sports and entertainment world and the business world are so close to him and such great people.  He just had a perfect lifestyle.  I mean here’s a guy at 70 years old that’s going around not just buying great hotels and refurbishing them and making them part of his Trump organization, but buying great golf courses and making them better and getting them in the U.S. Open or the Open Championship.  It’s the kind of thing you would do, all of us would do when we’re 70 years old.  He ran for President of the United States.  He’s not a narcissist and not in it for his ego or anything like that.  You couldn’t do it for that.  I saw this guy every day on the politics of personal destruction where they came after him hammer and tong.  And you guys only saw a tenth of it.  If you saw the other 90 percent, you’d just be stunned.  These people know no bounds.  I don’t really disagree with it because I see what they’re trying to do.  They’re trying to take control of the most powerful nation on earth, and they’re prepared to do anything to do that.

Donald Trump is an American hero because he had the courage to step up and run.  In that primary, if you think about it, with Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz and Christie, go through all of them, 16.  That was the Republican Party’s an entire generation of their best politicians that have been kind of bred for 10, 20, 30 years.  And as good as those gentlemen are and Carly Fiorina, there’s not one, or even combined could they have taken on the Clinton apparatus.  The Clinton apparatus is a killing machine, and it took somebody like Donald Trump, a blunt-force instrument, to defeat it.

Pat Caddell: Let me make a point, then you can finish.  I just want to say one quick thing. The authenticity question, which is important, even during the election better than two-thirds of people believed that Trump was authentic and that Hillary wasn’t, including almost half of Hillary’s own voters, so that will tell you something.  And the last comment I have to make is what you’re seeing with Mr. Franken, when you see what’s coming, when they announce, when they have to release the $15 million of your money that was paid out in 260 settlements secretly for sexual harassment, it’s going to make the bank scandal of 1990 look like nothing.

Steve Bannon: One last thing, David.  Look, I would love to wave a magic wand and tell you it’s all going to be better, right.  Take your nappy off, powder your bottom, pat you on the head and tell you that November 8th, we’re going to celebrate it every year, November 8th and 9th as MAGA Day.  It’s a high holy day for the populist-nationalist conservative movement, but this is why things like Restoration Weekend are so important.  Every day’s a fight.  And the guys on the other side of the football, and they showed this in Virginia, they’re going to outwork you.  They’re going to out-hustle you.  If we’re not prepared to line up and fight every day, we’re going to lose this country. We’re going to lose it.  If you’re prepared — and I’ll take the guys on our side of the football.  I’ll take the hobbits.  I’ll take the deplorables.  I’ll take the working men and women of this country, but as long as you’re prepared to lead them and prepared to say we’re prepared to fight this every day.  We’re prepared to have Donald Trump’s back every day, and we’re not going to take defeat, and when something happens like Judge Moore down there, on the first allegations you run for the tall grass, to hell with you.  Thank you.

The U.S. Is Saudi Arabia Now

November 7, 2017

The U.S. Is Saudi Arabia Now, PJ MediaRoger L Simon, November 6, 2017

But back to Saudi Arabia. They’re the bad ones here, not us.  They behave in a manner that civilized people must condemn.  We know this because Donald Trump approves of what King Salman is doing, cleaning house of characters like Bin Talal,  and Trump, as we know, is not an honorable man.

How do we know?  Because he has disgraced our country in Japan.  He is uncouth and does not even know how to feed koi. How bad is that! He could have killed the poor….Oh, wait…. 

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Saudi Arabia is evidently undergoing some pretty extreme housecleaning, approaching its own “Night of the Long Knives.”  It’s hard to know what to make of it (though those of us who remember Alwaleed Bin Talal’s  fatuous offer of ten million dollars just after 9/11, properly refused by Rudy Giuliani, have our own opinions of the now-arrested prince.)

Things over there seem pretty primitive and chaotic, almost tribal, replete with the image of billionaire princes forced to sleep on bare mattresses in the ballroom of the local Ritz Carlton. The Saudis have their own way of doing things.

Or do they?

These days things in Washington resemble Riyadh more than we care to admit. And unlike the Saudis, we don’t have Iran’s clients flying missiles into our airports. What’s our excuse?

Not much really — just hatred and the lust for power.  We’re tribal too — and then some.  Indeed, we may be worse.  How else to explain what’s going on inside our major political institutions — from Congress to our political parties to the Department of Justice to, needless to say, the FBI?  The skullduggery has been endless.

The latest is the reaction to Donna Brazile’s disclosure that the Democratic Party primary process was, essentially, fixed in favor of Mrs. Clinton.  The former DNC head is most likely correct because the mortified (and defensive) responses to her revelations are packed with lies.  That Ms. Brazile was concerned for her own safety because of the unsolved Seth Rich murder is also worth noting, speaking of long knives. Meanwhile, the mainstream media barely mentions that anything has occurred.  (The Saudis are more transparent.)

And then there are the matters that can be lumped together as G-Men in Non-Action, i. e. the FBI.  The latest revelation here is that James Comey, chief law enforcement officer in the land at the time, at first wrote a document accusing Hillary Clinton of  having been “grossly negligent” in her email scandal and then crossed it out… or somebody crossed it out for him…  to replace it with, for some reason or other, “extremely careless.” Could it be that “grossly negligent” in the handling of national security material is a crime and she was running for president?  Nah.  James Comey is a man to be trusted.

And so are Robert Mueller and Rod Rosenstein.  That we have just learned they were in charge during the approval of the Uranium One deal, that there was money laundering, bribes and all sorts of double-dealing by the Russian company involved (that they knew about) before twenty percent of U.S. uranium was put under Russian control, should not disturb us. Because of this knowledge, they are all the more qualified to conduct the Russia investigation. After all, Brutus, as Marc Antony assured us, is an honorable man. And so is Bill Clinton.  He had to speak a full two hours for that $500,000 after the deal was made.  So are they all honorable men.

That there are renewed questions about the Fusion GPS Trump dossier, that it may have been used to instigate the entire Russia investigation although filled with unsubstantiated, actually ludicrous, allegations, also should not give us pause.  After all, Bret Stephens believes it and he is an honorable man. He writes for The New York Times.

But back to Saudi Arabia. They’re the bad ones here, not us.  They behave in a manner that civilized people must condemn.  We know this because Donald Trump approves of what King Salman is doing, cleaning house of characters like Bin Talal,  and Trump, as we know, is not an honorable man.

How do we know?  Because he has disgraced our country in Japan.  He is uncouth and does not even know how to feed koi. How bad is that! He could have killed the poor….Oh, wait…. 

After Six Months, a Shocking Clarity

August 6, 2017

After Six Months, a Shocking Clarity, American ThinkerJames G. Wiles, August 6, 2017

But for now, the current crisis is not some political sideshow for the annual August “silly season.”  It is a struggle over who controls the government of the United States.

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Perhaps one James Woods said it best on Twitter (@realjameswoods) over the weekend: “I’ve never witnessed such hatred for a man who is willing to work for free to make his beloved country a better place. It is pathological.”

Mr. Woods did not exaggerate.  The last time the United States saw such a wholesale refusal to accept the result of a national election – and to overturn it – the year was 1861.

As the Trump administration moves past its 200th day in office, we have arrived at a moment of extreme clarity.  It is even – even by the standards of Watergate (which did not start, remember, until President Richard Nixon’s second term) – unprecedented in the history of the American Republic.

Just consider what we’ve learned since January 20 – and especially in the last two weeks.

1. Persons holding top positions in our national government (including its national security apparatus) are seeking to force the removal of an American president lawfully elected less than a year ago.  To achieve that goal, they have shown themselves willing to compromise the national security of the United States, including the conduct of its foreign affairs, and to commit serious felonies.

2. The MSM has united with these criminals (that is what the leakers of classified information are) in seeking to achieve this goal.  In particular, they are willing to facilitate achieving their objective by publishing information they know has been leaked to them in violation of federal law.

3. Democratic elected officials, at all levels of federal, state, and local government, oppose all aspects of the president’s agenda, upon which he was elected, and vigorously seek to block its implementation.  They have made no secret (thank you, Maxine Waters) that, if given control of Congress again, they will impeach and remove the president and, possibly, the vice president.

4. In a return to the days of the George W. Bush administration, the left is using “lawfare” (litigation for its own sake) to obstruct or defeat implementation of the president’s agenda, upon which he was elected.  A blog, Lawfareblog.com, offers daily info.  Another blog, The Intercept, promotes leaks of classified and other information.

5. For the first time since the Vietnam War years, there is a national mobilization – calling itself the Resistance – that can put people onto the streets and, occasionally, is willing to use mob violence in furtherance of its goals of ousting this president and stifling free speech.  Democratic elected officials have tolerated that violence.

6. Some Republicans in Congress have joined the Resistance.  Many more, even where they deplore the  Resistance, openly (or privately) oppose this president’s announced agenda, upon which he was elected.

7. Some Republicans in the Senate and the House who, for the last seven years, voted to repeal Obamacare, in fact, have refused to repeal it now that  a Republican president is in the White House who would sign such a repeal.

8. Prominent conservative media outlets and opinion leaders, such as Erick Erickson of theresurgent.com, redstate.com, the National Review and Bill Kristol’s Weekly Standard, oppose this president, hope for his removal or resignation from office and are, moreover, prepared to defend these national security breaches (which are occurring in an attempt to achieve that goal) asregrettable but necessary and to praise those who commit them.

In a signed editorial, Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard wrote on Friday (emphasis added):

Short-lived White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci was an utterly forgettable political hack. But he said one thing before he was dismissed that’s worth reflecting on: “There are people inside the administration that think it is their job to save America from this president. Okay?” Scaramucci was right about that. We know these people, and we admire them. We wish them every success.

9. Former Bush speech writer David Frum, writing in the Atlantic this week, both deplored and rationalized the leak of transcripts of presidential phone calls to foreign leaders.  Yes, he said, it’s illegal and compromises national security.  But it’s really Trump’s fault for making such breaches necessary.

Frum said (emphasis added):

The risk of national-security establishment overreach looms even larger. The temptation is obvious: Senior national-security professionals regard Trump as something between (at best) a reckless incompetent doofus and (at worst) an outright Russian espionage asset. The fear that a Russian mole has burrowed into the Oval Office may justify, to some, the most extreme actions against that suspected mole.

The nature of this particular leak suggests just such a national-security establishment origin.

10. It is quite obvious, in short, that the president of the United States has good reason to believe that he is, literally, being spied on in his own White House, by members of his own staff and by others elsewhere in the Executive Branch – especially including the national security apparatus.  And, furthermore, that his most confidential communications are not secure.

11. This exceeds, by some orders of magnitude, the national security threat faced by President Richard Nixon and national security adviser Henry Kissinger within the Nixon White House in 1970 and 1971.

Those are facts.  What does it all mean?

First, it means that next year’s congressional elections have grown enormously in importance since January 20.  The president will struggle to enact his agenda unless he has more allies on the allies on the Hill.

Second, it will probably take at least two full terms for the president to purge the Executive Branch.

But those are just politics and elections.  Here’s what should be concerning now:

If this pattern of the last six months continues, there will develop a real threat to the Republic and to the survival of democratic government.  While the national security threats the United States is presently facing – North Korean ICBMs, Chinese man-made islands in the South China Sea, and an expansive Russia – are serious and pressing, the most serious threat may be within.

We may be confronting a national security threat comparable to that which the United States (unknowingly) faced in the 1940s when American communists and fellow travelers penetrated the federal government, the Executive Branch, and the White House.  It was pooh-poohed at the time, called a “witch hunt” and a “Red Scare,” but, decades later,  the release of the Venona Intercepts and the opening of Soviet archives after the fall of the Soviet Union confirmed that, in fact, Soviet penetration of the highest levels of the U.S. government had occurred – and resulted in the loss of state secrets.

Here, there can be no dispute. The proof is appearing every day in our American media.

Attorney General Sessions is, therefore, amply justified in pursuing prosecution of the source(s) of these national security leaks – and, if necessary, targeting their media enablers.

The question of whether an American Deep State exists can be deferred until another time.  May cooler heads prevail until then.

But for now, the current crisis is not some political sideshow for the annual August “silly season.”  It is a struggle over who controls the government of the United States.

How should Trump deal with the deep state?

June 15, 2017

How should Trump deal with the deep state? Fox News via YouTube, June 14, 2017

 

Destroying Donald Trump is all that matters in the newsrooms of the mainstream media

May 19, 2017

Destroying Donald Trump is all that matters in the newsrooms of the mainstream media, Washington Times,

(America can survive, and probably prosper, under President Trump. The “mainstream media?” Maybe not. — DM)

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Now anything goes. All restraints are loosened, all self-discipline trashed. There’s no cure or even treatment for Trump Derangement Syndrome, a disease as wild and as swiftly lethal as anything imported from the Ebola River valley of the dark continent. The rules and taboos that once guided even the sleaziest excuse for a newspaper no longer apply.

Destroying Donald Trump is all that matters in the newsrooms of the mainstream media, so called, and by any means necessary. Rarely have so many hysterics contributed so much of the national conversation.

A columnist in The New York Times, ground zero in the epidemic of Trump Derangement Syndrome, suggests that a mutiny at the White House is the “more appropriate” way to rid the nation of the legitimate 46th duly elected president of the United States. Why waste time on impeachment? Mike Pence, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell could organize the ambush. The columnist likens them to “stewards for a syphilitic emperor.”

Ross Douthat is regarded as a “conservative” at The New York Times, and he thinks impeachment would take too long, be too messy, and recommends invoking the Twenty-fifth Amendment, which permits the president’s Cabinet to remove the president if a majority of the secretaries tells Congress that the president can no longer perform his duties.

Ultimately, he writes in the newspaper once known as “the old gray lady” and which has become “the old crazy lady,” he does not believe “our president sufficiently understands the nature of the office he holds, the nature of the legal constraints that are supposed to bind him, perhaps even the nature of normal human interactions, to be guilty of obstruction of justice in the Nixonian or even Clintonian sense of the phrase.”

A half-century ago a certain magazine thought a long-distance psychiatric examination of a presidential candidate was in order, and asked 12,000 psychiatrists (who knew there were so many headshrinkers on the fruited plain?) whether they thought Barry Goldwater was crazy, and 1,189 responded with a diagnosis: Mr. Goldwater, the Republican nominee for president in 1964, was nothing less than nuts. The American Psychiatric Association, sensitive to the public outrage that followed, told their members never to do it again.

But since the psychiatrists wouldn’t do it, Ross Douthat was fitted out with degrees in medicine and psychiatry (honorary degrees, we must hope), and told to get to work. (He is expected to retire his shingle once President Trump has been dispatched to the nut house, but who knows? On the Upper East Side there’s never enough psychiatrists.) Dr. Douthat writes that the president has no aides, friends and confidantes who have any remaining regard for him. “They have no respect for him, indeed they seem to palpate with contempt for him, and to regard their mission as equivalent to being stewards for a syphilitic emperor.”

Since impeachment would take so long, Dr. Douthat would “respectfully ask Mike Pence and Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell to reconsider their support for a man who never should have had his party’s nomination, never should have been elevated to this office, never should have been endorsed and propped up and defended by people who understood his unfitness all along.”

It’s hard to imagine anything more calculated to invoke a Second Amendment answer to such a Twenty-fifth Amendment coup, and it would be nothing less than a coup by the Republican elites and the press that so many Americans believe have “rigged” the elections meant to express the nation’s will. You don’t have to be a Trump friend, supporter or voter to see where this would inevitably lead. The United States has never been a banana republic or a third world dump where elections are ultimately determined in the streets, but this would be the ultimate national indignity, wrought by just those who would go to civil war to depose an indignity.

The two stories that have dominated the news this week were the work of the very two newspapers, The Washington Post and The New York Times, that have become the not-so-loyal opposition, drivers of the coup with tales told in every edition. The Post accuses the president of dispensing national secrets to the Russians, based on the word of an anonymous source who concedes he wasn’t in the meeting, and denied by those who were. The New York Times says it heard a passage read from a memo written by James Comey, telling how the president asked him go easy on Mike Flynn, and denied by the White House.

All this to support tales of Trump campaign collusion with the Russians, which Democrats and Republicans agree that no one has yet found any evidence of. There’s no fire and only a few wisps of something that might be smoke, or more likely, the passing of partisan gas.

The Trump method

April 29, 2017

The Trump method, Washington Examiner, W. James Antle III, April 29, 2017

President Trump has been more measured toward China, despite near-constant criticism of that burgeoning strategic rival during the presidential campaign. “President Xi wants to do the right thing,” Trump said of his Chinese counterpart in a press conference. “We had a very good bonding. I think we had a very good chemistry together.” (Graeme Jennings/Washington Examiner)

When President Trump held a reception for conservative media at the White House in April, he was asked whether he was being tough enough on China. Beijing was dumping steel, his interlocutor said, and should also be designated a currency manipulator.

Trump responded, according to several attendees, with a certain incredulity, asking why he would label China a currency manipulator while it is helping to contain North Korea’s increasingly belligerent behavior. It’s a variant of a line he debuted on Twitter earlier in the month.

“No, it’s not going to be the Trump doctrine,” Trump memorably said of his foreign policy approach during the campaign. “Because in life, you have to be flexible. You have to have flexibility. You have to change. You know, you may say one thing and then the following year you want to change it, because circumstances are different.”

The president has come under fire from some of his fiercest defenders for saying one thing while running for office and then a year later wanting to “change it” on the core issues that got him elected. He relented on funding of the border wall with the continuing resolution to avert a government shutdown. He hasn’t fully rescinded former President Obama’s immigration executive actions. He ordered strikes on Syria after promising a less interventionist “America First” foreign policy.

Trump spoke favorably of Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen. He declared NATO was no longer obsolete. He signaled support for the Export-Import Bank, even as he nominated a conservative critic to run it. He endorsed a GOP healthcare bill that seemed to advance few of his campaign policy goals.

All these position changes came shortly after there were ubiquitous reports of White House palace intrigue suggesting the populist, nationalist faction associated with chief strategist Stephen Bannon was being marginalized in favor of Trump’s centrist son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.

“We may as well have had Jeb,” lamented conservative columnist Ann Coulter, author of the election yearbook In Trump We Trust. She now tweets daily about the number of miles of border wall completed since Inauguration Day. The number is always zero. “Do you want war with Russia, all of you idiots, all of you fools who are pounding the war drums?” protested pro-Trump veteran radio talk show host Michael Savage after the Syria intervention.

Some Trump supporters think all this is a misreading of the president. Washington is used to ideologues, they say. Trump is a pragmatist. They maintain he is a master negotiator straight out of The Art of the Deal and there is a method even to his apparent Twitter madness.

“When President Trump negotiates, nothing is off the table,” said a former Republican national security official. “He leverages the full resources of the American government. He brings the economy into the picture even when doing diplomacy. He outright says, ‘If you want a better trade deal, you will help us with North Korea.'”

The new president is, in other words, making a bonfire of the pieties, discarding the idea, perhaps the pretense, of principled consistency, and instead does piecemeal what he believes will work at that moment.

Asked if this wasn’t par for the course in presidential negotiations, the official agreed but said there were two important caveats that make Trump different: “Trump says it publicly instead of dancing around it. And don’t underestimate how much our people try to make humanitarian arguments to foreign governments that just aren’t very humanitarian.”

A Republican diplomat concurred, saying there was an overreliance on moral arguments in difficult negotiations with foreign countries sometimes led by people who do not share our values. “These moral arguments don’t work with China or Russia,” the diplomat said. “They’re hit or miss with Egypt or Saudi Arabia. They’re not working with Turkey.”

So Trump took a harder line on Russia, or at least allowed his appointees to do so. This isn’t surprising from United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, for example, but Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is a past recipient of the Russian Order of Friendship, and yet he said Moscow was “complicit or simply incompetent” when it came to Syria’s use of chemical weapons.

And Trump has been more measured toward China, despite near-constant criticism of that burgeoning strategic rival during the presidential campaign. “President Xi wants to do the right thing,” Trump said of his Chinese counterpart in a press conference. “We had a very good bonding. I think we had a very good chemistry together.”

On the North American Free Trade Agreement, Trump floated an executive order terminating the United States’ participation in the pact, and almost immediately received phone calls from the president of Mexico and prime minister of Canada. Having got their attention, he walked back his threat while speaking magnanimously about those two allies.

“I decided rather than terminating NAFTA, which would be a pretty big, you know, shock to the system, we will renegotiate,” Trump told reporters. He had previously issued a statement praising the leaders of Mexico and Canada: “It is an honor to deal with both President Pena Nieto and Prime Minister Trudeau, and I believe that the end result will make all three countries stronger and better.”

To some, this reflects the “strategic ambiguity” Trump promised last year and a willingness to make a deal wherever possible. Others regard it as the kind of incoherence one might expect from a politically inexperienced president who hasn’t shown much interest in policy. The New York Times described Mexican elites as increasingly seeing Trump as a poker table “bluffer.”

This is a debate that dates back to before Trump was in office and extends to domestic policy as well. Is Trump simply more flexible than your average politician or is he less aware of what he is doing?

“What elitists misinterpret as uneven principles, entrepreneurs understand as adaptability,” SkyBridge Capital founder Anthony Scaramucci argued in the Wall Street Journal. He went on to claim, “Mr. Trump would be the greatest pragmatist and deal maker Washington has ever seen.”

“In the political sense, pragmatists reject the traditional left/right binary, which they may derisively view as dogma,” Christopher Scalia wrote in a Washington Post piece on Trump’s ideological flexibility. “They are willing to sample widely from the smorgasbord of political ideas to find the best solution to a pressing problem.”

Trump’s critics have also described him as a pragmatist. “I … think that he is coming to this office with fewer set, hard-and-fast policy prescriptions than a lot of other presidents might be arriving with. I don’t think he is ideological,” Obama told reporters at the White House after the election. “I think ultimately he’s pragmatic in that way, and that can serve him well as long as he’s got good people around him and he has a good sense of direction.”

Ben Shapiro argued in National Review that Trump was pragmatic, but that wasn’t necessarily a good thing. “That’s because pragmatism is a progressive philosophy,” he wrote. “There is no clear consensus on ‘what works.’ This is why elections matter, and why political ideology matters. It’s an empty conceit of arrogant politicians that they alone can determine, based on expert reading of facts, the best solution; they can’t.”

This tendency hampered Trump’s first attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare. He negotiated with the conservative Freedom Caucus, occasionally driving a hard bargain. “I’m coming after you,” Trump quipped to the group’s chairman, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., at one point during the talks.

But Trump’s jibes against the conservative lawmakers got more serious. The president tweeted that the Freedom Caucus would “hurt the entire Republican agenda” if they failed to get on board and that they needed to be fought as well as the Democrats in 2018.

“Tweets, statements and blame don’t change facts,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio. Meadows said Trump’s scathing comments made it “harder” to arrive at a healthcare compromise. A Republican congressional aide said Trump’s tactics merely “emboldened” GOP holdouts.

Trump and the Freedom Caucus have since reconciled on Obamacare. Some even stick up for his handling of the early healthcare discussions.

“I think he did everything he could on healthcare in round one,” said Faith and Freedom Coalition chairman Ralph Reed. “The president was speed dialing members of Congress on their cellphones.”

“The biggest problem you had under Bush and under Obama is that each party on the Hill thought the White House didn’t talk to them,” said Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist, who added that all the feedback he has gotten has indicated improved communications under this administration. “Trump’s leadership is to talk about the Reagan agenda in terms of creating jobs.”

Nevertheless, Trump had difficulty out of the gate because he did not understand how to strike a deal that was only partly about dollars and cents. Freedom Caucus members dissented from the first version of the American Health Care Act because of values and ideology too. Trump’s pragmatic language made no allowance for that.

“He had nothing to sell us,” said a GOP legislative assistant. Trump’s arguments centered on Republican political survival, the need to fulfill campaign promises on Obamacare but relatively little to say about the merits of the bill.

Debates over the efficacy of Trump’s methods often break down over a question that has hung over him ever since the national media began to hang on his every tweet, upending politics as we know it: is he clever or just lucky?

“Occasionally, Trump displays moments of pure genius with his use of Twitter to change the subject away from bad storylines,” said Republican strategist Liz Mair. “Frequently, however, he uses Twitter to keep what are, for him, extremely bad narratives alive and to beclown himself in the eyes of most observers who are vaguely politically astute. Sometimes, he also just gets lucky and does something stupid on Twitter that coincidentally detracts from something bad, news-wise, but where you’re pretty confident it wasn’t intentional, it was just random.”

Maybe Trump’s luck will eventually run out. For now, however, when this pragmatist walks into a roomful of ideologues, he sits at the head of the table.

A Times Source Outs Herself

March 29, 2017

A Times Source Outs Herself, Power Line, Scott Johnson, Power Line, March 29, 2017

(Weaponizing intelligence information for political purposes:

Meanwhile, the Democrat media continue to try to shift public focus to alleged Russian ties of Trump and his colleagues while ignoring the very substantial ties of the Clintons, Podestas, et al. — DM)

Evelyn Farkas is the former Obama administration deputy secretary of defense — and now an MSNBC analyst. Appearing on air among her friends at MSNBC yesterday, she all but outed herself as a key source for the seminal New York Times story on the Obama administration’s efforts to subvert the incoming Trump administration.

The March 1 Times story ran under the headline “Obama administration rushed to preserve intelligence of Russian election hacking” under the byline of Matthew Rosenberg, Adam Goldman and Michael Schmidt. The Times reporters noted that they protected the identity of their sources because, you know, their cooperation with the Times was criminal or because their actions were otherwise legally problematic. The Times reporters put it this way in their March 1 story:

More than a half-dozen current and former officials described various aspects of the effort to preserve and distribute the intelligence, and some said they were speaking to draw attention to the material and ensure proper investigation by Congress. All spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were discussing classified information, nearly all of which remains secret.

In her comments on MSNBC Farkas uses one term of art that requires translation. The term of art is “the Hill,” i.e., Capitol Hill. By “the Hill” Farkas means congressional Democrats and their staffers. As MSNBC flashed an image of the Times story on the screen, Mika Brzezinski states that Farkas “actually knew about this attempt to get and preserve information…and were doing some work yourself.” That’s nice “work” if you can get it.

Thus spake Farkas:

Well, I was urging my former colleagues, and, and, frankly speaking, the people on the Hill, it was more actually aimed at telling the Hill people, get as much information as you can – get as much intelligence as you can – before President Obama leaves the administration. Because I had a fear that somehow that information would disappear with the senior [Obama] people who left. So it would be hidden away in the bureaucracy, um, that the Trump folks – if they found out HOW we knew what we knew about their, the Trump staff, dealing with Russians – that they would try to compromise those sources and methods — meaning we would no longer have access to that intelligence. So I became very worried because not enough was coming out into the open and I knew that there was more. We have very good intelligence on Russia. So then I had talked to some of my former colleagues and I knew that they were also trying to help get information to the Hill…That’s why you have the leaking.

The video of Farkas’s response is below. The entire segment including Senator Debbie Stabenow is posted here.

(The video is at the link. A longer video, with similar but longer content is at the Fox News article linked below.– DM)

I have lifted the video and slightly modified the transcript of Farkas’s response from the post here by Sundance at the The Conservative Tree House site. Sundance has more in the way of commentary in an update that may or may not be on point or withstand scrutiny. I agree with Sundance on this point: “Looks like Devin Nunes and the House Intelligence Committee ha[ve] a new person to bring in for testimony.” Yes, indeed, let us hear more from Ms. Farkas regarding “the Hill people” and her underlying project under oath.

UPDATE: FOX News covers the story here. (Here is the video embedded in the Fox News post. — DM)