The attitude among many Republicans in Washington, D.C. is that while President Donald Trump can be a loose cannon, he’s their loose cannon. But managing a loose cannon who is prone to making unreasonable demands via Twitter can be challenging, and a report by The Atlantic’s Elaina Plott details the tendency among Trump associates to ignore some of those unreasonable demands in the hopes that he will forget about them.
“Since assuming office, Trump has issued many private demands to aides that have either been slow-walked or altogether ignored,” Plott observes. “But when the president dictates those spontaneous orders publicly, officials are suddenly accountable to a much broader audience — at least in theory — to make them a reality.”
Plott cites some examples. In July 2017, for instance, Trump tweeted that he was banning transgender people from serving in the U.S. military. And a former White House official, who agreed to be interviewed on condition of anonymity, told Plott that previously, Trump had brought up the subject but agreed to hold off on a decision until discussing it with officials in the U.S. Department of Defense such as former Defense Secretary James Mattis or former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster.
“We had literally just spoken to him about holding off on a decision and having a conversation later that day, maybe even bringing in Mattis and McMaster for it,” the former White House Official told Plott. “But then he tweeted it, and there wasn’t really any easy or effective way to walk it back.”
Plott also notes that on March 29, Trump announced that he would be cutting off all aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador—a move he wasn’t authorized to make unilaterally without consulting others. Because of Trump’s announcement, Plott explains, “stunned State Department officials hurried to put together a statement that evening.”
This has been a pattern throughout Trump’s presidency, according to Plott: the president jumps the gun, and those around him hope that the mess he is creating will go away — or at least be manageable.
Interviewed anonymously, a senior official for the Senate Appropriations Committee said of the Central America aid fiasco, “whether Trump even cares about this in six months, who knows. But we’re the ones that have to try and fix it.”
Do politicians actually care about your opinions? This researcher says no
Earlier this month, a New York Times op-ed written by two political science professors, Ethan Porter of George Washington University and Joshua Kalla of Yale, discussed their troubling research findings: State legislators, the two claim, don't much care about the opinions of their constituents, even if they're given detailed data regarding their views.
This article first appeared in Salon.
The best Civil War movie ever made finally gets its due
On Sunday and on July 24, Turner Classic Movies and Fathom Events are presenting big-screen showings in theaters nationwide of “Glory,” in honor of the 30-year anniversary of its release. The greatest movie ever made about the American Civil War, “Glory” was the first and, with the exception of Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” the only film that eschewed romanticism to reveal what the war was really about.
The story is told through the eyes of one of the first regiments of African American soldiers. Almost from the time the first shots were fired at Fort Sumter, S.C., the issue of black soldiers in the Union army was hotly debated. On Jan. 1, 1863, as the country faced the third year of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, rapidly accelerating the process of putting black men into federal blue.
Trump echoes another president who stoked fear rather than face the tech-based economic change he failed to stem
It is amazing how similar America in 2019 is to America in the 1920’s, a decade that began almost a hundred years ago. It is as if America is reliving its own history, trapped in a prison of deja vu, purposely not wanting to remember the disaster that unfolded as the 1920s ended.
The parallels are striking, the anti-immigration frenzy, race-baiting, trade wars, over-heated stock markets, corruption, and technological changes that produced hip urban centers contrasting with rural alienation and bitterness. Like today, the 1920s was a period of spectacular wealth and an ever-increasing income gap.