Evolution of the Trump Administration: An Op Ed
Donald Trump seems to be missing some sort of a regulator that prevents him from simply saying what temporarily happens to be on his mind. That made it inevitable that he would treat his audience to a regular stream of faux pas. However, I think both the degree and severity of the mess may be diminished going forward.
The reason has to do with how the Trump administration came into being. Simply put, unlike most candidates, he actually beat both major political parties in the US, not just the Democrats. He took the Republican nomination by beating the presumptive heir – Jeb Bush. Then he beat the back-ups who were viewed as acceptable to most establishment Republicans: Rubio and Cruz.
Now, when a new President takes office, he can usually stock his administration from think tanks and members of the political intelligentsia. Trump couldn’t. As the Republican nominee, he was never going to use left-leaning people. But he wasn’t about to bring in people from the Bush/Rubio/Cruz camps, nor were many of them willing to serve under him either. That pretty much ruled out the vast majority people with any experience in how Washington works.
So who was left? Well, there were disaffected members of the Republican establishment (those who had pissed off the neocons during the last Republican administration), some elements in the military, and people on the right who had been criticizing the Republican party for a long time. The latter group tend to be the most numerous. They also live on the fringes. And like most people on the fringes, they have no idea how the world works. Many are bombastic, like Trump himself.
So that was the well from which Trump could draw. A clown show was inevitable. And since many of the clowns were actually advising Trump himself, it was also predictable that Trump would be repeating some of their nonsense, sprinkled in with some that was homegrown.
But it seems that Trump can learn, after all. He may brag that he is the bestest Presidentiest President ever, but under it all, people he trusts remind him that he isn’t actually getting anything done. Somewhere along the way, it occurred to him to get rid of Priebus and replace him with Kelly. What Kelly himself believes – politically – isn’t entirely clear, but he is a four star general, and it seems clear he understands how organizations work. He quickly unloaded a couple of the more clown-ish actors, the Mooch and Steve Bannon, and perhaps his own predecessor.
Assuming Trump and Kelly remain in place, this should lead to something resembling professionalism in some of the corners of the administration that haven’t had such a thing in a while. That professionalism should even manifest itself in advice given to the President, reducing the amount of crazy-talk taking up valuable shelf-space in his head. That in turn might cut down on some of the more soap opera-ish activity coming from both Trump and the rest of the administration.
Is that a good thing? Well, there’s a yes and a no to that question. The yes piece is obvious, so I won’t elaborate. But as to the no… year to date, Trump was busy proposing ideas that had no support from anyone except the fringes and peddling them in ways that couldn’t possibly gain traction. As a result, those ideas went nowhere. But what happens if he starts running with garden-variety Republican tropes? Those tropes can gain the support they need to be enacted. They also didn’t generate positive outcomes the last few times we’ve seen them applied. Nor is there any real reason to expect that things will be turn out differently the next time the are tried.
I have to say, I was naive. I didn’t even think that Caligula might have an effective chief of staff.
“people he trusts remind him that he isn’t actually getting anything done”
This is not the way it seems to me. When somebody tells him he’s not getting anything done he stops trusting them. Trump operates on bluster. It has worked for him in the past because he had something to sell a complete lack of integrity and distressed properties that money could be laundered through. If he hadn’t started out filthy rich, he would have been killed by mob associates, prosecuted for financial crimes or run out business.
Last week was Trump’s Saturday Night Massacre. It took more than nine months after Nixon’s before the House Judiciary Committee approved articles of impeachment.Nixon resigned two weeks later.
Priebus, Mooch and Bannon weren’t fired because Trump wanted to prevent them from doing the right thing while investigating him. (If he had fired Sessions and Mueller it would be a good parallel to Nixon.)
Also, despite e being in construction in NYC, Trump never (to my knowledge) was alleged to have mob ties. My guess is that his style of doing business, especially the particulars in how some of those who deals with don’t end up getting paid, that it doesn’t fit patterns of corruption jurors in civil trials are always able to understand. It helps that he has an OJ Simpsonesque tendency to see himself as incapable of being the villain.
We see the same thing in the political sphere which is how he seems to get away with stuff ordinary people wouldn’t.
But, though in his own mind, he cannot fail, he can be failed. When his daughter points out that they keep going back and get X done but it isn’t getting done, well, that’s his people failing him. So getting the right people is a natural given that mjndset.
i lived in Philly and South Jersey during the casino era. Everyone knew Trump had close ties to the mob. And he used them like a cudgel when he shorted contractors, some of whom were close friends.
I do not think people, even now, realize that Trump is a total sociopath. And has been his entire life.
“In his signature book, The Art of the Deal, Donald Trump boasted that when he wanted to build a casino in Atlantic City, he persuaded the state attorney general to limit the investigation of his background to six months. Most potential owners were scrutinized for more than a year. Trump argued that he was “clean as a whistle”—young enough that he hadn’t had time to get into any sort of trouble. He got the sped-up background check, and eventually got the casino license.
But Trump was not clean as a whistle. Beginning three years earlier, he’d hired mobbed-up firms to erect Trump Tower and his Trump Plaza apartment building in Manhattan, including buying ostensibly overpriced concrete from a company controlled by mafia chieftains Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno and Paul Castellano. That story eventually came out in a federal investigation, which also concluded that in a construction industry saturated with mob influence, the Trump Plaza apartment building most likely benefited from connections to racketeering. Trump also failed to disclose that he was under investigation by a grand jury directed by the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, who wanted to learn how Trump obtained an option to buy the Penn Central railroad yards on the West Side of Manhattan.
Why did Trump get his casino license anyway? Why didn’t investigators look any harder? And how deep did his connections to criminals really go?
These questions ate at me as I wrote about Atlantic City for The Philadelphia Inquirer, and then went more deeply into the issues in a book, Temples of Chance: How America Inc. Bought Out Murder Inc. to Win Control of the Casino Business. In all, I’ve covered Donald Trump off and on for 27 years, and in that time I’ve encountered multiple threads linking Trump to organized crime. Some of Trump’s unsavory connections have been followed by investigators and substantiated in court; some haven’t. And some of those links have continued until recent years, though when confronted with evidence of such associations, Trump has often claimed a faulty memory. In an April 27 phone call to respond to my questions for this story, Trump told me he did not recall many of the events recounted in this article and they “were a long time ago.” He also said that I had “sometimes been fair, sometimes not” in writing about him, adding “if I don’t like what you write, I’ll sue you.”
I’m not the only one who has picked up signals over the years. Wayne Barrett, author of a 1992 investigative biography of Trump’s real-estate dealings, has tied Trump to mob and mob-connected men.
No other candidate for the White House this year has anything close to Trump’s record of repeated social and business dealings with mobsters, swindlers, and other crooks. Professor Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian, said the closest historical example would be President Warren G. Harding and Teapot Dome, a bribery and bid-rigging scandal in which the interior secretary went to prison. But even that has a key difference: Harding’s associates were corrupt but otherwise legitimate businessmen, not mobsters and drug dealers. ”
The construction business in NYC and the casino biz in Atlantic City have historically been mob infested. Anyone in that business will deal with businesses that have some sort of a mob connection because those connections are ubiquitous in the industry.
But the ones who engage in mob behavior end up in jail if there’s s prosecutor who wants to make a name for himself, especially if the perp is a big fish. But as far as I know, over a period of more than 4 decades, nobody, not Spitzer, not Cuomo, not Bharara, not any young ambitious up and coming prosecutor or even a reporter, ever thought that Donald Trump was a white whale worthy of being brought down? Or is it just that there isn’t enough there?
Even the article you cite says he was investigated several times, once for six months. And as the old saw goes, in this country you can indict a ham sandwich.
Does that make him clean? No. But either he has had one hell of a long run of good luck or he has great instincts about how far he can push the envelope. To me, the last year and a half suggests the latter.
A conspicuous name is missing from your list of prosecutors. Say the name.
You should read the whole article. The question is not whether Trump committed any crimes for which he was indicted, the question is whether he had mob ties.
He did, and they went well beyond casual contacts because the mob was in business in NY construction and AC casinos.
The US will do well with Trump just as the fictional USS Caine would have weather the typhoon had the junior officer not staged a coup which they got away with.
To Stalinists guilt is association!
Is associating with the metro NY mobs, who had dealings in construction trade unions, as bad as having Col Qaddafi sodomized with a bayonet before having his brains blown out by our Salafists who donated to Clinton foundation?
And, by the way, smoking cigarettes is actually GOOD for you. It’s just those commie-rat environmentalists who want to confiscate them so they can sap our precious bodily fluids.
Personally, I believe this is Trump’s biggest problem.
” Trump’s Russian Laundromat
How to use Trump Tower and other luxury high-rises to clean dirty money, run an international crime syndicate, and propel a failed real estate developer into the White House.”
I think it is the basis for his refusal to issue his tax returns. One thing to have an investigator or two looking into you finances, another to have those finances thrown open to the world and a million or two investigators.
And It is why he warned Mueller not to go into his family finances.
And it is something he has been very familiar with going back to his NY and AC days. Casinos are probably the best way to launder money in the world. Followed close by real estate deals.
One thing to be in a business(s) where the mob controls a large part. Another to be involved with US, Chinese and Russian mobsters over a career.
I agree with you E Michael. I have said since his election that the one place he is truly vulnerable is in connection with his and his family’s money laundering for Russian oligarchs/ mobsters. As to the main post I reject the efforts to normalize Trump. He is and has always been a racist, fascist, incompetent, lying bully who is easily played by anyone with half a brain. This is what a train wreck looks like and the only question is whether the GOP has any shred of morality left and does something about this tragedy for the United States.
@Terry – “This is what a train wreck looks like and the only question is whether the GOP has any shred of morality left and does something about this tragedy for the United States.”
Oh puhleez. If the Republicans OR Democrats had any shred of morality, all those responsible for the Iraq War, the bombing of Libya, the destruction of Syria, the Gulag in Guantanamo and the predator drone murders of thousands of innocent civilians at a minimum would be standing trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity right now. Perhaps the more dysfunctional the American government is, the less evil it will perpetuate around the globe.
You cannot call Trump a “fascist,” while letting Bush and Obama off the hook. Trump isn’t the tragedy–the United States of America is the tragedy–and yes, I am both an American and a veteran who is just thankful I was never sent off to kill anyone who was not a threat to me or my country.
What is the purpose of a, “Aw, Mom, all the other kids are going!” tupe of post.
Obama is not the President. Bush is not the President. While I am looking, I noticed Reagan is not the President.
Fairly sure that during each of their administrations there were attacks on their behaviors and policies that affected the US and the world.
The issue here is that spouting off about stupid shit is by no means a new or unique issue for politicians.
I can’t find a good source for it, but a quote was going around for a while to the effect that Newt Gingrich had 100 ideas before breakfast and 99 of them were bad, but even he was able to function in the structure of Washington and pass a number of key Republican goals working with a nominally Democratic president.
I don’t think the issue is the people around Trump. As long as he’s in charge, he will continue to have really bad people around him, and the best case if he had good people around him is probably inaction.
Fish stink from the head.
You need to work on your reading comprehension.