Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Carnivorous Cycle

One of Obama's greatest strengths as a president was his indifference to the 24 hour news cycle.  He was uniquely adept at filtering out the signal from the noise.

E.J. Dionne suggests that Trump has a signature genius at distracting the new cycle.  This is true.  This is also largely irrelevant.  Josh Marshall rightly points out that Trump's presidency is obsessed with one thing: winning.  Jon Chait notes that Trump is largely controlled by television.

What Chait and Marshall prioritize over Dionne is the idea that what a president DOES is what matters.  Winning the news cycle is ephemeral.  Winning a policy battle is a lasting achievement.  As Marshall and Chait note, Trump has no core beliefs, no primary agenda.  As a result he is a captive of events.  His desire to win means that the actual substance of winning isn't important.  In a hypothetical situation where Democrats win control of the Congress in 2018, Trump could very easily sign a climate bill just to sign a climate bill.  Yay.  But he could also wind up signing something extraordinarily damaging just to sign something.  Boo.

Dionne gets around to this at the end of his column, noting that Trump's ability to distract from the various scandals doesn't mean the investigations into said scandals are defunct.  Jason Chaffetz's surprising decision not to run in 2018 could free him up to be especially critical of a Republican who is uniquely unpopular in Utah.  If Chaffetz decides to really go after Flynn and Page and the other cast of apparatchiks, this could provide all sorts of problems for Trump.

These scandals aren't going away.  The lack of the GOP to agree on much of anything isn't going away.  The need for Democratic votes in the Senate to do anything important isn't going away.

Lots of people left of center bemoan how much they miss Obama.

Maybe they should start acting like him.

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