Thursday, 26 January 2017

Donald Trump and how to play your political opponents like a fiddle

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Donald Trump has started as he means to go on. His investigation of voter fraud is a brilliant move. 

Undoubtedly some fraud did happen and by raising the issue he wrongfoots the Democrats, who are forced to play on his ground in a battle they can't really win. 

Raising the question of Mexican illegal immigrants, Muslims, and illegal voters are issues that 'trigger' every left-winger. And while the left is falling for Trump's voter fraud bait meanwhile he gets on with whatever he wants to do. 


And in the end measures to prevent illegal voting will help the Republicans, though to what extent we don't know.


The wall with Mexico is another example of the same thing. Mr. Trump is deflecting Democrats' attention and making them appear to defend illegal immigration. It's brilliant of him. 


Journalists all said he wouldn't really do this because it would cost too much, but I knew he would. The political capital he gains by doing so is incalculable and it will make his opponents fight him on what is exactly (for them) the wrong front. 


What we learnt in the campaign is that Trump is a man who trusts his own judgement and he is right to do so.

And remind me, what is the argument again against a strong border? 


It will do more to defend America than the money America spends on Nato.

Donald Trump plays the left like a fiddle. And will for four or eight years. Why don't the Democrats or the press get it?

In fact, there is simply no point in reading most journalists on Donald Trump.

Interestingly, Mr. Obama deported more illegals than George W Bush and Hillary promised to build something not unlike a wall. 


Had George W Bush have promised to build a wall he'd have won in 2000 easily, without the hanging chads. But he, John McCain and the Republican political leaders  would rather have lost than win using immigration as an issue. 

Which is why in 2016 the Republican leaders did lose and Trump won the nomination.

In fact immigration threatened or promised to make it difficult or impossible for Republicans to win the presidency. President Obama and others said that. Bear in mind that 2004 was the only time the Republican won the popular vote after 1988 and 2004 was a scrape. 

It remains to be seen what changes to immigration policy Donald Trump will try to steer through the Republican Congress.


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Enoch Powell, whom I once had the great good luck to have lunch with, had so many qualities that Donald Trump lacks, starting with a profound knowledge of the Greek and Latin poets and deep religious convictions. But Donald Trump has one very great gift that Powell sorely lacked: the new President is a hugely successful politician. 



Would Powell have done as well as Donald Trump had England had a presidential system? It might be so. Powell was certainly a genius but, in his way, so certainly is Mr. Trump.

The parallels between the two are explored in the Guardian, in the style one expects from that paper, by Barry Eichengreen. 



24 comments:

  1. I am mystified by your admiration for Trump, most of whose policies, both at home ands abroad, seem to me to both misguided and malign. How will protectionism help America? Do you really think it will reactivate the rust-belt industries? Much more likely it will hurt America, and particularly its poorest citizens. “Make America great again” is an empty con-trick.
    O.

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    1. I completely agree about not liking protectionism. But the EU is protectionist and so is the USA. I don’t think Trump will unrust the rust belt but I am hoping for a change in the zeitgeist, fewer wars, less mass migration.

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  2. One of my favourite political TV moments was Ludovic Kennedy asking him (after EP had mentioned the will of the majority in NI). "Are you in favour of majority rule in South Africa?". Power answered either ""yes" or "yes of course/certainly". LK seemed completely thrown and stumbled to get another question out. Power just waited patiently for it. It was like Powel just didn't get why he should be surprised. I think Powel's problem was that he couldn't dumb down far enough. I believe he was very Aspergers and we don't get "normal" thinking, Can't see Trump having that difficulty.

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  3. Powell was brilliant, but in politics he suffered from the deep Anglo-American mistrust of intellectuals. Trump, who is less brilliant, but still highly intelligent, understands the benefits of talking like a simpleton. The Rivers of Blood speech, whether you agreed with it or not, was a misjudgement. Michael Foot, who was a friend and admirer of Powell, said: “The Tory Kingdom would sooner or later have been his to command, for he had all the shining qualities which the others lacked. Heath would never have outmanoeuvred him; Thatcher would never have stepped into the vacant shoes. It was a tragedy for Enoch, and a tragedy for the rest of us too.”
    Christopher Newbury

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  4. How is the investigation of voter fraud brilliant? If Trump wants to investigate unicorns, let him. If the GOP want to pay, let them vote on it. Same for the wall: Trump tweeted that Mexico should pay or the Mexican president should cancel his visit to Washington. The Mexican president cancelled. Brilliant.

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  5. "The fact is that conservatives have tried to make allegations of widespread voter fraud a national front page story for about 20 years. They've demanded investigations into it. And they've had no real success. In fact, the counterclaim that there is no significant voter fraud has been taken so for granted that the case has rarely been made by Democratic Party politicians in public. It was basically a joke.

    But now we have non-conservatives clamoring to talk about it all day and eager to see investigations launched to "prove" they're right. And that's a trap. First it's a trap because now almost any level of voter fraud that's discovered will elevate President Trump's claims from laughable to at least partially correct."
    Jake Novak

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  6. Listening to BBC Radio Four news, something I rarely do, I am astonished by the anti-Trump slant. It probably reflects opinion in England but it is not impartial.

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    1. It doesn't reflect British opinion. Radio 4 reflects the metropolitan London group that are in the process of losing power. They simply do not understand Trump and are offering poor commentary. As Brexit demonstrated, these people are increasingly being ignored by the British (and American - maybe soon even European) electorate.

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  7. Folks just don't know how to react to Trump judging from what I read here and elsewhere. I was in my local gym and they had CNN on with former Presidente Vincente Fox being interviewed about "trump wall building". Fox was unhinged and cursed the eff word. In fact, CNN had that on the "ticker" they ran underneath the story. I would never have seen this as I don't watch CNN.

    You are right. He has completely wrong footed the MSM and his oppo's. He is dealing with then AS HE SAID HE WOULD.

    OH noes... Mexico has cancelled it's visit to Washington! what ever will WE do? We'll wait patiently as the peso dumps and all that US dollar from illegals flowing in to mexico shrinks. Trump is negotiating the deals.

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  8. How many state legislatures and governorships are in GOP hands? You think this hasn't been investigated? Where are the prosecutions? If they haven't turned up evidence by now,the only alternative left to the president will be to make up his own facts, alternative facts.

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    1. Marc, I am not disagreeing with you. I am simply saying how very clever this bizarre, terrifying, in many ways appalling new President is, to distract voters on both sides like this. And he will continue like this until Democrats' ears bleed.

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    2. But this suggests that 800,000 non-citizens might have voted for Mrs. C. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/jan/26/hillary-clinton-received-800000-votes-from-nonciti/

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    3. Can you lend me the US$20 to buy the study? It seems of dubious value and the author disclaimed the reference to the current election. If there is a study of non-citizens voting, then it had better include the incarcerated and the mentally incompetent as well. Then I suppose we might approach a figure of 20 to 30 million fraudulent votes cast in favor of Hillary. Happy?

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    4. The Washington Times is not a reputable news source; it's a propaganda rag, owned by the Moonies.

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    5. http://www.investors.com/politics/editorials/illegals-did-vote-in-november-and-trump-is-right-to-investigate/

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    6. Non-citizens voting are committing a criminal offense. They can and should be prosecuted. This is not to be confused with being registered in more than one state, nor with the deceased remaining on the rolls. I would not be surprised if both my parents remain on the rolls of New York state.

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  9. There is far less there than you presume- self obsession, narcissism, delusions of grandeur, etc. The pussy grabber is in awe of himself. Take a look at this:
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-pressured-park-service-to-back-up-his-claims-about-inauguration-crowd/2017/01/26/12a38cb8-e3fc-11e6-ba11-63c4b4fb5a63_story.html?utm_term=.8b4d182a689b#comments

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  10. I don't blame Donald Trump for acting like a man-child Demagogue , barely a parody of a tyrant .During the election campaign , he ,not the media, made every attempt to show how he was unfit for one of the most powerful jobs on the planet. It is fairly obvious that the current heehaw on the election 'fraud' is also looking and setting the libretto for the 2018 and 2020 elections, a reason to disenfranchise even more voters . I do think Donald Trump is a complete disaster, Brexit is a disaster too. I also think the west and increasingly the rest of the world , live inside political systems that can produce absurd results such as these.

    Whole political careers built upon alternative truths and gas-lighting ,encouraged by media organisations, more concerned about revenue and ratings than giving the public information, funded by foreign powers more interested in a destabilised geopolitical landscape.We need a complete reboot of the system ,not just who we elect, but a more fundamental shift in the processes of society . Real democracy is based upon an informed public: It is flawed from first principle if the media or supposedly partisan organisations and agencies are corrupt. Changing heads doesn’t alter anything if the whole corpus beneath them remains . Inequality grows the middle class stagnates and the poor get poorer.

    My belief is Trump in office under a permanent eye will reveal himself for what he really is, and that the public will roundly and unequivocally reject him and everything he stands for - terrible policies, a fading white hegemony , arrogance, his childishness, his alternative fact narrative. In rejecting him the collapse of the structure that put him there will continue.

    I think that he is not the the beginning of a long decline, but the lowest point the turning point. For five decades years we've been sliding into a deepening pit of inequality, fear-driven nationalism and conservatism mostly unnoticed This Presidency and Brexit are already inadvertently changing that . He has not done anything right or worthy , but because his election and the Brexit vote is energising people to realise the political system is fundamentally flawed and it's time to act, directly if need be .The demonstrations last weekend are one manifestation of this rapidly coalescing undercurrent.

    I would have preferred we had not reached this low this point, but that's where we are. My feeling is that a Clinton presidency (or even a 'remain' vote in Britain), though more comfortable in the short term, wouldn't have dealt with the fundamental problems that beset both political systems. They are not immigration or liberalism, they are unbridled capitalism, hate of other , vested interests and apathy. They are all centre stage now.

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  11. When the field is nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly at second and third hand, and the force of personality cannot so readily make itself felt, then all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre -- the man who can most easily adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum. The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron. -H.L. Mencken, writer, editor, and critic (1880-1956)

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    1. Sad but true- that moment may already be here.

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    2. Whatever else he is, Trump is not mediocre. Ford perhaps, though he was quite a good president, or Harding were. The 19th century presidents were less impressive than the 20th century ones.

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  12. How different the last fifty years might have gone if Powell had been blessed with Trump's political savvy. (The latter's comparative illiteracy, at least when it comes to Greek and Latin poets, was clearly no obstacle to his political victory!)

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  13. Interesting article indeed. It may well be the case that the collective strategies of Donald and Teresa regarding immigration, civil rights, the free movement of people within the EU and their cozying up to Erdogan and Putin will be seen for what they are. The EU has Turkey on a long finger regarding its EU membership which has not been helped since its clampdown on the aborted military coup. The upheaval in todays world is down to the exploitation of people and their territories through colonization and heavy handed abuses. Even the Brexiteers are wondering at this time about what they voted for. The US is in serious upheaval and a long way from its projection of 'Exceptionalism' Any two despotic regimes for instance Stalin and Hitler or Caligula and Nero will have their commonalities.

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  14. Agreeing that the reading list on DJT is rather naked...

    Of course, there is the man himself on Twitter - unadulterated pleasure !

    Then, Reuters declared itself readable as of late - worth the click:

    https://twitter.com/Reuters/status/826544356622471170

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