Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sunday Week in Review

What else did Donald Trump do this week?

Thoughts and prayers. On Tuesday (November 14th), Trump--traveling in Asia at the time--tweeted his condolences to the victims of a mass shooting.

The Sutherland Springs shooting, which killed 26 people in a Texas church, took place on November 5th. Trump was presumably trying to repurpose his Twitter-condolences from that mass shooting to the one that took place last Tuesday at a California elementary school, in which five people died.

Paying for lawyers. The Trump administration has been an enormous boon for the legal industry, with most or all of his campaign and senior White House staff obliged to hire counsel because of the ongoing Russia inquiries. Until recently, Trump--who claims to be a billionaire, although this is surprisingly difficult to verify--had been taking money from the Republican National Committee and campaign donations to pay his personal lawyers. But this week, Trump announced that he would begin paying for his own lawyers. (The RNC and the campaign will still be paying for his son Donald Jr.'s attorneys.)

But it wasn't all bad news for Trump: USAToday reported this week that taxpayers are footing the bill for lawyers for Trump's private businesses. Because Trump refuses to follow ethics rules (or, as it seems, the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution) by divesting from his businesses, he and his companies are being sued. Since Trump (as president) is taking the stance that he can do business with himself (as a business owner), the government is obliged to defend that position--and hence, Trump's private businesses--at taxpayer expense.

Mood management. Politico reported Saturday that Trump is shown flattering polls that focus specifically on Trump's political base and their relatively high support for his decisions. This seems to be a new twist on the infamous "propaganda document" of positive headlines and flattering photographs of himself that Trump famously received during the Reince Priebus era.

For all his complaining about "fake news suppression polls," Trump reportedly follows his numbers quite closely, and has been known to get upset over his lack of popularity. While the internal polls focused on people who are already inclined to support him may be psychologically soothing for Trump, the article quotes senior White House officials as saying that such polls are "delusional" and "just not accurate."

Impeachment. Also, articles of impeachment against Trump were filed in the House of Representatives this week. They are not expected to be politically viable until, at least, the Mueller investigation is further along. The White House press office has been responding, but it's not known whether Trump--who does not take bad news well--has been told.

Why are these bad things?

  • Offering condolences for the wrong mass shooting is on the wrong side of a line of competency a president should never cross.
  • It's bad if a president cares more about his private businesses' bottom line than in avoiding the appearance of impropriety.
  • It's really bad if the only opinions a president cares about are the ones held by people shoring him up politically.
  • A president should not be so easily manipulated.
  • It's bad if there are plausible grounds for articles of impeachment less than a year into a president's term.