Friday, July 24, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He used his political capital to defend Confederate officers.

Trump has already threatened to veto the NDAA, the must-pass defense spending bill that passes Congress by wide, bipartisan majorities every year. Today, he doubled down on his demand that military installations named for Confederate officers not be renamed, claiming that he somehow had an ace in the hole with the support of Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK).

It's not up to Trump what gets passed in Congress—but it's not up to Sen. Inhofe, either, especially since Inhofe's party doesn't seem to want to die on this particular hill. Versions of the NDAA have passed by overwhelming majorities in both the Democratic-controlled House and the Republican-controlled Senate. Both versions contain a renaming requirement.

Neither Inhofe nor the White House was able to say exactly how Inhofe was planning on accomplishing this. It's quite possible that Inhofe is simply lying to Trump, currying favor with him and knowing that Trump's interest in this is purely political. (Trump's understanding of the basics of how Congress works is shaky at best.) Defense bills enjoy broad support because they create jobs in all parts of the country, so there's not much Trump has to negotiate with in order to protect the names of long-dead traitors. 

And while Trump is openly hostile to the idea of paying servicemembers enough to afford basic necessities like food—he explicitly objected to a provision in this NDAA that would help with that—the political optics of denying troops pay in order to protect the image of the Confederacy isn't likely to help him in an election year.

Why should I care about this?

  • Readiness to fight actual wars is more important than starting a culture war.