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    Saturday, August 12, 2017

    The Chauncey Gardiner Presidency, Without The Supposed Wisdom

    When Trump was elected, I wrote that we should focus far less on anything he says and far more on the things that he actually does. And the events of the last week show just how relevant that rather mundane observation has been. It should be clear by now that virtually every word that Trump utters these days is, excuse my language, total bullshit. It is clear that many foreign leaders already know this but, unfortunately and dangerously, it is unclear whether all of them do. But it is time that the mainstream media reaches that same conclusion and treats his words with as little respect as they deserve and focuses purely on the actions of his administration.

    Despite all the rhetoric about North Korea, there is no indication that American forces are mobilizing in any way for an attack on that country. Nor are there massive and intense efforts at protecting American forces and soil from attack from the North Koreans other than what has been built up over the last few decades and a few newly deployed anti-missile systems. His threats against Venezuela are equally vapid. And in both cases, other officials in the administration have mitigated the importance of, or even directly contradicted, the President's words.

    There are reports of back-channel negotiations with the North Koreans and the Chinese and those negotiations may be driving the Monday Trump press conference. Those are the details that are truly important and Trump's over-the-top rhetoric is probably more aimed at his domestic base than at the North Koreans. That's assuming, of course, Trump's words have any intention at all, other than perhaps distracting us from the Russia investigation.

    It has been the same on the domestic front as well. The Muslim ban was real. The transgender ban is apparently just more Trump bloviating. The constant spouting of repeal and replace was largely crafted by Congressional Republicans with no input, understanding, or even advocacy from the President. His statements about infrastructure and even tax reform are never backed up by any details or programs. Meanwhile, the deportation of undocumented immigrants, whether criminal or not, continues. His words mean nothing. The actions of his administration do.

    Like all Presidents, there are plenty of speeches or meeting about nothing at all of substance. But, Trump, with his tweeting and apparently general ignorance, takes to ranting and raving about all sorts of matters with no follow-up. In addition, there is no focus. In the beginning, I figured he would be tweeting and touting every new job that was created during his administration, but that disappeared, like so many Trump initiatives, in just a week or so. The administration has had weeks upon weeks of policy themes like infrastructure week or jobs week, but Trump can't even stay on those topics for more than an hour or two before he is off creating chaos in a totally different direction.

    Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of horrible policies Trump and his cronies are implementing from the gutting of the EPA to mass deportations to stacking the federal judiciary with Federalist Society clones. And yes, he does talk about these things rarely. And there may come a time when Trump does follow up his irrational statements with irrational actions, like doing the unthinkable and attacking North Korea. But we should not take every statement he makes as indicating any intention other than opening his mouth and allowing a few words to spill out.

    Trump is the real Chauncey Gardiner President, addicted to TV and ignorant of the world. But, rather than having Chance's innate wisdom from working in the natural world, Trump only knows the bluster and dominance and the need to feed his enormous ego. He may be President, but that doesn't mean we should have to listen to him. We should only watch what he does.

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