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February 20th 2017 print

Peter Smith

Trump Must Change, They Say. Really?

Chaos reigns in the White House, according to the mainstream press. Well, it may be that the new administration isn’t yet a 'fine-tuned machine', but it is getting runs on the board nevertheless. That explains why journalists are doing what they do best -- peddling misrepresentations and outright lies

presstituteI watched most of Donald Trump’s latest press conference. He is a performer par excellence; batting away the ‘fake news’ media. What a refreshing change from the soporific, long-winded tedium of Obama answering dorothy dixers from a fawning media.

He knew what they would say, and he told the media throng as much. You’ll say I was “ranting and raving,” he predicted. Sure enough, no doubt taking a lead from the Democratic Party’s propaganda headquarters, aka CNN, the word “unhinged” became the word of choice. Take my word for it. He wasn’t a bit unhinged. He was measured and good humoured, as you see if you view the video embedded below

If you want ‘unhinged’ watch Nancy Pelosi explaining the origin of the word ‘scapegoat’, which came out of a counterfeit tweet posing as one from General Flynn. She obviously thought that lots of Spanish-speaking illegal voters would be unfamiliar with the word.

Trump is, of course, spot on. For the most part, the MSM in America is effectively part of the Democratic Party. You gotta treat your political enemy as your political enemy. Maybe if (now embittered) John McCain or (nice guy, turned nasty, turned nice again Mitt Romney) had not cowered when confronted by the gnashing enmity of the Fourth Estate they might have won the top job. Who could forget Romney’s craven Candy Crowley moment? Voters didn’t.

At one point Trump said that he hadn’t seen such hate as is directed at him by parts of the media. This prompted a CNN reporter to preamble his question by saying that they didn’t hate him. But they do! I have seen it personally; for example, on CNN panel discussions. Their desire for him to fail is palpable and in the most miserable of fashions possible. Wanting someone to fail miserably is the best definition of hate I can come up with.

But what gets me most are not the left-wing media hacks (i.e., most of the media), they are beyond disdain, but putative conservative commentators advising Trump not to be so thin-skinned; to be more presidential. It reminds me of that joke about bad-boy English footballer George Best. George is discovered by a reporter in a fancy hotel bedroom with a half-naked model, quaffing a bottle of champagne. Where did it all go wrong, George, the reporter asks?

Donald Trump won against the odds and all expectations. It has never been satisfactorily explained to me why he should change a winning formula. He actually stands there, accepts all questions, and speaks his mind. Part of the mess that we are in is precisely because political leaders are now practiced in the art of not giving straight answers. They are particularly practiced in hiding their underlying belief system. So practiced, that I suspect some have reached a stage where they no longer have any underlying beliefs to guide them, or even know what such beliefs are.

You might recall that it wasn’t good enough for Winston Smith (1984) to say that two and two made five, he had to believe it, if the Party said it was so. Analogously, perhaps only complete empty heads are now suitable for political office. It is not good enough to have candidates who express no firm beliefs. Now they must be mystified at the very thought of having them. That’s unfair. There are one or two exceptions. I know that because they stand out.

Another conservative canard is that Trump’s sideshows are distracting from his agenda. What is distracting from his agenda is the US Senate slow-walking his cabinet nominations and Democrat moles in the bureaucracies. The first will soon be overcome. The second will be mitigated; though never resolved. Bureaucracies everywhere have become left-wing cess pits. They are akin to Augean Stables and as good as Trump is, he isn’t Hercules. Memo to perennial critics: Trump himself is not going to write a new tax code or health-care package or personally build the wall. Having press conferences, rallies and tweeting can all be done while he is chewing gum and walking.

I heard even a respected, balanced, commentator Chris Wallace (Fox News) unfavourably compare the time it is taking Trump to get legislation done to reform taxation and repeal and replace Obamacare with Obama’s stimulus package in 2009. I don’t like to doubt the intelligence of other people, but really this kind of thing is mind-blowingly stupid.

Any old group of ramshackle political hacks can get money spent quickly and uselessly to (purportedly) cure recessions. Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan showed that. Most world governments showed that. Trying to get serious tax reform through is a different kettle of fish entirely, as is health-care reform. Surely Wallace would know that?

I have often heard it said that the Republicans in Congress have had eight years to develop their proposals to reform tax and health care. So why aren’t they ready? The reason is clear enough to anyone with real world experience in business or in government — which evidently excludes many life-long reporters and commentators.

Proposals which have no chance of being enacted are extremely easy to put together and, seemly, draw support. No-one expected Trump to win, least of all Republican congressional leaders Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan. Now that he has; everyone with a special interest comes out of the woodwork scrutinising and finessing any and all policy proposals. It is called real life when the rubber hits the road.

Paul Ryan has a 200-day plan, he explained, to get tax reform and health care reform done. It will be a miracle if it happens so quickly. To think it could possibly happen more quickly is imposing a timescale on the Trump administration which is delusional; and, perhaps, deliberately undermining.

Trump has already a done lot: on the deregulatory front, in jawboning companies to remain in the US, in making a series of strong nominations to his cabinet (including Scott Pruitt to bring sanity to the EPA), in nominating Neil Gorsuch to fill the Supreme Court vacancy, and in beginning to repair the vital US-Israeli alliance. But, domestically, his most important role is simply to be there as a resolute leader anxious to sign reforming legislation into law. I can’t believe that even weak-kneed Republicans in the Senate and House will contrive to miss the opportunity. Just in case, his second most important role is to make sure they don’t.

President Trump is doing well. Read or listen to most MSM news outlets and you would think chaos reigns. Unfortunately, that is where most people get their news. Maybe his administration isn’t yet the “fine-tuned machine” he claims it to be. But the hiccups so far are not at all unusual in the first weeks of a new administration. They are just portrayed as being worse. His splendid conservative policy agenda shines through the weeds of a few hiccups for those willing to look.

Peter Smith, a frequent Quadrant Online contributor, is the author of Bad Economics

Comments [32]

  1. Jody says:

    I just cannot believe these comments. Are we talking about the same person? Trump is unhinged and dangerous. You are going to feel foolish sooner rather than later.

    • PT says:

      Jody, Trump is many things, but not stupid by any means. He may, possibly, have narcissistic tendencies. But he is succeeding a man who wrote 2 autobiographies before he’d actually done anything of note – the first in his early 20′s! Our own Captain Krudd, and Turncoat are clear potential examples of narcissism. Imaging writing a book on HIS input into the Spycatcher case! Yet the media gave them a free pass. Clearly they’re scared of Trump. I don’t have high expectations of him, but if they are so determined to bring him down, he may be a serious threat to them. A positive surely!

      • rpickers says:

        It is passing strange PT that the author of Bad Economics and champion of Adam Smith’s economics could defend Donald Trump and his increasingly dysfunctional administration. Smith after all was an early champion of international free trade against prevailing mercantilism; and we have Donald Trump threatening tariff barriers against China and Mexico and presumably anyone else who annoys him at any particular moment. Trump’s neo-protectionist position and his stated determination to eliminate US trade deficits with each individual trading partner – in particular politically important ones – must surely be the closest policy approach to mercantilism we have seen from a major power for the last couple of hundred years. Sure he promises to reduce taxes and eliminate legislative safeguards for consumers, labour and the environment, which would appeal to Smith’s general anti-Keynesian and anti-government position. Eliminating red and green tape is no bad thing in itself although there can be social costs; which is why they were implemented in the first place. But isn’t building ‘the wall’ a government stimulus in line with Keynes’ quip about digging holes and filling them in again? Maybe we could pretend via an accounting trick or two that it is actually investment in infrastructure [by government unfortunately, although his intention is to make the Mexican government pay which in turn will be passed on the US consumers with or without an additional 20% tariff wall] which will pay off in the long run; when we are all dead.
        But seriously, would a domestic renaissance along Trump’s lines be even possible amidst if he is successful in creating international trading chaos? Hopefully this is all bluff and bluster, sanity will prevail and Trump won’t in fact “write a new tax code or health-care package or personally build the wall” [although apparently the Swedes are now offering him IKEA packages which should appeal given his preference for overseas suppliers for his own projects]. If he doesn’t deliver on the rhetoric then Trump can certainly continue with “press conferences, rallies and tweeting [which] can all be done while he is chewing gum and walking.” To which we could add while disseminating “false facts” at the same time.
        But the saddest thing about this article is the repetition of the drivel from conspiracist US websites about ‘Democrat moles in the bureaucracy’ and the attacks on the main stream media [MSM] which is “unfortunately, that is where most people get their news.” What? The MSM reporting John McCain on the importance of a free press? The Wall Street Journal a socialist hotbed? Good Grief Charlie Brown.
        Even weirder is referencing Winston Smith [1984] as supporting argument when surely we have not seen a more blatant enthusiast for Newspeak and Doublethink than the new POTUS and his acolytes in the alt-right alternative fact free universe of the non-MSM. And that is a real problem, because criticism by people like McCain is not a “conservative canard”; it reflects a genuine concern that Trump rhetoric, and that of his alt-right and delcon followers in the US and Australia, gives genuine conservatism with its respect for rationality and civic institutions a bad name.

    • Anthony Cox says:

      Compared to the left who promote alarmism, Islam and every other wretched feel good cause for the benefit of their egos and vanity Trump is a paragon of sanity.

      With nothing else the left are now promoting Trump’s insanity while not realising like all insane people that is themselves who are unhinged and dangerous.

    • Andysaurus says:

      Jody, I suggest you read Scott Adams blog (the guy who writes Dilbert). This one applies to you. http://blog.dilbert.com/post/157358914491/imaginary-news .
      As you read Quadrant, there is probably hope for you. I really do hope that you take it on board and review your misconceptions.

    • en passant says:

      Jody,
      Throw a dart. It will give you a better chance of getting a prediction right.
      Just today in the New Daily:
      “Trump is once again re-writing the rule book, just as he did throughout his march toward the White House. The press seems never to have noticed just how poorly it is regarded by the US electorate, but President Trump most certainly did.
      According to the most recent Gallup poll, a mere 32 per cent of voting Americans have any respect for the press – down a disturbing 20 per cent over the past two decades.
      If you ever wondered why Mr Trump sends out so many tweets, that’s his reasoning and strategy in a nutshell. With an incredible 20 million-plus followers, he reckons he can reach more people than all the mainstream media outlets combined. More than that, the 140-character limit keeps his announcements, short, sharp and easily grasped – just the thing for reaching and impressing the biggest audience with the simplest messages. & … the power to deflate the importance of the press, to outflank it via social media and exploit its mis-steps in order to diminish the value of genuine scoops, well that is the greatest presidential perk of them all.”

      Tell me when you get it.

  2. Keith Kennelly says:

    Yes Jody, you can’t believe it because view it through a prism of hate. You are a prime example of those who wish to see Trump fail miserably. Peter definition of hate.

    I’d opine you are blinded by it.

    Btw what are those odds of Trumps Presidency ending soon … ‘folks’Or don’t you have the courage of your convictions?

    • Rob Brighton says:

      Pommie bookies had Trump a loser on election day and were roundly spanked losing millions punting against the oompa loompa getting up, right now I read they are offering $3.80 he will be impeached or resign before his term is up.

      So to take your question literally, 4-1 on that he will go, are the bookies in for a repeat bout or do they have the smart money?

      I don’t know the answer to that conundrum but I do know I am thoroughly enjoying watching the melt down.

  3. Geoffrey Luck says:

    If Jody can’t believe these comments, it can only be because she hasn’t read through the American verbiage to understand what’s really going on. The slimy horned monsters that lived in the depths of the Washington Swamp are now surfacing to spew their leaks and false analyses onto the pages and airwaves of willing disseminators. I subscribe to Foreign Policy, and the daily FP summary gives an accurate reflection of the hatred of the Pentagon bureaucrats towards the administration. And that’s an arm of government that Trump has promised to defend and strengthen! The campaign to promote the idea of chaos, to inflate every issue as a crisis, and to rail continuously at the style of the President is as obvious as it is deluded. As Peter has admirably pointecd out, for the first time we are witnessing a political leader who is impervious to the usual dictates of the media – that he should be answerable to them for everythig he says and does. They still don’t understand that his technique of throwing them bones – like the latest one on Sweden – is simply so that they will go off chasing them, and frustrate themselves.”It’s not true!” the reporters cry. And the president might as well respond: “Yes, I know, that’s why I said it – to see what you’d do with it.”

  4. Homer Sapien says:

    Spot on Peter.

  5. Richard H says:

    The tragic thing is that the press had – until fairly recently – been a (generally) fine institution that had been of immense service to the community by holding governments and other figures of power to account. While there was also a “gutter” press that was simply sleazy and sensationalist, most mass circulation newspapers made an effort to inform their readers in a reasonably honest fashion. The same applies to the broadcast media.

    As has been documented by Quadrant in relation to the ABC, the rot set in when neo-Marxists attained positions of influence and then power in the media. The institution has, all too often, been hopelessly corrupted, and perverted to serve the cause of the “progressive” Left – which has never had a strong attachment to the truth.

    Something similar has happened to the legal profession, but that is a story for another day.

  6. Jody says:

    So terribly deluded. Place some bets pleasr on how long this tinpot dictator lasts. The GOPS will finish him as they face tbeir own congressional elections way before Trump in 2020.

    • Anthony Cox says:

      There is nothing on this planet as deranged, vindictive and delusional as a thwarted leftie. Logic, reason, fairness, concern for others and their own society are irrelevant as they implacably pursue vindication of their own ego.

    • ianl says:

      You don’t know what you’re talking about.

      • Jody says:

        Read Paul Kelly; he’s no slouch. Today he writes which I agree with in toto:

        “The message for the Australian populist conservative class (you people) is even sharper. They have fallen for one of the greatest hoaxes of the age – the delusion of Trump as a historical figure able to deliver the people’s revolution he promised. The sad reality is that he will more likely lead his followers into a wasteland of recrimination and betray the conservatism they espouse”.

        Be careful what you wish for!!

    • en passant says:

      Jody,
      I could dig out your comments in other articles where you said you wished for Trump to succeed, but felt he would not. How do you square that with your opening vitriol (exposing your hatred of someone who just might save civilisation?)
      “Place some bets please on how long this tinpot dictator lasts …” I will take your bet. What odds are you giving and how much? I think $1,000 at 3:1 by the end of 2018 is fair. Do you accept?

  7. Keith Kennelly says:

    If we are so deluded Jody you must be so sure he’s going to be impeached, for that’s the only way he can be thrown out.

    So I will bet on him not being impeached if you give me odd if 20 to one.
    I’ll put up $1000.00

  8. denandsel@optusnet.com.au says:

    As I have posted elsewhere previously – Trump is a rude, crude, lewd, bombastic buffoon, but I still really liked the fact that he was elected POTUS, even if only to see the majority of journalists around the world go firstly into a state of denial and then into apoplexy. I even broke my golden rule and watched the ABC to see how the likes of Cassidy and Virginia Trioli [a.k.a Vitrioli] took it. Not well. To see some of the US ‘journalists’ crying was almost as good. Trump won’t be the intellectual/philosophical warrior that civilisation/the west needs, but at least he will do less harm than his opponent.

    The US election showed the following voting ‘patterns’/areas. The bulk of people who voted for Trump were from the wealth producing areas of the US, i.e. rural areas and the outer suburbs of bigger regional cities. About 83% of individual counties voted for Trump. Clinton won only in the bigger cities, i.e. the wealth consuming areas and areas dominated by bureaucratic ‘elites’ and welfare recipients. These were concentrated on the west coast [known in the US as the 'left' coast] i.e mainly California, and the North-Eastern States such as New York and Massachusetts. Take out California [where Trump didn't campaign] and Trump won the popular vote.

    • ianl says:

      > “Trump is a rude, crude, lewd, bombastic buffoon, but I still really liked the fact that he was elected POTUS, even if only to see the majority of journalists around the world go firstly into a state of denial and then into apoplexy”

      Yes.

      The Aus journos fit the same obvious mould. Some even pretend to understand the point but become incoherent with rage when they are ignored or contradicted. All is vanity, of course.

      I’m also quite amused at the pollster’s reactions to the obvious fact that many of the “answers” they garner from polling are actually quite deliberate lies. Many people are tired of being ridiculed for non-PC views, or being presented with rubbish multiple-choice answers (and insulted with a “don’t know” category for choosing none-of-the-above); the cynical use by the MSM of simplistic, corrupted poll “results” to try and manipulate public opinion is also a constant irritation. So now, why would some organisation pay these pollsters to conduct these activities when one cannot trust the results ? Ho ho ho …

  9. Colin S says:

    Although I, very much, agree with Peter Smith’s posting, here, I do disagree with the statement “a respected, balanced, commentator Chris Wallace (Fox News)”. I used to feel Wallace was balanced but as soon as Trump came on the scene, I noticed that the balance was becoming “un-balanced”. Further investigation on various web-sites has brought me a better understanding of the “Deep State” and the part the GOPe plays in it. My understanding is that Wallace is a gate-keeper for the “Swamp”. Although GOP inclined, he (Wallace) will never be a Trump supporter and therefore his news program should be treated with caution. The same caution should be applied to other GOPe Swamp proponents such as McCain and Lindsey Graham.

    • Peter says:

      You may be right Colin, I don’t now. Certainly Wallace has made a lot of Trump’s comment that the media are the enemy of the American people. If once he had said that, of course, disinformation pedalled by the press does a disservice to Americans, as even a partial excuse for Trump’s comment, he would have appeared more balanced. Instead he has gone off his head at Trump’s temerity. Also, I don’t know about this “deep state” which sounds too conspiratorial to be true.

      • Colin S says:

        I do agree that this Deep State thing does sound conspiratorial and I am not 100% convinced. There are plenty of nutters out there on the wonderful web. However, it would explain, at least to me, why so many things go wrong or simple solutions can never be found. This site provides a background and you may already know of it. https://theconservativetreehouse.com/

        It seems to me, that the main person behind this site (sundance) is either very well informed or he lives in fantasy land. I had never, really, understood the Teaparty movement in the US but this site has helped me get some aspect of it.

  10. Doc S says:

    I think this is spot on. The depth of the Liberal meltdown has to be seen to be believed. And its everywhere – even on Fox which perhaps the only network that gave Trump a half fair hearing during the election. Hasn’t stopped some of their ‘expert’ political commentators from completely loosing it on every freakin’ issue since the Inauguration each of which, as Peter points out, is seized upon and blown out of all proportion. Take this for example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HFslm9wcR8
    Fox News Shep Smith seriously looses the plot over Trump and his purported manipulation by Russia starting with Trump’s frequent pro-Putin overtures then taking the DNC hacking and the dismissal of Flynn as National Security Advisor. No reasoned analysis is attempted, each incidence is worse than the last and they all add up to… Smith’s head explodes. Its pathetic to watch. But a reasoned analysis is not that difficult, particularly if you consider each ‘incident’ in context.

    As for Trump’s frequent use of the media to court Putin – classic negotiating skill. Trump’s a businessman and knows he has to ‘get a deal’ with one of the US’ most serious adversaries. He knows Putin is frequently hostile to the US – as seen by his distain for Obama – so Trump signals that he (Trump) is a reasonable guy (unlike his predecessor) and they can talk mano-a-mano – all of which is calculated to tickle Vlad’s fancy by blowing smoke up Putin’s derriere at every opportunity. Will Putin fall for it? Who knows but at least Trump will have his foot in the door with Putin, and the rest will be up to him. It’ll be fascinating to watch! But unlike the increasingly unhinged Liberal media, I doubt any of it signals Trump starting WWIII!

    Trump was not a politician and so an unknown quantity. He does things his way and one of those ways is to use Twitter to get his views out – with 50+ million followers and 149 characters at his disposal, he has greater coverage than any media network (in an instant!)and is making them redundant in the process. No wonder they’re taking it badly! So as one US rapper once said; “don’t believe the hype!”

  11. Bushranger71 says:

    Bravo Peter!

    Jody; Paul Kelly is typical of the blinkered Apostles for ‘The Establishment’ within the media realm. His opinions usually lack balance.