Trump Barometer: 4/13/17

With liberals and Neocons celebrating Trump’s many about-faces (e.g., David Ignatius’ “Trump Got Syria and China Right Last Week. That’s a Start.”), we are learning more of just how wide a repudiation of all-things-nationalist Trump is now taking. In “Trump sheds nationalist coat, as Bannon wing chastened”, Fox News notes:

The visibility of other key White House conservatives, such as senior adviser Stephen Miller, also has been noticeably reduced.

Some libs even see Trump’s backstabbing of Bannon as odious. In “Trump: Now it’s Bannon’s Fault”, uber-liberal E.J. Dionne sees Trump’s about-facing as further evidence that he’s essentially a political weathervane. The most recent example is Trump’s astonishing diss of Bannon in Goodwin’s NY Post article from yesterday (“I like Steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late”). Of Trump throwing Bannon under the bus:

But dumping Bannon would only underscore the extent to which Trump is a political weathervane, gyrating wildly with the political winds. He’s “populist” one day, conventionally conservative the next, and centrist the day after that. His implicit response is: Who cares? Let’s just get through another week.

At the moment, he is basking in praise from large parts of the foreign policy establishment for his decision to fire missiles into Syria. This is the hour of maximum danger for Bannon. Trump may now figure he should ride for a while with his newfound friends in the elite. The presence of the disheveled ultra-nationalist Bannon just won’t do at the tony country club party Trump wants to throw for himself.

Even Rich Lowry, who was himself a #NeverTrumper, is astonished at Trump’s sudden reversal of all-things-nationalist (“When Jared Wins”):

Can someone reacquaint Donald Trump with Steve Bannon, his ideologist whom the president now professes barely to know?

Trump’s jaw-dropping public distancing from Bannon in the New York Post the other day is the latest twist in a struggle that is astonishing even by the standards of a White House that deserves its own Chris Buckley novel…

[I]t’s hard to see how Kushner doesn’t prevail in one form or other, together with the faction including his wife, Ivanka Trump, the influential economic adviser and former Goldman Sachs president, Gary Cohn, and deputy national security adviser, Dina Powell.

Who says bipartisanship is dead? With the exception of Powell—a non-ideological Republican—this group is all Democrats, and not lunch-bucket Democrats, but ladies-who-lunch Democrats who have marinated for decades in the financial and social elite of Manhattan.

Got that? They are essentially ALL Democrats.

Their ascendancy would potentially represent Trumpism’s Thermidor. If Jared and Ivanka end up running the joint, it’d be hard to overstate the turnabout from last year’s campaign.

A candidacy whose supporters reviled so-called RINOs may produce a White House run by people who aren’t even RINOs…

How did we get to this point? Bannon is saddled with the failed launch of the first travel ban, a gruff personal style that doesn’t necessarily wear well in the corridors of power, and (fairly or not) the rocky first several months that have seen Trump’s numbers sink while the Republican Congress spins its wheels.

Bannon may talk to reporters—what White House official doesn’t?—but he hasn’t sought out self-glorifying media when presumably gobs of it were on offer. He has nonetheless been hurt by the narrative, driven by the press and used against him by internal enemies, that he is Trump’s Svengali. It surely wasn’t his idea for a big profile in Time magazine with the cover line “The Great Manipulator,” or for “Saturday Night Live” to spoof him as the true power in the Oval Office.

None of this is endearing to Trump. He doesn’t like attention-hounds besides himself, and wants victories and popularity. As for Jared and Ivanka, they must worry that the family patriarch is being ill-served in ways that may hobble his presidency and damage their brand. So a shake-up looms.

Lowry, not a fan of Buchanan-styled populism/nationalism, nonetheless sees the value of Bannon being present, heard, and influential… if only to serve as a balance against Kushner-brand liberalism:

There is much in Bannon’s politics that I don’t like—the hostility to traditional conservatism, the protectionism, the reflex toward needless confrontation. But he has a considered wordview and helps anchor Trump somewhere in the populist-conservative policy continuum.

If he goes, it could be a sign that everything is up for grabs. A President Trump could begin to react to political pressures from the world of Jared and Ivanka that so far haven’t affected him…

With illegal border crossings down, perhaps a grand bargain on immigration becomes alluring next year? Maybe pulling out of the Paris climate accords isn’t worth the bad optics? Who wants to expend political capital defunding Planned Parenthood? And so on…

The weakness of Trumpism in Washington is that it doesn’t have a congressional wing and it represents only a faction within the White House, and apparently not even the dominant one.

Meanwhile, from a Politico piece titled “CEOs steering Trump away from Bannon’s hardcore policies”:

Wall Street titan Stephen Schwarzman has recently taken on a new, informal job: counselor to the president.

The CEO of Blackstone Group, who has known Trump for years, has become so close to the president that the two sometimes talk several times a week, covering everything from Chinese trade to tax policy to immigration.

New York business officials say Schwarzman was critical to Trump keeping the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as the Dreamers program, with Trump making the decision after a call with the hedge fund billionaire. The two also recently chatted at Mar-a-Lago about a possible reorganization of the White House, two people familiar with the meeting say, though the conversation didn’t include specific names.

Schwarzman’s growing influence in Trump’s circle is welcome news to New York business leaders and moderate Republicans, who want the president to abandon his nationalist positions and embrace a more nonideological White House…

Isn’t that nice. Schwarzman was instrumental in getting Trump to (surprisingly) leave BO’s unconstitutional DACA executive order intact.

Big Business is confident things will get even ‘better’ for them (i.e., all traces of economic nationalism vanishing and progressive, multinational, globalist interests further expanded):

[C]orporate executives who have attended White House meetings say they are becoming increasingly confident that Cohn, along with Kushner and senior White House adviser Dina Powell, also a former Goldman executive, have for the moment at least neutralized Trump’s more aggressively nationalistic advisers including Bannon and senior aide Stephen Miller. Cohn has become Trump’s preferred adviser as of late, several people say, as Bannon has faded.

And some business leaders are convinced the White House will change, “or look totally different in six months,” as one business executive said…

Executives say they expect the end result to be policies more in line with Wall Street’s way of thinking on immigration, infrastructure and especially trade, where Trump has taken a go-slow approach to tariffs and other punitive measures.

We also learn that:

One person familiar with their meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said it was brief, and he “basically just told us that the border adjustment tax was dead.”

And here is the understatement of the week:

Any possible shift certainly comes with risks. Democrats are never likely to embrace Trump. And the president could alienate his core supporters after winning the election by catering to blue-collar workers, mocking Hillary Clinton’s paid speeches on Wall Street, and railing against the influence of elites and special interests.

What a disappointment.

What a profound disappointment.

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