Monday, November 20, 2017

Smarter Than A Fifth Grader

Maybe Donald Trump is a lot smarter than we give him credit for.

President Trump was busy reminding us Sunday that the doesn't like young black men, tweeting
"Now that the three basketball players are out of China and saved from years in jail, LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo, is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal. I should have left them in jail!"

He has made it clear how little regard he has for other Americans- such as veterans, and not only prisoners of war like John McCain.  The direct hit was last autumn when he said "When you talk about the mental health problems, when people come back from war and combat and they see things that maybe a lot of the folks in the room have seen many times over, and you’re strong and you can handle it, but a lot of people can’t handle it..."

Less direct but more definitive, a couple of months earlier, he had recounted receiving a Purple Heart medal and stated "And I said, 'Man, that’s like big stuff. I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier.” I always wanted to get the Purple Heart, Trump recounted, figuring it was like doing a little paperwork and plunking down a small application fee with no heavy lifting required.

We might have thought Trump was not so bright when after winning the Las Vegas caucus he remarked "We won the evangelicals. We won with young. We won with old. We won with highly educated. We won with poorly educated. I love the poorly educated."

But maybe he had found electoral gold. In a "Pulse of the People" segment on CNN's "new Day" Monday, Aliyson Camerota probed the views of a modified/abridged/brief focus group of Trump voters. Keith Lee, who idenitified himself as "a Jamaican," commented "if Jesus Christ gets down off the cross and tells me Trump is with Russia,' I'd say 'hold on a second, I'll have to check with the President.'"

Lee still would support the President, however, because Trump would tell him "He is a god because he was captured and executed. I like people who weren't captured... perhaps he was a god, but he's said a lot of very bad things about a lot of people, including the Pharisees."

It's not surprisiing that the President retains the support of individuals such as Lee, who explained

I own a pest control company. It's not much but it's mine. And I work hard for it. I never went to college. Just a typical guy who's trying to make a living. And for years they've just been kicking us to the side. And here comes the President...

Aside from being a small business owner- staunch conservatives  in most societies- and believing the inscrutable "they" are keeping people such as himself down, Lee noted "I never went to college."

Donald Trump has bragged about going "to an Ivy League college" and being "a very intelligent person" When he maintained "I love the poorly educated"- without giving any reason- he probably was thinking "because they have no clue." Still, his target audience was the uneducated... and he told them he likes them. Probably few potential voters ever had heard they were liked because they were educated. Whether Trump was seen as sincere would be less important than that the was telling the individuals that he appreciated them for who they were- and for how they could help him win.

Similarly, when in August Trump was presented with legislation imposing new sanctions on Russia, he understood what was not clearly understood by the media and the public (including myself).  While most of the media (The New York Times an exception) believed he could only sign or veto the legislation, the President had something else in mind.As the beneficiary (at least) of a Russian campaign to throw him the election, he could not safely veto the measure. Instead, he signed it, yet in late October we learned

The administration has since blown past an October 1 deadline to implement the sanctions. Lawmakers are now searching for answers as to whether the president is even planning to follow the law that they passed and he signed.

side from procedural tactics, Congress is essentially powerless in compelling the executive branch to follow through on the law it forced them to sign....

The legislation, which was approved overwhelmingly by both houses of Congress, slapped sanctions on Russia and codified existing ones over its election meddling and incursions into eastern Europe that have drawn condemnation from the U.S. and its allies....

Per the legislation, the administration was required to issue guidance by October 1 on how it was implementing the sanctions against Russia. That process includes publishing a list of the people and organizations who will be targeted by the sanctions, which are primarily aimed at Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors.

But that deadline came and went without any actual guidance issued, and lawmakers feel as though they are being stonewalled by an administration which has the tools it needs to implement and enforce the sanctions, yet has not followed through. A National Security Council spokesman declined to comment to The Daily Beast.

“With all the tough talk coming from the White House, it’s baffling that the administration still hasn’t enforced any of the new sanctions Congress passed in August,” Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), the ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told The Daily Beast.

It's not actually "baffling"; it's more like P-U-T-I-N.   Although the President might not get away with it permananently, it's still  a pretty slick move, subtly and skillfully sending the Kremlin the desired message.

It's possible, of course, that neither these items nor anything else will prove to be part of any grand strategy, that they are all part of a warped mind. But though the President is crude and rude,unfeeling, ignorant, and reckless, he may be far more clever than he's generally given credit for.

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