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Trump pivots—to save his skin

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Trump may be a pathological liar, a misogynist, somewhat racist, a panderer to the most ignorant branch of the population, a bully, an adulterer, a sexual pervert, a cynic, a narcissist, and many other weird and sick things, but no one ever accused him of being stupid. I’ve been wondering if he would eventually grasp the fact that his little Trump Act is wearing thin. Now, with historically low poll numbers and his own Republican Party increasingly viewing him as a liability, he seems to have looked at himself in the mirror and decided that something has to change.

The change he needed? A pivot to the center. So many people have started seeing him as a mentally unhinged extremist that he knew he needed something to allay those fears. But what? He waited through all of February and March, but nothing availed. Then, suddenly, in early April, the plausible excuse came: Bashir Assad allegedly used sarin gas on his people.

Now, normally, Donald J. Trump wouldn’t give a damn. After all, for years he said that Syria was none of our business. During the primary debates, he insisted that he did not want “to start World War III over Syria.” He said he advised Obama to “stay out of Syria.” “Syria is NOT our problem,” he tweeted. He urged Russia to fight ISIS in Syria instead,    and as early as 2013 was tweeting,I would not go into Syria” and “What will we get for bombing Syria besides more debt and a possible long term conflict?”

But suddenly, we hear that he’s itching to go to war in Syria. He “changed his mind,” he says, after seeing those pictures of dead children.

Well, those images disturbed us all. But there were many similar images and reports of dead children in Syria, and other places, before last Tuesday, and I have never heard Donald J. Trump express anger or compassion before, not in his entire public life, over human suffering, or the fate of children caught in war. So why now? What accounts for the pivot?

A matter of political convenience. We always knew that at some point he would resort to “wagging the dog,” and now he has the perfect opportunity to do it. Trump the savior of children! Trump the defender of humanity! Trump the conscience of the West! Never mind that this completely contradicts everything this arrogant, selfish person has said and done up until now. He’s hoping to get a few points bounce in his execrable poll numbers, and there may even be enough credulous Americans out there to provide him with that gift.

A related example of wagging the dog was his firing of Bannon from the NSC. Presidents sacrifice their own kind all the time, when political expediency demands it. This is just another example. The problem is that Trump’s latest two moves, going to war (likely) in Syria and canning Bannon, are likely to be perceived as Trump moving to the middle. I do not think this is the case, and I hope it won’t be perceived that way. In this, his latest cynical bit, Trump is using dead children in Syria, about whom he cares nothing, to rehabilitate his image in America. Hashtag sad, hashtag disgusting, hashtag evil.

  1. Bob Rossi says:

    “The problem is that Trump’s latest two moves, going to war (likely) in Syria and canning Bannon, are likely to be perceived as Trump moving to the middle.”
    The thing is, he was never really an extreme rightest; he just figured out that that was where the votes were. After all, he used to be a Democrat and profess moderate views.

  2. Bob Rossi – in other words, Trump believes in nothing. No core values, except greed, and the narcissism and paranoia that stain his personality. Not the kind of person we want as our President.

  3. “no one ever accused him of being stupid”

    *waves hands vigorously*
    Trump has a certain animal cunning, a crude instinct for how to manipulate suckers and entertain the rubes, but that doesn’t preclude his being stupid.

    And a man who, when given access to the most powerful intelligence network in the world, chooses to get his information from Fox & Friends, is deeply, deeply stupid.

    Don’t buy the nonsense about 11-dimensional chess games and his idiotic tweets being a deliberate distraction from the “real issues.” His tweet about Obama supposedly wiretapping him was not a clever scheme, it was an absolute disaster from his point of view. It’s put renewed focused on his Russia ties, convinced even some Republicans of the need for a real investigation, taken down an ally like Nunes, and encouraged even timid news organizations to point out that his claims are false.

  4. Jim B, well said. The people you call “rubes” are the ones I call “low information voters.” Same thing. I’d like to think we’re nearing the end game with this orange disaster, but I just don’t know…

  5. I think this article by Alex Pareene is a good explanation of how we got here.

    But no, I don’t know how we get out, really. Even if the Trump presidency is an obvious, unmitigated disaster for four years, will the public finally decide that yeah, maybe governing is actually hard work that requires intelligence as well as specific experience, and isn’t just something that a plain-spoken fellow with “common sense” can breeze through? George W. Bush was a fairly obvious failure, but just eight years later those lessons seem to have been forgotten.

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