Donald Trump

Trump Angled for Soviet Posting In the 1980s

“Donald Trump, in the mid-1980s, aggressively pursued an official government post to the USSR, according to a Nobel Peace Prize winner with whom Trump interacted at the time,” according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Said Bernard Lown: “He already had Russia mania in 1986, 31 years ago. He said to me, ‘I hear you met with Gorbachev, and you had a long interview with him, and you’re a doctor, so you have a good assessment of who he is.’ So I asked, ‘Why would you want to know?’ And he responded, ‘I intend to call my good friend Ronnie,’ meaning Reagan, ‘to make me a plenipotentiary ambassador for the United States with Gorbachev.'”

He added: “Those are the words he used. And he said he would go to Moscow and he’d sit down with Gorbachev, and then he took his thumb and he hit the desk and he said, ‘And within one hour the Cold War would be over!’ I sat there dumbfounded. ‘Who is this self-inflated individual? Is he sane or what?'”

Donald Trump Is Inescapable

Farhad Manjoo: “I spent last week ignoring President Trump. Although I am ordinarily a politics junkie, I didn’t read, watch or listen to a single story about anything having to do with our 45th president.”

“But as the week wore on, I discovered several truths about our digital media ecosystem. Coverage of Mr. Trump may eclipse that of any single human being ever. The reasons have as much to do with him as the way social media amplifies every big story until it swallows the world. And as important as covering the president may be, I began to wonder if we were overdosing on Trump news, to the exclusion of everything else.”

The Biggest Liar In Presidential History

Los Angeles Times: “Presidents of all stripes and both major political parties have bent, massaged or shaded the truth, elided uncomfortable facts or otherwise misled the public — unwittingly or, sometimes, very purposefully.”

“But White House scholars and other students of government agree there has never been a president like Donald Trump, whose volume of falsehoods, misstatements and serial exaggerations — on matters large and wincingly small — place him ‘in a class by himself.'”

The GOP’s Deal with the Devil

David Brooks: “Many Republican members of Congress have made a Faustian bargain with Donald Trump. They don’t particularly admire him as a man, they don’t trust him as an administrator, they don’t agree with him on major issues, but they respect the grip he has on their voters, they hope he’ll sign their legislation and they certainly don’t want to be seen siding with the inflamed progressives or the hyperventilating media.”

“Their position was at least comprehensible: How many times in a lifetime does your party control all levers of power? When that happens you’re willing to tolerate a little Trumpian circus behavior in order to get things done.”

“But if the last 10 days have made anything clear, it’s this: The Republican Fausts are in an untenable position. The deal they’ve struck with the devil comes at too high a price. It really will cost them their soul.”

Donald Trump vs. Andrew Jackson

Jon Meacham: “The biggest distinction is experience. Jackson came to the presidency as a former judge, general, senator and presidential candidate. Despite his rabble-rousing image — opponents worried Jackson would become an ‘American Bonaparte’ — Jackson was in fact at home in the precincts of power because he’d been around the capital a good deal before becoming president.”

“The other key difference is that Jackson knew how to manage his own weaknesses. He wasn’t always successful at it, but a Jacksonian temper tantrum or threat was often calculated, not unhinged. We don’t yet know whether Trump can pull off the same feat of compensating for — and even leveraging — his hypersensitivity, for instance, and his weakness for hyperbole and chaos. I hope he can do what Jackson did and turn these vices into means for virtuous ends. To me, that’s perhaps the greatest question about Trump and temperament.”

Meacham’s book, American Lion: Andrew Jackon in the White House, is highly recommended.

The Same Trump

David Remnick: “Where is the slightest evidence of this magical transformation? Where are all the sober counsellors, the newfound ethics? Where is the competence, the decency, and the humanity? The reality is that the Donald Trump of birtherism, of Mexican ‘rapists,’ of Muslim registries, of ‘grab them by the pussy,’ of bankruptcies and lawsuits and colossal conflicts of interest—this is the same Donald Trump who, with his hand on Lincoln’s Bible, is taking the oath of office, vowing to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

“The reason so many people are having fever dreams and waking up with a knot in the gut is not that they are political crybabies, not that a Republican defeated a Democrat. It’s not that an undifferentiated mass of ‘coastal élites’ is incapable of recognizing that globalization, automation, and deindustrialization have left millions of people in reduced and uncertain circumstances. It is not that they ‘don’t get it.’ It’s that they do.”

Trump Promises to End ‘American Carnage’

Washington Post: “Then, as rain began to fall, Trump gave an inaugural address that — while short in duration — made a major break with presidential precedent. Most presidents use this moment to acknowledge the opponent they defeated, to praise America’s promise and to call upon both parties to work together.”

“Trump, by contrast, made no mention of his Democratic opponent, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. He used his speech to make a wide-ranging condemnation of America’s current state — talking about ‘American carnage’ caused by urban crime, and saying that ‘wealth, strength and confidence had dissipated’ because of jobs lost overseas.”

“Trump also used his address to say that both major political parties had lost their way, serving the needs of an elite rather than the needs of the public.”

John Lewis, Donald Trump and the Meaning of Legitimacy

David Remnick: “John Lewis represents Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District, one vote of four hundred and thirty-five. He is also the singular conscience of Capitol Hill. Lewis is a dismal institution’s griot, a historical actor and hero capable of telling the most complex and painful of American stories—the story of race. That is his job, his mission. With Dr. King and Malcolm X, Fannie Lou Hamer and Ella Baker long gone, Lewis remains nearly alone in his capacity to tell the story of that era as a direct witness and, because of all that he has seen and endured, to issue credible moral judgment.”

“Only a heedless few would reject that judgment out of hand, no matter how wounding. Who would think to call John Lewis ‘all talk, talk, talk—no action or results’? Who would have the impoverished language to dismiss the whole of John Lewis as ‘sad’? As it happens, the President-elect of the United States.”

Meanwhile, the AP reports that two of John Lewis’ books — his graphic novel trilogy, March and his 2015 memoir, Walking With the Wind — have sold out on Amazon.

Trump Goes to War with Kasich

Cleveland Plain Dealer: “The call was part of Trump’s last-minute effort in what has become an all-out political war with Ohio Gov. John Kasich. On Friday, Simpson and 65 other members of the GOP’s state central committee will vote on whether to dump Kasich ally Matt Borges as their chairman. Trump is backing Jane Timken, a prominent Republican activist and donor from Stark County.”

“Kasich is calling committee members on Borges’ behalf. But Trump’s involvement in the intraparty battle is an extraordinary step for an incoming president and shows how eager he is to settle scores that date to Kasich’s failed White House bid.”

Politico: “A Trump transition aide said the president-elect had phoned around a dozen committee members.”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“I would say to Sen. Schumer, if you look what happened to Jeb Bush or you look what happened to Hillary Clinton, you should be very worried if Donald Trump decides to focus on you because, so far, the track record is pretty good that he can define you a lot better than you can define him.”

— Newt Gingrich, quoted by Politico, warning Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) not to get into a public fight with Donald Trump.

Trump and Assange Unite to Sow Hacking Doubts

“Just a year ago, they might have seemed the oddest of couples. But now President-elect Donald Trump and Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, have formed a united front against the conclusion of American intelligence agencies that Russian intelligence used hacked emails to interfere in the presidential election,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Assange, long reviled by many Republicans as an anarchist lawbreaker out to damage the United States, has won new respect from conservatives who appreciated his site’s release of Democratic emails widely perceived to have hurt Hillary Clinton’s campaign. And Mr. Trump has been eager to undercut the conclusion of the F.B.I., the C.I.A. and other agencies that those emails were provided to WikiLeaks courtesy of Russian government hackers.”

Washington Post: “Although some GOP figures still view the WikiLeaks founder with suspicion, conservative news sources now praise him for exposing Democratic emails.”