Saturday, July 20, 2019

Where Trump Fails A Simple Knowledge Or Memory Test

Here's a not-so-reassuring story about our Dear Leader:

When President Trump this week met human rights activist Nadia Murad, an Iraqi who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 for speaking out about her agonizing torture and rape while in Islamic State captivity, he seemed unaware of her story and the plight of her Yazidi ethnic minority.
Do read the whole story where you will find that Trump's ignorance is of the extreme sort. 

Keep in mind that presidents are briefed right before such meetings, so either Trump wasn't listening to the briefing at all or he had already forgotten what he was told about the Yazidis* not very many minutes earlier.  Both explanations are disconcerting.  Or should be disconcerting if we lived in more ordinary times.


* To put Nadia Murad's experiences into context, read this post (trigger warning for extreme violence) I wrote in 2015 about the treatment of women and especially Yazidi women and girls  by ISIS then. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Why Now? Or On The Timing Of Trump's Most Recent Wrath Tweets

It's not news that Trump has racist and sexist views.  He ran on those views, after all.  So I am not particularly interested in trying to saw open his skull to see what monsters there might tell us about why* he is tweet-attacking four progressive Democratic politicians, all of them women and all of them women of color.

A more interesting question than repeatedly asking if he might, after all, be a teeny weeny bit bigoted, is to ask why he chose to attack "the Squad" at this particular point in time.

The most obvious explanation is this one:

Mr. Trump clearly sees a political advantage in his targeting of the congresswomen, betting that by focusing attention on them, he will be better able to paint all Democrats with a broad brush of socialism and radical policies.
“The Dems were trying to distance themselves from the four ‘progressives,’ but now they are forced to embrace them,” Mr. Trump gloated on Twitter on Monday evening. “That means they are endorsing Socialism, hate of Israel and the USA! Not good for the Democrats!”

Cornell Belcher, a Democratic pollster and strategist, said Mr. Trump’s latest remarks reflected a broader strategy to use the same kind of racial animus that helped propel his 2016 presidential bid to bolster his base for his 2020 re-election push.

And the timing may simply be because Maureen Dowd had just written a column (in her inimitable slap-the-bitches schoolyard style) which strongly suggests that Nancy Pelosi tries to distance the views of the Squad from the general messages of the Democratic Party.** 

Thus, the situation was tailor-made for Trump to hop into the saddle and ride this particular pony of our political apocalypse.  (I'm being taken captive by bad metaphors!  Help!  Send chocolate!)

But other tentative explanations exist.  For instance, the Epstein case is very much in the news, and there may be good reasons why Trump might wish to make certain that there are competing baits for the journalist fishes out there.

And the man really is a master baiter.


* In one sense his tweets are nothing more than the old "America.  Love It Or Leave It" argument, which frames dissent as treason. 

In another sense it's just his id speaking.  He loves letting it off the leash because he knows that his base adores him for their chance of vicariously doing the same, and, as we all know, nothing bad ever happens to Trump when he does that. 

But there are also political reasons for focusing the magnifying glass on the Democrats while the southern border continues as a pure hell on earth and so on.  The media eagerly swallows his bait and then dangles off his fishing rod, helpless and dull-eyed.  (I told you that I'm being kidnapped by bad metaphors today!)

**  I have not tried to analyze that Dowd column and Pelosi's possible thought processes which led her to giving that interview to an opinion columnist who truly detests Democratic women and always analyzes them from the Mean Girls Angle.

Life is too tiring as it is.