• Mattis Tapped for Department of Defense
• Sanders Slams Carrier Deal
• Bad Blood Between Trump and Clinton Campaigns
• Heitkamp Meeting With Trump
• Trump Launches Thank You Tour
Trump Has "Reckless and Bizarre" Conversation with Pakistan's Sharif
Donald Trump is in the midst of making his "getting to know you" courtesy calls to the various leaders of the world, and has already stumbled several times. For example, he insulted British Prime Minister Theresa May by getting to her ninth (suggesting that she ranks below the first eight leaders he called in importance), and then also by making suggestions as to whom she should appoint as ambassador to the United States. His meeting with Japanese leader Shinzo Abe has already become infamous, since the only other person there was Ivanka Trump, and the conversation was held without benefit of State Department input. Now, The Donald has really stepped in it, bungling his conversation with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
As with Abe (and as seems likely to be his custom), Trump did not bother to consult with the professionals, or to have them in the room during the conversation. We are only aware of the contents of the dialogue because the Pakistani government released what appears to be a transcript. During the call, Trump was behaving as he presumably does when making a real estate deal. He praised Sharif as "a terrific guy" and "one of the most intelligent people" and said he would, "love to come to a fantastic country, fantastic place of fantastic people." Trump also offered to, "play any role you want me to play to address and find solutions to the country's problems."
The diplomatic community was horrified after learning the details, while the normally reserved Time Magazine condemned Trump's remarks as "reckless and bizarre." The Donald seems to have little to no awareness that he just waded right into the middle of one of the world's messes, arguably on a par with Syria or North Korea. Put briefly, India and Pakistan loathe each other. While the United States tries to maintain a good working relationship with the Pakistanis, in hopes of getting their help with neighboring Afghanistan, they are nowhere near as significant as the Indians. The United States has been working hard for many years to cultivate its relationship with India in hopes of using the nation as a counterbalance to China. Fawning over Sharif and Pakistan certainly does not help advance that plan, and runs the serious risk of alienating India for years. The rough equivalent would be a national leader in the 1970s telling the world how much he loves the USSR and the Russian way of doing things—there is no walking that back in the midst of the Cold War. Given that Trump himself is no fan of China, he presumably would not have run this risk if he had any sense of the geopolitics of the region. But he does not. Welcome to diplomacy in the Trump era. (Z)
Mattis Tapped for Department of Defense
In a not-unexpected move, Donald Trump has chosen retired Marine general James Mattis as his Secretary of Defense. Known as the "Mad Dog" and the "Warrior Monk," he is held in high regard for his courage and his razor-sharp intellect. He did tours in the Persian Gulf War, Iraq War, and Afghanistan War and also oversaw U.S. Central Command from 2011-2013.
The pick will certainly please Republicans, because Mattis is an outspoken hardliner on the Middle East. He's particularly vocal about Iran; so much so that the Obama administration held him at arm's length during much of his time at CENTCOM, leading to his retirement from the Marine Corps. With that said, Democrats can breathe a small sigh of relief over the pick. Just as he was not afraid to challenge Obama, Mattis does not fear Trump, and has already made some pointed remarks about The Donald's approach to Russia. He has also successfully moderated the President-elect's views on torture, and should serve as a check on any impulses of a nuclear nature. So, if Senate Democrats are going to pick a hill to die on during the confirmation process, it won't be Mount Mattis. He'll sail through, maybe unanimously. (Z)
Sanders Slams Carrier Deal
We noted yesterday that Donald Trump's high-profile "rescue" of 1,000 jobs at air conditioning giant Carrier was achieved in a very corporate-friendly way, almost completely at odds with the more punitive approach to this problem favored by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and other progressives. In case there were any doubts about this, the Senator himself spoke up on Thursday and condemned the deal, declaring that, "In essence, United Technologies (parent of Carrier) took Trump hostage and won. And that should send a shock wave of fear through all workers across the country." He accused Trump of handling carrier with "kid gloves," and agreed with our assessment (and that of many other commenters) that the maneuver will encourage other corporations to use outsourcing threats as a form of blackmail. Sanders also announced that he's planning to introduce a Senate bill that will punish that sort of outsourcing.
Slate's Daniel Gross expands upon the Senator's criticism, observing that saving 1,000 jobs is a relative drop in the bucket—in a month where the economy added 216,000 jobs, that's about four hours' worth. It may make for a nice photo-op, but the President of the United States simply doesn't have the time to be "Dealmaker in Chief" day-in and day-out, which means that such maneuvers are going to be few and far between, and likely only available to the biggest and mightiest corporate players. So much, then, for the pledge to limit the power of special interests. Most importantly, the problem of outsourcing is only going to be addressed substantively with macroeconomic policies, the sorts of policies that have led to the creation of 14.5 million jobs during President Obama's term. Thus far, beyond a few threats to cancel various trade agreements, Trump has said very little about what kinds of broader, job-saving policy initiatives he might have in mind. Perhaps he's keeping those plans in the same file with his strategy for defeating ISIS. (Z)
Bad Blood Between Trump and Clinton Campaigns
It is customary that representatives of the two parties' presidential campaigns participate in a Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics-hosted discussion about a month after Election Day. On Wednesday and Thursday, then, Team Trump (led by Kellyanne Conway and Corey Lewandowski) and Team Clinton (led by Robby Mook and Joel Benenson) made their appearances and things quickly turned nasty.
The primary theme for the red team, per Conway, was, "Hey guys, we won...accept the results of the election." The blue team's main thrust was that Trump ran a nasty and overtly racist campaign. Conway seemed shocked by this, asking, "Are you going look me in the face and say I provided a platform for white supremacists?" Such denials might become moderately more believable if the Trumpsters did not invariably act as if the charge is crazy, on the level of 9/11 conspiracy theories, or believing in the Loch Ness Monster. Lewandowski also blasted the media for, "[taking] everything Donald Trump said so literally." That's a very interesting assessment of the responsibilities of the fourth estate.
In the end, the arguments weren't all that compelling, since the same basic people were on CNN saying the same basic things for weeks before, during, and after the election. All Harvard needed was Van Jones and Kayleigh McEnany to complete the set. Perhaps the most intriguing thing that came out of the meetup was Team Clinton's attempts at a postmortem, in particular their regret that they did not push for a fourth debate close to Election Day. We'll never know for sure, but it is certainly interesting to consider what might have happened if Hillary had been given an opportunity to speak to a national audience after James Comey's laptop announcement. (Z)
Heitkamp Meeting With Trump
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) has a meeting scheduled with Donald Trump for this morning. She told reporters that she does not know what the meeting is about, but that she's open to serving in his administration. The post of Secretary of Energy, which generally goes to someone from the West, seems a likely possibility.
From Trump's perspective, appointing Heitkamp makes a great deal of sense. She would be replaced by the winner of a special election, almost certainly to be a Republican in red, red North Dakota. This would make it that much harder to scrape together the votes to block Trump appointments and initiatives in the Senate. Further, Heitkamp could serve as the token member of the opposition party in his Cabinet (something of a custom for presidents of both parties these days). From her perspective, the appointment also has a fair bit of appeal—facing a deep red electorate in a non-presidential year is a tall order for a Democratic senator, and she could easily find herself packing her bags in January of 2019. Needless to say, Senate Democrats are cringing at the thought of not only losing a vote for the next two years, but also (likely) losing a seat for the next two decades. If re-election is a tall order for a Democratic incumbent, it's a near-impossibility for a newbie, especially since the Democratic bench in North Dakota is as thin as Donald Trump's skin. In short, this is a shrewd political maneuver, one that has Reince Priebus' fingerprints all over it. (Z)
Trump Launches Thank You Tour
Breaking with convention yet again, Donald Trump has taken to the road as part of a "thank you" tour of rallies for his supporters. Thursday's stop was in Ohio, and it was exactly The Donald we've come to expect. He bragged about his victory, tossed barbs at Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) and Hillary Clinton, and sat back and enjoyed chants of "Build that Wall" and "Lock Her Up." So, more evidence that candidate Trump and President Trump are going to be one and the same. (Z)Email a link to a friend or share:
---The Votemaster and Zenger
Dec01 Details About Carrier Deal Begin to Materialize
Dec01 Pelosi Survives Challenge
Dec01 GOP Senators: Not so Fast on Medicare
Dec01 Petraeus Would Need Probation Officer's Permission to Become Secretary of State
Dec01 Graham to Trump: Prove Voter Fraud or Shut Up
Dec01 What's Next for Conway?
Dec01 Are You Ready for Trump Texts?
Nov30 Trump Lashes Out at Flag Burners
Nov30 Three More Additions to Cabinet
Nov30 Trump Saves 1,000 Jobs, But at What Cost?
Nov30 House Democrats Likely to Re-elect Pelosi
Nov30 Trump's Going to Have Legal Problems
Nov30 President Obama: Michelle's Not Running
Nov29 Trump Wins Michigan
Nov29 Trump Picks Tom Price for HHS
Nov29 Petraeus for Secretary of State?
Nov29 Trump Has Changed His Views on Various Issues Since the the Election
Nov29 Trump May Not Be Able to Deport Undocumented Criminals
Nov29 The Difficulties in Draining the Swamp
Nov29 Trump May Have a Problem When a Chinese Bank's Lease Expires
Nov29 AP Issues Guidelines for Reporters about the term Alt-Right
Nov28 Senate Republicans Are Hesitant to Abolish the Filibuster
Nov28 The Media Are Starting to Be Honest; Trump, Not So Much
Nov28 Trump Intends to Take a Hard Line with Cuba
Nov28 Arizona and Georgia Democrats Are Nervous About Direction of the Party
Nov28 Maine Switches to Instant-Runoff Voting
Nov28 Democrats' 2020 Field Is Taking Shape
Nov28 Don't Want to Do Business with Trump? There's an App for That
Nov27 Trump Calls Recount Effort a Scam
Nov27 Trump Calls Castro a Brutal Dictator
Nov27 Trump's Conflicts of Interest Have Already Emerged
Nov27 Flynn Has Some Serious Baggage
Nov27 Falwell, Jr. Declined Cabinet Appointment
Nov27 Kirsten Gillibrand Is Already Exploring a 2020 Run
Nov27 The Reviews Are in on Trump's Ornament
Nov26 Fidel Castro Dead at 90
Nov26 Trump Will Soon Get the Nuke 101 Tutorial
Nov26 The Presidency as a Profit Center
Nov26 Christian Leaders Now Expect Trump to Deliver
Nov26 Democrats May Get a Chance to Rebuild in the Next Two Years
Nov26 Four Sites to Break Out of the Liberal Bubble
Nov26 New Mexico Business Tells Trump Supporters to Get Lost
Nov25 Russian Propaganda Machine Was Indeed Behind Fake News
Nov25 Kris Kobach Is Favored to Head Dept. of Homeland Security
Nov25 Trump Has Attended Only Two Intelligence Briefings
Nov25 Stein Raises Enough Money for a Recount in Wisconsin
Nov25 Trump's Cabinet Likely to Be the Wealthiest Ever
Nov25 Trump Supporters Furious About Romney
Nov25 Get an Early Start on Your Christmas Shopping