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The Trump Resistance in the White House

On 5 September (that read “yesterday” when I began this post!) the New York Times published an anonymous op-ed from a senior Trump official. He or she said they were part of a group of senior officials within the administration who are doing their best to thwart Trump’s worst excesses, and why.

There have been multiple responses to this. Obviously, a lot of these depend on a person’s own opinion of Donald Trump. (I think it’s most likely a man, so I’ll refer to the person that way throughout, but we actually don’t know whether it’s a man or woman.) Some think he’s a hero, others a coward. Some think he’s right to keep his identity a secret, others think he should stand up for what he believes publically.

Wherever you stand, chances are you want to know who he is. I have a group of five I think it could be, but I obviously have no idea.

 

Why Is He Doing It? Option 1.

Why he’s doing it partly depends on who it is of course. Some think Vice-President Mike Pence could be the author, and point to Pence’s frequent use of the word, “lodestar.” (I’m not entirely sure why because I can’t find that word in the article.) However, I don’t think this action goes with Pence’s character. There is a chance, though, that it is someone with very similar values to Pence.

The reason I say that is the timing of this action. This White House has proven brilliant at distracting the media. Recently there was open admittance that stories about removing security clearances were released to distract from other stories. The writer of the op-ed says he strongly supports a conservative Republican agenda. That means the appointment of conservative judges to the Supreme Court.

Last week the hearings into Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment as a Supreme Court justice began. His appointment will effect the US for decades to come. It is hugely important. The GOP is clearly hiding something about Kavanaugh’s past, but we’re not talking about it because our attention is elsewhere – this op-ed.

Reasons to be Suspicious of Kavanaugh’s Appointment:

1. The GOP are withholding 100,000 pages of documents relating to Kavanaugh’s time in the Bush (43) White House.
2. Another 42,000 pages of documents were given to the Democrats only the night before the hearing. Clearly, that’s not enough time to read and analyze them.
3. Kavanaugh has stated in the past that he does not believe that a president can be investigated under any circumstances. He refuses to say if he is still of that opinion. This could be extremely important if the issue of serving a subpoena on President Trump were to go to the Supreme Court.
4. Kavanaugh supported the initial decision of judges who refused an illegal immigrant an abortion. Trump chooses potential justices from a list provided to him by the ultra-conservative Federalist Society. The judges are expected to support Trump’s campaign promise to overturn abortion rights in the US.

There is little chance of stopping the appointment of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court without overwhelming public opposition. There has been a great deal of protest at the hearings, but there has been little coverage in the media. The anonymous op-ed is a juicier story.

 

Why Is He Doing It? Option 2.

Cartoon Trump voters trust him blindly.For some time it appears Trump is Teflon-coated when it comes to things that would bring any other politician down. Throughout the primaries, the election, and his presidency, it didn’t seem to matter what he did, his support stayed strong. The last couple of weeks we’ve had indications that might finally be changing. Most commentators have said that before. However, that was usually based on their own horror at Trump’s latest actions. At the same time, Trump’s base cult continued to show support for him.

Here’s why I think Trump may really be losing support this time:

1. Although 90% of Republicans continue to express support for Trump, the percentage of USians self-identifying as Republicans is dropping. At the same time, the percentage of Independents is noticeably increasing, and the percentage of Democrats is rising too.
2. Trump’s job approval is at its lowest rate ever.
3. More importantly, Mueller’s approval rating is rising sigbificantly.
4. On top of that, a majority now believe that the Mueller investigation will find that Trump was engaged in activity for which he could be impeached.

If the op-ed writer is seeing some of the same signals, he may think it’s time to go on the record as someone who wasn’t as close to Trump as he appeared.

 

Why Is He Doing It? Option 3.

Cartoon comparing McCain and TrumpThe death of John McCain. More specifically, the funeral of John McCain. Multiple people of integrity of all political stripes spoke out at McCain’s funeral against the atmosphere of prejudice, violence, hatred, and division that is US politics today. They all noted that Trump is stoking and spreading division not just in politics, but in the country at large. McCain, on the other hand, despite having strong disagreements with people politically mostly tried to bring people together, as a president should.

McCain asked that George W Bush and Barack Obama, both men who had defeated him on the campaign trail, spoke at his funeral. He specifically asked that Trump not be invited.

The most played video clips relating to McCain in the days after his death were two where he contradicted his own supporters to stick up for Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign. Those weren’t the only occasions when he did that either. Whatever you thought of his opinions, and I mostly disagreed with them, he was a man of integrity.

(L-R) Meghan McCain, James Mattis, Cindy McCain, Andrew Joint Base

(L-R) Meghan McCain,  James Mattis, Cindy McCain (R), watch as McCain’s flag-draped casket arrives on a military airplane at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, August 30, 2018. (Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP) (Click pic to go to source.)

This option is one that relates especially to some of the men on my “potentials” list.

Three of the men on my list of possible writers of the op-ed are James Mattis (Secretary of Defense), Mike Pompeo (Secretary of State), and James Kelly (White House Chief of Staff). All three, like McCain, are former military officers, and Mattis in particular was close to McCain. He stood next to and supported McCain’s wife Cindy as her husband’s casket arrived at Joint Base Andrews. (Mattis on McCain’s death.)

I think McCain’s death might have made someone who saw himself as staying in the Administration for the good of his country feel the need to speak out. It is my opinion that all three of these men at the very least are serving for this reason. I believe all are part of the Trump Resistance within the administration.

 

Why Is He Doing It? Option 4.

Cover: Fear - Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward

(Source: Amazon US. Click pic to go to source.)

The fourth option is the release of the Bob Woodward book Fear about the internal workings of the Trump White House. This is probably the most likely option, especially if the writer of the op-ed is not one of the three men I mentioned above.

As always, Woodward’s book is scrupulously sourced. He has multiple people on tape, telling their experiences of working in Trump’s White House. The op-ed is in some ways a précis of the book. With the book coming out, it would be clear that the writer wasn’t a lone wolf. Further, there was someone of integrity backing up what he said.

Woodward’s description of the atmosphere and some of the goings-on in the White House aren’t new. We heard the same thing from Michael Wolf in his book, Fire and Fury. However, he was dismissed as partisan.

Then we got the same thing from Omarosa Maingault in Unhinged. She’s a Republican and was initially a Trump supporter. She was dismissed as a disgruntled employee. Further, she’s made a career out of being controversial and that hasn’t done her integrity and trustworthiness any good.

But there’s not really any way to dismiss Bob Woodward although Trump tries of course. Woodward is one of the most respected investigative reporters in the world, and has been for decades. He’s been a household name since he and Carl Bernstein outed President Nixon’s crimes in early- and mid-1970s. Woodward has written books exposing aspects of every White House since then, so can’t fairly be dismissed as partisan.

 

Is it Real?

It should be clear to everybody that the op-ed is real. Trump’s initial attack against it was to accuse the “failing” New York Times of writing it themselves to make money. There may be a few conspiracy theorists who believe that, but any reasonable person can work that’s a laughable suggestion. The Times simply wouldn’t risk their credibility that way.

As for the content of the op-ed, that appears real too. Apart from the fact that we can trust that the New York Times will have investigated all claims, there have been several instances where it’s clear that there is at least some management of Trump. He makes statements, especially in the foreign affairs context, that have to be walked back.

Major recent ones occurred when Trump, in that unbelievably stupid and naïve move, met privately with Putin. Among other things, Trump agreed:

1. That former ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul (2012-2014), be handed over to Russia for investigation;
2. That Russian FSB agents should assist the FBI with the FBI investigation into election tampering by Russia.

The Administration was walking these promises back as soon as they were able.

(Another person on my list of people who may have written the op-ed is current Russian ambassador, Jon Hunstman.)

 

Saving Us From Trump

There is a scary thing about all this. I say over and over again that nothing more Trump does could surprise me, or things couldn’t get any worse. And then something more outrageous than ever happens, or things do get worse. But as Trevor Noah points out below, because this anonymous official says that a group of them are managing the president, what we’re getting is “Trump-lite”. Just imagine what it would be like without the babysitting.

The writer of the op-ed says we should take a level of comfort that there are grown-ups in the room. He put it thus:

It may be cold comfort in this chaotic era, but Americans should know that there are adults in the room. We fully recognize what is happening. And we are trying to do what’s right even when Donald Trump won’t.

There are two ways to take this. It is comforting that when Trump calls for the US to drop a nuclear bomb on Iran, there are people who will make sure it doesn’t happen. There are people that are saying though, that these people weren’t elected, and Trump was. However, as I’ve also said before, the US people actually didn’t elect Trump either. The Electoral College did. The presidential candidate who got the most votes was Hillary Clinton. She got almost 3 million more votes than Trump. And whatever you think of her personally, I would hope you can see that she was eminently qualified to be president.

 

Who is it?

At 8pm Thursday US ET (Noon Friday NZ time), CNN had received denials from the following senior administration officials that they were not the op-ed’s author. Most of the denials were spontaneous i.e. not sought by CNN. It seems these people were very keen to stay out of the spotlight of a president of whom they are fearful. (The next day there were even more people on CNN‘s Denial List.)

Mike Pompeo, James Mattis, Jon Huntsman, and Dan Coats are on this list, and all are people I think may have written the editorial. Although another of my suspects, John Kelly, is not on the list, he was travelling with the president at the time. 

 

Pics of 27 Trump Officials who have given denials to CNN.

 

Despite all these denials, we need to remember that Mike Phelps (aka “Deep Throat”) continued to deny he was the source of Woodward and Bernstein regarding Nixon’s crimes until 2006. However, I doubt we’ll have to wait over thirty years to find out this time. We’ll find out within weeks or months of the end of the Trump presidency, however that happens.

 

Investigating the Writer of the Op-Ed: The Republican Leadership

The Democrats are calling on House Speaker Paul Ryan to begin an investigation into who wrote of the op-ed is. However, he says he does not think Congress should do that. USA Today reports:

House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday he doesn’t see a role for Congress in investigating the identity of the author of a New York Times op-ed blasting President Donald Trump as amoral, despite outrage from the president and his allies over the essay.

Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, replied, “Not that I know of,” when asked by a reporter if Congress should try to identify the anonymous author of the essay …

However, Ryan said the author was “living in dishonesty” and should consider whether they want to stay in their role. “That doesn’t help the president. So if you’re not interested in helping the president, you shouldn’t work for the president, as far as I’m concerned,” he said.

 

Investigating the Writer of the Op-Ed: Donald Trump

Trump’s response to the op-ed is not that of a good leader or manager. Of course, this wouldn’t be happening if he was a good leader. He’s tweeting about it FFS!

First there was a series of tweets, including this one referred to above, in which he announced he’d exposed both the op-ed and Fear as all lies:

 

 

To be fair, Kelly (who is No. 5 my list of suspects) and Mattis (who’s at No. 4) have both issued strong denials relating to the Woodward book. (So has Sarah Sanders, though I doubt anyone ever though she was part of a Trump Resistance in the White House.) Trump Retweeted Kelly’s denial twice, and that of Mattis four times. I guess he wanted to be sure people saw them!

The saga continues, and Trump exposes some of the reasons he’s unfit to be president.

Then, as I said above, he began accusing the New York Times of writing the op-ed themselves:

 

That suggestion is completely outrageous, and with it Trump exposes two of the reasons he’s unfit to be president. He doesn’t understand  that the country he leads guarantees press freedom in its constitution, or that the judiciary isn’t there to do his bidding.

Then, there was this, which I’m not even going to comment on.

 

Senator Rand Paul, in his attempt to suck up to Trump (i.e. get Trump to campaign for him) is suggesting that all White House staff undergo lie detector tests! Isn’t he a libertarian? Trump, naturally, thinks that’s a great idea.

 

What Happens Next?

Cartoon Trump Cohen Plea dealTrump currently has the status of unindicted co-conspirator in relation to the Cohen case. In my opinion, the only thing that is currently saving him from the famous New York institution – the perp walk – is the fact he’s president. Legal opinion can’t seem to agree whether he will be charged when he’s out of office, or whether he will just get away with his crimes.

Then there’s the Mueller investigation. There are no leaks from this investigation, which is a good thing. But it appears it’s getting closer to the president all the time. Public opinion in the US is now on the side of Mueller in two ways. There is approval of the way he’s doing his job, and a majority are of the opinion that Trump may have committed an indictable crime.

Cartoon Trump ImmunityThat will again depend on whether Trump can be charged while he’s president. There doesn’t appear to be a definite rule, and would probably depend on how bad the crime was. For example, if he really did shoot someone in Fifth Avenue, surely that would be bad enough to see him charged.

 

The Problem is the US System of Government

Trump is not going to be impeached as long as Republicans are in charge of at least the Senate or Congress, and currently they have both. The Republicans are more interested in retaining power than doing the right thing.

Trump wanted the Mueller investigation wound up by now. That way there was a guarantee he would beat impeachment. Now he’s going to do all he can to make sure Republicans retain both the Senate and Congress for as long as possible. He knows that’s the only was he keeps control.

The trouble is, it’s really hard to get rid of a president. The 25th Amendment, in which the president is declared unfit, is really hard to use. Trump himself can just say, “Yes, I am fit to serve.” That’s exactly what he would do, of course, and then things get even more difficult. He’s never going to do the honourable thing and resign.

It was a stupid system that got Trump into power in the first place, the main issues being:

1. Gerrymandering is possible.
2. The voting system is vulnerable to outside interference and in some places no paper record of voting is kept.
3. The Electoral College means not all votes for president are equal. The system favours rural voters over urban voters.

Now that the system gave the country Trump, he’s virtually impossible to get rid of.


 

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34 Responses to “The Trump Resistance in the White House”

  1. Yakaru says:

    Good summing up & analysis, Heather…

    My bet is that it is a rat who has noticed water seeping into the hull, but is still not sure if the ship is going to sink, so they are preparing a career-saving get-away in case they need it, while protecting their identity in case they need to stay. It cannot have been intended as a service to the public — if it were someone with such noble aims, they wouldn’t have risked exposure; or they would have resigned in protest, with a public statement. Instead they’re probably trying to form public opinion about them favorably before the Woodward book comes out.

    As for who it was, I can’t imagine it was Dan Coates (as Lawrence O’Donnell thinks), because I can’t imagine him using a cliche like “adults in the room”. I could imagine Kelly talking like that, but I can’t imagine Kelly saying he’s “part of the Resistance”.

    My guess is that it was several people, all with a beady eye on their reputations.

    Though I must say that since the advent of Trump, I’ve come to be much less cynical about the motives of people like Reagan and the various Bushes. For all that I disagreed with and opposed them, they really did believe in the admirable principles of American democracy. I guess I could imagine a scenario where one of them would hand over a US citizen to the Russians, but I can’t imagine them saying it publicly and branding it a “great deal”.

    That somewhere half of Americans don’t have a problem with it does shock me however.

    Also regarding the system that put Trump there, I was often reassured by people that there was no way Trump could win, thanks to the quirks of the electoral college. I think it’s a bit late for them to start protesting about it now.

    • I agree about it being a career-saving move in case they need it. I think there are a lot of phrases used to make it seem like it’s someone else deliberately, but that phrases that the write uses might be in there, consciously or unconsciously, too. S/he doesn’t want to out himself to Trump, or the likelihood of assassination by his cult. (I’ve decided I’m going to use “cult” instead of “base” from now on. There are Republicans that are voting for Trump just to retain power, but the ones that cheer him on at his rallies and taken in by him are a cult of his personality imo.)

  2. Randall Schenck says:

    I have to get out on my morning walk so don’t have much time. You have covered this so completely there is not much to add. I think it does not matter who wrote the op ed. Probably more than one but I think they are timing it with the Woodward book, which actually does not come out until the 13th. Also it surprises me that there are so many critics and for stupid reasons. Even Obama said, these people were not elected! So what? Are you saying that unless you were elected you have no right to change or affect anything. That is not only lame but wrong. Any citizen has the right and to say otherwise is just garbage. Being elected is nothing special, hell, look who got elected.

    I am sure they will find out who was involved eventually but again, it does not matter. What matters is that they did it and one more thing that matters – get out and vote.

    • Diana MacPherson says:

      Yes, I agree about the elected part. I think this must come from the American value of democracy as the American system elects just about everyone. It also seems to point to, what I’ve observed, as the American suspicion of government and bureaucrats. America brought us the whole notion of small government….they fear the institution is limiting their freedom and counter that by voting for everyone. It’s different in Canada and I think why these differences are apparent to me (despite a lot of these ideas seeping north).

      • Randall Schenck says:

        Apparently they are playing the game in Europe as well. Look at the so-called Democrats in Sweden. A right wing bunch that wants to stop immigration there. A guy name Bannon is still involved in the politics over there as well. Most people forget, he was on the board at Cambridge Analytica so it all fits together. The Russians are just as involved in Europe as they are here.

        As I have tried to say before, you have to create a government, a legislature that cares about the people. You know, like maybe 150 years ago before money took over government. The only chance for the U.S. is to remove money from politics. Otherwise you just keep hiring the same mistake.

    • Yes, you and Obama are saying the most important thing of all – VOTE. It’s appalling how few people vote in the US elections, especially the mid-terms. Many of them are the same ones who are complaining about who won the elections. Things won’t change unless the sensible majority vote for decent candidates.

      Of course, the Republicans haven’t made it easy for people to vote, especially in areas where they’re not likely to vote for them. Things like a very busy polling place in a Democratic-voting area being closed down altogether because someone complained it doesn’t have disabled toilets.

  3. Lee Knuth says:

    We live in interesting times but most of us would have preferred it without Trump as our president. It would take a major revision of the Constitution to get rid of the Electoral College and that does not seem likely. May the midterm elections bring us some change from the spineless GOP legislators we presently have. Thanks for a great post.

    • Thanks Lee. I think you’re right that the electoral system is unlikely to change any time soon. There are more and more people talking about it, and some are even acting on their words, but it will take a while for there to be any momentum.

  4. N Walsh says:

    The friendly atheist has a scary take on Kananaugh.

    http://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/

    • Randall Schenck says:

      Hate to say it but it is very unlikely that he will be rejected. He also does a good bit of lying under oath but then that is pretty normal for supreme court justices too.

    • Yes, that is scary indeed. Here’s a direct link that opens on a new page: ‘Freethought Caucus: Brett Kavanaugh’s Views on Religious Liberty Are “Alarming”‘ by Robyn Pennacchia.

    • nicky says:

      Re Mr Kavanaugh, there is ahighly interesting article in The Atlantic about the SCOTUS. I don’t know how valid it is, but I fear it adresses some pertinent points.
      https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/09/redemption-court/566963/

      • nicky says:

        Thinking about it, the stacking of the US courts -not just the SC- with reactionary politicians will probably be Mr Trump’s most lasting legacy, although it was mainly machinated by Mr McConnell. In many ways the latter is worse than Mr Trump. Unlike Mr Trump he’s not a person with ‘deminished mental responsibility’, he’ s just an evil genius.
        I used to think it was the gutting of the EPA, or the throwing of NATO into disarray, but the latter can be ‘recovered’ in a decade or less, but the courts is for two generations (short of an asteroid wiping out SCOTUS during a democrat’s term).
        Just imagine how different it would have been if the rightful president had not been cheated out of victory.

        • nicky says:

          Sorry to go on about the SCOTUS (Heather, I hope you will allow me).
          IANAL, but how come that Mr Garland’s candidacy has somehow disappeared, evaporated? Was he heard before the Senate Committe? No. Did the Senate vote against him? No. Did he or Mr Obama withdraw his candidacy? Not that I know of.
          So we have a candidate, proposed by a legally elected president that wasn’t even heard. Should he not have been heard (and possibly voted down), before Mr Gorsuch or Mr Kavanaugh?
          Is there any legal case for not hearing Mr Garland?
          Can someone explain that to me?

          • nicky says:

            Apparently the nomination ‘expired’ on the 3rd of January 2017, at the closure of the 114th Congress.
            The 11 Senators that wrote to Mr McConnell they would refuse to hear Mr Garland were: Mr Grassley, (Iowa), Mr Hatch and Mr Lee (both Utah), Mr Sessions Alabama, yes, that Sessions), Mr Graham (

          • nicky says:

            Oops, hit the post button by accident, so I’ll just continue:

            Mr Graham (South Carolina), Mr Cornyn and Mr Cruz (both Texas], Mr Flake (Arizona, yes, he did!), Mr Vitter (Louisiana), Mr Perdue (Georgia) and Mr Tillis (North Carolina).
            I find it striking that 7 of the 11 come from former Confederate states, 3 from the Far West (Arizona is complicated, since different from the present Arizona, but was claimed by the Confederacy, and Utah also had slaves) and only 1 from the Mid-West (Ohio , a non-slave state). None from the North East or the West Coast. Note also that Mr Mc Connell’s state, Kentucky, albeit ‘neutral’ and not part of the Confederation was a slave state.

            Is it really ‘conspirational’ to think they hope to bring back Jim Crow in one form or other?
            After all, any legislation can be challenged in court, and can end up before the SCOTUS.
            I must admit the present US admin is playing with the worst suspicions my mind can come up with.

        • It’s not just the Clinton thing either. Remember that even without her winning, the US should have Merrick Garland on the Supreme Court. That was down to McConnell too. As you say, the man is an evil genius. He uses his position to manipulate things. He did it all the time in Obama’s last two years you’ll also remember.

          • nicky says:

            Yes, Mr McConnell comlpetely distorted the Biden proposal, and it was just a proposal, there never was a vote about it.
            Mr Biden proposed that during an election year the Senate hearing and vote on a candidat for the SC should be postponed until after the eletion, ie in November or December.
            He never proposed that a candidacy should eveporate into thin air.
            With hindsight, easy with hindsight, I think Mr Obama should have made sure Mr Garland would have been heard, right after the election, but he didn’ because he, we all did, think Ms Clinton would win.

          • We also have to remember with the so-called “Biden Rule” that Biden ultimately voted for that judge to be confirmed. So it’s not like he was trying to do a McConnell and get rid of the person altogether.

      • I haven’t read the whole article, but I’m going to finish it later. What I have read agrees with others that I’ve heard talking on the topic who have the background/training/education/experience etc to opine.

        Also, I didn’t know about the Colfax massacre and the related SCOTUS ruling. It’s one of the most horrifying things I’ve ever read about US history, and frankly that’s saying something. I feel ill just thinking about it.

  5. Mark R. says:

    Very good analysis Heather.

    I ‘d like to know what exactly ‘anonymous ‘ is saving us from. Doesn’t seem like they’re doing a very good job. I like what Obama said in his speech on Friday: “That’s not how our democracy is supposed to work,” Obama said. “These people aren’t elected … They’re not doing us a favour by actively promoting 90% of the crazy stuff coming out of this White House and saying, ‘Don’t worry, we’re preventing the other 10%.’” “ I have to agree. I hope Obama’s recent reimurgence helps motivate apathetic voters, and I hope Michelle joins him (something she’s been reluctant to do apperently). In the 2014 midterms, only 1 in 5 young people voted. It seems like people are waking up, but the proof will be revealed in a couple months.

    • Young people voting would make all the difference. They’re traditionally apathetic voters in developed countries. I guess they mostly have it too good to care and think it doesn’t really affect them. Hopefully a Trump presidency will make them realize what a difference their vote can make. I find Michelle Obama even more compelling than her husband, and we all know what an amazing speaker he is. Maybe it’s because she’s a woman. I know she doesn’t like being in the limelight like that, but I hope she makes some speeches at least.

      I’m glad Obama is campaigning. Someone who can speak to the whole country on the progressive side needs to, and he’s really the only one who can. Others can speak to certain demographics or regions, but he can do it with just about all Democrats.

  6. Paul Topping says:

    A good summary. Jon Huntsman seems the odds-on favorite for Anonymous based on the opinions of many pundits who follow the White House.

    I like the emphasis here on the intent of the author of the anonymous NYT editorial. IMHO, this is not examined enough by the MSM. Looking at the intent, its author comes off almost as addled as Trump. While the enemy of our enemy is our friend, the author is likely just another of Trump’s “best people”. Virtually all are regretting their decision to join the administration. Some choose to quit, some talk to book authors, one wrote an anonymous editorial, the rest suffer in silence. IMHO, anyone who would join the Trump administration has shown poor judgement — and anyone who voted for him, for that matter.

    I am not a fan of the “Hillary won the popular vote” argument. We might as well argue that if those that chose not to vote had, in fact voted, Hillary would have won. Imagine if the situation was reversed and the Democrat won the Electoral College and the Republican won the popular vote. What would we say then? While it is true, it sounds whiny.

    • Huntsman is my #1 choice. He has never been a Trump fan, and I thought he was a good candidate when he ran for president. In 2012 when a stage full of Republican presidential candidates (about 10 iirc) were asked if they accepted evolution, he was the only one who put up his hand. Several of the others obviously do, but they weren’t prepared to say so for the sake of votes. If I were a Republican, he would have been my candidate that year. There were others things that made me think he was the best of the bunch too. I think he genuinely thinks he’s doing the right thing here, and I can understand why he feels that way. However, the reality is that Obama had things right in his speech with his backhanded defence of Trump.

      In the past, I’ve never gone with the popular vote argument. It’s happened before, and in NZ too. This time I use it because the difference is just so big I think Democrats have a right to feel cheated. At the same time however, I think Trump is president.

      The argument I use is that Trump is president. However, when commentators say that people voted for Trump to do what he is doing, that’s wrong. They didn’t. Almost 3 million more voted for Clinton and that’s just too many to use the argument that Trump is doing what the people want.

      • nicky says:

        Mr Huntsman is your no 1 ‘suspect’, and your no 2 is Mr Coats. Your no’s 4 and 5 are Mr Mattis and Mr Kelly respectively. Who’s your no 3?

        • Pompeo. However, I think I’m wrong about all the military ones. I think they’re part of the resistance, but that their characters make it unlikely that they would write an op-ed. I think Nikki Haley is an outside chance. Imo she’s part of the resistance, but is unlikely to have written the op-ed.

  7. nicky says:

    I note that Mr. Trump is kinda contradicting himself again, on th one hand it is fake news, all made up by the NYT, but on the other hand he wants to find the treasonous leaker (implying even he realises there is something there,
    maybe some truth?).

    • To be fair, I think anyone would want to know who it was. But most leaders would be far more introspective, and sit down with their cabinet and ask what they could do to change things. However, except in a few rare situations, I bet Trump is not a leader that people can be honest with – speak truth to power. He’s not someone who wants a genuine opinion most of the time, he just wants backing up.

  8. Paul Topping says:

    That’s nothing new. Trump constantly creates this kind of contradiction. While he claims “fake news”, he reacts as if it is real news. Either his supporters willfully ignore such contradictions or simply don’t follow the news closely. I suspect it is some combination of the two.

  9. Paul Topping says:

    It was basically Congress failing to perform their “advise and consent” role. It was yet another case where the US Constitution assumes that members of government are just going to do the right thing. There are no mechanisms to force them to do their job, nor penalties if they don’t. Trump and the GOP are exploiting all such gaps for their own benefit. I wonder whether someone could have brought the Garland situation before a judge. I did not hear anyone say that this was an option so I suspect it wasn’t.

  10. nicky says:

    The almighty All Blacks, beaten by the Springbokke. On home-soil nogal! Who would have predicted that?
    It was a close match, the All Blacks led by 12-0 after 15 minutes, so it appeared a done deed. However the Bokke managed to come back. Put pressure on the All Blacks, and even the All Blacks make mistakes when not given space and time. True, Colby scored a lucky intercept try, which gave the bokke a ‘comfortable’ lead (one never has a ‘comfortable lead against the All Blacks, hence the hyphens). And the All Blacks missed 2 conversions near the end. Still a kind of historic win for the Bokke or defeat for the All Blacks. When did they last lose at home?

    • Congratulations. From what I hear it was a well deserved win, and the ABs should have done better.

      I know what went wrong though – I didn’t watch it! My mother usually comes over with takeaways to watch the games, but she’s away at the moment. The reminder for the game came up an hour before kick-off because of all the pre-game hype. I selected the channel, but then went back to watching something I’d recorded and got engrossed in that. I remembered about the rugby when the reminder came up for the Aus v Arg game!

      I can’t remember the last time we lost at home, but I think 2013 is the last time you guys won on NZ soil. Either way, it’s an historic win and I’ve no doubt you deserve plenty of accolades. I did hear that in the first few minutes that even though the ABs were winning, they were making mistakes and SA weren’t, which is the sort of thing that takes its toll later in the match.

      • nicky says:

        It was not in 2013, but in 2009 that the All Blacks last lost at home. Indeed against the Bokke, and with an equally tight score of 29-32. The All Blacks had 43 consecutive wins at home, no mean feat! Still, I’m kind of happy to realise that the All Blacks are human after all 🙂 , albeit with the tiniest of margins (34-36).
        I’ve been looking at the stats:
        In possession and territory the All Blacks had a slight advantage, in own scrums and line-outs won the All Blacks were much better and they turned over more balls, had more clean breaks, and defeated about twice as many defenders and carried more than twice the number of meters. In Rucks and Mauls they were about equal.
        South Africa won through tackling: 235 vs 61. That is the only statistic where the Bokke did much more than the AB’s. I cannot think of a match ever where the losing team had such a statistical advantage.

        • The ABs often have a big statistical disadvantage in the first half. Teams through everything they have against them, and it’s very disheartening that the ABs just seem to absorb it. Then whenever they have the ball, they seem to score. We never worry that the ABs will lose because they are good at simply outlasting the other team, and they know how to score – they can do it with a minimum of ball. Of course, teams like SA are capable of beating them, and if enough players have an off night the ABs will lose. Last Saturday, if we’d got all our kicks over we would have won. Also, because they’re so rarely in such a position towards the end, the ABs aren’t very good and thinking they could try a drop kick. They could have done that on Saturday. It’s cost them big time before.

          I think you have this week off? I look forward to you beating Australia next week!

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