The Trump Administration Is Out of Gas

On Monday March 13th 2017 the 45th President’s first administration ran out of gas. Only 50 days into his first 100 days it has become clear that the idea of a businessman with corporate experience would be a great commander in chief is (at least in this case) failing spectacularly.

The issue is that the administration since day one has taken an active role in picking fights when it does not need to take them. Things that would have taken up hours of airtime during the campaign and would have been good for the then-candidate are now consuming hours of airtime when there is governing that needs to be done. One of the most essential tools in a president’s tool kit, the authority and trust in what the president says, has been grinded down with constant non-issues that the administration brings up.

This has caused a lot of clean up duty on behalf of others in the administration like Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who in the past month have been going to long time allies promising nothing is going to change in their relationship. But the old status quo is no longer the new status quo. Stability and consistency, a hallmark of American stability, is now being replaced with silence and uncertainty.

Yesterday we had Press Secretary Sean Spicer make two statements that kicked the can of responsibility down the road when the president speaks. He said that the president should be taken seriously in what he says when he isn’t joking in response to a question of whether we can take his word seriously. On top of that, he said that one of the tweets accusing Obama wiretapped Trump Tower Spicer said that since wiretap was in quotations he meant surveillance more generally.

Spicer was echoing Kellyanne Conway’s deflection when asked a similar question about the wiretapping in which she referenced the mass capabilities of surveillance where even your toaster can spy on you (it can’t)! She was also deflecting the question of whether Trump has proof of the wiretap (he doesn’t). But this is major, even the most protective and prominent members of Trump’s cabinet who have agreed with nearly everything have stopped here in something people want proof for and nobody can provide.

Just a  reminder there was a deadline yesterday for the Justice Department to release evidence to Congress for proof of the Obama wiretapping claim, they asked for another week.

Even though Trump has mostly stopped tweeting shocking statements and allegations, for the past week anyways, it shows that Trump’s administration has not been able to get out of his own way. In a political climate ripe for Republican policies to produce fruitful legislation with both chambers of Congress, the Executive, the Supreme Court, and a majority of state governments it is clear that the administration has run out of gas. Prepare for months of failed discussion on important issues like the ACA repeal or reform, the debt ceiling, and infrastructure and more issues arising with Russian investigations and Twitter tirades.  

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The Details in the Smoke

We are not even a month into the Trump administration and there is already the smoke of scandal hanging in the air. The proverbial ship of the White House is experiencing more leaks than most people in living memory can recall for any other president and while Trump might be blaming the intelligence agencies for illegally leaking information, there are plenty of leaks coming from his own staff. The leaks eventually culminated in Michael Flynn’s resignation over his discussion with Russian officials in December apparently discussing sanctions from the Obama era. Flynn had previously denied the claim, even telling the Vice President that he had not done so.

While the story from the White House is that Flynn was forced to resign over his dishonesty to the Pence, it’s clear that this resignation is also an attempt to stem the bleeding from the looming spectre of the Russian influence that the administration has never been able to fully overcome. But the suspicion has continued, more leaks are surfacing with claims that the Trump campaign staff were in contact with Russian officials and the fact that Trump knew of Flynn’s discussion of sanctions even though he denied it today.

In a normal world the agencies and institutions that check the president’s power would check for a fire when they see this much smoke. A thorough, open investigation would be taken place to put the full Russian spectre to bed. That would be a normal world, we don’t live there; instead the GOP is looking for the details in the smoke. There is literally more concern for the leaks than the information coming out of them and how they implicate Trump and his team.

Trump has led this call of course, wanting to distract from the multitude of problems that are plaguing his administration. He’s generalized the whole issue of leaks down to the fact that they are illegal which is not entirely true. Leaks coming from the White House about its current disheveled state are not illegal if they do not release actual classified documents, although they may be annoying.

The intel leaking from the intelligence agencies is where Trump and Congress can work together to plug the holes in it, but that’s not the issue at hand. A majority of high ranking GOP see leaks concerning possible connections between Trump and a foreign power and their concern is more about where the leaks are coming from than the actual substance.

It makes sense for the GOP to do this, they have a lot of legislation that they have been promising to constituents for most of the Obama years and Trump, for now, seems to have an aligned interest with them. But we are nearly a third of the way through the first hundred days, the apex of presidential political capital and we still have not seen solid legislative proposals, only a few dozen executive orders.

The GOP needs to realize that Congress is on a collision course with Trump. There are inherent checks and balances but Trump is different than most of his predecessors, clearly willing to employ dirty tactics to get what he wants and the dysfunction within the GOP Congress is probably not ready to deal with it.

So You Marched Today

So you marched today. You donned your pink knitted hats and drove to a nearby city or made the trek all the way to DC. You stood in the cold, maybe it was your one hundredth march or your first, but you were still there. You spent the previous night coming up with signs that you carried all day, your voice now sore from shouting.

Now your home, maybe it’s been a couple days and you just got home. You’re tired, you’re hungry, but you still have a burning inside. The inner desire to make things better, to see a country you can be proud to give to your children and their children. Where they do not have to face the same prejudice you or your parent’s faced.

But change never comes quickly, or else it would be lost just as fast. No. Change comes from the blood, sweat, and tears of patriots; those who love their country so much they recognize its flaws and work on improvements, no matter the price of time it will take.

Some may have taken that first step to patriotism today, some may have been doing it their entire life, but from today forward we all recognize this is not the end. This can be the beginning of something bigger, a movement for change, for bettering the country we all call home.

But the dream of an optimistic future rely on the ever-persistent present. A march is good but organizing is better. Talking to people in your community and getting them involved is hard, but it’s what has gotten this march in the first place, and if it can bring this many people together, it can continue to bring change.

So you marched today, you made history, but today is over. Tomorrow we organize. We grab our clipboards, comfortable shoes, and a bottle of water and hit the pavement. It is not glamorous, but in a week or a year or a decade you will look back and realize how much you were capable of and how much more work we all still have left to do.