WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office have been marked by an intense tug of war between competing factions in his own White House, pitting his idealistic populist supporters against what Dr. Hunter S. Thompson once called the inevitable “forces of Old and Evil.”
Trump the man, like Trump the candidate, clearly believes in the America First point of view that echoed through the dying industrial Midwest during the campaign, and so his “evolution,” so to speak, on some issues does not reflect a crisis of character. Rather, insiders say, the stress of livid and unrelenting globalist economic interests is pulling him into territory that he did not want to traverse, and that his own personality will only go so far to excuse.
With Democrat Andrew Cuomo lurking in the wings for 2020 — not to mention Elizabeth Warren and even Mark Zuckerberg and his Facebook data — Trump has no leeway to walk the political tightrope that his predecessors tried to navigate. Rather, he must speak directly to his base, re-assuring the proud Deplorables that he is still our Man, and that his dalliances with the Goldman Sachs and neocon establishment are merely for survival, and do not represent the new direction of his administration. His rally in Pennsylvania the night of the upcoming White House Correspondents Dinner will be his chance.
Let’s walk through the areas where the populist nationalist base — as represented by chief White House strategist Steve Bannon — is keeping him true to his word, and the areas where the Establishment — as represented by chief White House economic adviser Gary Cohn — are tugging him back into the comfortable but insular world of New York Democrats.
- Chinese Currency Manipulation. The president recently declined to label China a currency manipulator, despite his frequent campaign-trail promises to hold the Chinese accountable for making their Komatsu tractors so much cheaper than our Caterpillar tractors. Are they helping us? Trump tried to explain away the compromise, tweeting that he won’t target China’s currency devaluation while the Communist country is helping us to deal with the North Korean problem. But his supporters never intended for trade issues to merely serve as a bargaining chip in unrelated foreign policy negotiations. And are the Chinese really helping us with North Korea? The public has seen no evidence. Has Kim Jong Un eaten a poison-flavored cup of Won Ton Soup yet? Any cyanide-coated fortune cookies I don’t know about? North Korean ships are still arriving at Chinese ports, even though China is supposed to have a coal embargo on Un’s rogue state. The China-North Korea axis appears unbroken.
- Hillary Clinton remains a free citizen, despite clearly committing espionage against the United States by using a private email server to conduct personal business with foreign entities as Secretary of State, and allowing classified information to end up in the hands of the Chinese. Trump’s supporters implored him on the trail to “Lock Her Up.” But Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not do so. As the Breitbart lead Hillary Clinton reporter during the election, there is really no issue more pertinent to my own personal safety. That woman is still out there, riding around in cars with black-tinted windows and plotting her next diabolical move. Where are the forces of law and order to protect her enemies?
- Attacking Syria. The strike on Bashar al Assad’s government targets in Syria is not concerning so much because it happened — a few bombs on a tinpot dictator didn’t hurt us — but it raised alarms that Trump might be flipping his foreign policy. The America First crowd rightly believes that Assad is the wrong enemy, and that his removal at the hands of frothing anti-Assad neocons will only embolden ISIS. Let’s be honest about who the rebels are in that country. The rebels are ISIS. Trump’s claim that Barack Obama is the “co-founder of ISIS” stemmed from his belief — which is documented in fact — that Obama actively aided the ancestor groups to ISIS in Iraq. But the controversial claim, made during the campaign, was later walked back by Mike Pence, who blamed Obama for leaving a void of ground troops in Iraq. The easy establishment “void” line became the official campaign talking point, and that’s a scary thing. If Trump calls for a ground invasion of Syria, we will end up in another Iraq-style nation-building experiment that may serve some oil interests. One of those oil interests would be ISIS.
- The president downplayed the role played by Steve Bannon in his campaign, which didn’t bother me so long as it was merely a message to the press that Bannon is not the power broker in the White House over the president. I long cringed at the “President Bannon” memes put out by anti-Trump liberals, and the Bannon TIME cover depicting him as “The Great Manipulator,” which was obviously planted by someone who did not want Steve to be ascendant in the White House. But Trump’s claim that “I didn’t know Steve” before he joined the campaign in August was not accurate, and it offended a lot of populist nationalist supporters who see Bannon as their torchbearer in the fight against Cohn. Luckily, Bannon has a good team around him in the White House, and “Morning Joe” rumors of his political demise were greatly exaggerated.
- Gary Cohn and Dina Powell. Where did they come from? Why are in they in the White House? Remember at the Republican National Convention when Trump supporters booed Ted Cruz off the stage and taunted both Ted and Heidi as they left the arena with chants of “Goldman Sachs,” referring to Heidi’s globalist employer? That was an amazing moment. It solidified the Trump movement once and for all in Cleveland. Why, why, why is Gary Cohn in the White House?
- Steve Bannon is clearly on the sidelines when it comes to climate change, and Ivanka and Jared are running the issue. Bannon and EPA head Scott Pruitt want to get out of the Paris climate deal. Climate change is a weird, conspiratorial game, and its strongest believers serve to drive American business into the ground. The president should not make Obama-style mistakes on this hoax. Limiting pollution is a good thing. It can be done through drilling for natural gas in the United States, fracking, and investing in renewables like nuclear energy. It should not be done in the corridors of delusional European power.
- Obamacare. The last Obamacare replacement bill was a travesty. That the president supported it was mind-boggling. THAT is the point when Trump supporters started getting nervous. Trump still thinks his staff is to blame for not being able to pass the bill through the House Freedom Caucus. That’s nonsense. Trump took a steep dive in the opinion polls among Republicans during that period because he was supporting a terrible bill that did nothing to effectively get rid of Obamacare. Look at the Gravis poll we reported on today: 77 percent of Republicans are sticking with Trump, even though he only has a 27 percent approval rating on his recent Obamacare repeal-and-replace effort. If Trump had just let that bill die along with Paul Ryan’s political fortunes and the hopes of the insurance companies, then his approval rating with Republicans would be a lot higher than 77 percent.
- The biggest issue right now is that the president is not talking directly to us. He is not appealing to us and trying to explain, in the terminology of his revolutionary populist campaign, why he’s compromising on some of these issues. He is not telling us why he has Gary Cohn in the White House. He is not telling us why Attorney General Jeff Sessions is determined to prosecute Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, who helped Trump during the campaign. Assange’s interests aligned with those of Trump supporters during the campaign against Hillary Clinton, so Trump supporters fell in love with the embassy-dwelling publisher. Thus, Trump supporters see the Assange issue as another flip-flop made at the behest of the globalists. It is time for Trump to tap back into his campaign energy, hit the trail in Pennsylvania, and tell us directly what is going on with all of these issues.
The Trump movement was a great American comedy, in the best sense of that term. We were the ragtag band of misfits rising up against the bad guys. We were the Indians in “Major League,” the cadets in “Police Academy,” the Deltas in “Animal House,” making a mess of Hillary Clinton’s pristine cafeteria and not fully expecting that we were ever going to win. But we did win. And the movement continues. We identify ourselves now as “Trump supporters.” We identify ourselves as Deplorables. We identify ourselves around the common-man rallying theme: MAGA.
This movement will be there for the president as he takes on the behind-the-scenes interests pulling him in the wrong direction. But the president cannot do it himself, behind closed doors, and let Fake News trickle out that merely confuses his admirers. He needs to get back out there on the stump, look us in the eyes, and tell us: “Listen, guys. You won’t BELIEVE what I’ve been going through recently. Let me tell you all about it….”