Saturday, April 18, 2020

Remarkable Political Judo

I was talking about this with my wife last night, and I think Brit Hume gets it exactly right. I told my wife, Trump is leaving Blue State governors--the governors of virtually all the most hard hit states--holding the bag. If they had played as federalist style team players with the POTUS, Trump would have welcomed them with open arms. But they were playing a different game, a dishonorable one, and now Trump has positioned himself as the one who wants to reopen America and the governors--as is proper--will have to make the tough decisions. Trump will still be there to help them, but they'll need to play his game if they don't want to carry the sole blame for anything that goes wrong. If they try to continue playing a "Blame Trump First" game, their voters will see through it.

Here's how Brit Hume puts it:

When POTUS claimed — incorrectly — that he had absolute power to reopen the country, there were cries of “authoritarian,” and “constitutional crisis.” Now that he’s largely leaving up to governors, he’s putting the “onus” on them, or the “burden” on them.

Will Chamberlain has a pretty good article at American Conservative on how this is working out: Trump’s Plan to Reopen the Economy is the Right One. Chamberlain touches on a number of important issues but concludes with the political considerations:

Moreover, the president’s plan isn’t just epidemiologically sound; it’s politically astute. As a matter of constitutional law, President Trump does not have “total authority” to force states to re-open or remain closed; state-level directives are rooted in the police power, which the federal government does not possess. Showdowns with state governors would leave the president on the legal and political low ground: if the President were to order, say, Gavin Newsom to re-open California, Newsom would have both the power and the political incentive to resist. That would leave the president looking impotent, and Newsom looking like an even more attractive 2024 presidential contender. Conversely, if he were to order the state of North Dakota to stay closed against its governor’s wishes, he would fail, and needlessly agitate his base.
A savvy politician, the president likely grasps this troublesome dynamic and has decided to stay above the fray, issuing guidelines rather than heavy-handed orders. That is the correct move. It’s not time to re-open the entire economy, nor is it time for a heavy-handed, universal federal lockdown. It’s time to beat the virus, in a way that makes sense–and our country’s governors are best positioned to do that.

Trump's guidelines are common sensical. It will now be up to the governors--again, mostly of Blue States--to explain to their voters what they're doing, or not doing. That adds an interesting dynamic going into the 2020 elections. Dems will need to concentrate heavily on the bluest of Blue states, with fewer resources to spare for swing states.


  1. Media and Dem politicians are so knee-jerk oppositional that Trump is using their automatic tendency against them to get what he wants in the end. They could read his "Art of the Deal" if they wanted to understand him, but they'd rather oppose him than understand him.

    Also, if any of these cretins understood Machiavelli--the historic Machiavelli, not the hackneyed cliché of Machiavellian, or had read Shakespeare's Henry V, they'd understand the method.

    Frankly, if they'd read and understood any books on modern leadership, where you get subordinates to adopt, endorse your position/idea/preference choice as if they'd come up with it on their own, under the rubric of "pride of authorship," they'd have a clue to how Trump operates.

    At a minimum, you'd think they'd know Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals" as Trump beats them over the head with their own rule book. Hell, Hillary Rodham wrote her baccalaureate thesis on Alinsky.

    Instead, we've watched for 3-1/2 years, marveling at how Trump exposes media and Dems as fools--all the while they're certain Trump is the clueless one.

    1. This:

      "we've watched for 3-1/2 years, marveling at how Trump exposes media and Dems as fools--all the while they're certain Trump is the clueless one."

  2. I always thought Trump's proclamations that only he could open the country were one enormous head-fake. He is lucky to have such stupid opponents--I saw this a mile away. His blue state political opponents could not help but squeal "orange man bad" when Trump said he would control the opening .

    Trump knows that everything he says and does will be called wrong by his opponents, so he gave the impression he was going to do the opposite of what he actually planned. Complaints that Trump "passed the buck" by giving these governors the power to open up their states ring so hollow after they claimed Trump would be abusing his power if he did it on his own.

    Trump's opponents are so predictable and their failure so complete that to this day they continue to play their roles without drawing attention to Trump's obvious play on them.

    1. "Trump's opponents ... continue to play their roles"

      You'd almost think he could retire and start his own TV show. I bet it'd be a big hit.

    2. -->one enormous head-fake

      I didn't read any of the reporting when it was reported that Trump claimed...well, something.

      Reporting on Trump is almost universally wrong. It's misquoted, out of context, or a complete misunderstanding because media imposes their agenda. If you wait a day or two, you'll see how it plays out. It's either another big nothing burger, or Trump prevails in some manner, as here with re-opening.

      He's got the media and Dems defending Communist China and constitutional federalism in nearly the same breath!

    3. So true. I *think* Trump knew when he said "I have the ultimate authority" the Dems would react, mindlessly, to assert their own authority over their own States, and would then *own* their COVID situations. Trump has been like a puppeteer during the COVID crisis.

    4. I never thought a President could be so much fun to watch! “Head fake”? You betcha. Those uppity governors really put him in his place, right? :-) We’re watching The Master at work…and he’s ours.

  3. This blog posts touches on this ...

    1. Oh! That'll take a while to digest, but I will. Tx.

  4. Many like minds on this one. I hate sounding like a know-it-all, but it suddenly dawned on me a couple of days ago, when I started seeing that the President was “relenting” and letting the individual governors make the decision(s) for their individual states, and the administration would only put out “guidelines approved by the medical task force and the reopening task force”, that he was setting them up for what they fear most: responsibility. They have to make their decision(s), The buck now stops with them. They cannot blame President Trump.Merde!

    If it wasn’t so serious, I’d be rolling on the floor, laughing. He is more adept than Lucy with her football…

    God bless him!