Sheer Incompetence Plus Venality: Trump’s Landscape

Somewhere in the midst of my barely controlled anger over the treatment of Dr. Ford by the current administration and my propensity not to let go of a bone previously gnawed, I’m reaching the conclusion that the Oval Office is a dismal domain of sheer incompetence combined with utter venality, mixed with a pattern of responses to critical news.

A brief review — Dr. Ford offered credible testimony indicating Judge Kavanaugh engaged in reprehensible acts as a young man.  There is corroborating testimony, not necessarily to the actual event in question in all its detail, but to the character of the man, and to the likelihood that her allegations are possibly true, and importantly that Judge Kavanaugh has certainly been less than forthcoming about various aspects of his character.

Another brief review — Christopher Steele, British author and former MI6 agent, was so concerned about activities involving the Trump campaign and the Russians that he compiled his information into memos and relayed the information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in July and October of 2016.  His opposition research was originally contracted by a conservative organization in 2015, and later picked up by DNC/Clinton Campaign in the Spring of 2016.

Yet another brief review — The New York Times runs a compendious article about the Trump fortune which should demolish any mythology surrounding the 45th president concerning the origin of his putative fortune.  No, he didn’t get a small loan from his father; he got several large loans from his father many of which were forgiven.  No, he is not a successful tycoon, his father had to bail him out of not one but several financial disasters.

What do these have in common? First, they are both uncomfortable topics for the current administration. Secondly, there’s a pattern in the administration’s responses.  No sooner does the information begin to emerge than the response is to discredit the source.  Dr. Ford can’t remember all the details of her traumatic evening, therefore the description must not be completely reliable. If it is not totally reliable then the Judge must be innocent before proven guilty, as if a job interview for a judgeship is a matter for criminal prosecution.  Christopher Steel’s memos cannot all the verified, therefore all of his assertions and descriptions in his reporting must be suspect; none can be accepted until all can be demonstratively proven.  The information in the NY Times article is “old news, and a hit piece,”  except that there is ‘news’ in the account.

Once the seed is planted discrediting the source it’s time to play the verbiage game.  It’s time to spin the narrative wheel and see where the needle lands?   The administration is fond of prefacing any commentary related to the Steele memos as “debunked.”  They’ve hardly been debunked, in fact most of the allegations contained in the memos have been verified.  Only the Pee Tape mythology remains illusive.  However, here we see the pattern again — if something cannot be 100% nailed down and documented the entirety of the assertions and allegations must be dismissed out of hand.

The administration would tell us that Dr. Ford’s description of Judge Kavanaugh’s behavior cannot be verified, but its own haste to conduct a “supplemental” background check left out so many avenues of possible verification the “check” part of the sentence remains vague to the point of vacuity.

The Oval Office would have us believe the NY Times financial article, so lengthy it required more paper for the print edition, was a rehash of old accusations.  In actuality it’s a careful, meticulous rendition of the tax scams, shady dealing, and intra-familial self dealing which enabled the current resident of 1600 PA Avenue to claim — without a bit of substantiation — he is a self made billionaire.  Far from being the brilliant businessman, Trump is more likely the stumbling fool who paid too much for the New Jersey Generals, and managed to bankrupt a casino business.

Here’s what I believe we can reasonably expect:

(1) The pattern will continue, if only because the Administration is so spectacularly inept.  Little wonder things like the Kavanaugh nomination, the first Muslim Ban, the Immigration Zero Tolerance plan, and other action blow up in their faces.  The actions are ill considered, incompletely thought out, and incompetently implemented.  This is a recipe for a debacle in any forum.

(2) The pattern will continue as long as reporting plays along with the talking points game.  Adding “debunked” to the Steele memos doesn’t mean that most of them weren’t straight on point.  Adding “unsubstantiated” to Dr. Ford’s testimony doesn’t mean her story is any less generally credible.  Adding “old news hit piece” to the New York Times reporting doesn’t mean it doesn’t shed considerable light on the financial machinations of the Trump family, and Donald J Trump in particular.

Thus when we begin with sheer incompetence, ineptly implementing fundamentally flawed policy from the most venal perspective possible, it’s no accident we are in for a bombardment of reactions tailored to discredit the sources, over-generalize the message, and under-evaluate any underlying veracity.   Given the nature of sheer incompetence this is about all we can come to expect.

What is interesting is to watch politicians like Adam Laxalt and Dean Heller try to anchor their campaigns on the shifting shingle beaches of the Trump landscape littered with venality, incompetence, and bombast.

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