Saturday, April 15, 2017

April 15, 2017--America First?

Whatever became of America First? Donald Trump's nationalistic view that we have spent too much time worrying about what is going on in the world and not enough on America's needs? The need for more well-paying jobs, the restoration of manufacturing and extraction industries, infrastructure repairs, and sealed borders?

This was expressed legislatively and though the wielding of executive orders to contain immigration, lower taxes, reduce regulations, and of course "fix" the healthcare system.

But now we have Trump reversing himself in many regards very much including turning considerable attention to foreign affairs.

Most dramatically, he had President Xi of China spend two days bonding with him at Mar-a-Lago, sent Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to the G-7 foreign ministers' summit and then on to Moscow for meetings with his Russian counterpart and a two-hour encounter with President Putin. And there was the missile strike against Syria.

And now North Korea appears to be occupying him. He is attempting to get China to "take care of the problem," all the while moving an aircraft carrier and its armada close to North Korean waters.

Usually it is not until their second terms in office that presidents turn their attention to international issues. To polish their legacies. Unless, like Johnson and Nixon they inherit a war. That by definition gets them involved with other countries.

I suspect Trump has shifted his focus off shore because he has come to realize that to concentrate on domestic issues means having to deal day-by-day with Congress. And we know what that means--a nightmare. Even with a Republican majority in both Houses we still have gridlock. At the moment not a bad thing. That's what happened to the campaign promise to "repeal and replace" Obamacare. With this effort collapsing he came to realize that with the domestic agenda there is very little "winning."

So Trump is pivoting, not from one domestic issue to another or compromising about the details of what might (or might not) replace Obamacare or be included in a tax reform package, but he is now shifting his attention from the U.S. to NATO,  China, Russia, North Korea,  and Syria.

It is in the international realm as commander in chief that he can exert virtually unchecked power. In other words, in world affairs he can behave as a CEO. Which is how he regards himself. And it is there, equally important to him, that he can reap the praise of even Democrats and the mainstream media.

He castigates the media, claiming it deals in fake news; but, let's be honest, would he prefer to hear positive things from Fox News or the New York Times?  The answer is a no-brainer.

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