What They Voted For: Swamp

#trumpswindle | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump answers a question during the third presidential debate at University of Nevada Las Vegas, 19 October 2016. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Who: Christina Flom (Roll Call)
What: “Rand Paul on Bolton Appointment: ‘Heaven Forbid'”
When: 15 November 2016

Roll Call brings us up to speed:

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul says that President-elect Donald Trump appointing former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton to his Cabinet would be a major step toward breaking his promise of “changing America’s disastrous foreign policy.”

Rumors that Trump is considering Bolton as Secretary of State prompted Paul to write an op-ed in Rare.us, calling Bolton “part of failed elite that Trump vowed to oppose” ....

.... Paul said no man “is more out of touch” with the Middle East than Bolton and that Bolton is unable to see the mistakes he has made.

“All nuance is lost on the man,” Paul wrote. “The fact that Russia has had a base in Syria for 50 years doesn’t deter Bolton from calling for all out, no holds barred war in Syria. For Bolton, only a hot-blooded war to create democracy across the globe is demanded.”

This is one of those interesting things Republicans do to themselves. The Kentucky also-ran is not without a point, but he’s also Rand Paul, and this is Donald Trump’s Republican Party, now. There really isn’t anything surprising happening, which is a strange thing considering it’s happening at all. Still, though, as Donald Trump continues to undermine pretty much every allegedly respectable reason anyone might have offered in defense of their vote, we should remember that it always was about supremacism and lulz.

Meanwhile, as a reeling political press struggles to find stable footing, it seems fashionably comforting to project a “Civil War” within the Republican Party. While we will, to be certain, witness myriad glittering tensions political and neurotic, the bottom line is that Trump voters, whatever their pretense to the other, were at least okay with the bigotry. As time passes and more and more we find ourselves asking who, really, is surprised at Trump’s appeasement of the conservative establishment, it might also behoove us to take a moment that we might consider the implications of either answer. To the affirmative our retort might be straightforward―How are you surprised?―but no response thereunto can possibly suffice. To the Trump supporter who isn’t surprised, what can we possibly say, other than we kind of suspected the whole time.

Christina Flom closes her Roll Call report reminding of Rudy Giuliani’s support for the Iraq War. Interestingly, Brooke Seipel’s report for The Hill, covering conflict of interest questions shadowing Rudy Giuliani’s potential nomination to the State Department, closes with a paragraph about John Bolton’s role in Iraq. The theme is inescapable; while the New York Times reminds that “change will be complex and costly”, president-elect Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp” also faces a more immediate challenge. The Washington Post reported over the weekend on how “there is little evidence that the president-elect is seeking to restrain wealthy interests from having access to and influence in his administration”, as “donors and lobbyists” are “already shaping” the inchoate Trump administration. Over at Fortune, Brookings Institution fellow Phillip Wallach fashions an Establishment line, that “Trump’s first personnel choices show him trying to strike a sensible balance” between RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and Breitbart publisher Steve Bannon. The key here is the not exactly secret fact that Mr. Bannon is a Goldman Sachs man, and, yes, it really is worth the moment to pause and reflect on all that whining we heard about the firm from Republicans and their supporters over the last eight years; it really was a con.

Then again, theirs are astounding marks, such that one can suggest, as California RNC Committeeman Shawn Steel explained, that the “1% of Wall Street Bankers” were participating in a “massive Left Wing Conspiracy”, and expect they will believe it. And it sounds even better, doesn’t it, given the outcome?

Thus we ought not be surprised to find master establishmentarian Newt Gingrich trying to pad Bannon’s résumé at Goldman Sachs. Yes, really, after all that talk of Goldman Sachs’ pernicious influence, it helps if one is a Republican, to overstate one’s involvement. Dan Primack used the occasion to point out a basic fallacy: “Gingrich seems to believe that having any one of those jobs is de facto proof that one doesn’t consort with white nationalists (it’s not).”

Nor should we pretend astonishment that pollster and Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway could be heard repeating the Goldman Sachs exaggeration the next day. Lobbyists and Wall Street and corruption, oh, my! Remember, as the excuses fall away like cold cinders, what remains; it’s been there the whole time.


Image note: Photo by John Locher/AP Photo.

Cheney, Kyle. “RNC members agree with Trump: It’s rigged”. Politico. 18 October 2016.

Flom, Christina. “Rand Paul on Bolton Appointment: ‘Heaven Forbid'”. Roll Call. 15 November 2016.

Gold, Matea and Tom Hamburger. “Donors and lobbyists already shaping Trump’s ‘drain the swamp’ administration”. The Washington Post. 12 November 2016.

Grim, Ryan and Jonathan Cohn. “Donald Trump Is Setting Up Civil War In The White House With Top Appointments”. The Huffington Post. 13 November 2016.

Kaplan, Fred. “The GOP Civil War Is Just Beginning”. Slate. 15 November 2016.

Nelson, Louis. “Trump allies defend Steve Bannon”. Politico. 14 November 2016.

Primack, Dan. “Steve Bannon Wasn’t a ‘Managing Partner’ at Goldman Sachs” LinkedIn. 14 November 2016.

Seipel, Brooke. “Conflict-of-interest questions dog Giuliani”. The Hill. 15 November 2016.

Shear, Michael D. and Gardiner Harris. “Trump Wants to ‘Drain the Swamp,’ but Change Will Be Complex and Costly”. The New York Times. 10 November 2016.

Wallach, Phillip. “What Trump Can Learn From Jimmy Carter’s Failure to ‘Drain the Swamp'”. Fortune. 15 November 2016.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s