Dana Milbank

The Laughingstock

#AmercianPrestige | #WhatTheyVotedFor

United States President Donald Trump reacts to being laughed at during a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, 25 September 2018. (Image credit: CNN)

Some remind there is an audience of one. And it is not unheard of to suggest that the tone is set at the top. These points are not exclusive of one another. Steve Benen, for instance, notes:

... just as odd was Haley’s explanation for diplomats laughing at Donald Trump during his remarks to the General Assembly yesterday.

United States ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley speaks during a United Nations Security Council meeting on the situation in Myanmar at UN Headquarters in New York, 28 August 2018. (Photo by Dominick Reuter/AFP/Getty Images)UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said Wednesday that world leaders who laughed during President Donald Trump’s speech to the United Nations did so because “they loved how honest he is.” […]”They love that he’s honest with them and they’ve never seen anything like it, so there’s respect there,” she said. “I saw that the media was trying to make it something disrespectful. That’s not what it was. They love to be with him.”

Look, I realize people in the president’s orbit feel the need to be sycophantic toward him, if for no other reason than to protect their job security. This is especially true when it comes to officials appearing on “Fox and Friends”—a program Trump has been known to effectively live-tweet.Haley must’ve known that her boss was watching, so she wasn’t in a position to be candid about foreign diplomats’ opinions of the controversial American leader.But that hardly justifies the ambassador’s rhetoric.

There is a certain obvious point to be made; the one and only Dana Milbank headlines the highlight, that President Donald J. Trump “is the laughingstock of the world”. (more…)

Advertisements

What Mitch Made

#unprincipledleadership | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY; left), walks with President-elect Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol for a meeting, 10 November 2016, in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

There is the saying about how we Americans will get around to doing the right thing eventually; it is usually a begrudging concession, that we have no remaining alternatives or excuses. Perhaps a better way of looking at it is that, generally speaking, we do not actually intend the harm we cause. Or maybe not; at some point, pleading stupidity over and over again is the sort of ritual that breeds resentment. Among Americans. Toward everyone else. Because how dare you say you’re smarter than we are every time we say how were we supposed to know.

Or, y’know … something like that.

Oh, hey, Steve Benen, ladies and gentlemen:

The Timesarticle added that McConnell has privately marveled at Trump’s unwillingness “to learn the basics of governing.” The Senate GOP leader has also “expressed a sense of bewilderment about where Mr. Trump’s presidency may be headed.”

McConnell’s concerns are obviously grounded in fact, and on the surface, it’s tempting to feel some sympathy for him. But it’s important not to lose sight of the senator’s role in making the mess he finds himself in the middle of.

Like Dr. Frankenstein, McConnell created a monster he thought he could control, only to discover he doesn’t care for the results.

His quiet, unassuming demeanor notwithstanding, Mitch McConnell has spent many years taking a sledgehammer to American political norms. The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank argued persuasively in April that the Kentucky Republican effectively “broke America.” The columnist added, “No man has done more in recent years to undermine the functioning of U.S. government. His has been the epitome of unprincipled leadership”.

(more…)

Not Exactly Encouraging

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., pauses as he speaks about foreign policy during the John Hay Initiative, Monday, Sept. 28,2015, at a hotel in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

Ladies and gentlemen, Dana Milbank:

Kevin McCarthy is about to ascend to the highest office in the House of Representatives and become second in line to the presidency.

But there is a problem: The speaker-apparent apparently still can’t speak.

You know, you might think it a cheap setup, and, well, maybe it is, but the Washington Post column has something of a Be Sharps ring about it: This one writes itself. No, really. It does.

I have been tracking the California Republican’s valiant but often unsuccessful struggles with the English language for some time now, and I was alarmed to watch him lose another round on Monday during a foreign-policy speech to the John Hay Initiative, a new outfit of the neo-conservative bent.

“If I look at history of where we are it seems a lot like 1979,” McCarthy informed his audience in the ballroom of Washington’s St. Regis hotel.

“We must engage this war of radical Islam if our life depended on it because it does,” he opined.

And, yes, like a rock on a heap of two-bit proverbs, it only goes downhill from there.

Almost indescribably. The column could easily be just a string of quotes, but at some point Milbank is obliged to cut away for some commentary: (more…)

The Worst Speaker of the House of Representatives Ever

U.S. Capitol building at dusk on a winter's eve. (Photo credit: Peterson)

Ladies and gentlemen, the worst Speaker of the House of Representatives ever:

CNN’s Dana Bash asked Boehner whether he is concerned that, if he passes a Homeland Security bill without the immigration provisions, “it will be the end of your speakership.”

Unredited photo of Speaker of the House John Boehner.“I’m waiting for the Senate to act,” Boehner replied.

Bash persisted: But was he concerned about a rebellion in his own ranks?

“I’m waiting for the Senate to pass a bill.”

NBC’s Luke Russert asked him why he hadn’t spoken with his Senate counterpart, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), in two weeks.

Boehner reiterated his position that “we’re waiting for the Senate to act.”

Politico’s Jake Sherman asked what he thought about the merits of McConnell’s plan to split the immigration issue from the funding of DHS.

“I’m waiting for the Senate to pass a bill,” Boehner repeated.

Will Congress avoid a government shutdown?

“I’m waiting for the Senate to act.”

Boehner began to walk away. “Do you think the Senate should act?” Bash teased.

The speaker gave a brave smile.

Yet perhaps the funniest line in Dana Milbank’s column goes to the author himself: “So the House speaker is leading from behind.”

This is more a convention of politics than anything else, a stab at Republican rhetoric about President Obama leading from the front or back in various crises domestic and international.

After all, nobody can justly call Boehner’s approach “leadership”.

And perhaps it is worth noting that the headline, “John Boehner, waiting for the punch” appears to be a second choice. Observing the online version address, it would seem the original headline was, “John Boehner is a spectator at his own hanging”.

____________________

Milbank, Dana. “John Boehner, waiting for the punch”. The Washington Post. 25 February 2015.

Almost Unbelievable

Detail of cartoon by Monte Wolverton for The Cagle Post, 22 February 2015.

Mr. Walker likes to present himself as a man of courage, based on his record in Wisconsin, but maybe facing down public-sector unions doesn’t tell you all that much about the bravery of a Republican governor. On two occasions in recent days, he has proved himself incapable of saying basic truths that might offend some of his potential voters: First, that evolution is real, and second, that an honorable politician criticizes his opponent’s policies, not his patriotism.

The Washington Post

This is an ugly tale.

Indeed, a personal barometer of any given political news story is what we might refer to as the “GMA Test”α. That is to say, when last week’s news percolates to get a mention on Good Morning America, one might rest assured that the story has arrived. Whether or not anyone will care is an entirely separate question, but there is more going on here than just Rudy Giuliani being an idiot, or Scott Walker a coward.

For instance, there is Bobby Jindal, who wants to one-up them both.

But let us start with the basic outline, from Dana Milbank of the Washington Post:

As the world now knows, Giuliani, the former New York mayor, said at a dinner featuring Walker, the Wisconsin governor, that “I do not believe that the president loves America.” According to Politico, Giuliani said President Obama “wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up, through love of this country.”

And Walker, just a few seats away, said . . . nothing. Asked the next morning on CNBC about Giuliani’s words, the Republican presidential aspirant was spineless: “The mayor can speak for himself. I’m not going to comment on what the president thinks or not. He can speak for himself as well. I’ll tell you, I love America, and I think there are plenty of people — Democrat, Republican, independent, everyone in between — who love this country.”

But did he agree with Giuliani? “I’m in New York,” Walker demurred. “I’m used to people saying things that are aggressive out there.”

This is what’s alarming about the Giuliani affair. There will always be people on the fringe who say outrageous things (and Giuliani, once a respected public servant, has sadly joined the nutters as he questioned the president’s patriotism even while claiming he was doing no such thing). But to have a civilized debate, it’s necessary for public officials to disown such beyond-the-pale rhetoric. And Walker failed that fundamental test of leadership.

Something about ugly goes here.

(more…)

More on King v. Burwell

The Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.

A thematic question: At this point, how is it still a question?

There is a bit somewhere in a book about the Universe asserting what seems nearly circular, that we know what we know is right because it is what we know. That is, of course, an insufficient paraphrase, a memory of how the point felt, but it is also true that if what we think we know is that wrong, there would be no satellite communications. Try a simpler version. If you know a football coach, test a proposition; there is only so long one can hear people say a professional athlete “sucks”. Not a good day, maybe in a larger slump, but you don’t distill in the process and elevate to that valence if you suck. One might think similar things of, say top-tier electoral politics, but no, it doesn’t work that way. It is supposed to, or so we might imagine, except Sarah Palin was nominated to run for vice-president once upon a time, and we all watched Mitt Romney’s disastrously ill-executed campaign for the presidency in two years ago.α

Certes, such comparisons are notoriously vague, but here is the theme: At some point, we cannot maintain confidence if certain properties remain variable and unresolved; if questions of a particular nature and context remain in effect, how is the larger paradigm expected to function at a given valence?

Or perhaps we should simply start with standing. A juristic context. We considered the issue briefly, yesterday, but something about awestruck disbelief seems to have gotten the better of us.

Point being that one might wonder how standing could remain a potentially affecting question when a case reaches the Supreme Court.

Just sayin’.

However, Louise Radnofsky and Brent Kendall bring the question back to focus for The Wall Street Journal:

One of the plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case against the Affordable Care Act listed a short-term-stay motel as her address when she joined the lawsuit, potentially calling into question her basis for suing.

Rose Luck is among four plaintiffs suing the Obama administration to eliminate tax credits under the law that make health insurance cheaper for millions of Americans. They say the wording of the 2010 law allows consumers to tap the credits only in states that run their own insurance exchanges, and not their home state of Virginia, which is one of as many as 37 states that use the federal enrollment system.

And at this point it’s easy enough to make a point about how this sort of technicality shouldn’t matter; after all, the case has survived, anyway, and has achieved SCOTUS valence.

(more…)

Your Republican Party (Twenty-First Century Edition)

The American conundrum: Too stupid for freedom?

So … right. And then there’s this:

A Republican candidate seeking to represent Georgia’s 10th U.S. House district believes that the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty does not apply to followers of Islam.

“Although Islam has a religious component, it is much more than a simple religious ideology,” Rev. Jody Hice wrote in his 2012 book It’s Now Or Never, according to Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It is a complete geo-political structure and, as such, does not deserve First Amendment protection.”

(Dolan)

Laugh it up, fuzzball, but you do realize, this keeps happening?

And, it should be noted, Hice goes on and on. One of his best lines would seem to be, “This is not a tolerant, peaceful religion even though some Muslims are peaceful.” Indeed, it is evident in his own words that he defines Islam according to the adjective radical:

“This is not a tolerant, peaceful religion even though some Muslims are peaceful. Radical Muslims believe that Sharia is required by God and must be imposed worldwide. It’s a movement to take over the world by force. A global caliphate is the objective.”

Ladies and gentlemen, your Republican Party.

(more…)

Something About Dana Milbank

One of the most entertaining, yet simultaneously most stupidly dangerous, maneuvers in news and commentary media is trying to make a point while pretending to offer serious analysis. The obvious response to Dana Milbank’s incendiary, idiotic reflection on the U.S. Senate is to simply shrug and wonder why The Washington Post consents to publish such trash.

It would be nice to say: Okay, Dana, you’re on: If you’re wrong, will you quit your job at WaPo and never write political commentary again? Except, of course, we can’t expect that kind of integrity from Milbank, and, quite truthfully, we shouldn’t.

He’s not actually a reporter, or even an “opinion writer”, anymore. He is a craftsman of sorts, though, scrawling out columns that, hopefully, will attract readers and get his newspaper some attention.

Dana Milbank“Congress is broken,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday before holding a party-line vote that disposed of rules that have guided and protected the chamber since 1789.

If Congress wasn’t broken before, it certainly is now. What Reid (Nev.) and his fellow Democrats effectively did was take the chamber of Congress that still functioned at a modest level and turn it into a clone of the other chamber, which functions not at all. They turned the Senate into the House.

Right. Whatever you say, Dana. Because a Senate chamber in which the Minority Leader filibusters his own bill, freshman backbenchers stage a coup in the House of Representatives, power players boast of their bad faith, and Republicans flee their own policies because it’s more important to bring the president to failure than actually serve the nation isn’t already a macabre exercise in dysfunction and futility.

(more…)