Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Trump tweets, GOP retreats, and the mainstream media get suckered again

If you were watching CNN you might have gotten the impression that the Republicans’ vote to scuttle the House of Representatives ethics office was reversed because of Donald Trump’s tweets in opposition. The NY Times has a long version of that story, House Republicans, Under Fire, Back Down on Gutting Ethics Office. However, a careful reading of the coverage of that vote and its subsequent reversal will show that the real pressure against the Republicans’ action came from inside the their own party and from their own constituents’ outrage.

Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the majority leader — who, along with Speaker Paul D. Ryan, had opposed the proposal — lobbed a pointed question at his fellow Republicans, according to two people present: Had they campaigned on repealing the Affordable Care Act, or tinkering with an ethics office? Minutes later, members emerged to say the changes had been scrapped.

[The GOP] resolve crumbled Tuesday morning, as thousands of phone calls flooded lawmakers’ offices and both conservative and liberal ethics groups issued statements condemning the vote. …

Note, please, that the two House GOP leaders were not condemning the anti-ethics action. They, along with Trump’s tweets, just complained about the priorities.

AZBlueMeanie places this fiasco in the larger context of Trump’s conflicts of interest and those of his cabinet picks, Filling the swamp: a preview of things to come. That is point #1. The mainstream media, AZBlueMeanie also observes, have learned nothing from their horrible reporting in 2016. We’ll start there and return to point #1 later.

Charles Pierce at Esquire, as well as other pundits, have noted that Trump “isn’t condemning the House’s action. He’s just saying that it looks lousy and that they should have waited until later to do it. If you get fooled into thinking he’s expressing opposition, you’re just the sucker he’s looking for.”

Those “suckers” are our mainstream corporate media, as Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo points out in this post. A Clarifying Lesson:

This should be a clarifying lesson: most of the establishment press will reflexively credit Trump for things he has nothing to do with. We’ve seen that with the repeated claims of credit for saving or creating jobs which were usually announced months before. It’s classic Lucy’s football. There’s always news a day or two later about how it’s not true. But they run with it each time. Now we see the same with the House GOP caving and CNN, WaPo, Politico, AP and all the bigs saying they gave in when Trump tweeted his equivocal disapproval. That is pretty clearly not the case.

Marshall’s case is most evident in the AP report carried by the Daily Star this morning, Trump tweets and GOP retreats on ethics panel. For example:

The episode, coming even before the new Congress was convened and lawmakers were sworn in, was a powerful illustration of the sway Trump may hold over his party in a Washington that will be fully under Republican control for the first time in a decade. GOP lawmakers who have felt unfairly targeted by the ethics office had defied their own leaders with their initial vote to neuter the body, but once Trump weighed in they backpedaled immediately.

Now we can get back to the Meanie’s broader point.

Unless Donald Trump divests himself of his business holdings before he becomes president he will be in violation of the Constitution when he takes the oath of office. Donald Trump’s multiple conflicts-of-interest and the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.

At least Donald Trump’s cabinet picks will have to disclose their financial information — eventually, unless the Tea-Publican Congress follows the advice of Newt Gingrich and changes the ethics laws, something they just demonstrated that they are willing to do.

As the Blue Meanie concludes, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” We will witness how one-party rule corrupts absolutely.

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