Saturday, February 4, 2017

Can the Trump team learn from mistakes?

Following up on the last post about everything going wrong for the Trump team, the question becomes:  "Can the Trump team learn from mistakes?":  Here are a couple of examples:

1.  "Voter Fraud:"  During the campaign, when it seemed he was going to lose, Trump began saying that the election is rigged.   Then he won, and there was no more talk about rigged elections . . .  until people kept talking about him losing the popular vote to Clinton.   Now Trump does not like to lose, even when it doesn't really count.  So he concocted the story about the 2 to 3 million "illegal voters" that voted for Clinton and robbed him of the popular vote majority, which would have been his too.

That kept his spirits up for a while . . . until some smart ass brought up this point:  If he's really so concerned about voter fraud, why isn't he demanding an investigation of what would be a major, major scandal:   millions of illegal voters?? . . . UNTIL it came out that the "evidence" wasn't about illegal voting at all.

It was about people being registered to vote in more than one state, because they had moved,  but not actually voting more than once.   And further we learned that among those multi-registered citizens were:  Trump daughter Tiffany, son-in-law Jared, strategist Steve Bannon, press secretary Sean Spicer, and Sec. of Treasury Steve Mnuchin.   Then later we learned that the guy who started it all, by misinterpreting a study of the inefficiency of updating voter registration lists,  is himself registered in three states.

The Trump team went silent on this subject (after his Jan 25 promise of a major investigation of illegal voting) . . . UNTIL now when a senior administration official told CNN the investigation could happen in the future, but it is no longer a priority.

Now, please, everybody.   Let's just keep quiet about this.   If our temperamental, sensitive  commander in chief feels criticized for not keeping his promise to investigate, he might feel compelled to revive the faux investigation, after all.

Lesson to be leaned:   Don't just leap on what looks politically useful.  Have somebody smart look into the facts before you leap.  Remember that there is a lot of fake news out there;  we all have to learn to be more discerning, including the president.

2.  Some traditions are good:   Trump came into office determined to clean house, simplify procedures, and to force the complex institution to do things his way.   He would ignore tradition and tear down procedures that had developed over generations because they work.   Now some may no longer be the best for the current times, and they should evolve.   But Trump is not a slow evolutionist;   he is a do-it-now and do-it-my way kind of egomaniacal dictator by nature.  Examples of his bypassing usual, wise procedure abound;  I will focus on two that haven't worked out too well.

     a.  Vetting of appointees:  The head of the Ethics board that ordinarily vets prospective high level appointees, like cabinet secretaries, has revealed that the Trump transition team rebuffed the Ethics Board trying to advise them.   Thus some of these nominees who are running into trouble in their hearings over conflicts of interest, or investments, etc. were not vetted for ethical concerns.    The usual procedure is to have ethics screening before names are even mentioned, in order to avoid such embarrassments later.   The Trump team did not do this.

     b.  National Security decisions:  Trump boasted early in the campaign that he knew more about the Middle East than the generals, thus signalling that he had little respect for military expertise.  That has already turned out to be a problem.   As background evidence is being pieced together about this recent failed Navy Seal raid in Yemen, it seems that the final decision to put the plan into effect was done rather casually over dinner with Bannon and Jared Kushner -- and it's not clear at this point whether any military input or advice was even asked for.   They didn't seem to realize that a plan devised weeks ago under the Obama administration couldn't just be put into play without careful consideration of more up to date conditions on the ground, which had apparently changed since the original planning by the Obama team.

Lesson to be learned:   Experts are there for a reason, and they should be listened to.   The reason is that they do know more, they have experience, and they are trained to think analytically and to consider multiple factors, which you, Mr. Trump, are not.

Maybe, since he's a TV person, watching a few episodes of "The West Wing" or "Madame Secretary" would give him an idea of the seriousness with which such things are usually handled in the Situation Room.


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