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6 Months of Trump, 6 Lessons Learned

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Bob Burnett       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   No comments

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After six months of the Donald Trump presidency, we know what to expect going forward. We've learned six lessons.

1.Trump lies all the time: Going into the election we knew that Trump lies at an astounding rate -- typically more than one lie per day -- but after January 20th some of us nurtured the hope that Donald would begin acting more presidential. No way.

Trump may go incommunicado for a day or two , but then he will unleash a barrage of misstatements, distortions, and outright falsehoods -- usually via twitter. On July 26, The Washington Post posted a headline, " 26 hours, 29 Trumpian False or Misleading Claims."

Writing in Mother Jones, Denise Clifton ( http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/08/trump-nonstop-lies/ ) mused that while Trump's "chronic duplicity" may be the consequence of a severe psychological disorder, "the 45th president's stream of lies echoes a contemporary form of Russian propaganda known as the 'Firehose of Falsehood'." Clifton wrote:

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In 2016, the nonpartisan research organization RAND released a study of messaging techniques seen in [Russian-controlled] media. The researchers described two key features: "high numbers of channels and messages" and "a shameless willingness to disseminate partial truths or outright fictions."

Whether Trump lies because he's adopted a Russian tactic or because he's mentally ill, his chronic duplicity is having serious consequences for American political discourse. Many voters don't know who to believe; they can't discern "fake news." As a result there's unparalleled polarization: voters who trust Trump and the majority who don't.

Trump's conduct riles up legitimate news outlets, such as Mother Jones and The Washington Post, and they report negatively on Trump, which feeds his paranoia, causing him to lash out.

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2. The Trump Administration leaks: Viewed from the Left Coast, the Washington culture thrives on gossip and insider information. Nonetheless, the Trump era has seen an unusual number of leaks.

Trump supporters blame this on the dark state -- the national security state -- and the liberal media -- such as Mother Jones and The Washington Post -- whom they believe are out to get Trump. There's some truth to this suspicion because once Trump entered office, he blasted both groups.

But there's another explanation: Trump has an unusually abrasive personality and a lot of Washington insiders don't like him. He lashes out and they respond by leaking.

Whatever the cause, the leaks are likely to continue, which will contribute to Trump's paranoia.

3. Trump only cares about Trump. After the election, there was a brief interval where some Americans thought, "I didn't vote for Trump, but whether I like it or not, he's the President and I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt." That period is over. The nation is divided between those who support the President (roughly one-third of the electorate) and those who do not (two-thirds of the electorate).

Since January 20th, Trump has made no attempt to reach out to those who either did not vote for him or did so reluctantly. He only talks to his base.

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And he's used his office to benefit his business interests.

4. Trump hasn't gotten the job done. In an August 7th tweet, Trump said his base supports him because of the "record Stock Market, border security, military strength, jobs, Supreme Court pick, economic enthusiasm, deregulation & so much more."

Trump tries to take credit for the booming stock market and the generally positive financial news, but a case can be made that these are carryovers from the Obama Administration. On the tweeted list, the only event that Trump was directly involved in was the selection of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.

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Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. In a previous life he was one of the executive founders of Cisco Systems.

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