The President’s Pakistan Tweet

POTUS decided to start the New Year by insulting Pakistan over Twitter.

Trump TwitterPOTUS started the New Year with Pakistan on his mind:

Now, Pakistan has long been a complicated and imperfect ally to the United States. But, it is also an extremely important partner in a highly volatile region. Just look at a map of the region. Note the proximity to Afghanistan (the US military actions in Afghanistan would have been impossible without Pakistan’s help).  Further note proximity to Iran, India, China, etc. and then consider the strategic implications that significant damage to our relationship with Pakistan would create.

This is further evidence that the president has no grasp of foreign policy nor of global politics.  The real likelihood is that this tweet is a reaction to something he heard from some talking head on Fox News or from one of the ideologically-driven, alternative “news” sources he has been known to cite.

And, not surprisingly, the tweet has upset the Pakistani government.

Via Reuters:   Pakistan summons the US ambassador in protest after Trump’s angry tweet.

Pakistan summoned the U.S. ambassador in protest against U.S. President Donald Trump’s angry tweet about Pakistan’s “lies and deceit,” while Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif dismissed the outburst as a political stunt.

Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Tuesday will chair a cabinet meeting that will focus on Trump’s tweet, while on Wednesday the country’s top civilian and military chiefs will meet to discuss deteriorating U.S. ties.

I would not suggest that the US-Pakistani relationship is perfect, but it is utterly irresponsible to create a public confrontation of this nature.  It will not solve the existing problems, but indeed could deepen them.  It is pointless, immature, and ignorant.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, US Politics, World Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Pete S says:

    Well, for those of use hoping the president’s New Year’s resolution was to stop doing stupid crap, there is always 2019.




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  2. As I noted yesterday on Twitter, as long as the United States is in Afghanistan and intent on rooting out the remnants of al Qaeda that remain there and often slip across the border into Pakistan, we need cooperation from the Pakistanis. This is especially true given Trump’s decision to send additional forces to Afghanistan to supplement the forces already there.

    Openly attacking the Pakistanis, under those circumstances, would be exceedingly stupid. In other words, something Trumpian.




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  3. becca says:

    Uh-oh.

    James Pearce is NOT going to be pleased that Pakistan is taking tRump’s tweet seriously.




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  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Pakistan has long been a complicated and imperfect ally to the United States.

    Name an ally that we don’t have a complicated and imperfect relationship with.

    It is pointless, immature, and ignorant.

    Ergo, bound to happen with trump.




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  5. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Foreign Policy dictated by Fox News taking heads.
    What could possibly go wrong???




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  6. CSK says:

    @becca:

    This is indeed a perfect illustration of why we can’t ignore Trump’s Tweets, as James Pearce advises us to do.




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  7. CSK says:

    Speaking of Twitter and Trump, he just Tweeted congratulations to himself for the fact that there were no commercial aviation disasters in 2017.




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  8. James Pearce says:

    More kayfabe. Minister Asif gets it: “Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif dismissed the outburst as a political stunt.”

    He really, really gets it:

    “He has tweeted against us (Pakistan) and Iran for his domestic consumption,” Asif told Geo TV on Monday.

    Will Trump’s tweet ruin Pakistan’s relationship with the US?

    Relations between the United States and its uneasy ally Pakistan have been strained for many years over Islamabad’s alleged support for Haqqani network militants, who are allied with the Afghan Taliban.

    Remember that time the president sent Navy Seals into Pakistan to kill the international terrorist they were harboring? I imagine that was more detrimental to the Pakistan-US relationship than a tweet from the Tangerine Twatwaffle.

    And what about that aid package?

    The foreign minister again:

    “Asif added that Pakistan did not need U.S. aid.”

    How is this not kayfabe?




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  9. Franklin says:

    It’s another unnecessary demonstration of Trump’s immaturity, but I doubt his attempt to ‘shame’ Pakistan really changes anything one way or another. They know what the rest of the world knows: “Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.”




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  10. MarkedMan says:

    Shorter James Pearce “Trump is playing 12 dimensional chess. And BTW, don’t discuss Trump’s failures they are a distraction. Also, no discussion of his racism, misogyny and Islamophobia, as they are also distractions. Blame everything on Democrat and Progressive shortcomings.”




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  11. Ben Wolf says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Hunting al Qaeda is only a pretext. U.S. military assets are in Afghanistan to cut China’s One Belt should hostilities break out, to physically threaten Iran and to deal with Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal should the government fall.




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  12. James Pearce says:

    @becca:

    James Pearce is NOT going to be pleased that Pakistan is taking tRump’s tweet seriously.

    Foreign Minister Asif doesn’t seem to be taking it too seriously…

    And considering he’s the one getting poked with the stick, maybe we should listen to his account of how sharp it is.

    @MarkedMan:

    Shorter James Pearce “Trump is playing 12 dimensional chess.

    Trump’s playing a game alright, but it’s not multi-dimensional chess. It’s tic-tac-toe, and Trump always wins because we’re always the Os.

    Trump wants people to believe he was the deciding factor in our country’s relationship with Pakistan. He wants you to believe his Twitter feed is magic. He wants you to believe that if no one dies on commercial flights in a given year, it’s because of his policies.

    What if our arguments were a little smarter? What if we could argue about the disintegration of the US-Pakistani relationship generally (both sides, right?) over a longer period of time and maybe, not based on his tweets but a long sequence of events, almost none of them relating to Trump, come to the conclusion that his presidency hasn’t helped. That’s the conclusion we’re all drawing, right?

    Trump has made the Pakistan relationship worse. Not only with bonehead tweets, but more importantly with bonehead actions. That would be something, wouldn’t it?




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  13. KM says:

    @James Pearce:

    Foreign Minister Asif doesn’t seem to be taking it too seriously…

    Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is. The guys in charge pulled in the ambassador for a chat – does that sound like “not taking it too seriously”? Since when does Foreigner Minister outrank the Prime Minister anyways? That’s like saying because Schumer dismisses something, the Trump Administration will follow suit.

    Listen, I don’t care if its kayfabe or not. it’s actively screwing with our diplomatic ties and needs to stop. This isn’t a game or the WWE where Trump can slam a chair into somebody and play out his stupid machismo fantasies. Reality TV time is freaking over. Twitter goes to anyone who can access it – meaning international audiences with no context for this BS and malicious groups who don’t even need to twist his words to make us look bad. We’ve already seen potential terrorist attacks that cite Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric, which is oddly enough spewed directly into the internet via Twitter. Don’t be surprised if we start seeing more and more of them with the tweets as fodder. After all, Trump *did* say he wanted to get his message to the people – he just forgot that message goes to all people with an internet connection.




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  14. Do I think his tweet is for domestic political consumption? Sure.

    Does that make it any less problematic? No.

    Does it reflect his simplistic thinking and the way his media diet influences his thinking? Yes–and that is telling and problematic.

    Does it matter that it was tweeted and not uttered from behind a podium? Nope.




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  15. MarkedMan says:

    @James Pearce:

    What if our arguments were a little smarter? What if we could argue about the disintegration of the US-Pakistani relationship generally

    All I can say is how your comments come across to me. You say things like the above all the time. But I can’t think of a time in which you responded to a discussion on, say, Pakistan, with an elevated discussion about our relationship with Pakistan. Your message seems to consistently be “Dems and Progressives shouldn’t be calling attention to Trumps shortcomings”. And then you often throw in something about mistakes the Dems and Progressives are making.

    You claim you are anti-Trump and I accept that. But at the same time I can’t think how a moderately clever Trump supporter would post anything different.




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  16. grumpy realist says:

    The world is populated by political idiots who say stuff for “domestic consumption” and then are surprised when said statement blows up something abroad. I was in Japan when some doddering LDP minister made some comment (in the middle of a China-Taiwan spat) that it was perfectly obvious that the true heirs to Taiwan were the Japanese….

    Whee. I remember the red faces in the government about backing off THAT statement! I seemed to remember it ran something along the lines of “senile politician from hick rural district, please ignore.” Must have amused the Chinese considerably.

    (There are a lot of Japanese politicians who say stuff and forget that understanding Japanese is not a skill necessarily limited to native Japanese only.)




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  17. Lounsbury says:

    @Ben Wolf: You’ve never been to Afghanistan…. that is one idiotic assertion.




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  18. Anonne says:

    Pakistan, but not Saudi Arabia? Perhaps if they bought more weapons, Trump would change his tune.

    Still, this inanity is what we have come to expect from Trump. The problem is the kindergartners listening to it will buy it wholesale. “Because it’s true!!” No nuance or depth of understanding, whatsoever.




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  19. michael reynolds says:

    I look first at underlying power dynamics. Who has it, who can use it, how, when, to what end. We have the power to stop all US aid to Pakistan. They have the power to choke off our forces in Afghanistan and make it impossible for us to continue that war.

    How much does Pakistan need that aid? I don’t know.

    How much do we need that war? Frankly I’d jump at an excuse to bail and I suspect the American people would agree.

    Is there another way for Pakistan to replace that US foreign aid? Quite possibly. Either from the Muslim world or from China – two potential sources that will have fwck-all to say about human rights. If I were Xi I’d jump at the chance to replace the US as Pakistan’s sponsor – a Chinese-armed Pakistan sharing a long border with India? Xi should be all over that.

    So, on balance, I’d say we had the weaker position, always assuming the Pakistanis have the flexibility to seize the moment. If I were the Pakistani foreign minister I’d be on a plane to Beijing. Long-term China would be much more useful to Pakistan than we are.




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  20. MarkedMan says:

    @michael reynolds: what you say about China makes sense if we assume China’s end game is world domination ala the Cold War USSR vs USA/Europe. Back then there was a defacto assumption that the game was played everywhere on earth, and continued into space for that matter. You may be right, but China hasn’t made those moves yet. If they have that ambition they seem to be playing a longer game. What we know for a fact is that their ambitions are aggressive in the Pacific, where they are striving for domination, and Africa, which they view as a source of materials to feed their industry. Beyond that they seem to be very serious about their “New Silk Road” initiative, which would have them dominate trade. The initial path seems to bypass Afghanistan in favor of the ‘Stans they already have relationships with.




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  21. michael reynolds says:

    @MarkedMan:
    I don’t think they need to be set on world domination, they just need to be worried about India. Which they are. If the Chinese could replace a US ally on India’s border with a pro-Chinese one it would be a massive shift in power in favor of China. Pakistan and India share a 2000 mile border and if Xi could have a China-friendly Pakistan that would be huge.




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  22. MarkedMan says:

    @michael reynolds: It will be interesting to see how China reacts to opportunistic situations such as this. Until now, they simply haven’t done non-transactional foreign aid. (Examples of transactional foreign aid: helping build logging roads in African countries to increase the amount of raw timber shipped to Chinese furniture factories, or upgrading ports to ship ore to Chinese smelters.). Heck, they don’t even send disaster relief to their neighbors. The US sends billions to Afghanistan for military and social support and Russia could send some significant fraction of that. But China has no history of supporting military spending in order to create allies. If that changes it will be a clear signal they are raising their eyes above their wallet.




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  23. michael reynolds says:

    @MarkedMan:
    The Chinese may think in longer time periods than we do. Transactional aid today becomes soft power tomorrow.

    As to world domination don’t forget, they expended considerable energy and took on considerable risk by creating islands and declaring them Chinese territory. And they are expanding their military capability.

    If I’m Xi I see a whole lot of opportunities to make money and expand my power and reach. Standing in my way: Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan and the backer they share: the US. If I’m looking at foreign threats I’d be eyeballing India, Russia and the US. Russia’s too weak to be anything but a nuclear threat to the PRC. But India is a whole ‘nother matter – a rising economic and military power which which I (sort of) share a border?

    If we’re playing Risk! (and aren’t we?) I’d want Pakistan very badly indeed. With Pakistan would eventually come Afghanistan. And boy, I’d like that map a lot more than the one I have now. If I were Xi.




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  24. Blue Galangal says:

    @MarkedMan: I’m just wondering where I can get some decent mustard to go with that giant soft pretzel twisting over there.




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  25. Dave Schuler says:

    I suspect that Mr. Trump does not realize that our continued prosecution of a war in Afghanistan is logistically impossible without the cooperation of Pakistan’s government.




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  26. Ben Wolf says:

    @Lounsbury: Don’t be naive. When it comes to our Afghanistan policy, the people there matter least. And for the reasons I stated above, we’ll have armed forces there for decades.




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  27. Dave Schuler says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    Lounsbury is a Brit (I believe he also has American family) who at least used to reside in Morocco. He speaks, reads, and writes Arabic and is well-versed in the history and cultures of MENA. I respect his opinion and take what he says seriously.

    I think that “naive” is probably the last way I’d characterize him.




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  28. Sleeping Dog says:

    @michael reynolds:

    In part Pakistan views its relationship with the US as a hedge against China. While Xi should be all over this opportunity, I suspect the Pakis will be careful not to get too close. After all the US is a soft hegemon half the world away and China is an untested hegemon a (formidable) mountain range away. If Pakistan wants to tweek the US and Trump, cozying up to Iran maybe a less threatening option.




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  29. MarkedMan says:
  30. Ben Wolf says:

    @Dave Schuler: Dave,

    Last I checked, U.S. policy in the Middle East isn’t made by people who speak Arabic and have traveled in the Middle East. Otherwise Donald Trump wouldn’t be President. In fact knowledge of the Middle East, or any other region for that matter, is the last thing informing U.S. policies So while he may have expertise, it doesn’t mean much.




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  31. Ben Wolf says:

    Or to put it more simply, understanding U.S. foreign policy means understanding the American ruling elite. Although the desire to know what it means to be a Pashtun is admirable, it is given not the slightest consideration when the American government chooses to act. The only objectives are control and profit.




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  32. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @James Pearce: No, I think that Trump thinks he’s tweeting “shoots” rather than “works,” but in general, it’s probably wiser to think of most of his twits as pandering to his base (and most of his actions as pandering to the GOP’s contributors).




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  33. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: @michael reynolds: From what I have seen and heard regarding China and goals of domination, Xi and other coming leaders are believers in what used to be called “the long view” of Chairman Mao. That is to say that dominance is inevitable for China, it need not do anything other than prepare for it. (Which is part and parcel of the various sea lanes/”traditional Chinese territorial waters” stuff is about.) The more interesting thing to be about Xi is that he is, more than any emerging leader so far, committed to becoming the next “great helmsman” of the nation–in the spirit of replacing Mao as the face of China. As he gains power and warps that power to that goal, China is going to become both and interesting and disturbing place.




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  34. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Dave Schuler: I suspect Mr. Trump doesn’t know what day it is until Fox News tells him.




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  35. MarkedMan says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker: The US and USSR attempts to dominate internationally were different than basically anything that came before it: rather than conquer and subjugate countries outside their immediate sphere of interest, the goal was to modify governments to more resemble their own, to ‘enlighten them and free their people’. (The non-Russian SSR’s fell under what the Kremlin viewed as their vital sphere of interest and fell into a different category.)

    China has given no indication of any interest in spreading their governing philosophy. On the other hand, they obviously consider the Asian and near Asian Pacific countries to be in their vital sphere of interest. In the long run as they get more used to being a world power they may change and start seeking to promote their philosophy beyond their borders. But given the racial purity and racial superiority notions prevalent in China (admittedly not nearly as extreme as in, say, Japan) it isn’t obvious that they would ever move away from purely interest driven relationships with others.




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  36. SC_Birdflyte says:

    This is a situation in which there are no good choices, only a choice of evils. Of course, Herr Drumpf will head straight for the worst choice.




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  37. wr says:

    @MarkedMan: “But at the same time I can’t think how a moderately clever Trump supporter would post anything different.”

    That is, of course, assuming that such a creature still exists.




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  38. teve tory says:

    Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon has described the Trump Tower meeting between the president’s son and a group of Russians during the 2016 election campaign as “treasonous” and “unpatriotic”, according to an explosive new book seen by the Guardian.

    Bannon, speaking to author Michael Wolff, warned that the investigation into alleged collusion with the Kremlin will focus on money laundering and predicted: “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.”

    shiiiiiiiiit.




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  39. MarkedMan says:

    @teve tory: Wow, that’s some quote. If anything, it’s worse as you read more. I’ve long thought that Trump’s biggest problem was his overwhelming stupidity coupled with his ludicrous belief that he is the smartest guy in the room. He surrounds himself with fifth raters who suck up to him, and they act on his behalf in equally ham handed ways. Given the Republican House and Senate, and the outright cover-up being implemented by Nunes and others, I would normally think Trump bullet proof. But given his stupidity… well, I always say, never bet on stupid. Here’s some more from the article teve tory linked to:

    “Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately.”

    Bannon went on, Wolff writes, to say that if any such meeting had to take place, it should have been set up “in a Holiday Inn in Manchester, New Hampshire, with your lawyers who meet with these people”. Any information, he said, could then be “dump[ed] … down to Breitbart or something like that, or maybe some other more legitimate publication”.

    Bannon added: “You never see it, you never know it, because you don’t need to … But that’s the brain trust that they had.”




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  40. Blue Galangal says:

    @MarkedMan: Sorry, should have said “That James-Pearce-shaped soft pretzel” (as he twists and twists and twists again).

    To get back on topic, you highlighted the more alarming part of the story teve tory linked to: sounds like Bannon knows exactly how, and to whom, to feed disinformation to get it out into the ether without being traceable.




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  41. MarkedMan says:

    @Blue Galangal: Gotcha




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  42. James Pearce says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Does that make it any less problematic? No.

    Contemporary usage of “problematic” makes me believe it means “Not really a problem, but can be made one.” And that’s kind of the issue here, I suppose.

    People have been trying to make hay over Trump’s twitter feed for a long time. Back when he was a TV host, back when he was an upstart outsider, back when he was the frontrunner, back when he was the nominee, and now as president.

    At what point do we acknowledge that effort’s failure? At what point do you just accept that Trump says a bunch of stupid shit on Twitter and let it go? Twitter isn’t the main event. It’s not even the undercard.

    It’s two drunk guys fighting in the parking lot.
    @KM:

    The guys in charge pulled in the ambassador for a chat – does that sound like “not taking it too seriously”?

    So the ambassador comes in, says, “That’s just the president. He says a lot of stupid stuff. Ignore it. Here’s the real message.”

    Kayfabe.

    He’s over here tweeting about pushing buttons on North Korea when you know he’s got Dennis Rodman whispering sweet nothing into his buddy Kim Jong-Un’s ear.




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  43. MarkedMan says:

    @Blue Galangal: I think Bannon is an interesting character. You’re right. He seems to know how to bury the bodies. In one sense, that makes him more competent than the usual fool that associates with Trump. But on the other hand, he randomly spasms out some destructive side show that he has to spend weeks or months recovering from. He’s like some frat guy at the mid-week kegger who is expounding really insightful but slightly wacky theories in a belligerent voice but then suddenly pours his beer over his head and sticks his fingers in a light socket. Take this latest example. Did he have a reason for calling a senior member of the Trump campaign a traitorous, unpatriotic idiot? Was there a strategy behind it? Was he drunk or on drugs and just spewing out? (Although that seems like real possibility in his case, he claims to be a nondrinker for 20 years.) Or was he just working himself up, listening to the sound of his voice running wild, and it just popped into his head as something dramatic to say.

    Of course, he could have had a strategic reason for saying it, but lord knows what that could be. And wouldn’t he have dished to a daily reporter rather than to an author who would probably delay publication for months? All strategic timing would be shot.




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  44. KM says:

    @James Pearce:

    He’s over here tweeting about pushing buttons on North Korea when you know he’s got Dennis Rodman whispering sweet nothing into his buddy Kim Jong-Un’s ear.

    Whatever you’re smoking, share. If you honestly think Trump’s giving Rodman things to say, you clearly have some good sh^t and are holding out. Remember to bring enough for the class.

    I think the STATE DEPT may be feeding Rodman things but Trump? Seriously James? Anything he has to say Rodman’s better off not repeating. Some of us have actually meet the man, remember. He’s no secretly wise statesmen or font of wisdom. We know damn well there’s nothing of value to pass on. Let’s leave that one to the deep state.




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  45. James Pearce says:

    @KM:

    If you honestly think Trump’s giving Rodman things to say,

    No, that was a joke. We are not facing a mastermind here.

    We’re facing a clown who thinks he can bully NK on Twitter and his opposition is all “OMG, he tweeted something horrible!!!” instead of “Really, dude?” It’s utterly pathetic.




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  46. Monala says:

    I’m actually going to support James on this one. Here’s a Twitter thread by George Lakoff, talking about better ways to respond to Trump’s tweets than by making them the news story of the hour:

    https://twitter.com/GeorgeLakoff/status/948424436058791937

    TL; DR: How to respond to Trump’s tweets: “Trump is trying to divert our attention from XYZ; here’s what we should be focused on” (and then proceed to talk about XYZ). In other words, don’t let Trump frame the important issues of the hour.




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  47. Monala says:

    @Monala:

    So for example, “Trump is tweeting about Pakistan to divert our attention from the Russia investigation. Here’s what we now know about Russia.”

    Or, “Trump is tweeting about airline safety to divert our attention from his failure to address this nation’s infrastructure problems. Here’s what we should be doing about infrastructure.”

    Or, “Trump is tweeting about Hillary Clinton because he hopes we’ll forget about the travesty of a tax bill that was just passed, and the fact that 9 million children have just lost their health insurance while billionaires are getting a tax cut. Well, we haven’t forgotten.”




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  48. I agree that a freak-out about each tweet/making it the news of the hour is not necessary.

    My point remains, however, that the tweets are important because they are the public utterances of the POTUS and that they do reflect both his state of mind and his policy preferences.

    I see them as not different than any other public pronouncement of any president. As such, I reject the notion that they should be dismissed because they are tweets.

    I also have come to the point that I do not believe Trump is deliberating trying to distract us.




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  49. Monala says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I don’t think that Lakoff’s point is that they should be dismissed because they are tweets, nor that we should assume he is just trying to distract us. I think he is saying that the right response (regardless of the forum Trump uses, or his motivations, or even [to some degree] the potential consequences) is to reframe the issue to whatever we (however we define “we”) want the public to think about and focus on.

    I’m sure you know that Lakoff is the author of the book, Don’t Think of an Elephant!” — the idea being, if you tell people not to think about (whatever), that’s what they’re going to think about. He’s saying in that book that we have allowed the Republicans (and even more now, Trump) to shape the debate in this country and tell people what to think about. So rather than always reacting defensively to Trump, go on the offensive, take back the topics of importance and be relentless about it.




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  50. James Pearce says:

    @Monala:

    I’m actually going to support James on this one. Here’s a Twitter thread by George Lakoff

    Thanks. I saw that Lakoff thread this morning and was like, “This….this is what I’ve been meaning to say!” Glad you posted it.




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  51. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Blue Galangal: Bannon and you guys think Trump’s lawyers are going to do that kind of a bag job? It reminds me of a line Victor Garber had on that show where he played a lawyer named Ron Trott:

    There is a term in the legal profession for the people who go to jail, they’re called clients.




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  52. Blue Galangal says:

    @MarkedMan:

    He’s like some frat guy at the mid-week kegger who is expounding really insightful but slightly wacky theories in a belligerent voice but then suddenly pours his beer over his head and sticks his fingers in a light socket. Take this latest example. Did he have a reason for calling a senior member of the Trump campaign a traitorous, unpatriotic idiot? Was there a strategy behind it? Was he drunk or on drugs and just spewing out? (Although that seems like real possibility in his case, he claims to be a nondrinker for 20 years.) Or was he just working himself up, listening to the sound of his voice running wild, and it just popped into his head as something dramatic to say.

    Of course, he could have had a strategic reason for saying it, but lord knows what that could be. And wouldn’t he have dished to a daily reporter rather than to an author who would probably delay publication for months? All strategic timing would be shot.

    I suspect that Bannon is used to thinking of himself as the smartest guy in the room. Regarding his candor with Wolff, could be a combination of things: Wolff was there all the time, sounds like; they were used to having him around and that kind of proximity can generate a certain feeling of pseudo-intimacy and inculcate a level of a trust. Wolff demonstrably knows how to talk to people and, more importantly, how to listen: you can tell he’s used to letting people talk. He’s not a stupid guy and he’s willing to hold his fire for the long game. I don’t know him nor do I know how smart he is, but I think Bannon thought he was smart. Some of this sounds like Wolff being able to be a fly on the wall and some sounds like Bannon thinking of Wolff as intelligent enough to appreciate and share with. Then there’s the chaos aspect. Bannon really doesn’t seem to care who knows his end game of chaos/burn it all down. He makes no effort to hide or deny it. I’m not sure why he sticks his finger in the light socket, but he seems to enjoy the chaos and he doesn’t try to deny it, and it doesn’t stop him from doing it again the next time.




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  53. MarkedMan says:

    @Blue Galangal: Good points. I have to wonder if part of this is simply spending so much time on the wingnut welfare circuit. “Journalists” at the National Review or Breitbart or Fox News, and “academics” at the many conservative think tanks funded by libertarian billionaire misanthropes actually are in the bag for their political brethren. People like Bannon are probably used to saying all kinds of sh*t in front of them and never having it show up in print. After all, they have a common agenda and know if they were to deviate from the party line they would be thrown off the gravy train. So Bannon hangs around Wolfe and over time says increasingly honest things and it never comes back in print. He may have thought (insofar as he thinks) that he had a tacit off-the-record understanding, because he has made a category error. He thinks he’s talking to a fellow traveller when instead he’s talking to a real journalist with a book contract, and therefore a deadline of months rather than hours.




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