Littwin: Don’t worry. It’s gonna get worse.
November 19, 2016
We're a little more than a week into the Donald Trump pre-presidency, and things are shaping up pretty much as expected. Lots of chaos. Lots of tweets. Lots of media-bashing. Lots of congratulatory phone calls to Trump from foreign leaders on, yes, apparently unsecured phone lines (and you said irony was dead).
After losing the presidency, both houses of Congress and the Supreme Court, not to mention most governorships and state legislatures, Democrats are apparently at a complete loss as to how to deal with Trump. Meanwhile, most Republicans have quickly figured out what to do. They have unabashedly fallen in line, including some of those who were quite recently outspoken Trump critics.
One of the most humiliating (you'd think) examples in the non-Paul Ryan category is the expected cave-in from our own Mike Coffman, who was last seen in full-on embrace of the guy he once said "should step aside" for the good of the country and who made campaign ads about how he didn't much care for Trump.
According to TalkingPointsMemo, Coffman has had a change of heart. Coffman walked out of a Mike Pence-led House GOP meeting with a "Make America Great Again" hat in hand and saying how he was ready to work with Trump, so much so that he repeatedly used the word "excited," as in, "I am excited about the next two years and look forward to working with the president," Coffman told TPM. He said he was particularly "excited" about tax reform and repealing and replacing Obamacare.
And there's this: "I'll tell you what is so exciting is I no longer have to worry about executive orders or excesses in the rule-making process," Coffman said. Yes, he actually said that. And here's what I say, somewhat less excitedly: For those of you who live in the 6th Congressional District, you should probably begin writing your apology notes to Morgan Carroll. But more on that later.
First, and almost certainly worst, we have to discuss Trump's selection of Breitbart CEO Steve Bannon as senior White House adviser. If you're not familiar with Breitbart news, let's just say it generally reads like an alt-right The Onion except without the laughs. Bannon's appointment is a not-so-subtle reminder to the base that Trump was serious when he ran on a platform of fear, division, demagoguery, bigotry and whatever other like word comes to mind. And if that doesn't do it for you, note that conspiracy theorist Alex Jones — who believes, among other absurdities, that the Sandy Hook murders were faked — said he got a thank-you phone call from Trump. Yes, this is TrumpWorld. Get used to it.
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Meanwhile, with the transition team in chaos, Trump is chatting up foreign leaders without getting prepped by the State Department, because winging it is certainly what great presidents do. Which leads us to his conversation with the Australian prime minister, who was apparently unable to reach Trump. To finally hook up, he got Trump's private number from Australian golf legend and Trump pal Greg Norman. Really.
On the Democratic front, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have said they could work with Trump if he's serious about rooting out corruption and going populist. This is a pretty bald attempt at co-opting a president who has no actual plans in mind and to attempt to get to him before Paul Ryan can send over the books-on-tape version of "Atlas Shrugged." The problem for Democrats is that to work with Trump, on any level, is to work with the guy who brings Steve Bannon to the White House.
I assume you've been keeping up with the rumor mill on the leading candidates for cabinet secretaries. As The Washington Post's conservative voice, Jennifer Rubin, points out, most of the top spots seem reserved for under-qualified older men, sort of like Trump himself or, more particularly, like Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich.
A lot of this seems not quite real, but my advice for coping is to look for the humor — like Trump's consideration of a climate denier for head of the Environmental Protection Agency or of Rick Perry for Department of Energy, the same department that Perry famously couldn't remember in the infamous "oops" debate. You'd like to think that Trump is just messing with us, but it's more likely that he's messing with the country.
No one has any idea what Trump will do, other than cuddle up with his iPhone at night and tweet nasty things about The New York Times, such as that the "failing" Times is losing circulation, when, in fact, it has gained 41,000 subscribers since Election Day. What we know is that Trump has met with Obama, whom he had basically called a traitor, and said how much he admired him and of his surprise at how big a job the presidency is. It reminded me of Trump's meeting with the Mexican president when Trump failed to bring up that whole Mexico-will-pay-for-the-wall thing. Maybe he really is a classic bully. Read Megyn Kelly's memoir, "Settle for More," if you want to get really unsettled.
Or you could just be a Muslim immigrant who has to sign up for a Muslim registry, which has already been defended by a Trump surrogate as in the tradition of the Japanese internment camps in World War II. Or you could just be an undocumented immigrant living in the American shadows and not knowing when or if Trump will send in the goon squads to deport as many as 2 million to 3 million immigrants. Or whether Trump will follow through with his threat to cut off federal funds from so-called "sanctuary cities," like, uh, Denver.
Michael Hancock has joined other big-city mayors in promising to stand with all Denver residents. Police chiefs in Denver and Aurora have said they won't do the work of federal immigration services. And Mike Coffman? He put out a statement, according to The Denver Post, that he has previously voted to cut off federal funds for sanctuary cites — like, yes, Aurora — and that, he said, "I will continue to do so."
I could go on, but I don't want to peak too soon. Remember, this is just the beginning.
Mike Littwin runs Sundays in The Aspen Times. A former columnist for the Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post, he currently writes for ColoradoIndependent.com.
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