Sunday, May 05, 2024

Why Did Trump Do the Time Interview? by Dan Rather

An excellent column by Dan Rather: 

We’ve heard from some of our Steady friends that they are anxious about the former president’s interview with Time magazine, where he spoke to an actual reporter, not Fox. The story paints an almost apocalyptic picture of what Trump 2.0 would look like, straight from the horse’s mouth.

Here are some of the eye-openers: more restrictions on women’s bodily autonomy, including having states monitor pregnant women; mass deportations; supporting political violence; and using the National Guard to quell crime and civil unrest. 

But Time also provided a complete transcript of the interview, and what’s clear from reading it is that Trump has no idea what he wants to do, other than not be pinned down on tough questions. The scariest part is his plan to surround himself with sycophants, who will be tested early and often for obedience and loyalty to their leader. Just as during his first term, Trump’s decisions will be based largely on whatever the last person told him. 

Here’s an analysis from The Washington Post:

“On the deportation effort, he said that ‘we will be using local law enforcement,’ and that while he ‘would have no problem using the military, per se,’ he also thought ‘the National Guard will do the job.’ Would he build internment camps? ‘It’s possible,’ he said, which is his preferred response to many things.”

On abortion, he said he would “leave it to the states,” which on this and many other issues he thinks gives him a pass.

On pardoning the January 6 rioters, Trump said he would absolutely consider it, unless someone “was evil and bad.” What does that mean? Who knows? Certainly not Trump.

As the Post reports, one of the most frequently used words in the interview is “depends.” Hem, meet haw.

Some have characterized this as the newer, tougher Trump. He promises not to be so nice this time around. Seriously.

We’ve heard that old political trope floating around of late: Are you better off now than you were four years ago? The better question might be: Do you remember just how bad it was before Biden?

If you know someone who suddenly has amnesia about the Trump era, here are some highlights of his political activities while president. This list does not include things like benefiting financially from the presidency, tweeting more than 26,000 times in four years (an average of 18 tweets a day), or lying about everything from the size of the inauguration crowd to who won the 2020 election.

  • Curtailed legal protections for immigrants, including separating children from their parents
  • Passed the biggest corporate tax cut in history 
  • Eliminated scores of environmental protections, including pulling out of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change
  • Overtly supported white nationalists
  • Responded to the COVID crisis by flouting science and championing dangerous treatment, resulting in hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths
  • Appointed three far-right justices to the Supreme Court, which then overturned Roe v. Wade
  • Withdrew from multiple multinational agreements
  • Passed almost no legislation of note because he did not forge a working relationship with Congress
  • Praised and supported autocrats like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un
  • Incited an insurrection
  • Was impeached — twice
  • Lost reelection 
  • Refused to accept the results of the election and abide by the peaceful transfer of power

With that track record, of which by the way he is immensely proud, why do some Americans look back at the Trump presidency with rose-colored glasses, or perhaps the better term would be blinders?

One reason is that many of his supporters block out his appalling response to the pandemic unless they are reminded of it. So please remind them of it. Think back to spring 2020, when we were in lockdown and Trump was actively mocking his science team and saying the virus was “going to disappear … one day, it's like a miracle, it will disappear.” And here we are in 2024, and neither the virus nor Trump is gone. He now says he will disband the pandemic preparedness office that Biden launched. Well, “probably.”

Another reason for a far rosier remembrance is inflation. Inflation rarely occurs because of presidential policies. The 2021 inflation spike happened because of post-COVID economic pressures and continues because of corporate greed. Be that as it may, Biden gets blamed. And Trump does a lot of the blaming. Economists will tell you: institute more tax cuts, deport millions of workers, and slap tariffs on imports as Trump has said he might do, and inflation will soar.

Do remember and remind everyone that Trump left office with a 29% approval rating. Since then, historians have been assessing his presidency.

Julian Zelizer of Princeton University described it as “one of the most unstable, unconventional.”

Nicole Hemmer, a professor at Vanderbilt University, summed up his term this way: “I think that when historians look back over the course of the Trump Presidency, they'll say that ‘Little Lie’ at the beginning [the inauguration crowd inflation] was buy-in for the ‘Big Lie’ at the end because that insurrection seemed to be the culmination of so many of the things that we saw as unique, bizarre, bad about his presidency.” 

And this from SMU’s Jeffrey Engel: “This was a president who did not like the results of an election, did not like the fact that he was being voted out, and decided that his personal interests were more important than the constitutional process.”

And as for the next election? Trump was asked if he’s worried there would be violence if he loses. “I don’t think we’re going to have that. I think we’re going to win,” Trump said. “And if we don’t win, you know, it depends. It always depends on the fairness of an election.”

Actually, it depends on how many ballots are cast. I have said it before and will continue to say it, write it, believe it: We all must vote in November and get everyone to the polls with you. 

Support him here.

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