Gingrich: Trump dropping 'drain the swamp' (CNNPolitics link): "Drain the swamp" was a refrain of Donald Trump during the presidential campaign, but Newt Gingrich says the president-elect "doesn't want to use it anymore" now that he's knee-deep in alligators.
"I'm told he now just disclaims that. He now says it was cute, but he doesn't want to use it anymore," Gingrich, who informally advises Trump, said Wednesday on NPR's "Morning Edition."
The former House Speaker said that he had "written what I thought was a very cute tweet about 'the alligators are complaining,'" but that "somebody wrote back and said they were tired of hearing this stuff."
During his campaign, Trump repeatedly vowed to "drain the swamp" -- leading chants of the phrase at his rallies -- part of an anti-establishment, anti-Washington message that was predicated on rooting out corruption and bringing an outsider's perspective to government.
But since the election, the phrase has been turned against Trump with biting irony.
Critics have used it to assail Trump's high-level appointments of Wall Street and DC veterans, like former Goldman Sachs executive Steven Mnuchin as treasury secretary and Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general. Ron Klain, a former Obama administration official, tweeted, "Sure, Drain the Swamp. Congrats to all you outsiders who thought that Hillary Clinton was too establishment."
Trump himself has expressed mixed views on the "drain the swamp" line. At a rally in Ohio in late October, he explained that he hadn't liked the expression at first, but that it had grown on him.
"We are going to drain the swamp. You know, that phrase started about a week ago, and I thought it was terrible. I didn't like it at all. I said I don't know; I just don't like it. And now it's become one of the hottest phrases anywhere in the world and I'm saying I like it," Trump said at the time.
"That's like -- did you ever see the great singers, Frank Sinatra, some of his greatest hits he didn't like them. But at the end he liked them very much. Right? It's what happened with drain the swamp. It's a great phrase. But it's true. The people like it. That's much more important."
Mod: Right, people like hearing it. Pretty much the rationale of almost all political liars. But when it becomes inconvenient, or even embarrassing? Just tell people they shouldn't say it anymore.
The Bait and Switch Presidency (The Atlantic link): There were many surprising pieces of Trump-related news on Monday, from Donald Trump’s fight with the F-35 to his allies’ fight with the intelligence community over Russian hacking.
Equally or more consequential, though less surprising, was a pair of quiet statements he made later in the day. First, his transition team announced that a press conference scheduled for Thursday, in which he’d pledged to explain how he’d distance himself from his businesses, was being postponed until January, with no specific date given. Later in the evening, Trump sent a series of tweets related to the matter.
“Even though I am not mandated by law to do so, I will be leaving my busineses [sic] before January 20th so that I can focus full time on the Presidency,” he wrote. “Two of my children, Don and Eric, plus executives, will manage them. No new deals will be done during my term(s) in office. I will hold a press conference in the near future to discuss the business, Cabinet picks and all other topics of interest. Busy times!”
That’s an impressively compact amount of obfuscation to fit into three tweets. Trump is first begging the question when he says he is not mandated by law to do so. He is correct that there is no law that requires him to divest all of his holdings, but some ethicists—including former chief ethics officers for George W. Bush and Barack Obama—believe that he risks violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution simply by holding them.
The idea that Donald Jr. and Eric Trump will manage the company was more or less known before. The idea that the company will make “no new deals” while he is in office is so nonsensical as to be meaningless. Even if the Trump Organization makes no major acquisitions, or breaks ground on no new projects, it already has such a wide net of constantly evolving business relationships that there’s no avoiding conflicts of interest. Finally, there’s the vague promise of a press conference at some point in the future. If Trump can simply decide not to hold one on a firm date he’s previously announced, there’s little way to hold him to a nebulous one.
Which is probably just the point. The bait-and-switch is among Trump’s favorite tactics, especially as it relates to claims of transparency. As a candidate and now as president-elect, he followed a pattern: under pressure over some point, promise to do something at a future date; as that future date approaches, change plans; never follow through.
Mod: Violating that "Emoluments Clause" would actually be an impeachable offense. Just so you know.
Luxury Travel Group Gives Trump’s DC Hotel a Brutal Review (The Washingtonian link): Before the Trump International Hotel opened, Donald Trump liked to brag that the business he and his family built inside the Old Post Office would be “one of the great hotels of the world.”
But according to a year-end list of new luxury hotels from a travel group that specializes in high-end accommodations, it’s one of the world’s worst. The Trump hotel rated as the world’s third-lousiest new hotel, according to the membership-only United Kingdom operation LTI-Luxury Travel Intelligence.
“The building itself is undoubtedly impressive, but once inside we start to ask questions,” LTI’s review begins, acknowledging the Old Post Office as a marvel of late-19th-century Romanesque Revival architecture and design. But from there, the review is brutal.
“LTI finds the décor a little garish and more quantity over quality,” it continues. Few who have been inside the hotel might argue differently. In Trumpian fashion, the hotel is a pageant of too-muchness, from the gold-colored bathroom fixtures to a $29 bowl of hummus to the crystal spoonfuls of sickly-sweet Hungarian wine that go for as much as $140.
It goes on. “Service is poor on occasions and lacks confidence,” LTI founder Michael Crompton writes. “The whole experience seems a little forced, and therefore this place is not for the true discerning luxury traveller.”
For supporters of the president-elect or his hotel, Crompton’s suggestion that his DC hotel is not truly luxurious might be the most cutting. Throughout his business career, Trump has resembled a spoiled outer-borough brat robing himself in glitz and luxury to get in the good graces of rich Manhattan swells, and his political rise could very well be a response to DC establishment types laughing him out of the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner.
Only two hotels—anywhere in the world—fared worse in LTI’s rankings: a Four Seasons on Oahu, Hawaii, and the Palazzo Versace in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Mod: For his idiot supporters none of this will matter. Besides, how would they know the difference between what is truly good and mere gaucherie designed to cozen the greenbacks out of the pockets of simple fools?
It's official: Clinton swamps Trump in popular vote (CNN link): More Americans voted for Hillary Clinton than any other losing presidential candidate in US history.
The Democrat outpaced President-elect Donald Trump by almost 2.9 million votes, with 65,844,954 (48.2%) to his 62,979,879 (46.1%), according to revised and certified final election results from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Clinton's 2.1% margin ranks third among defeated candidates, according to statistics from US Elections Atlas. Andrew Jackson won by more than 10% in 1824 but was denied the presidency, which went to John Quincy Adams. In 1876, Samuel Tilden received 3% more votes than Rutherford B. Hayes, who eventually triumphed by one electoral vote.
Mod: Yeah, he's a loser. Unfortunately, so is everyone else.