Trump Recruits from the Swamp

Trump rails against Wall Street yet brings bankers into the government. It is a cynical strategy, but one that could work for him.

It could be seen as a good sign, or as a symbol that different rules apply post-election. Or as a development that, given the team of election advisers, was already foreseeable. To fill the posts in his government, Donald Trump is drawing heavily on Wall Street, rich donors and military and security lobbyists – and partly also on a pool of staff from previous Republican administrations. It is presumably also advantageous if those people who are active in the U.S. government, at least as the target audience of government policies, have experience in their areas of competence.

But one thing it is certainly not is a fulfillment of Donald Trump’s election promise to drain the “swamp” of the political and economic establishment between New York and Washington. If a candidate who cited Hillary Clinton’s speeches at Goldman Sachs during the election campaign as proof of bias now appoints half a dozen current and former Goldman Sachs bankers as ministers and advisers, it will raise questions. The same applies when a candidate who vilified Clinton’s handling of secret emails now considers employing Gen. David Petraeus as secretary of state. The same David Petraeus who had to leave his job as head of the CIA because he passed on secret information to his biographer, with whom he was also having an affair.

Actions vs. Symbols

That is striking. And it also gives Democrats a bit of space to reclaim their power to interpret what is good for the American middle class. But they shouldn’t celebrate too soon – many voters are not expecting the candidate who they took “literally but not seriously” to keep all his promises. They know about Trump’s casual approach to the truth but voted for him in spite of this, because at least he addressed their problems and concerns.

The future president, who proudly announced on Wednesday that he had limited the feared loss of 2,000 jobs at an air conditioning manufacturer in Indiana to 1,000, knows this. It is a doubly cynical game. Firstly, a company that is relocating half of its workforce to Mexico can now be celebrated as the savior of the “forgotten man.” And secondly, it is a one-off measure; while it will help around a thousand people, is small in comparison to the 180,000 jobs the U.S. economy added in October alone.

As a symbol that the future president has not forgotten those who made it possible for him to move into the White House, this is significant – certainly more significant than any government appointments.

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  1. Indeed, Trump is proving to be the logical inheritor of a tradition passed down to him by all his predecessors, right back to Reagan — if not (perhaps) all the way back to Truman.

    Obama was counting two achievements central to his legacy, Obamacare and the JCPOA, and it looks as if Trump intends to make short work of those as soon as he’s inaugurated. So there’s two promises candidate Trump made that should be easy to fulfil, since the Republicans tried their very best to torpedo those two achievements — inviting Bibi Netanyahu to address both Houses of Congress to convince them to dump the JCPOA, and bringing to the floor a bill to repeal Obamacare more than 50 times(!) — but neither was successful.

    Well, what else can you expect of a Congress that, having sold off its R2G (responsibility to govern) to Wall Street and the Corporate sector, has only two activities: dialling for dollars and getting their faces on national TV so they can feign outrage over the socialist-communist-nazi-Muslim-Kenyan presidential imposter in the White House?

    That is the tradition Trump has inherited — and his campaign lies were exceeded by the size of those truths about how that Keystone Kongress, together with the useless Democrats, were responsible for the hollowing out of the American middle class. But how could they do otherwise, having failed to bring to account the previous administration’s war crimes and Wall Street’s defrauding of millions of Americans, not to mention the ruining of their own banks, which Congress bailed out to the tune of trillions, no strings attached?

    I would say that the hypocrisy of recruiting from the swamp he promised to drain, which is well within the Washington tradition, will be counted the least troublesome of Trump’s acts.

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