Why Trump Is Always Right

January 18, 2018

Recently Paul Callan, a legal analyst for CNN, wrote an opinion piece titled “Trump Is Right About the FBI” in which he explained why (in his view) a comment by Trump denigrating the FBI was correct. 

Like the old joke about the weather, if you don’t like Trump’s position on any given topic… wait a while.

Has Trump encouraged racists and white supremacists? Yes, almost certainly. Several times. Has Trump condemned racists and white supremacists? Yes, he’s done that too. Several times.

Has Trump claimed that Obama’s birth certificate was faked? Yes, he did, for years. Did Trump finally admit that Obama was born in America? Yep. Did Trump later repeat his original claims that Obama’s birth certificate had been faked? Of course he did.  

Saying “Trump is right” about X is meaningless, because he regularly contradicts not only himself but the official positions of his own administration, and on every conceivable topic.

This is apparently news to Callan, but has been widely noted and reported; CNN reported today that “President Donald Trump contradicted his own administration on Thursday when he tweeted that funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program should not be included in a short-term plan to fund the government. ‘CHIP should be part of a long-term solution, not a 30 Day, or short term, extension,’ Trump tweeted. That is the opposite to what his administration said on Wednesday: ‘The Administration supports the bill’s multiyear funding extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP),’ the Office of Management and Budget said in a statement. ‘If H.J. Res. 125 were presented to the President in its current form, his advisors would recommend that he sign the bill into law.'”

Trying to explain away, deny, or downplay Trump’s public contradictions has become routine at the White House; this week it’s health insurance and last week it was FISA surveillance: “White House press secretary Sarah Sanders insisted Thursday that President Donald Trump’s Thursday morning tweets about legislation to reauthorize FISA surveillance programs were not contradictory. Sanders’ assertion came despite the President’s two early morning missives sending Washington into 101 minutes of chaos, with lawmakers scrambling to confirm Trump’s position on the legislation and even prompting a call to the President on the matter from House Speaker Paul Ryan. The tweets came hours before the House was set to vote on a bill to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and an amendment that would have reined in some of the government’s surveillance powers. Trump cast doubt on his support for the legislation in a first tweet that suggested the law ‘may have been used … to so badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign,’ and the next-101 minutes later-made clear the President supported the legislation’ ‘We don’t think that there was a conflict at all,’ Sanders said. ‘The President fully supports the 702 and was happy to see that it passed the House today. We don’t see any contradiction or confusion in that.'” Just so that’s clear. 

For those who prefer their Trumpian contradictions in video form, you’re covered too! 

An article in The New Yorker noted “the many glaring contradictions contained in Trump’s speech. No sooner had the President assured the nations of the world that ‘making a better life for our people also requires us to work together in close harmony and unity’ than he proclaimed that, ‘as long as I hold this office, I will defend America’s interests above all else.’ His assertion that U.N.-led peacekeeping missions have made ‘invaluable contributions in stabilizing conflicts in Africa’ was undercut by his criticism that ‘too often, the focus of this organization has not been on results but on bureaucracy and process.’…. the search for a Trump doctrine is like the hunt for the Loch Ness monster. Does it have one hump or two? How long is its neck? Is it a mammal or a reptile? Depending on where you look in the library of Nessie stories, you can justify many descriptions. Since the monster doesn’t exist, answers to these questions are all equally false and equally true.”

Being on all side of an issue is an effective political ploy for always being right, if a largely transparent one. Those best equipped to catch Trump’s contradictions are journalists, who of course have been widely disparaged by Trump (particularly when the coverage is factual but unflattering). As I noted in a November 6, 2016 blog, “On Trump,” “Some may even take a perverse comfort in the fact that Trump is a serial liar–that he says things for effect, things he doesn’t necessarily mean, takes positions he doesn’t really endorse.” There are, of course, a few things that Trump has not reversed himself on… yet.