Quick Takes: “A Militantly Ignorant President”

A roundup of news that caught my eye today.

* Here’s the news from the White House today:

President Trump told top administration officials Thursday to look at rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the multination trade agreement he pulled the United States out of shortly after taking office.

Rejoining the pact would be a major reversal as Trump escalates a trade conflict with China. The Pacific Rim trade deal was intended by the Obama administration as a way to counter China’s influence, but Trump criticized the pact as a candidate and pulled the United States out of the pact in early 2017.

* Saying that “Trump criticized the pact” is putting it mildly.

In case anyone hasn’t gotten the message yet, you cannot believe one word that comes out of this man’s mouth…and that includes what he said today about rejoining the TPP.

* Regardless of how your weigh the pro’s and con’s of TPP, Josh Marshall is right to suggest that this is an example of “a militantly ignorant president.”

The point really isn’t the rights or wrongs of TPP. The point is that Trump had zero idea what TPP even was when he decided to peremptorily pull out of the agreement. It may have been bad for the US or good. But his decision was based on ignorance and impulse. Because there was nothing behind it in the first place, an about-face is completely possible…But it’s just one more example of the toll of a militantly ignorant President.

* Backing up what I wrote earlier about Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein being on the firing line, CNN is now reporting this:

The White House is preparing talking points designed to undermine Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s credibility, according to sources familiar with the plan.

The plan calls on President Donald Trump’s allies to cast Rosenstein as too conflicted to fairly oversee the Russia investigation.

* As of mid-March Trump had nominated 87 people for openings on the federal courts, 89 of whom are white and 67 male. This is one of the women:

Charles Pierce had some words about that.

This is a very cute answer, particularly for a white person from the state that gave us Plessy v. Ferguson. But Brown is not something with which to get cute. It materially fulfilled the basic promises of the Constitution for a good chunk of the country’s citizens. It redeemed the moral failures of Reconstruction. It fulfilled the sacrifices made during the Civil War. It helped make the Civil Rights Movement possible.

* Finally, during Barack Obama’s tenure as president, I constantly reminded myself that he played the long game. I though of that when I heard this description of what it’s like to work in the Trump White House:

“It’s just like everybody wakes up every morning and does whatever is right in front of them,” said one West Wing aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity to share a candid opinion. “Oh, my God, Trump Tower is on fire. Oh, my God, they raided Michael Cohen’s office. Oh, my God, we’re going to bomb Syria. Whatever is there is what people respond to, and there is no proactive strategic thinking.”

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.