Saturday, March 17, 2018

BTRTN: Changing of the Guard? More Like a Dismantling of the Guard Rails

Tom with the “SaturData Review” which updates key political indicators and highlights other pertinent info from the week. 

THE WEEK

Donald Trump is the first President who came to office as a complete novice, with nary a nanosecond of political or military experience, the first of our 44 presidents (Grover Cleveland had two separate stints, of course) with that, er, distinction.  Add to that a volatile personality, a contempt for expertise and a propensity to act impulsively and emotionally, and, not surprisingly, putting proper restraints on him became the first order of business.  The term “guard rails” became ubiquitous with the advent of the Trump presidency.

Congress and the Courts have done their share of restraining, by refusing to pass horrendous legislation (e.g., health care), fund silly ideas (e.g., the Wall), and proscribing ridiculous Executive Orders (e.g., the travel bans).  But the heavy lifting here has fallen on his senior staff and certain Cabinet members.

Image result for dismantling guard rails
There are two separate sets of guard rails, one in international affairs and the other for domestic policy.  (Sadly, no effective guard rails have ever been in place governing personal style and decorum.)  On the international side, James Mattis, Rex Tillerson and H.R. McMaster have been the primary line of defense, and they have been reasonably effective in keeping the big picture issues on track, with U.S. actions falling short of Trump’s rhetoric and instincts (e.g., we have not yet bombed North Korea, despite Trump’s itchy trigger finger, nor have we abrogated the Iran deal, despite his obvious distaste for it).  Domestically, the going has been tougher, but John Kelly, Gary Cohn and, in an ironic way, Jeff Sessions have all done their bit to provide some degree of ballast to constrain Trump.

But this week, we are seeing the beginnings of, not simply a changing of the guard rails, but a dismantling of them.  Trump, apparently growing more confident in his role and his instincts, is ripping them out, replacing those who seek to control him with far more like-minded pals who, if anything, will urge him on.  Tillerson may have been the worst Secretary of State in our history, but he was a moderating force on Trump, and now he is gone.  McMaster is on the chopping block as well, apparently awaiting only a suitable replacement before he gets the boot, complete with a 4th star, a safe landing, and, unlike Tillerson, some semblance of a dignified departure.  Tillerson has been replaced with CIA chief Mike Pompeo, who gets along with Trump, hates the Iraq deal, and is generally more hawkish than Tillerson.  And the rumor mill has neocon John Bolton in line for McMaster’s job, which is far from comforting, as anyone who watched his blowhard performance at the U.N. may recall.

On the domestic side, Gary Cohn is gone, having lost a battle he thought he had won, the tariffs wars (which of course have huge international ramifications, with the threat of a trade war now in the air).  Kelly is also on thin ice, for committing the sin (so it is reported) of saying “no” to Trump one too many times (i.e., being a guard rail).  His mismanagement of the Porter affair and general antipathy to Javanka has not helped his cause.  And Jeff Sessions, the committer of the Original Sin of recusing himself from the Russia probe, has long since passed the “thin ice” stage, and has been thrashing around under the ice for quite some time, gulping enough air to survive.  The rumor is that he may be forced to trade jobs with EPA chief Scott Pruitt.  If Pruitt handles the AG job as he has managed the EPA, we may have no laws left in America.

Of the six most important human guard rails, only Mattis seems safe, the only one who continues to have both influence over Trump as well as some ability to constrain him.  And that is a sickening situation.

This week also saw the release of the epically inept and partisan House Intelligence Committee report on Russia’s involvement in the election.  This was an “investigation” in which:  1) White House staffers who testified before the committee claimed executive privilege for any question they decided they did not care to answer and were not held in contempt; 2) the White House refused to hand over requested documents but were not slapped with a single subpoena; 3) none of Mike Flynn, George Papadopulous, Paul Manafort or Rick Gates were ever called to testify.  The committee report was truly not fit to be useful even as toilet paper, as Phil Mudd of CNN rather bluntly (and more colorfully) put it.

Conor Lamb and the Dems fired the clearest possible warning shot across the bow in winning the Pennsylvania 18th special election by a whisker (a win we called at BTRTN).  Not only was th ais race demonstration of the Democrats’ get out the vote energy and prowess, but it also foreshadowed a very effective candidate strategy for the Dems, running candidates with military backgrounds and centrist positions (who openly oppose Nancy Pelosi), a mix designed to maximize appeal in contested races.  All the while, GOP retirements weaken their ability to hold onto red seats, and few worthy candidates want to threaten their political lives by trying to surf into this monstrous blue wave.

And has Trump finally met his match in the rather unlikely figure of porn star Stormy Daniels, who has managed to trap even Sarah Huckabee Sanders into a gaffe, and thus dragged Trump directly into the fray (where he belongs)?  Perhaps Tom Steyer and/or George Soros will offer to cover all of her legal expenses and let her speak her piece -- the sordid mess might actually move the needle on Trump among those moralistic evangelists (though I doubt it).  Meanwhile, check out 60 Minutes next Sunday night (with James Comey to come sometime in April, to be sure).

Meanwhile, the Mueller drumbeat continues with the official (reported by the Times, that is) word that the special counsel has requested Trump Organization documents on business ties with Russia, plunging over the supposed red lines that would cause Trump to fire Mueller.

Did you say “gun control”?  {Sigh.}  No new news yet again on that front, apart from Trump pulling back to be completely aligned with the NRA.  March on, all, on March 24.

THE NUMBERS

The one thing that is remarkably consistent about Trump presidency is his approval rating, which after a sharp dip a month into his presidency has been relatively constant in the high 30/low 40 range.  Trump’s approval rating increased marginally, by +1 point from last week, from 41% to 42%.  The Dems continued to hold their commanding +7 point lead on the generic ballot and that would be enough to indicate a flip of the House in September of it held.   The Trumpometer held steady at +13, meaning that our five economic indicators – the Dow, the unemployment rate, the price of gas, Consumer Confidence and the GDP -- are, on average, up 13% since Trump’s Inaugural in January, 2017. (The full chart and methodology explanations are at the bottom of this article.) 

SaturData Review
Jan '17 Inaug
Jan '18 Year 1
Last 4 Weeks
Wk ending   Feb 23
Wk ending   Mar 3
Wk ending   Mar 10
Wk ending   Mar 17
Trump Approval
48%
41%
43%
43%
41%
42%
Net Approval
+4 pp
-14 pp
-11 pp
-11 pp
-13 pp
-12 pp
Generic Ballot
D + 6
D + 6
D + 8
D + 4
D + 7
D + 7
Trumpometer
0%
+19%
+13%
+12%
+13%
+13%

POLITICAL STAT OF THE WEEK

According to polling by CNN, George W. Bush was viewed favorably by only 33% of Americans when he left office in 2009.  As of a new poll in January, 2018, his favorability rating is now 61%.


*******************************************************

Here is the complete SaturData chart with accompanying methodology explanations:

SaturData Review
Jan 2017   Post-Inaug.
Wk ending   Mar 10
Wk ending   Mar 17
Change vs. Last Wk
Change vs. Jan 2017
Trump Approval
48%
41%
42%
+1 pp
-6 pp
Trump Disapproval
44%
54%
54%
+0 pp
-10 pp
Trump Net Approval
+4 pp
-13 pp
-12 pp
+1 pp
-16 pp






Generic Ballot
D + 6
D + 7
D + 7
+0 pp
+1 pp






Trumpometer
0%
+13%
+13%
+0 pp
+13 pp
Unemployment Rate
4.7
4.1
4.1
0%
13%
Consumer Confidence
114
131
131
0%
15%
Price of Gas
2.44
2.68
2.68
0%
-10%
Dow-Jones
19,732
25,336
24,978
-1%
27%
Most recent GDP
2.1
2.5
2.5
0%
19%

Methodology notes:

BTRTN calculates our weekly approval ratings using an average of the four pollsters who conduct daily or weekly approval rating polls: Gallup Rasmussen, Reuters/Ipsos and You Gov/Economist. This provides consistent and accurate trending information and does not muddy the waters by including infrequent pollsters.  The outcome tends to mirror the RCP average but, we believe, our method gives more precise trending.

For the generic ballot, we take an average of the only two pollsters who conduct weekly generic ballot polls, Reuters/Ipsos and You Gov/Economist, again for trending consistency.

The Trumpometer aggregates a set of economic indicators and compares the resulting index to that same set of aggregated indicators at the time of the Trump Inaugural on January 20, 2017. The basic idea is to demonstrate whether the country is better off economically now versus when Trump took office.
The indicators are the unemployment rate, the Dow-Jones Industrial Average, the Consumer Confidence Index, the price of gasoline, and the GDP.


3 comments:

  1. Trump is the best thing since Lincoln to happen to America. Only the commie left is upset, since he has dismantled many of there schemes. People need to watch a video called Agenda, it's on Prime TV it shows what is happening to America and few see it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Trump is not the best thing to happen to anything, anywhere, anyhow; the man is a total irresponsible failure, and the people he promotes are likewise wisdom-deprived. He's a Hill-Billy, and any complimentary term applied to him would be a total misnomer. He's determined to replay the Big Bang, knowing or caring nothing about it. He and all of his blind followers could use a Holiday On ICE.

      Delete
  2. Definitely imagine that that you stated. Your favourite reason seemed to be on the internet
    the easiest thing to remember of. I say to you,
    I certainly get irked even as people consider worries that they plainly don't
    realize about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top as
    neatly as defined out the whole thing without having side effect , people could take a signal.
    Will probably be back to get more. Thank you

    ReplyDelete

Leave a comment