Paul Craig Roberts
What do they mean?
Before I give an explanation, let’s be sure we all know what an explanation is. An explanation is not a justification. The collapse of education in the US is so severe that many Americans, especially younger ones, cannot tell the difference between an explanation and a defense, justification, or apology for what they regard as a guilty person or party. If an explanation is not damning or sufficiently damning of what they want damned, the explanation is interpreted as an excuse for the object of their scorn. In America, reason and objective analysis have taken a backseat to emotion.
We do not know what the appointments mean except, as Trump discovered once he confronted the task of forming a government, that there is no one but insiders to appoint. For the most part that is correct. Outsiders are a poor match for insiders who tend to eat them alive. Ronald Reagan’s California crew were a poor match for George H.W. Bush’s insiders. The Reagan part of the government had a hell of a time delivering results that Reagan wanted.
Another limit on a president’s ability to form a government is Senate confirmation of presidential appointees. Whereas Congress is in Republican hands, Congress remains in the hands of special interests who will protect their agendas from hostile potential appointees. Therefore, although Trump does not face partisan opposition from Congress, he faces the power of special interests that fund congressional political campaigns.
When the White House announced my appointment as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, Republican Senator Bob Dole put a hold on my appointment. Why? Dole had presidential ambitions, and he saw the rising star of Republican Representative Jack Kemp as a potential obstacle. As I had written the Kemp-Roth bill that had become Reagan’s economic policy, Dole regarded me in the Treasury as a one-up for Kemp. So, you see, all sorts of motives can plague a president’s ability to form a government.
With Trump under heavy attack prior to his inauguration, he cannot afford drawn out confirmation fights and defeats.
Does Trump’s choice of Steve Mnuchin as Treasury Secretary mean that Goldman Sachs will again be in charge of US economic policy? Possibly, but we do not know. We will have to wait and see. Mnuchin left Goldman Sachs 14 years ago. He has been making movies in Hollywood and started his own investment firm. Many people have worked for Goldman Sachs and the New York Banks who have become devastating critics of the banks. Read Nomi Prins’ books and visit Pam Martens website, Wall Street on Parade ( http://wallstreetonparade.com ). My sometimes coauthor Dave Kranzler is a former Wall Streeter.
Commentators are jumping to conclusions based on appointees past associations. Mnuchin was an early Trump supporter and chairman of Trump’s finance campaign. He has Wall Street and investment experience. He should be an easy confirmation. For a president-elect under attack this is important.
Will Mnuchin suppport Trump’s goal of bringing middle class jobs back to America? Is Trump himself sincere? We do not know.
What we do know is that Trump attacked the fake “free trade” agreements that have stripped America of middle class jobs just as did Pat Buchanan and Ross Perot. We know that the Clintons made their fortune as agents of the One Percent, the only ones who have profited from the offshoring of American jobs. Trump’s fortune is not based on jobs offshoring.
Not every billionaire is an oligarch. Trump’s relation to the financial sector is one as a debtor. No doubt Trump and the banks have had unsatisfactory relationships. And Trump says he is a person who enjoys revenge.
What about the hot-headed generals announced as National Security Advisor and Secretary of Defense? Both seem to be death on Iran, which is stupid and unfortunate. However, keep in mind that Gen. Flynn is the one who blew the whistle on the Obama regime for rejecting the advice of the DIA and sending ISIS to overthrow Assad. Flynn said that ISIS was a “willful decision” of the Obama administration, not some unexpected event.
And keep in mind that Gen. Mattis is the one who told Trump that torture does not work, which caused Trump to back off his endorsement of torture.
So both of these generals, as bad as they may be, are an improvement on what came before. Both have shown independence from the neoconservative line that supports ISIS and torture.
Keep in mind also that there are two kinds of insiders. Some represent the agendas of special interests; others go with the flow because they enjoy participating in the affairs of the nation. Those who don’t go with the flow are eliminated from participating.
Goldman Sachs is a good place to get rich. That Mnuchin left 14 years ago could mean that he was not a good match for Goldman Sachs, that they did not like him or he did not like them. That Flynn and Mattis have taken independent positions on ISIS and torture suggests that they are mavericks. All three of these appointees seem to be strong and confident individuals who know the terrain, which is the kind of people a president needs if he is to accomplish anything.
The problem with beating up on an administration before it exists and has a record is that the result can be that the administration becomes deaf to all criticism. It is much better to give the new president a chance and to hold his feet to the fire on the main issues.
Trump alone among all the presidential candidates said that he saw no point in fomenting conflict with Russia. Trump alone questioned NATO’s continued existence 25 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Trump alone said that he would work to bring middle class jobs back to America.
And Trump said that he would enforce immigration laws. Is this racism or is this a defense of citizenship? How is the US a country if there is no difference between illegal aliens and citizens?
Commentators of all stripes are making a mistake to damn in advance the only government that campaigned on peace with Russia, restoring middle class jobs, and respect for the country’s borders. We should seize on these promises and hold the Trump administration to them. We should also work to make Trump aware of the serious adverse consequences of environmental degradation.
Who is blowing these opportunities? Trump? Mnuchin? Flynn? Mattis?
The more Trump is criticized, the easier it is for the neoconservatives to offer their support and enter the administration. To date he has not appointed one, but you can bet your life that Israel is lobbying hard for the neocons. The neocons still reign in the media, the think tanks, university departments of foreign affairs, and the foreign policy community. They are an ever present danger.
Trump’s personality means that he is likely to see more reward in being the president who reverses American decline than in using the presidency to augment his personal fortune. Therefore, there is some hope for change occuring from the top rather than originating in the streets of bloody revolution. By the time Americans reach the revolutionary stage of awareness the police state is likely to be too strong for them.
So let’s give the Trump administration a chance. We can turn on him after he sells us out.