* It was disappointing to see a Kennedy as a Trump stooge. Exiting from an audience with Donald Trump the other day was Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who is an anti-vaccine crusader. Trump had asked him to lead a new government commission on vaccine safety and scientific integrity.
So, heads up. Here come debunked conspiracy theories back into the news cycle–along with further political polarization.
* When Ronald Reagan was president–at 69, the oldest ever elected–there were jokes about his age. As in who his “senior” advisers would actually be. Thomas Jefferson? James Madison? Fast forward to now and the new oldest-ever-elected president, Donald Trump, 70. One of his “senior” advisers is son-in-law Jared Kushner, 36, roughly half Trump’s age. It’s still a joke–only now the humor is dark and mired in nepotism charges.
* Those Russian hacking allegations, which even Donald Trump now concedes, should have surprised no one with a frame of reference for the cloak-and-dagger Cold War with the Soviet Union–as well as the renewed Cold War atmosphere in Russia under former KGB operative Vladimir Putin. Paranoid, authoritarian and humiliated over the Soviet implosion, Putin and many other Russians were convinced that the U.S. had orchestrated, among other things, protests in Ukraine in 2014 that toppled a pro-Moscow government. They also believe former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was more than encouraging to anti-Putin protestors in the most recent Russian presidential election.
So pay-back hacking is merely the modern, technological version of what the Soviets used to do. And that includes trying to directly influence a presidential election.
In his 1995 memoir, “In Confidence,” Anatoly Dobrynin, the former Russian ambassador to the U.S., recounts a role he was asked to play in the 1968 election. The Russians wanted Hubert H. Humphrey to win, not the avowed anti-Communist, presumably anti-Soviet Richard Nixon. So Dobrynin was instructed, he wrote, to provide Humphrey “any conceivable help in his election campaign–including financial aid.” In the case of Russia, the past is definitely prologue.
* Fake news can only go so far, it would seem. But intelligence-related outtakes that have yielded “golden showers” references–in president-elect context–was a new low. The fact that it even seems credible–even to the, uh, mainstream media–is beyond a national embarrassment.
*Imagine what an Obama retrospective could look like after four years of in-your-face arrogance, scandal-mongering, impeachment scenarios and geopolitical babel. How ironic–and karmic–even if Mitch McConnell will never admit it.
* It would be shocking if President Trump turns out to be anything different from President-elect Trump. He is–as we’ve seen from “The Apprentice” and tabloid lore through campaign debates and bombastic pre-presidency–a scorpion. He doesn’t change. He can’t change. Not when you’re a brand. It’s a major reason why a portion of the electorate channeled him.
* What’s particularly unsettling and “unpresidented,” however, is Trump’s Twitter fixation. It’s scary what 140 characters in the small fingers of the narcissist-in-chief with the nuclear codes could mean.
It was hardly consoling to hear Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, address that reality. “I do not get a memo,” acknowledged Spicer. “He drives the train on this.” Apparently the only question is whether President Tweet will get sidetracked into using the official @POTUS handle or rely more on his fan favorite, @realDonald Trump.
A more sobering assessment of presidential tweeting in the new Administration is that of outgoing CIA Director John Brennan. “Spontaneity is not something that protects national security interests,” underscored Brennan.
* However it’s couched, the Trump Administration will have a bottom-line, credibility criterion when it comes to successfully replacing the Affordable Care Act. Those previously uninsured until the ACA–all 20 million of them–now have to retain affordable insurance. And the remaining uncovered 28 million must be afforded coverage. And if that happens, one thing is certain: It won’t be marketplace dynamics, tax credits et al, as usual. Have to wonder if Mitt Romney(care) is awaiting a call.