I wish I could get more juiced up about this NYT interview in which Pres. Trump said he never would have appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions had he known Sessions would recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation. After all, while the comment is nonsensical given the timeline, it again reveals that he wanted to select the person in charge of any investigation of his campaign.
Moreover, other segments of the interview indicate that Trump is decidedly less than thrilled that the investigation may be looking into his finances. These comments occur coincident to reports that banking regulators and federal investigators are looking into Trump’s loans from Deutsche Bank, which is also expecting requests from the special counsel. And the special counsel was reportedly already looking at items not reported by the media.
All of this can be dismissed as gossip, but Trump tends to blurt out his concerns. It also tends to suggest these stories will not be going away soon, and thus potentially drag on Trump’s agenda.
My problem is the deja vu quality of all of this.
Why did Trump give this interview? Because he can’t help himself. I’ve already written the post explaining that Trump is not a master of the MSM, but a slave to it. He’s the 80s/90s New York Post guy who desperately wants to be the 2017 New York Times guy (and this is also far more true of some of his supporters than they would ever admit to themselves).
The Deep State did not force Trump to make these self-damaging comments to the NYT; his mental state did. These comments were not leaked by a shadowy cabal of former Obama administration officials; they were volunteered by a man who desperately craves the respect of media outlets that loathe him.
Of course, the fact that these comments are self-damaging does not mean that they are self-incriminating.
But I’ve written that post also, more or less. A recurring theme here has been the parallels between the early Trump administration and the Clinton administration. As I noted, “like Bill Clinton, Trump has a flair for throwing suspicion on himself even when an underlying scandal is ultimately revealed to be slim or tangential.”
Bill did this throughout his presidency, and he really never stopped. Who visits Attorney General Loretta Lynch on an airport tarmac while his wife is both under FBI investigation and running for President? Bill Clinton, that’s who. It’s what he does.
And Hillary did also, from the cattle futures trading right through the private email server. The Clintons love to smoke, regardless of whether there’s fire in any particular case.
We already knew that the concept of “the appearance of impropriety” is foreign to the Clintons or the Trumps, who found nothing suspicious about taking a meeting after an alleged offer of top secret oppo from the Russians. So Trump’s latest interview probably doesn’t tell us much we didn’t already know about him.
It also doesn’t tell us something we didn’t already know about politics generally: people with character issues tend to attract scandals, much as road apples attract flies.
Trump’s defenders tend to believe that Trump skeptics are repelled mostly by his gaudy aesthetics. In fairness, I think you could probably find examples of this. Then again, you could find examples of those on the Right who sounded like their distaste for Bill Clinton was also a function of his trashy Southern grifter aesthetic.
There is a tendency to lump all such distaste together as a form of classism. But Trump’s critics aren’t nearly as obsessed with his image as he is, which is how he ends up ranting to the NYT.
Rather, the problem is that often the aesthetics of the grifting Southern pol or the sleazy NYC real estate developer tend to accompany grifting Southern pols or sleazy NYC real estate developers — and that character problems tend to turn into political ones, eventually.
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