Nothing tells you more about the hackery of Howard Kurtz than his softball interview with Corey Lewandowski in which Lewandowski was allowed to claim that Trump’s presidency has been successful without a single bit of challenge.
Lewandowski’s appearance on MediaBuzz today began with Lewandowski using last night’s terror attack in London to pitch for Trump’s Muslim ban – by attacking the judge’s who have ruled against it, which Kurtz mildly challenged. Kurtz did not question Trump's shockingly unpresidential tweet that insulted the mayor of London mayor in the middle of the crisis.
Then the discussion moved on to Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement. “Do you feel like the press, in covering this, kind of glossed over the fact that during the campaign, when you were advising Donald Trump, that he promised this? That this was a campaign promise that he was carrying out?” Kurtz “asked.”
I’ll bet you’re sitting on the edge of your seat wondering what Lewandowski’s answer was.
But then Kurtz brought up a piece Lewandowski wrote for The Hill in which he said, “The mainstream media would like you to believe President Trump’s first four months were not a success.” Kurtz asked, “Are you arguing that it’s been a smashing success and the press has completely misinterpreted what’s happened?”
Kurtz’s question suggested that he does not agree with that view. But it was a chickens*** way of doing so. Because rather than offer any real challenge, the effect of Kurtz’s question was to open the door for Lewandowski to go on a rant about Trump’s Gloriousness. And that’s exactly what Lewandowski did for the next 47 seconds.
LEWANDOWSKI: If you think about this, the president has a Supreme Court justice which by all accounts, was exceptionally qualified. He has him sitting on the bench. The president got no credit for negotiating the release of a U.S. citizen in an Egyptian prison which Barack Obama couldn’t get done. He literally got no credit for this. He’s put jobs back on the table, the economy is booming, the stock market’s at the highest it’s been. If you look at the last month, it was supposed to be 185,000 new jobs created, there was 250,000 new jobs created. By every measure that you can look at, this administration has been successful and the mainstream media has given him no credit. That doesn’t even include all the executive orders that he’s done which allows coal miners and steel workers back to work and stops countries from dumping their goods on our soil without some kind of repercussion.
But Kurtz didn’t bring up any of those inconvenient facts. Instead, he changed the subject to ask whether Lewandowski will join the White House staff.
Watch Kurtz play lapdog to Lewandowski below, from the June 4, 2017 MediaBuzz.
Of course. I mean, just LOOK at that big, beautiful wall, the successful implementation of Drumpfcare, or the number of Muslims banned . . .
The Pence White House as a great success? By ‘every measure’? Was he planning on including any of the metrics that anyone else uses? How about how Trump’s popularity (and that of Congress) is historically low? How about how most of the country does not trust what this White House says and does not think their racist and bullying behaviors are making anyone anything but less safe?
Lewandowski wants to cite the Supreme Court situation? That’s not a success for the Pence White House – it’s a black eye on the Senate, as inflicted by Mitch McConnell and the Right Wing, who made a point of shirking their responsibilities for a solid year and then celebrated when they were able to steal a Supreme Court seat. It’s true that Pence had Trump name one of the viciously Far Right names from the second variation of the Heritage Action list of approved partisan judges, but the real legwork on this was done by McConnell – whose own legacy will be the way he diminished the Senate and soiled the reputation and credibility of that institution. When people look back on the decline of US politics in the early 21st century, they’ll be able to cite McConnell as one of the truly nasty pieces of work responsible for much of the acrimony. But even if you want to cite the theft of the seat as a “success”, the person responsible for the heist wasn’t in the Pence White House, and they don’t get to take that credit.
It is true that Trump was able to see Aya Hijazi and her husband released by Egypt, after years of attempts by the Obama administration did not get her out. Of course, we don’t know what other back channel discussions got this done, nor do we know what promises were made to Egypt. We do know that when the Obama administration got several prisoners released by other nations, the Right Wing would immediately accuse him of bribery and of any criminal action or intent they could conceive. I am assuming based on Lewandowski’s statements here that he is now prepared to acknowledge Obama’s leadership in repeatedly getting multiple prisoners released across the Middle East and that the Pence White House is preparing an apology to President Obama for their unfortunate statements about those releases during last year’s campaign.
As for the notion of the economy booming, I’m certain that Lewandowski is prepared to thank President Obama for that, although he and Trump were castigating the economy at similar levels last year. And at the same time, when Obama would get numbers close to 200K new jobs, Trump and the Right would regularly say that those numbers should be quadrupled. So if anything, the Pence White House is actually coming in at maybe half the number that would actually signify major job growth.
So what actually has the Pence White House accomplished since January 21? Well, Pence has had Trump sign a bunch of Executive Orders – something that Trump had castigated President Obama for doing, primarily to erase those earlier EO’s from the record. The Pence White House has announced various forms of bullying and meanness both toward their political opponents and toward the world. The Pence White House has repeatedly stated obvious falsehoods, about everything from the intentions of their budget cuts to the way Trump lost the popular vote last year to the reasons for Trump’s impulsive firing of the head of the FBI to the size of the crowd at his inauguration. The Pence White House has embarrassed the nation and itself to the world, both with Trump’s disastrous and bullying voyage across Europe (including his horrifying shoving aside of another head of state) and with Trump’s gloating demeanor about the whole thing.
Of course, the Pence White House hasn’t actually done all that has planned to do yet. Pence did have Trump make the long-awaited announcement that the US would retreat from the world stage and abandon even the pretense of working to address global warming. And Pence did supervise the first stage of Congress’ attempt to get rid of the ACA, although that’s still mired in a Senate committee. And Pence did get an announcement out about how the US will be abandoning the Cuban rapprochement that had literally just happened between Obama and the Cubans. But all of that could have been done on January 21, and it’s bizarre that the Pence White House has failed to move very quickly on this stuff. Pence could have completely shut down the ACA on January 21 by stopping the subsidies for the insurers – that would have collapsed all the exchanges and we’d be where the GOP has wanted for nearly a decade: back before the ACA’s passing with an additional 25 million people uninsured and unable to get coverage. Pence could have had Trump announce on January 21 that the US was walking away from every single treaty made by President Obama, including the Paris Accord, the Iran Treaty and the Cuban talks, and it all would have been over by now.
And that’s not even to mention the Muslim ban, which Pence hasn’t been able to get past the courts, and which even this Supreme Court is unlikely to uphold given all of Trump and company’s statements about its purpose.
On the other hand, I do need to acknowledge that the Pence White House has been successful in a few things – namely in alienating and angering the majority of the electorate who did not choose to have these people in executive office. And the Pence White House has been unintentionally successful in mobilizing those voters, which is likely to have much more positive impacts for the nation and the world in another 18 months. And it’s frankly quite possible that the Pence White House’s viciousness towards our health care system is likely to make Single Payer a reality a lot earlier than many people thought possible. So I would term that a success – but I’m not sure that the Pence White House would agree…