Smart Ideas: Trump’s Enemies List

AP Photo/Evan Vucci
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March 19, 2018, 8 p.m.

Trump checking off names on his enemies list

Jonathan Chait, writing for New York Magazine

Trump’s firing of former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe, along with lawyer John Dowd’s comments calling for the firing of Robert Mueller, is another example of Trump taking out his enemies one by one until Mueller finally falls. “[T]hose who doubt he will finally take the plunge are making the mistake of judging Trump by the standards of a normal president and not his own demonstrated pathologies,” one of which is a demand for complete loyalty among the federal law enforcement apparatus. “Since the firing of James Comey, the staff members around Trump have managed to placate, delay, or contain some of these impulses. But nearly every reporter following the White House now agrees that Trump is moving into a new phase of his presidency,” one in which he trusts nothing but his own impulses while ignoring “people who consider him a moron or are trying to save the country from his madness.”

Putin wants to make Russia great again

Shaun Walker, interviewed on NPR

Ordinary Russians are struggling to get by, but they don’t blame Vladimir Putin. The leader, who has been in power for nearly 18 years, remains “able to portray himself as a man who is fighting the system, rather than the man who is embodying the system.” That’s largely due to the war narrative he’s constructed. As soon as Putin entered office, he began using symbols from “the victory of the second World War as a kind of national building block.” The “Russia first” message, which led to the annexation of Crimea, has become “an integral part of Russian psyches,” and it’s impossible to understand his success without it.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks to supporters during a rally near the Kremlin on Sunday. AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

No information without reputation

Gloria Origgi, writing for Aeon

The information age has revealed a “paradox,” that “the greater the amount of information that circulates, the more we rely on so-called reputational devices to evaluate it.” The sheer volume of information available renders us more dependent on other people to filter and evaluate it. In fact, “reputation has become a central pillar of collective intelligence today. It is the gatekeeper to knowledge, and the keys to the gate are held by others.”

A blocked Facebook window in Colombo, Sri Lanka AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena

Not here to make friends

Paul Waldman, writing for The Week

Nancy Pelosi’s continuing unpopularity among both Republicans and parts of her own party is of no concern to her. “She has good reason. We just saw yet another election in which Republicans tried everything they could do to tie the Democratic candidate to Pelosi, and he won anyway.” There is “zero evidence” Republican attacks on Democratic House candidates as Pelosi stooges actually work, and their own leader, Paul Ryan, “is just as unpopular as Pelosi.” However, there is “a reasonable argument to be made that it’s time for Pelosi to step aside” for a younger generation of party leaders, perhaps by saying she’ll stay on through the 2020 election, “which would allow her to use her skills of opposition to fight the Trump administration while preparing the ground for a successor to take over.”

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