Not the Perfect Storm
by

“As millions of people in TX and LA are preparing for the hurricane,” Sen. Chuck Schumer (NY), leader of the Senate Democrats, proclaimed in a series of Friday night tweets, “The President is using the cover of the storm to pardon a man who violated a court’s order to stop discriminating against Latinos and [to] ban courageous transgender men and women from serving our nation’s Armed Forces. The only reason to do these right now is to use the cover of Hurricane Harvey to avoid scrutiny. So sad, so weak.”

And, so low-life for Schumer.

There’s more. Just before Schumer’s righteous indignation, CNN media analyst Brian Stelter had set the tone, as he pronounced that President Donald Trump acted “irresponsibly.” According to Stelter, and later his colleagues: Trump had snookered America, his administration conspiring to bury two (and then three, then four) major stories, not only as part of the Friday “news dump,” but far worse, during an epic disaster in Texas.

All this would be a sick ploy, if it were true. Our fellow Americans are in distress. We are not yet, as progressives would like, a fully Balkanized conglomerate of entitled diversity. We are still one nation with a resurgent sense of community. Help our fellow citizens, even if their historical statutes are politically incorrect and presumably worthy of Orwellian revisionism.

Even on Sunday, with people in Houston and beyond obviously in hardship, NBC was alluding to “Friday summer news dumps” and “the cover of a storm to getting all this out the door.” The network’s Chuck Todd theorized that Trump was simply  impulsive and instead blamed his staff for “trying to bury” the Arpaio pardon.

As for the sleepy Friday news hiatus, it’s an anachronism. More than anyone, CNN knows this: not only with cable and satellite news, but the Internet, websites and blogs, and especially Facebook and the social media, we have a 24-hour news cycle spanning all time zones. You can’t bury fake news, let alone real news. In fact, it would be unusual on CNN if the on-screen banner ever read: “Not breaking news.” The same story in the morning is still bannered “breaking news” ten hours later.

In its tirade against Trump, CNN initially cited two stories: (1) President Trump pardoned former Maricopa County (Arizona) Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and (2) National Security Council aide Sebastian Gorka (take your pick:) resigned or was fired, and then added, (3) President Trump signed a memorandum directing the U.S. military not to accept transgender recruits. One CNN talking head supplemented — (4) the president also did want coverage of three North Korean missile tests on Friday (really weird, since these missile tests were uneventfully short-range).

A dissenting CNN pundit Tara Setmayer, former aide to Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, opined that if Trump plotted, it was instead to give the pardon greater attention, because viewers were monitoring the calamity. Certainly CNN bizarrely obliged Trump, giving prominence to the very stories that Trump, it had claimed, wanted to suppress, CNN curiously enmeshing the stories that it said would wrongly divert coverage from the immediate, calamitous natural disaster.

Trump may be habitually overdrawn in his relentless attacks on “the very dishonest media” which sometimes merely cover his self-inflicted wounds, but CNN customarily lowers to the occasion. On Friday its talking heads flayed Trump for recklessly diverting attention from the hurricane and even implied he was jeopardizing lives. But where was CNN’s requisite concern and due diligence, as the network itself barely covered the whirlwind initially? Instead CNN focused on Arpaio and Gorka, and then Kim Jong-un, none of whom are even transgender.

On Arpaio: while the federal government abdicated, he had enforced immigration laws. He is courageous, but also flawed. He denigrated and inflamed the judiciary. That said, the Obama Justice Department (DOJ) was egregiously heavy-handed in its prosecution, and the federal judge no less over-zealous. But President Trump erred last week in Phoenix when he hinted at a pardon, and on Friday when he signed one. Neither the White House counsel nor Attorney General Jeff Sessions encouraged his timing.

Quite simply, there was no rush to pardon the sheriff. Trump likely bypassed DOJ protocols; that process would have generated a negative paper trail of legal dissent. President Bill Clinton, literally in the final hours of his administration, used then Assistant AG Eric Holder, who manipulated to avoid such channels, and thus enabled Clinton to give mega-swindler Marc Rich a pardon, one of many questionable pardons given by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

We in California know this Clinton-Obama style. Consider the politically correct Arnold Schwarzenegger, a preeminent Trump critic and a darling of the liberal media. Literally hours before leaving office, Schwarzenegger, without going through channels or even notifying the parents of the young man who had been murdered, gave a pardon to Esteban Nunez, who had been convicted of the murder. Nunez is the son of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, a Democrat who supported Schwarzenegger’s agenda. Defending his decision, the “moderate Republican” governor said, “Of course you help a friend” (like Clinton helping Marc Rich).

The legal process for Arpaio was still in motion. If a judge were to sentence Arpaio to no time in jail, would a pardon be necessary? The conviction would hardly impair the 85-year-old’s ability to get another job. If, however, Arpaio were given jail time, he might have indicated at least mild remorse and then Trump could have pardoned him. In such matters involving the judiciary, conservatives – unlike Clinton and Obama and Schwarzenegger — prefer — as conservative scholar Wayne Thorburn has pointed out — deference to the rule of law and the U.S. Constitution, not the “living constitution” of the progressives, where judges or sheriffs make and enforce law as they see fit.

Given Trump’s all-but-announced pardon of Arpaio in last week’s Phoenix speech, this “official” pardon on Friday was, while still newsworthy, almost anti-climactic. So also was the president’s memorandum ending the military recruitment of transgender individuals, but not terminating the service of those already in the armed forces.

Nor was it exactly big news that Sebastian Gorka is gone. While Gorka’s vision of the Iran deal and Islamist terrorism is much closer to Trump’s vision than the Obama holdovers still (inexplicably?) at the National Security Council (NSC), Gorka was, in NSC Chief Gen. H. R. McMaster’s view, spending too much time on Sean Hannity, and not enough time at his desk. Right after his pardon, the octogenarian Arpaio gave his first interview Friday to… Sean Hannity, and expect Gorka on Monday.

President Trump had given authority to the capable McMcMaster to hire (and fire) at the NSC. And another general, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, has McMaster’s back. Once Trump’s strategist (and Gorka patron) Stephen H. Bannon was gone, as I predicted, then Gorka’s departure was on autopilot. McMaster already had been purging Bannon protégés at the NSC and now anyone remaining there or in the WH as a whole with links to Bannon, including some solid people, comprise an endangered species, and that’s wrong. As for Kelly, he is properly skeptical of those on the White House payroll without a job description, especially those not in the press shop, but whose main function is to flack and spin.

The liberal Huff Post and the Daily Mail, among others, mischievously had implied a Jewish cabal in the White House was behind the ouster of Bannon and Gorka, and Jew-haters on the Internet had a field day. Odd, since Mort Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, among many other major Jewish Trump supporters, was a strong backer of Bannon and his team, including Gorka. If you want to generalize, try military coup. Seriously, “who’s on first” at the White House defies instant analysis.

What about the big picture? In tragedy, there is the opportunity for unity. President Trump over the months has missed such openings, most recently in Charlottesville, then again with the recent deaths of sailors in naval accidents, and now on Friday, when he needed a video statement that day that our central government was in readiness for an impending natural disaster. That 30 second heartfelt sound bite would have been carried, again and again.  On Sunday, Trump was repeatedly tweeting, and praising and encouraging the locals folks, “HISTORIC rainfall in Houston and all over Texas. Floods are unprecedented, and more rain coming. Spirit of the people is incredible. Thanks!” More of this is needed, because the people need the boost.

Unless carefully planned, President Trump’s possible trip to the region Tuesday could be premature, and even divert scarce resources. According to reliable sources, this much we know: the wife of the Treasury Secretary is not on the Air Force One manifest.

 

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