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Trump Bombs Syria

Friday, 7 April 2017

Dear Mr President,

I had another letter prepared to send you this morning, but I’ll save that for another day. Today I can only hope, as probably all Americans do, that the action you took last night will make things better and not worse. I don’t know that, nor do you, nor do your generals. At least we can be grateful that it was, considering the possibilities, a low-level response, and one you may not have to repeat.

Your action last night was no heroic adventure – so spare us the lines from the movies about “a tough call” and “the loneliness of command”. Don’t swagger around today bragging about your victory, your toughness, or your “deal”.

Count yourself lucky – that’s right, lucky. Not smart, not strong, not prepared, not foresighted – just lucky. Lucky that while you never had a secret plan, the generals and diplomats did – dozens of plans. Lucky that the generals and their staff officers knew much more than you could know because they’ve been studying maps and looking at photographs and learning languages and talking to people on the ground for years. Lucky that when you were shaken by a chemical attack on civilians – not the first of your presidency, but just the first you saw on television – and when you sputtered that “something” must be done, there were professional (not ideological) people on watch who could tell you what that something might be and guide you through the options.

So take a deep breath and resolve to take your job more seriously. Start attending intelligence briefings. Get the State and Defense Departments staffed with people who are selected for their experience rather than their personal loyalty. Send real diplomats overseas, not your son in law. Start reading the editorial pages instead of the tabloids.

Your action last night was no heroic adventure – so spare us the lines from the movies about “a tough call” and “the loneliness of command”. Don’t swagger around today bragging about your victory, your toughness, or your “deal”. And for God’s sake, don’t point out that your popularity has gone up a few points. Just get busy and start learning something about the world.

I wish you luck.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Dear Mr President,

Well frankly, your appearance before the union guys Tuesday was a disaster. Being booed at the podium is never good – it reminds people of Ceausescu on the balcony that time (ask Jared). If you are going to salvage what’s left, you need to get a grip on reality. Let me try to help.

There’s a difference between exaggeration and lying. You have shrewdly calculated that statements about the future (building the Wall, extorting payment from Mexico, keeping Iraqi oil next time, taming the North Koreans, and lowering taxes) will be classed by even your 35 percenters as “aspirational” – that is, boastful but charming nonsense that can be later nullified by some rhetorical question like, “Who knew how complicated . . . ?”

But when you make claims about the present or the past, as you did yesterday, everybody with a working brain – including most of your staff (not Sean, of course) and many of your supporters – will classify the nonsense further over on the prevarication (look it up), flim-flam, bull-pucky end of the spectrum. For example:

  • “The Electoral College is very, very tough, they say almost impossible for a Republican to win . . .”

Those carpenters and plumbers knew that you’ve spent your life and Daddy’s money on women, golf, and cheeseburgers

Predictably, there were smart-asses all over the web this morning pointing out that the only Republicans in the last 60 years who couldn’t pull this off at least once were McCain and Romney. Even worse:

  • “The coal miners are back to work.”

Well, no, not yet. You’ve only just finished trashing the clean air and water laws to allow millionaire coal-mining executives to cut more corners, and even they admit they’re planning to increase automation, not jobs. Worst of all:

  • “I’ve spent my life working side-by-side with American builders, and now you have a builder for president.”

This brought on the boos – and worse, the laughter. Those carpenters and plumbers knew that you’ve spent your life and Daddy’s money on women, golf, and cheeseburgers, that you’ve never been on a scaffold wearing a tool-belt, that you’ve never changed a tire, a diaper, or a light bulb. So they laughed. And then they booed.

Get Kellyanne on this right away. Bring out the quotation marks. She can explain that “builder” is a metaphor (ask Ivanka) for “tycoon”, “working” for “doing deals on the golf course”, “side-by-side” for “I paid your salaries, so be quiet”.

I’m trying to help, but you’ve got to meet me half way, by cutting the number of lies in half.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Dear Mr President,

I’ve been reviewing the compromise healthcare plan you are having Super-Gofer Mike Pence discuss with the Freedom Caucus. (I did wonder a bit why you weren’t having Jared handle this, but I guess he’s busy winding up his Middle East Peace Deal and solving the opioid crisis.) The Freedom Caucus is so named, of course, because they are intent on freeing poorer citizens from the burdensome choice between getting their kid a tonsillectomy or a pair of shoes. By the removal of healthcare from the list of choices, the lower classes are freed to confront the choice between rent and food.

As I understand the compromise, it would cut out payment for the so-called “essential services” of Obamacare:

  • Out-patient care: If it’s not serious enough to require an over-night stay, how bad can it be?
  • Hospital stays: If they can’t afford it, they can’t expect the insurance companies to give them a rest cure. They should suck it up and stay home.
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  • Emergency room care: This has long been the way the so-called poor jump the line. Visits should be scheduled in advance.
  • Pregnancy, maternity, new-born care: Once people understand that these are not freebies, they’ll stop having children.
  • Pediatric services: Ditto.
  • Mental health and addiction services: We can’t help crazy people anyway. We’ve granted them the right to carry guns around, what more do they want?
  • Rehabilitative services: We can’t help them recover from treatment we never gave them in the first place.
  • Lab tests: It doesn’t take a lot of fancy chemistry to tell what’s wrong with these people: anyone can see they’re sick.
  • Preventive services: Why should they worry about problems they don’t have yet?

You need to stress to the Freedom Caucus guys that these cuts apply only to poor people. And yes, they’ve been showing up at their offices lately, shouting and carrying signs. But there will be fewer of them every election.

Added non-medical benefit: choosing the right insurance stock could raise some of the upper-middle class into the ranks of the sub-millionaire wealthy, and some of the millionaire proletariat into the ranks of the Minor Friends of Jared and Ivanka. It’s all about choices.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Dear Mr President,

In preparation for your meeting with Chinese President Xi at Mar-a-Lago this week, I have a few tips, based on my extensive experience in Asia, on avoiding diplomatic embarrassments – for him, of course – I know you are way beyond that.

GREETING:

  • Xi’s name is pronounced “Shee”, not “Eleven”.
  • The Chinese are aware of your habit, during handshakes, of pulling people toward you as a display of dominance. Be aware that Xi has a black belt in Xing Yi Quan, and that a handshake lasting longer than three seconds could end with you lying face down with his foot on your neck. This could have a deleterious effect on the negotiations. (“Deleterious” is like “bad”, only worse.)

Be aware that Xi has a black belt in Xing Yi Quan, and that a handshake lasting longer than three seconds could end with you lying face down with his foot on your neck.

DISCUSSIONS:

  • Limit these to matters of official concerns – as in the concerns of the GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES – not of your plans to open up a chain of TRUMP-MEX restaurants and mariachi clubs across China. Jared has already had those discussions; he’ll fill you in later.

EXCHANGE OF GIFTS:

  • Resist the impulse to present Xi with a larger-than-life pot-metal bust of yourself. If Xi wanted one, he would already have it, since his country is where they’re made. Also ixnay on the brass odelmay of the isslemay.
  • In fact, resist all impulses concerning gifts, since your impulses for material things are almost always gross. Leave the gift selection to Ivanka. She is nothing if not tasteful. (In fact, she is quite possibly nothing except tasteful.)
  • Whatever Xi gives you, resist the impulse (see above) to say that you already have a bigger one – whether or not that is true. Also, don't say that about anything.

STAFF:

  • Take the calmly duplicitous people (Jared, Ivanka, Reince, and Kellyanne).
  • Leave the crazily forthright people (Stephen and Steve) and the completely bug-nuts (Sean) in Washington.
  • Do not mention the meeting to Rex.
  • If you take Mike, make him follow you around with a towel over his arm.

FORMAL STATEMENTS:

  • Phrases to avoid: “Slippery slope”; “Different slant”; “Yellow streak”; “Chinks in armor”.
  • Joke to avoid: The one about feeling hungry two hours after a Chinese meal.
  • At all costs: Despite its relevance to your bargaining position, do NOT say, “No tikkee, no washee.”

INFORMAL STATEMENTS, BANTER, MALE BONDING, LOCKER ROOM TALK:

dan-embree-17
  • No.

Dan Embree

See Dan's daily letters to President Trump here.