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The Man In the High Chair


Oh dear. It appears our hopes that the "adults in the room" might have a calming influence on giant jerk-baby Donald Trump were misplaced, since Trump apparently doesn't play well with his national security adviser, Gen. H.R. McMaster, according to Bloomberg reporter Eli Lake. The problem, according to White House insiders, is that Trump really liked Michael Flynn and they were BFFs, while McMaster keeps acting like he has some kind of independent author-i-tah, and Trump doesn't like people who think they have that. Allegedly. Officially, everything is just wonderful! When Lake asked for comment, the White House issued a statement from Trump saying, "I couldn't be happier with H.R. He's doing a terrific job." It went on to say McMaster was much better than Cats, and Trump plans to consult with him again and again.

Ah, but in this White House that leaks worse than Steve Bannon's face after a dermabrasion, it wasn't difficult for Lake to find plenty of McMaster supporters and detractors to talk to, and it looks like Donald Trump is not big on adult supervision:

McMaster's allies and adversaries inside the White House tell me that Trump is disillusioned with him. This professional military officer has failed to read the president -- by not giving him a chance to ask questions during briefings, at times even lecturing Trump.

As a result, Trump has argued with McMaster in front of staff, and in front of McMaster himself, griping during intelligence briefings about "the general undermining my policy," meeting less often with McMaster than with other top advisers and declining to be briefed by McMaster before interviews with the press. Why would Trump need that anyway? He knows more than the generals. Last weekend, McMaster was shut out of a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull -- instead Trump took deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland, even though she's leaving the National Security Council.

[wonkbar]<a href="http://www.wonkette.com/616336/dear-north-korea-please-remember-our-president-says-lots-of-crazy-bullshit"></a>[/wonkbar]The dishiest scoop in Lake's piece involves McMaster cockblocking Trump's attempt a couple weeks back -- when he was talking about how we might just have to go to war with North Korea -- to insist South Korea pay the U.S. for a missile defense system, or maybe we'd just take our missiles and go home. McMaster got on the phone to the South Korean defense minister and said, more or less, "Nah, man, the president just says a lot of crazy shit, just like Wonkette said, so don't worry, we got you." This didn't go over well with the Diaper-Baby-In -Chief, who resented McMaster thwarting his brilliant art of the deal:

Trump was livid, according to three White House officials, after reading in the Wall Street Journal that McMaster had called his South Korean counterpart to assure him that the president's threat to make that country pay for a new missile defense system was not official policy. These officials say Trump screamed at McMaster on a phone call, accusing him of undercutting efforts to get South Korea to pay its fair share.

Dammit, H.R., Trump had our allies right where he wanted them in the middle of a crisis, and you had to go and screw it all up! Don't you understand anything about making money off the suckers who think they can depend on you, but actually you've got 'em by the balls? We can see why Trump wouldn't appreciate the interference.

Trump apparently had some serious Appointer's Remorse after he "chose" McMaster; he had a meeting last week with John "Bomb Everything, Iran Twice" Bolton to bring his important insights to the National Security Council. White House officials, Lake says, "tell me the two discussed the prospect of Bolton coming in as McMaster's deputy, but eventually agreed it was not a good fit." Huh! Imagine that!

We also learn Trump wasn't pleased one bit with one of the things normal people think makes McMaster seem like an adult: after McMaster urged Trump to please stop using the term "radical Islamic terrorism," Trump went out of his way to say the phrase in that great big speech to Congress where he became Presidential Enough for like three people on cable news. They're Donald Trump's Magic Words, so he had to use 'em:

[McMaster] sent memos throughout the government complaining about a draft of that speech that included the phrase. But the phrase remained. When Trump delivered the speech, he echoed his campaign rhetoric by emphasizing each word: "Radical." "Islamic." "Terrorism."

Also, there are the struggles over NSC staff, and whether other top Trump advisers -- especially the Bannon cabal -- will let the general be the McMaster of his domain. Bannon and Jared Kushner intervened to "convince" McMaster not to fire Flynn holdover Ezra Cohen Watnick, the Trump goon who later played a supporting role in the Devin Nunes follies, and also pressured McMaster to cull the NSC staff of Obama appointees (still there since Team Trump hadn't bothered appointing new people), who Bannon and Kushner were certain were responsible for all the leaks to the press. McMaster won that fight, said that's his decision to make, not theirs, and then promptly got his own choice for a deputy blocked by chief of staff Reince Priebus. So yeah, sounds like business as usual in Trumpland: Game of Thrones as acted out by middle schoolers.

[wonkbar]<a href="http://www.wonkette.com/612713/out-like-flynn-trumps-national-security-adviser-resigns-to-spend-more-time-with-his-conspiracy-theories"></a>[/wonkbar]Even so, according to Trumps statement, the president "couldn't be happier" with McMaster and all is well in the White House, nothing to worry about, just cruising along like a well-oiled machine (with very leaky head gaskets). As Lake notes, that sounds maybe a little like Kellyanne Conway saying Mike Flynn had the president's full confidence just before Trump shitcanned him.

Not that H.R. McMaster is in trouble or anything. Just as long as he doesn't make the mistake of putting national security above the prospect of a really great deal, because America still has a lot of winning to do, and there are still plenty of allies we can put the squeeze on.

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[Bloomberg View]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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