One of The Hill.com’s Opinion contributors, John Leboutillier, gave a 30-point list of predictions for 2019, many of them centered around the continued Irritant-in-Chief (as far as Mr. Leboutillier is concerned, apparently) President Donald Trump. To see the predictions, one would be led to believe that doom is imminent for the career of the American President.
There are some problems with the list of predictions.
First of all, not all of these “predictions” are predictions at all, but are rather rhetorical statements. We will remove those from the list.
Second, the President’s approval remains a solid 47% according to Rasmussen, exactly where Obama’s approval was at the same point in his own presidency. However, as has been stated before, Obama’s approval ratings might be said to have been shored up by an extremely positive mainstream press, where President Trump gets almost no credit from the same media. So, President Obama was being lifted up and had 47% or so, where President Trump is beat up incessantly by the press and he still has 47%.
This is a significant difference. Now, onto the predictions in this list that are really predictions (the numbers here are sequential, and not the same as in the original piece):
- Donald J. Trump’s presidency will not survive 2019;
- The downward trajectory of every aspect of his tenure indicates we are headed for a spectacular political crash-and-burn — and fairly soon;
- Consumer confidence is declining and the American economy will slow noticeably in 2019. A recession is right around the corner, heading into 2020;
- The volatility in the stock markets threatens to weaken Trump’s support among the GOP donor class, which will translate to GOP senators pulling away from Trump in short order;
- Fox News hosts are beginning to question the Trump administration’s actions on air, showing cracks — albeit, small cracks at the moment — in Fox’s heretofore 100 percent fealty to Trump… These cracks will expand into chasms as news and entertainment mogul Rupert Murdoch calculates Trump’s prognosis and decides he doesn’t want his Fox News network to go down the drain with Trump;
- Without Fox approving Trump’s agenda, his support will decline from the 40s into the upper 20s;
- The Mueller investigation will come to an end in 2019;
- Mueller will shock everyone with what he has discovered, and the result will be much worse for Trump than anyone has anticipated;
- The Mueller investigation will unveil evidence of Trump putting himself out to the highest bidder in return for campaign help and financing: Russians, Saudis, Emiratis, Qataris — there will be evidence that millions of foreign dollars illegally flowed into the Trump campaign coffers in 2016;
- We may learn the source of the $66 million of his own money that Trump donated to his campaign in 2016. Was it a foreign entity who gave him the money as, in effect, an illegal pass-through?
- Now that he has removed Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Trump can do what he tried in 2018: He will remove our troops from South Korea;
- This will provoke a crisis the likes of which we have never seen;
- The GOP Senate will go nuts when this happens, as will the Pentagon and Japan;
- This action may begin the breaking away of the 20 GOP senators it will take to remove Trump if the House impeaches, dooming the Trump presidency;
- In June, the Democratic Party presidential race will begin to take shape when the first TV debates begin with perhaps two dozen candidates; no one yet can predict who will emerge as the 2020 nominee, but history is a guide here:
- As of today, it looks like Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) has that energy behind him and incredible online fundraising abilities; if he runs, he will begin as a formidable candidate in a field of well-known, older candidates (Sanders, Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Michael Bloomberg). That army of young people will be tempted to leave Sanders for O’Rourke — or their loyalties will split between the two, and that may open the door for someone unexpected to step forth;
- With Trump forced to exit the scene in 2019, the post-Trump GOP will devolve into all-out reshuffling. The Trump hangover will bedevil the party, just as the immediate post-Nixon era did to the GOP in 1974. The 2020 Republican nomination fight will be even more brutal than the Democratic one;
- With Trump disgraced, both political parties will search for a message and a messenger;
- An unexpected candidate will seize the political center in 2020.
The eleven items not in our list of 30 were largely spurious claims that apparently the reader of this piece was supposed to believe. Because they are about Trump, of course.
There are three basic arenas that this piece touches on: (1) the economy going into recession, (2) Mueller’s investigation yielding some sort of damning evidence against President Trump, and (3) the very abrupt foreign policy shift we are observing now.
The first claim, that the US is heading into a recession, is spurious. There is no evidence of an impending economic crisis. The recent sharp drop in the investment markets does not signal any problems with the economy. In fact according to a piece from The Balance, the US economy is on track for steady growth in 2019. While anything can happen, Mr. Leboutillier appears to be writing about his wishful thinking regarding the US economy, and probably used the stock market’s recent and ongoing volatility to assume that something bad was coming.
The second claim about Robert Mueller is interesting. One of the voices that no one in the media has actually heard is that of Robert Mueller himself. While it seems plain that his investigation has turned into a monster (the original purpose was to see if there was collusion with Russian agencies, or interference in the 2016 Presidential election caused by this). While various process crimes have been found (or manufactured), there remains no evidence of any actual serious wrongdoing either by Donald Trump or by his campaign.
In fact, one opinion held by Mueller speculators is that he will not end the investigation at all. The real issue that Robert Mueller faces (assuming he is trying to get the President on something), is finding and successfully marketing his findings, as damning. The mainstream press is certainly willing to comply, but the people who voted for the President will not have it, and they are 47% of the population. It will be extremely difficult to dislodge their support for the president because all anyone has to do is consider the alternatives. But Mr. Mueller will try.
The third area is where our intrepid writer may have struck on something.
President Trump is not a globalist. His recent decision to remove the American troops from Syria and Afghanistan is the most clear signal that he means to carry forth with his agenda in this area. The resignations of General Mattis and others, as well as the outrage from hawkish press would seem to give credence to this action as not just political showmanship, but something that deeply concerns the supporters of the New World Order.
There are a lot of conservative Americans who are generally taken in by the idea of globalism, though they would probably deny it if asked. For many conservatives, globalism means “The United Nations will take over everything.” But this is not where the main thrust of globalism has originated in recent years. The American contribution to it is the “endless wars” we seem to be involved in, with US troops everywhere because “if we do not have a presence in country X, ISIS or RUSSIA!! will take over.”
The moves to remove US troops from Syria and Afghanistan have actually been met with high approval, including by Mr. Leboutillier’s publishers. A report from PressTV’s website notes a new Harvard CAPS/Harris poll that tested the approval of this decision found 52% of the respondents in favor of both withdrawals from Syria and Afghanistan. A similar poll from Rasmussen showed very different results, with 37% approving, 47% disagreeing, and 16% undecided. Polling is probably not uniformly handled, but the approval range even with Rasmussen is far larger than the disastrous claims expressed by the Hill piece.
There is another fact about Trump supporters that seems to be neatly missed. Many of his supporters are not ideological conservatives. They are people who are sick and tired of the government not listening to the will of the governed, and they are very much in sync with the idea of “America First!” The closeness of the poll shows how strongly the ideological support of “America as world police” both is, and is not. For while many people are inclined to follow the position that our interference is needed everywhere, there is also a very clear indication of war fatigue. All the wars fought on foreign soil do not have any bearing on the security of the United States, although that is the line the generals and hawks keep trying to say. They tried it on the President, and he just wasn’t having it.
However, this issue is likely going to seethe for a while. It may not divorce President Trump’s supporters from him, but it will create an enormous front for the media to criticize the President, because some conservative commenters will buy into the globalist “world interference” policy as a default against “what happens if we don’t do this?”
However, the timing of President Trump’s move seems to be right. A recent piece linked here notes the president’s “slowing down” the troop withdrawal process to allow four months. However, this is not significantly different. One Dec 19 timeline of the withdrawal had the troops out by the end of March… which is three months out. He slowed it down by a month. That is not much.
In the final analysis, Mr. Leboutillier seems to have penned a wishlist more than an actual analysis of trends in the US and the world. To be sure, anyone can probably gather any set of data and use it to support one’s own point of view nowadays, but this piece stands as a reflection to show that the certainty of the Hill’s printed predictions is anything but certain.