As we’ve mentioned before, Trump’s political opinions are those of a Fox News-watching old man. Which means he can be manipulated in exactly the same way by conservatives–including his own staff (boldface mine):
…the standard conservative mental model of “welfare” is that it consists of government transfers that don’t go to older white people, who vote overwhelmingly Republican. Of course, Social Security (the non-SSDI part) and Medicare alone consume more than 1/3 of the annual budget. The main beneficiary of the welfare state is older white Republicans—by a long shot. The fact that the welfare state, fairly defined, is actually wildly popular with the GOP base is a huge problem for ideological “small government” dogmatists like [OMB director] Mulvaney…
When speaking to their older, white base, right-wing politicians code “welfare”as government checks for poor brown people, not as the expensive major entitlements, or the tax breaks, that are mainly enjoyed by white Republicans…. when criticizing “the welfare state” as a source of growth-killing tax larceny, our shady right-wing Mulvaneys quietly smuggle the white welfare-state back in. They have to. That’s where nearly all the “big government” spending is.
The Politico excerpt is so instructive because it shows Mulvaney duping Trump with this venerable GOP three-card-monte trick. Let’s also stop to note the connection between Trump’s white-identity politics and Mulvaney’s small-government zealotry. Because the actual welfare state is so popular with old white Republican people, the most reliable way for ideological opponents of the welfare state to drive opposition to it is by encouraging the idea that it amounts to the systemic exploitation of hard-working whites by shiftless brown people, which then suggests that beating back the welfare state would benefit whites as a group—though of course it wouldn’t, since they’re its primary beneficiaries. Mulvaney’s spending preferences are clearly at odds with Trump’s big-spending, populist, bread-and-circuses instincts. But the racialized bait-and-switch about what is and is not “welfare,” perfected over decades by small-government ideologues likes of Mulvaney, helped make Trump’s overt white-identity politics possible.
Trump’s voters might deserve this crap, but the rest of us don’t. Racism is a powerful, and lethal, drug.
Added: This is surreal:
Mr. Kelly cannot stop Mr. Trump from binge-watching Fox News, which aides describe as the president’s primary source of information gathering. But Mr. Trump does not have a web browser on his phone, and does not use a laptop, so he was dependent on aides like Stephen K. Bannon, his former chief strategist, to hand-deliver printouts of articles from conservative media outlets.
Now Mr. Kelly has thinned out his package of printouts so much that Mr. Trump plaintively asked a friend recently where The Daily Caller and Breitbart were.
That’s one way to limit the effect of elite racist Steve Bannon.