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Is Trump Veering From His Campaign Promises In Afghanistan?

Would the faction of Trump supporters who tolerate no substantive criticism of POTUS like to reconsider their position as Trump has reconsidered his on Afghanistan? Is there a difference between institutional and establishment? Should we always listen to the generals? Have we learned nothing from Charlie Wilson's War? Is Trump looking to horse trade escalation in Afghanistan with the neocons in exchange for support for his domestic policy agenda? Ed Henry, Chief National Correspondent for Fox News Channel and author of “42 Faith: The Rest of the Jackie Robinson Story,” joins Dan and Amy to discuss.

     

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Dan Proft: Good morning, Dan and Amy, in President Trump’s national address on his change of opinion on Afghanistan policy yesterday, in which he expressed support for an escalation of American presence there, to kill terrorists, not to nation build, he also made a very transparent overture to last week’s controversy over his response to Charlottesville. Amy Jacobson: Yeah, his speech at the beginning did echo a little bit of Charlottesville, he came out and said basically no tolerance for hate, but I was wonder when I heard him talk about that and to say we want a country that’s not at war with itself, did the critics get to him? Did his family? Did everybody get to him?7 Donald Trump: The young men and women, we send to fight our wars abroad deserve to return to a country that is not at war with itself at home, we cannot remain a force for peace in the world, if we are not at peace with each other, as we send our bravest to defeat our enemies overseas, and we will always win, let us find the courage to heal our divisions within. Amy: Was that a moment of contrition? Dan: I don’t know if I go so far as to say contrition, but tis certainly a moment that was orchestrated, or a passage that was orchestrated by General Kelly in conjunction with the staff speech writers to address it without addressing it directly, to address it globally, without addressing it specifically, so that people would pick up on it as we are, and suggest something approximating contrition or recognition and to try and put that past in the administration and focus on the challenges ahead, for more focus on the challenges ahead, and insight on such challenges, we’re pleased to be joined by our fried Ed Henry, Chief National correspondent for Fox News, and the author of ’42 Faith: The Rest of the Jackie Robinson Story’, as you know Amy, because you have a signed copy of said book. Amy: I do. Ed Henry: Amy so disappointed you weren’t at the ballpark there a couple of weeks ago. Amy: I know, well Dan was representing the show, but thank you for the book. Dan: Yeah, I’m her ambassador. Ed: You’re a great ambassador. Dan: Yeah, great time was great to see you, and thank you for the signed copies of the book, and I know it’s doing very well and wish you continued success with that, with respect to Trump’s address last night, obviously being received very well by the neo-cons, Graham and McCain and others, do you sense that maybe an ancillary benefit that had to be considered was supporting this escalation, is consistent with in placing trust in the Generals around him, including his Chief of Staff, as well as maybe re-securing more support on the Hill for his domestic political agenda. Ed: It’s a complicated question, because you’re wrapping several things in there, but I think you’re very smartly wrapping it together, because look, this president himself acknowledged last night that his instinct was to stick to his campaign promise, which was to get out of Afghanistan, not to send more troops, even though it seems like a modest number of 4,000 more, I think President Obama in 09, put about 30,000 more, a much more dramatic escalation, so this President could be accused of a middling escalation, because maybe it’s not enough, if his instinct was, as he said himself, to get out, stick to his guns on that, what happened in Charlottesville, may have made that political calculation more difficult, because you’re right, he was losing support, facing criticism from fellow Republicans, if he had then pulled out of Afghanistan, he may have had, I don’t want to say a revolt among Republicans, I don’t want to exaggerate it, but I think that he has been facing a very tenuous political situation, so I think that part of the (4:28), on the other hand, I think we have to give him credit for showing leadership and putting aside some of that political calculus, he himself said look I wanted to get out, but you get behind that desk in the Oval office and you realise if we just have a rapid pull out of Afghanistan, like President Obama did in Iraq in 2011, it’s going to be haven for terrorists all over again, it’s already a difficult situation, let’s not make it worse. So, my bottom line is how many times have we had the critics of President Trump, and there were many, say this guy doesn’t learn anything, he can’t possible grow in office, he doesn’t know what he’s doing, I think last night he showed some leadership and said you know what? I’m going to step up to the plate here. Amy: Well I always questioned the timing of everything, do you think the timing was because of the negative publicity from Charlottesville? Ed: There’s no way of proving that that’s when he did, I think you’re right to raise the question, that this maybe helps him change the subject, from a difficult week last week, and I thought that the way you both handled it a moment ago, before I came on, was exactly right, which was that, again, he’s got critics who if he did not allude to Charlottesville last night, they would say, oh interesting he never mentioned anything about that, oh he doesn’t want to talk about that anymore, then he mentions in there, and they’ll be some people saying well is that politics? Is he trying to turn the page on last week? So you’re kind of darned if you do, darned if you don’t, so I think using the coming together moment of he’s at Fort Myer in Virginia, a military base, that like a microcosm of the rest of the US military, not just the toughest, best in the world, but the most diverse, and it really does look like a patchwork of America, it seems like it would have been a missed opportunity to not mention that the military goes and fights and defends and protects this nation, regardless of race, creed or colour and for all of the missed opportunities this president had last week, and I certainly don’t let him off the hook about that news conference last Tuesday, which certainly could have been handled a lot better, I think last night he handled it well. Dan: And I’m all for president changing their mind, and particularly when they do things I disagree with, and they do something I agree with, like anybody, and trump explained why he changed his mind, which is all fine, that’s acceptable, that nobody knows what it’s like to be president, till you’re president, and so it’s not about changing his mind, it’s the question of whether he’s getting the policy right, whether this is an instance where changing his mind was good, that’s my criticism, not the idea that he’s rethought his position and… Ed: Can I say one thing on that? Dan: Sure, yeah. Ed: I said this on the air last night, and I don’t want to leave it unsaid on your air this morning, which is that while I am giving the president credit for leadership and stepping up as I said, I certainly share scepticism, I seem to hear in your voice Dan, that I didn’t hear a whole lot of details last night, I heard and when I went on Twitter last night during the speech and said look he gets some high marks, but there’s a lot of detail missing here, I kept getting Trump allies saying, you didn’t listen, he said two key things, he’s going to kill terrorists, and he’s not going to nation build, sure but that’s not a strategy, those are slogans, of course we’re going to kill terrorists, of course, the Democratic Republican president, you want to kill terrorists, no one wants to see them thrive, but I think to be fair and balanced about it, he left out a lot of details. Dan: And the other thing is, is this a moment where Trump decided this is a way for me to be counterintuitive, he likes to do things that are unexpected, to play against type. Ed: Well, and I think it gets a little bit back to Amy’s question, which I started answering and then answered some other point son it, which I think she raises a very fair question about the timing of this, because General McMaster, had wanted the President to deal with this policy back, I believe, in May when he was going to the NATO summit, so we could have the policy announced back then and get the allies more involved as he talked last night about really holding Pakistan’s feet to the fire, for example, which I think was another important and positive point he made last night and so he’s been sitting on this policy, why all of a sudden did they roll it out, just in the last 24 hours, unexpectedly, this weekend when they abruptly announced, he’s going to address the nation in primetime, that’s a big deal when the commander-in-chief does that for the first time, I’m not saying it wasn’t warranted, I’m not saying he did it for political reasons, but I think Amy raises up their question, was which is, is this also about changing the point and not just getting the policy right now. Amy: Scene out of House of Cards, or Wag the Dog, today President Trump, after last nights, which I thought too was a pretty effective address to the nation, he’s going back into campaign mode and heading to Arizona, there’s going to be, I’m sure he’s, you know, tens of thousands of protestors, but he’s both publicly scrutinized both of their state Senators, and neither of them are showing up, but what, I know that some of his aides have begged him to cancel today’s event in Phoenix, and he’s of course said no. Ed: Right, and this gets to maybe the two Trumps, of last night, and I’m also hearing critics saying, reacting to what I said on Fox News last night, saying it’s not leadership to read off a teleprompter, that’s what critics used to say about President Obama too, look folks, presidents read of teleprompters… Amy: Get over it. Ed: Yeah and when you’re delivering remarks about Afghanistan policy, you kind of need to be precise and it right, ergo what happened at that news conference last Tuesday, where the president, there was no teleprompter, but veered off the script if you will and dug a deeper hole on Charlottesville, you can’t do that when you’re talking war on peace and I mention that to tie it back to your question, which is the two Trumps, so last night I think he gets high marks, but tonight we’re going to see the unscripted Trump and does he undo some of the goodwill, I think he generated last night, not just with Republicans, but maybe some fair-minded independents, and the Democrats who say look, I don’t really love this Afghanistan policy, but he’s right that we can’t just pull out, we’ve tried that before, tonight, we’re going to get the Trump who’s up there with no prompter and starts gets this fiery crowd out there and feeds off the energy of that, which positive, but also can end up digging a deeper hole if he starts re-explaining what he meant on Charlottesville yet again, we’ll see. Dan: Getting back to his domestic policy agenda, interesting piece on CNBC yesterday, with professional courtesies, and that is with Trump’s troubles, comes better odds for a tax cut, do you sense there’s movement on that? Ed: I don’t sense movement, to be honest, but what I think CNBC is getting at, which is that I think a lot of people can do wrong when for example, a president struggles, like the president did last week on show, so there’s a tendency in Washington, the pundit class to say, aha, the president’s in trouble so he’ll never get tax cuts, well on the other hand when you’re in some trouble, get back to Amy’s point about changing the subject and finding a compromise or a policy somewhere that you can latch on to, maybe, because of a more precarious political position, the president says I’m not going to get a hundred percent of what I wanted on taxes, I better call Chuck Schumer and figure out how I can get 50 or 60 percent of what I wanted, and there’ll be a lot of Republicans not happy that say corporate taxes go down to 24% or 22% instead of a 15% or 20% that he’s been campaigning on, that’s a whole heck of a lot better than the current environment and I think the CNBC would be interesting to the Fox Business audience, would say maybe we take (12:13) now better than no loaf, and then you come back a year, two years from now, later in his presidency and try to finish the job on taxes, and I think maybe, and I underline the word maybe, this president and the White House will learn something from healthcare being tried in one fell swoop to repeal and replace Obamacare and obviously playing into a brick wall you try to do the same thing on taxes, let’s remake the entire tax code in one fell swoop, I think you both know it isn’t going to happen in a couple of weeks, so maybe you should start doing some bit size stuff and rack up some victories and build some momentum. Dan: He is Ed Henry, Chief National Correspondent, for Fox News, and the author of the book that you should pick up, ’42 Faith: The Rest of the Jackie Robinson Story’ Ed, thanks as always for joining us. Ed: Have a wonderful day, good to talk to you both Dan and Amy. Amy: Thanks, and he joined us on our Turnkey dot pro answer line.

   

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