What Trump really means by ‘The Swamp’ ( or, ‘We do not think it means what Trump thinks it means’)
“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” — Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride, on Vizzini’s use of the word “inconceivable”.
For decades, pundits and politicos have referred to the Beltway’s entrenched bureaucrats, lobbyists and political careerists acting for special interests, mostly but not limited to big business, as “The Swamp,” a play on the fact that Washington DC was actually built on swampland that had to be drained over a period of years:
Back when malaria was a problem in the US and Europe, draining swamps was an effective way to kill the mosquitoes that bred there and spread the disease.
The first person to apply the term to politics was a Democrat. “Socialists are not satisfied with killing a few of the mosquitoes which come from the capitalist swamp,” Winfield E. Gaylord wrote in 1903. “They want to drain the swamp.”
Trump likely drew his inspiration for the phrase from PresidentRonald Reagan. In 1980, Reagan called to “drain the swamp” of bureaucracy in Washington, and created the Grace Commission, which identified $424 billion of wasteful government spendingthat could be cut.
In more recent years, the phrase has become more closely identified with lobbyists than government employees:
It is about the lowest-hanging fruit around to point out that Donald Trump has not “drained the swamp”—i.e. addressed Washington’s corporate lobbying and corruption problems—despite having made such drainage one of his main campaign promises. ProPublica has provided a valuable service, however, by actually doing the legwork on this observation and finding out just how many lobbyists the Trump administration has hired. The answer is “at least 187,” many of whom have been appointed to positions in which they can do favors for the clients they used to represent.
So what exactly doesreality TV show host Donald Trump mean when he rants about “The Swamp”? Over at Crooks and Liars, Steve M. delves into Trump’s use and definition of the phrase:
I’ve been pointing out that while you and I might think “swamp” is shorthand for “corrupt practices in Washington,” that’s not what Trumpers mean by “swamp” at all. Now Trump himself has proven that.
Here’s what Trump said this morning about his appointment of Dr. Ronny Jackson to be the head of the Veterans Administration, just as it was being revealed that Jackson had withdrawn from consideration:
TRUMP: You know, these are all false accusations that were made. These are false and they’re trying to destroy a man. By the way, I did say welcome to Washington. Welcome to the swamp. Welcome to the world of politics.
To Trump, that’s the swamp — not people who are corrupt but, rather, people who say bad things about one of his appointees. The swamp is everyone who’s not loyal to Trump.
Now THAT is a swamp I could support! ‘Nuff said…