Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Case Against Trump

Trump supporters do not care what anyone thinks. They love the Donald; they believe in the Donald; they are impassioned about the Donald; they are convinced that he can do the job… because, after all, he has NEVER done a job that remotely resembles that of President of the United States. Ergo….

But, why bother with details? His heart’s in the right place. So are his muscles. Trump supporters do not ask whether he, a rank amateur at governing, can do the things that he is promising. They are willing to make a leap of faith. Besides, Donald believes in himself. He believes that he can do it. Does that mean that he can? No, it doesn’t.

Keep in mind that Barack Obama rode into the White House on the slogan: Yes, we can. And let’s not forget that Angela Merkel opened Germany to more than a million Muslim refugees because, she said, echoing BHO: We can do it.

Of course, Trump supporters do not care that Glenn Beck has declared that he will not vote for Donald Trump. If it’s Trump vs. Clinton, Beck said that he will not vote for president. How big is Glenn Beck’s audience? How much is his view shared by other American conservatives?

By Beck’s lights, Trump is not a conservative. He’s a progressive. He has a consistent record of supporting progressive causes. Except when he is not.

Can you trust someone who doesn’t know his own mind on the basic issues? I leave it for you to decide.

I get it. Beck is not exactly an intellectual luminary. He is not what one would call a deep thinker. But, do you really think that Ann Coulter is?

Then there is Peter Wehner, a conservative Republican who has worked in both Bush administrations. This implies, for Trump supporters, that no one should pay any attention to anything that Wehner says. I mention this point because it has an eerie resemblance to the arguments put forth by leftist professors, to the effect that opposing points of view are unwelcome and will be penalized.

Besides, Wehner’s column appeared this morning in the New York Times. Hmmm. One should note that before he went to the Times, Wehner was writing for the Commentary blog; it is not a left wing site. He is a fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, not a left wing think tank.

It should be obvious, but the Times would much prefer that Trump be the Republican candidate. It is salivating over the prospect of running against someone who is so unprepared, and it is in ecstasy about what Trump is doing to the Republican Party. That is why it has been spending far more space and time attacking Trump's opposition. Everything that the Times has been trying to do to the Republican Party since its inception, Donald Trump is doing in a matter of a few months. For the Times, the Republican Party is part of the axis of evil. It's slogan is: Republican Party delenda est. Pardon the Latin.

If you wish above all else to destroy the Republican Party, then letting the bull loose in the china shop is a good idea. If you want to accomplish something constructive, it’s not such a good idea.

Anyway, those who would like to give these matters a smidgeon of reflection would do well to consider Wehner’s argument against Trump. After all, rational thought involves giving serious consideration to different points of view. It is not rational to say that you are so angry that you will not listen to anyone whose thought does not echo your own.

Like Beck, Wehner says that if it’s Trump vs. Clinton he will vote for neither.

Wehner begins with the question of qualifications:

… he would be the most unqualified president in American history. Every one of our 44 presidents has had either government or military experience before being sworn in. Mr. Trump, a real estate mogul and former reality-television star, hasn’t served a day in public office or the armed forces.

One understands that being unqualified and inexperienced is now touted as a supreme virtue, but seriously?

Wehner continues, taxing Trump with ignorance of the basic issues:

During the course of this campaign he has repeatedly revealed his ignorance on basic matters of national interest — the three ways the United States is capable of firing nuclear weapons (by land, sea and air), the difference between the Quds Force in Iran and the Kurds to their west, North Korea’s nuclear tests, the causes of autism, the effects of his tax plan on the deficit and much besides.

And let’s not forget Trump’s threats to start trade wars with China and Mexico by imposing crippling tariffs on them. Now we are learning that when Trump made those threats he did not really say it or mean it.

Trigger warning: for those who prefer a more extensive argument against the Trump trade policy, take gander at a column by Kevin Williamson in National Review. One notes that NR has never been a shill for the left.

Trump’s supporters will reply that the Donald can learn. Of course, this implies that he wants to learn. As for how much of it he can learn in a short period of time, I would not wager that he can learn everything he needs to know about constitutional law in a weekend.

Does Trump care to learn about these things? Apparently, he does not. Word around New York, from people who have had dealings with Trump suggests that he is supremely confident, knows real estate and does not like to listen to anyone. The problem is, when you are seriously uninformed you do not merely make mistakes; you are in thrall to whichever advisor has your ear. In the case of Trump that sounds like: whoever is the richest or whoever is the most flattering.

In Wehner’s words:

Mr. Trump has no desire to acquaint himself with most issues, let alone master them. He has admitted that he doesn’t prepare for debates or study briefing books; he believes such things get in the way of a good performance. No major presidential candidate has ever been quite as disdainful of knowledge, as indifferent to facts, as untroubled by his benightedness.

And of course, when you have never held public office you are unlikely to appreciate the import and the impact of your words. When a private citizen mouths off, he is mouthing off. No one takes him very seriously. When a public official mouths off, he is making policy. People are obliged to take it  very seriously.

As evidence, Wehner offers the following unfortunate statements:

It is little surprise, then, that many of Mr. Trump’s most celebrated pronouncements and promises — to quickly and “humanely” expel 11 million illegal immigrants, to force Mexico to pay for the wall he will build on our southern border, to defeat the Islamic State “very quickly” while as a bonus taking its oil, to bar Muslims from immigrating to the United States — are nativistic pipe dreams and public relations stunts.

As it happens, Trump supporters love his temperament. The problem is, how would that temperament operate in the White House. What will happen when everyone decides to emulate his example. People love Trump’s tough talk and his take-no-prisoners attitude. How would you like it if schoolchildren chose to emulate his example, if your boss and your neighbor spend their time showering you with insults and invective? What if the national vocabulary were spiced with: low-energy, pathetic, stupid, ugly loser. 

In Wehner’s words:

Even more disqualifying is Mr. Trump’s temperament. He is erratic, inconsistent and unprincipled. He possesses a streak of crudity and cruelty that manifested itself in how he physically mocked a Times journalist with a disability, ridiculed Senator John McCain for being a P.O.W., made a reference to “blood” intended to degrade a female journalist and compared one of his opponents to a child molester….

Mr. Trump’s virulent combination of ignorance, emotional instability, demagogy, solipsism and vindictiveness would do more than result in a failed presidency; it could very well lead to national catastrophe. The prospect of Donald Trump as commander in chief should send a chill down the spine of every American.

As they say, now tell us how you really feel?

Serious political types are chagrined by what Trump would do to the Republican Party:

If Mr. Trump heads the Republican Party, it will no longer be a conservative party; it will be an angry, bigoted, populist one. Mr. Trump would represent a dramatic break with and a fundamental assault on the party’s best traditions.

You might think that they are all a bunch of fuckups and that the Republican Party thoroughly deserves to be transformed, perhaps even to be killed. If so, there will no longer be a conservative political party in America and the Democrats will have magically been brought back from the dead… saved from their Obamaphile folly.

One understands that Trump supporters do not want to think about any of this. They are following their passions, not the voice of reason. It’s not a good way to choose a political candidate and it is certainly not a good way to run your life.


Anonymous said...

Trump supporter here. All criticisms are fine on Mr. Trump... but I'll vote for him because he'll be the pivot. The GOP of the last 30 years will be shaken to it's core and either go the way of the whigs or reorganize. Trump is a reflection of 20+ years of political correctness, and the country increasingly being told it doesn't matter what we vote for or against, our betters on the courts will TELL us what is settled and what isn't and our elected representatives will sit on their hands and allow regulatory agencies to go out of control and expand like crazy... all the while the elites on the coasts deride us and pick out what victim classes to push ahead instead of stopping all this madness. Well, Trump speaks like a normal American. A populist sure, but the fact that so many crave, including me, a leader who will get up in the morning at frame every issue from what is best for the citizens of this country, first and foremost, speaks volumes. This election will be a major turning point for the country. This isn't Trumps' fault.. it's pent up anger. It's Network from the early 70's... finally being expressed.

R Devere said...

Trump Supporter as well. No. 1 pretty much says it all. GOP made their bed by becoming the "Progressive Lite" party. No one who worked for any past "Progressive Lite presidency has any right to call themselves a "conservative". Indeed, most worked very hard to compromise or marginalize and belittle true conservatives as they were elected by the Tea Party over the last few years. So those cited above have NO credibility as conservatives; rather they are just advocates of Big Government, just a bit less.

Lack of governmental experience? Ha! Trying to bring on-line one real estate development project gives you all the true political experience you need to deal with a bunch of this bunch of poseurs, copycats and followers in today's DC.

Scullman said...

Great to see the Establishment Republicans shaken to whatever core they think they have have.

Pete Wehner, you're a freakin disgrace to every conservative in America. Go write in your vote for Bush's brother, at least your's and his won't be lonely. Then, quit Commentary( and quit asking me for money!) and go join The NYTimes, you deserve each other.

I hope President Trump never gives you an interview.

Dennis said...

This is a country that has an electorate that is very angry at the political class. It is not just the Republicans who are the center of that anger. One would have to ask why Bernie Sanders is doing so well. Like Trump the more he gets attacked by establishment candidate Clinton the more money and backing he received.
It would seem that neither the establishment Democrats or Republicans get any respect or do they deserve any. Both keep talking about not being qualified which means that the vast majority of voters don't agree with the ideas of those who would assume to be our betters. These non representative parties have forgotten who they are supposed to work for and what country they are supposed to protect. Washington DC is awash with people who represents no one but themselves, the system and the political parties of which they are creatures of.
We even have a Supreme Court that has long forgotten that they are to rule on the Constitutionality of the cases that come before them. These unelected judges are deciding more and more cases on something other than the Constitution. Increasingly, with the aid of politicians, they are adjudicating a set of nonmoral values at the expense of moral values. The Ninth and Ten amendments exist for a reason because that is where most cases should be taken care of.
Both Trump and Sanders have tapped into that anger perpetuated by an establishment that pays little attention to its citizens. Trump even demonstrates that money does not guarantee votes. One only needs to look at both Clinton and Bush to recognize the large amounts of money, that makes them beholden, being spent for no real return. This is indicative of what is wrong with government and the increasing debt that gets foisted upon us and our children. At almost every level of government we see incompetence and failure to serve the interests of the citizens of this country.
One should not be surprised to see this country almost in rebellion represented by Trump, et al. Understand that anger may redound to Trump because both disaffected democrats and republicans can relate to Trump. The establishment better start understanding that the American public is none to happy with how they are being represented. BEWARE ignoring them.

Sam L. said...

Let us not forget that The Won had no experience worth noting--and has proved it every day since 2008.

Jim Sweeney said...

While it is self-evident that Trump has no experience in government, he has much with government. Knowing how to deal with government is quite close to being in government as he has seen how it works as a customer of its services and knows plenty about how to move and motivate the people in government. That is critical to his ability to work within the bureaucracy. He certainly knows money and budgets plus has years of high level management which is sorely lacking and obvious in Obama.

Look at Bush 41. Best resume you ever read, including Reagan's VP, CIA chief, Ambassador to China and more yet considered feckless as President. Presidents are strategic thinkers, not detail people. Trump espouses the strategies many voters want and that's how he is seen: he leads the way many wish to go which is really what voters seek. Wonks? Never. They don't even consider the details, just the intended results. If we only get rid of 5 million illegals they will claim victory. It's the direction and follow through they want and believe. Trump, as other presidents, will hire the detail people.

A-Bax said...

This is a great blog, but today's entry could easily just be:

"If we lose the old man, we lose our political contacts and half our strength. The other New York families might wind up supporting Sollozzo just to avoid a long, destructive war. This is almost 1946. Nobody wants bloodshed anymore. If your father dies, you make the deal, Sonny."

Again, I like this blog a lot, but Mr. Schneiderman is most emphatically NOT a wartime consigliere. Pity he doesn't recognize that American/Western culture is fighting for it's life, if things get much worse lots of folks will give up on the notion that the political process is where this civilizational clash is best addressed. People are trying to stay reasonable, but they can only be pushed so far.

It's like Mr. Schneiderman wants us to continue to play by the Marquess of Queensbury Rules while barbarians storm through the gates - gates which have been opened from within by traitorous Demoblican elites.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

I continue to believe that America has endured a time of great disbelief -- as in disbelief in what the political class is doing -- and the reality is setting in. We're pissed.

The most important thing a good government does is look out for citizens. While helping the poor and growing the economy is important, there is no bigger trust than looking out for the people who play by the rules. We are the absolute backbone of American society. We go to work, pay their taxes, take care of their neighbors, serve as crossing guards, don't commit crimes, try to eat meals together, send their kids and grandkids to school, and otherwise lead what we used to call "normal" lives. This is what we used to call the "Silent Majority." We're too busy working, taking care of our families and finding some time for recreation to bother with getting involved in politics or taking interest in the political process. This is changing because the politics is now knocking on their door, demanding to gain entry and tell us how to run their lives. Regulation has become remarkably personal and invasive. People are being shamed and dictated to in the name of what is politically correct. There are sensitivities and speech codes everywhere -- it's just give, give, give, and yet all the activists are still pissed off.

How does one resist? Elect Jeb Bush? Elect Hillary Clinton? That's going to lead to more of it.

We have a president who clearly has no idea what America is about, has disdain for our history, and doesn't look out for our interests. We allow our border to be overrun, and we take in unvettable Syrian refugees. We have terrorism happening around us, and we're admonished (hectored, really) to not go lynch our Muslim neighbor, as though we're simpleton savages.

What about the people, as in We the People? When do we count?

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

We're told by our leaders they're going to pass a bill to take over one-sixth of the economy -- and the sector most personal and sensitive -- so we can find out what's in it. We are told if we like our doctor, we can keep our doctor. We were told amidst a horrible recession that there are "shovel-ready" jobs coming, only to find out it was a bald-faced lie to promote a grotesquely bloated stimulus bill... and the president later laughs mockingly at the notion that there ever were "shovel-ready" jobs.

We have a president who talks about himself incessantly, but claims he isn't responsible for anything. That's someone else's fault. We have all kinds of insatiable activists running around saying America is a wicked place, and the president agrees. The Republican Party is wholly ineffective in doing what it was sent to do -- oppose Obama's agenda -- because there's supposedly "nothing" they can do. The party establishments couldn't give a fig about the real working class -- the one that actually works at a real job -- because they're giving out free stuff to the poor and making cozy crony arrangements with financiers. We have women in combat, we have transgenders in the military, our soldiers are forbidden to utter the word "Christmas," we have impossible rules of engagement, and we apologize to the goddam Iranians. Other than that, we're fine.

We shut down coal mines in West Virginia, tell the Canadians to get bent with Keystone XL, and produce Chevy Volts no one wants, all because government says it's a good idea to do so before the Arctic ice all melts because of an AGW myth that is fashionable, trendy, nice, trite and fraudulent. And we have President Obama and his aides bragging that he will exceed his executive authority and become a tyrant because the transformation of America must continue, whether the citizens want it or not. Obama squandered all the goodwill people had for him, and he didn't care because his entire aura is based on seemingly not caring about... anything. He's cool. Justice Kennedy tells us that disparate impact is a sensible standard to judge segregated communities, so now the government can tell you whom you are to live with.

My goodness, I cannot imagine why people are angry. The people who make this country work and play by the rules have been played. That's why Trump has success, and that's why Bernie is gaining steam. And all the Beltway politicos and media figures scratch their heads because they can't fathom what is going on. That's because they don't know what's going on. At all.

No one is looking out for the average American citizen, and their interests. That's the anger, and it's not a Demoblican or Republicrat issue. It's about who really runs this country.

Ares Olympus said...

There's certainly nothing I can add against Trump that hasn't already been said. And I plan on supporting Sanders in the Minnesota DFL caucus on March 1, just in case my own protest vote matters, while seeing President Sanders even more impotent than Obama in cooperating with a Republican House or Senate.

And that's the curious thing here. If we get a Democratic president, we're pretty much guaranteed to have 4 more years of a republican house, and who knows if their 54 in the Senate won't rise to 56 in 2016 and 60 in 2018 and then we'll have complete paralysis.

It is interesting that "Unknown" commentor above says "GOP made their bed by becoming the 'Progressive Lite' party." while the Left has the same lament, that since Bill Clinton the democrats have become the party of business interests over that of the people.

Is the Left-Right framework meaningful any more? I appreciate Larry Lessig's TED talk about "Lesterland" showing how a small fraction of people use their money to decide who has a chance to run for president. And Lessig even tries to get his voice heard in 2015, raised 1 million dollars, but was excluded from polls, and Democratic debates, thus proving his point.

And on the Right, Ronald Reagan's David Stockman, wrote a book 4 years ago saying we no longer have Free Market capitalism, but Crony Capitalism where money determines all decisions, and smart "investors" like Donald Trump give money to both the Democrats and Republicans so he'll have a foot in the door when he need's their ear. Stockman said political donations should be capped at $100.

So the BEST point of Trump's candidacy was in the debate when he bragged:
Donald Trump bragged Thursday night that he could buy politicians — even the ones sharing the stage with him at a Republican presidential debate.

Trump was asked about something he said in a previous interview: “When you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do.”

“You’d better believe it,” Trump said. “If I ask them, if I need them, you know, most of the people on this stage I’ve given to, just so you understand, a lot of money.”

Without missing a beat, the real estate tycoon continued: “I was a businessman. I give to everybody. When they call, I give. And you know what? When I need something from them, two years later, three years later, I call them, and they are there for me.” He added, “And that’s a broken system.”
No one on stage disputed Trump’s depiction of the American political system. In fact, it was taken as a given.

I've not heard Trump explicitly speak against Citizen United ruling, but I can see why angry voters would prefer an honest scoundral like Trump over one who is funded by other billionaires to do their bidding.

Still, I think about the Great Recession Part 2, which is on our doorstep, like we're in the eye of the hurricane, and the reality of recessions is asset depreciation, and so whether Trump has $2 billion or $8 billion in net worth, when his asset values are tumbling down with all the other billionaires, do the American people really trust he's not going to listen to the advice of the Big Bankers, how another $18 trillion is needed to dig us out of Part 2?

Maybe Trump never cared about his billions, and he won't mind, and he can hold his assets another 20 years and not need emergency sales at the bottom to keep his property empire going, but it does seem he will be preoccupied.

So for Trump supporters, I'm opening to call him the next Ronald Reagan, and he'll have the best advisors, but is he above self-interest? Is he willing to be the president who carried us through an 8 year recession where his empire collapses? Where is his loyalty?

Marsh said...

There isn't a conservative party in this country. The GOP has melded into the DNC. To pretend otherwise is delusional.

Did you read what Phyllis Schlafly said about Trump? She said Trump was our last hope to win against the kingmakers. It's curious that you didn't quote what she said. She is a true blue conservative, who is respected by far more people than Glen Beck.

We've been betrayed over and over again by the GOP. We've had it. Their chickens are coming home to roost.

Trump is going all the way!

Marsh said...

Stuart, how do you feel about Cruz' s swipe at New York values? He doesn't think any conservatives come from New York. Guess, he's never read your blog.

Ares Olympus said...

Here's an interesting article and video from Vox, interviewing Trump supporters, and implies its not a "cult of personality", people don't care about Trump specifically. They care that he's willing to speak up and advocate for their fears, specifically of Muslims.

What's interesting to me is I can accept perhaps 0.1% of Muslims want to make Western democracy incompatible with Islam, and since we can't identify that fraction of radialized Muslims instead we have to AGREE with the radials we fear and say their religion is not compatible, and keep all Muslims quarantined by their most fanatical beliefs, so the more we fear them, the more power we give that 0.1%.

And this sort of division is what we had in the south after the civil war, separate but equal via radial segregation, until the 1950's and MLK finally said separate is not equal. And we had a federal government under Johnson forcing integration where it wasn't wanted, and making economic discrimination a crime rather than individual choice. And those fights still continue, whether cake-makers can say no to making cakes for gay people.

So people naturally feel resentment when their government tells them they are not free to voluntarily self-segregate, and that they have to tolerate things that Trump will tell you are "disgusting", and people who feel no personal hatred towards anyone still don't want their "tax dollars" supporting people who they disapprove of.

So resentment, disgust and fear are powerful weapons, and when a voice like Trump rises up and says shamesless things, it feels powerful, and it lifts people momentarily out of their frustration and into a belief that finally "something can be done" to fix these problems and false solutions imposed on us.

I thought Trump's statement recently was astounding:
“There is hatred against us that is unbelievable,” Trump said. “It’s their hatred, it’s not our hatred.”

Psychologists could call this projection, but its curious how the human mind works. If you tell someone "You're not welcome" and they object, that's their hatred at work, not yours. It all makes sense, at least to people who are not inclined towards self-reflection, and maybe Trump doesn't even think these things, but they just flow psychically from the crowd into his mind.

But the problem with scapegoats is when you actually gain power, and banish your targets, sometimes problems still exist.

Meanwhile billionaires like Thomas Perkins is proud to say he wants "$1, 1 vote" while being worried the rich are being scapegoated and may someday face their own holocaust from mob mentality.

So we can't even safely hate billionaires who want "$1, 1 vote" without encouraging violence against the oppressed rich.

Marsh said...

Ayres, do you have a lock on your door? Do you get to decide who comes into your home? If just anyone can come into your home, then you don't have a home. See how that works?

Jack Reylan said...

The Chinese Art of War is by stealth. China is fixing its aging problem by dumping its elderly on our welfare systems. China has just started using biologically cloned humanoid drones in its factories and military to counter population aging from one child policy. This biocloning was started by Tong Dizhou in the early 1990s to produce star athletes and organ parts but was later taken up by the PLA military. The clones are grown in the wombs of slave women from allied African dictators and have been known to appear on American soil as illegal workers. These illegal workers have special implant chips which relay data obtained from Chinese spyware in our televisions and computers to be used to supress Americans opposed to Chinese hegemony. They are also used in special calculator chips that allow Chinese to cheat on standardized exams by having a committee work on the exam at the same time. China has always believed in war by stealth, in avoid open conflict, stabbing you in the back while full of smiles. The bogus swine flu pandemic is being used to inject nanoparticle monitoring chips (made from aborted babies) which also have the ability to dissuade patriots from religious belief. Designed by Chaoyang geneticists, they will be used to make the white race servile and sterile while creating a front for our occupation by Chinese drones, disguised as health workers.

Dennis said...

Jack Reylan,

I maybe missing something here, but I believe Tong Dizhou died in 1979. He was credited with the first to clone fish long before Dolly.

Anonymous said...

The voters are the biggest problem. I think Trump will have Democrat coattails, not Republican ones and wouldn't be surprised to see a Democrat Congress with Trump. I don't think that would mean gridlock.

Anonymous said...

"One understands that Trump supporters do not want to think about any of this. They are following their passions, not the voice of reason. It’s not a good way to choose a political candidate and it is certainly not a good way to run your life."

That you don't just come out and call us "vulgarians" as well
leads me to suspect you want this smear-job to appear more "legitimate."
You are incorrect.

TRUMP 2016