The Case For Trump


Pinky is a long-time commenter in good standing at Ordinary Times.

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128 Responses

  1. InMD says:

    I’m glad you wrote this because I think this is the case for Trump most of the rank and file Republicans who will vote for him are going with.

    It’s funny you mentioned ‘abandoning’ the Kurds but if I had written the Curmudgeon’s Case for Trump non-escalation in Syria would probably be my bullet number one. Whether he did it out of
    principle, misplaced affinity for Erdogan, or just plain not understanding the history of (foolish) commitments we’ve made I was glad to see us avoid entanglement in the Turkey/Kurd situation. That, the First Step Act, and putting the Title IX campus stuff through the APA have given me some silver-linings.

    The lack of big legislative accomplishments prior to the midterms is a hole. I’ve started to wonder if we even can do big legislative reforms anymore. We’ve got all of these bleeding issues around immigration, healthcare, higher ed, housing costs but maybe have lost the will to do anything comprehensive. Plus capping the state tax deduction hurt like hell.

    There’s certainly a benefit to being in a state where the presidential outcome is a foregone conclusion. It let’s you focus on the real stuff like ballot initiatives. Will we try to siphon off more money from the West Virginians with sports betting of our own? And what profound question of policy has Robin Ficker put to us this cycle? Now that’s worth standing in line for.Report

  2. DensityDuck says:

    “If you watch this presidency on mute, the Trump Era has been a return to normalcy.”

    I feel like this is the same thing you could say about the Obama Era. If you take away America’s First Black President, he looks like just about what we expected from George W Bush — moderate centrism, covert-but-lethal activities in the Middle East and Southwest Asia, a hands-off social policy at home with vague moves towards reconciliation of various social groups, lots of partisan bickering in Congress.Report

  3. North says:

    I think this is as good a shot as any conservative could try without straying into wild allegations or crazy delusions; well done Pinky!
    It amounts to a weary acknowledgement that conservativism doesn’t have the capability to offer anything except a kind of rank hypocritical plutocrat tilted stasis at the moment but it’s still the best case I think conservatives could make. If this were a conservative majority country still maybe it could even carry the day but I don’t think it holds any persuasive cachet outside conservatives to anyone except the vanishingly tiny libertarian faction.

    I think it’s high past time that McConnell’s desperate gambit in 2009 be sent to the scrap heap and conservatives decamp to the wilderness to sort out what the hell they actually stand for now in the post W. Bush world but being a liberal I would want that.Report

    • Philip H in reply to North says:

      It amounts to a weary acknowledgement that Republican Politicians doesn’t have the capability to offer anything except a kind of rank hypocritical plutocrat tilted stasis at the moment but it’s still the best case I think conservatives could make.

      Fixed that for ya.Report

  4. Glyph says:

    “In foreign policy, he’s avoided military conflict”

    Not for lack of trying. It’s a small blessing he’s not taken seriously by world leaders, if he were then every third tweet he posts would be casus belli for someone. But in the long run, “not taken seriously” is undesirable in a President, I think.*

    (Stopped-clock-accuracy B.I.D. and credit-where-due and all, I do agree that he’s managed to keep us from further military entanglement in situations in which we probably need no further entanglement).

    Anyway, I appreciate you writing this even if I don’t buy it.

    *sadly, I’ve never taken Biden seriously either. He will, if elected, pull some boneheaded gaffe or blunder within mere minutes, I’m sure. But the bottom-line clarifying heuristic of “the lesser of two evils” at this time couldn’t be clearer to me and, I hope, to enough American voters. I fully expect any incipient “return to normalcy” to be, at best, a return to a state of regular-politics-terrible leadership, instead of spectacularly-terrible reality-show “leadership”.

    Return To Terribleness Within Normal Parameters 2020! Who’s with me?!Report

  5. Saul Degraw says:

    This is far from as good as it gets. Trump’s trade policies are an absolute disaster. The best you can say about them is that they somehow ended up causing less pain than they should have but economic growth would have been better without it.

    Over 9 million Americans have been infected with COVID. At least 321K have died according to Google. The real numbers are probably much higher but President Syphilis insists that testing is bad because it increases the amount of known cases and deaths. He also refuses to do anything that can decrease transmission like encourage mask wearing or further stimulus. Europe is getting another wave but that is because they did not institute proper contact tracing and did a hard shutdown followed by a complete reopen. Asian countries like South Korea and Taiwan are the proper models. Instead we get “ruled” by a bunch hardy-hard macho middle-aged white guys who slogan around with things like “life is for living and not being scared.” You can live life wearing a damn mask for a year or two. I went out this weekend and had a nice Sunday lunch at a restaurant with outdoor seating.

    I don’t even know how you can call this as good as it gets with a straight face. Even if Biden ends up being the second worst President (and he won’t be), he would still be magnitudes times better than Trump. Bush the lessor was magnitudes better than Trump and I still think he was an incompetent moron who got us involved in an unnecessary war and crashed the economy.Report

  6. Jaybird says:

    Yeah, I pretty much agree with a lot of this. If you take away the twitter and if you take away the global pandemic, you’re stuck with a bunch of stuff that was bad but it wasn’t *THAT* bad. Trumwill linked to a really interesting essay on the twitters that clarified a handful of things for me:

    I think that Trump is bad… but he’s not uniquely bad. One of the things that you’d think would have been more shameful is the whole “HE’S PUTTING CHILDREN IN CAGES!” thing using pictures from 2015. He’s bad, yes. Shamefully bad. But not uniquely bad.

    There are a handful of areas where he’s surprisingly good! Getting embroiled in new conflicts, for example.

    If Biden gets elected, will we start a new campaign in a new country?
    Worse, will someone try to explain to me that this new campaign is covered by the AUMF?

    I think that the answer to both of those questions happens to be “yes”.

    Yesterday, Biden tweeted out this:

    My thought wasn’t “he’s lying!” or “my guns!” but “are we going to use the same cops as we had in June?” Better back the blue, guys! We’re going to need them for our house-to-house searches! Support Police Unions too!

    Trump’s bad. But he’s not uniquely bad.

    Well, except for his aesthetics. His aesthetics are awful.Report

    • North in reply to Jaybird says:

      Trump has been pretty uniquely bad when it comes to corruption in government. His appointees have been historically corrupt and incompetent by an astronomical degree. It’s only that Trump has generated so many scandals and calamities that the electorate and the media literally can’t digest them all. It’s corruption by predator satiation.Report

      • Glyph in reply to North says:

        I don’t know if you’ve seen the new Borat movie. It’s all kindsa wrong, but god help me, I laughed. And one thing the film does, in its lowbrow shock-humor way, is riff on, via compilation/stacking, all the absurdities and offenses and catastrophes of the last four years, one on top of another on top of another compressed into ninety minutes, that really make you remember, “oh YEAH, that happened too!” Whether it would convince anyone who was somehow still on the fence I don’t know, but you’d think it should. The Kazakhstan of SBC’s creation is a third-world caricature that arguably he shouldn’t even be using; but the way he’s using it to satirize a nation that once thought itself first-world and yet looks increasingly indistinguishable from his comedic “Khazakstan” is pretty cutting in ways that might be hard to accomplish via other means.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to North says:

        One of his chief advisers is his son-in-law, who was given a security clearance by presidential order after many failed attempts at filling out his application honestly (he’s a walking conflict of interest.) Another is his daughter, whose chief achievement is the number of trademarks she’s been granted in foreign countries (she’s another.)Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Jaybird says:

      Trump is uniquely bad. Very uniquely bad. Bush II was bad but still managed to realize we needed a pandemic response team after SARS and instituted one. Or at least let his admin staffers do so. Bush II’s response to COVID might not have been great but it would have been in the realm of the ordinary. Maybe his pandemic response team would have succeeded beyond wildest imagination. Trump demolished that.

      Bush II also did not stroke paranoid conspiracy theories and racism like Trump does. He would n not cheer his supporters for trying to run an opponent’s campaign bus off the road. He would not call white supremacists very fine people. He would not encourage political violence or meltdown on twitter.

      Maybe you are not a Trumpist in intent but you certainly are one in effect. Jesse is correct as to why, you are a middle-aged white guy with a decent salary and you have a pathological hatred for liberals and/or the Democratic Party. This is all a game for you because you live in a largely blue state and will suffer no adverse consequences from the Trump admin. So you have no incentive to do anything but troll.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Thanks for the psychoanalysis, Saul.

        When I look at Trump and the global pandemic, I think “holy crap, he’s been awful! Not like Europe!” and then I look at Europe.


        Is he bad? Yes! Shamefully bad.
        But he’s not uniquely bad.

        And, apparently, me saying that he’s merely shamefully bad but not uniquely bad is enough for making me a Trumpist in effect.

        Your calibrations are off, Saul. They’re off quite badly.Report

      • North in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        You could have left off the whole final paragraph and in doing so improved your whole comment by about 100% Saul. I know you’re angry but venting your spleen isn’t helping our cause- though possibly it’s helping your blood pressure.Report

        • Saul Degraw in reply to North says:

          In the end, conservative or right-wing people voting for Trump are not that interesting to me or that revealing. For all of his paranoid rantings, Turner is a Republican. I’m not even surprised that Evangelicals fell hard for Trump but I also never went along with their self-declaration of being moral voters like our dumbshit media pundits.

          One of the most pernicious parts of American media polititainment is the assumption that we have take take everything in good faith and deal with it square on. I always come back to this quote from Satre in anti-Semite and Jew:

          “Never believe that anti-Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words. The anti-Semites have the right to play. They even like to play with discourse for, by giving ridiculous reasons, they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutors. They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert. If you press them too closely, they will abruptly fall silent, loftily indicating by some phrase that the time for argument is past.”

          What the last four years or even just year revealed to me is that there are way too many bad-faith actors who someone manage to get media careers through trolling, knee-jerk contrianism, and I suppose shitposting memes. Some of them, maybe a lot of them, like to think of themselves as Socrates but most of them are just shit.

          The past four years has brought on cosplay, trust-fund socialists like Walker Bragmann, Meghan Day, Nathan Robinson, and Brianna Grey making “accelerationist” arguments for Trump and also doing rhetorical slights of hand because they have too much vested in “class not race.”* You also have others who went fully around to the right-wing side like Glenn Greenwald, Michael Tracey, and HA HA Goodman. All these groups profess to be anti-Trump but really hate liberals (especially white, professional liberals, doubly so if they are women and moms) and the Democratic Party much, much more and end up being at best anti-anti Trump or pro-Trump in effect if not intent. And then there are the Andrew Sullivans, the Bari Weisses, the Quillette brigade, etc.

          I don’t see anyway to address Jaybird’s view that Trump is normal bad without addressing the fact that Jaybird is a heterosexual, nominally Christian, middle-aged white dude with a good job and salary. He is not going to be adversely affected by Trump until it gets to the last days of WWII kind of bad. I don’t see why I should assume good-faith. The examples of bad-faith trolling especially from white dudes abounds.

          I am not a conservative. I am not a libertarian. I do not assume or believe in Chesterson’s fence. I think Chesterson’s fence is pompous. Bringing up Burke is pompous.

          Jaybird wants everyone to think he is cutesy-bootsy.
          *Right after the Michigan kidnapping plot, Bragman posted some pictures on twitter of one of the house of one of the alleged kidnappers. He claimed the house should a lot of economic distress and anxiety. A personal friend of his called bullshit and pointed out all the expensive toys on the property.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

            Nothing worse than a trust-fund socialist, if you ask me.

            What’s weird, though, is that it’s not enough for me to not like Trump and see him as bad.


            And it’s not enough for me to not support him. It’s not enough for me to not vote for him. I need to put my back into it.

            (And “nominally Christian” makes assumptions that I make a big deal about *NOT* making.)Report

          • greginak in reply to Saul Degraw says:

            Bragman is exceptionally bad. If he is anything else he is an avatar for all the problems the left has in improving it’s strength in this country. Grey is also pretty terrible, well so is……hmmmm. Yeah the online Left has some problems that are handicapping the left in general.Report

          • North in reply to Saul Degraw says:

            If you don’t see any way to address Jaybird’s points without going off on a screed about him being heterosexual or white then you need to say nothing and ponder the matter until you can come up with arguments that don’t depend on race or identity. If someone slammed my arguments by resting them on the fact I’m gay or scathingly condemned your opinions because you’re Jewish they’d be pilloried and rightly so. It ain’t better when the argument goes the other way. Fish that progressive bullshit about punching up or some such idiocy. That same brand of cutely self-justified hypocritical doublespeak burned thousands of years worth of social conservativism down into the pathetic joke it is now- do you think that same poison can’t dissolve a few decades of liberal social advancement? Can you not see how thin the ice is that this kind of attitude is leaping up and down on top of? Don’t feed that strain of left wing thought; leave race and identity out of it! You’re smart, I have absolutely zero doubt you can do so.

            And more specifically it’s Jaybird we’re talking about. In the years we’ve known him he was a libertarian and he fishin well moved left because of his experiences with observing the world. Do you know how frickin uncommon that is?? Of all the people to hate on for being an alleged conservative troll he’s one of the last people you should. Sure his arguments sometimes drive me crazy but that’s because he’s a skeptic, he likes to be oblique and he likes to argue. He does the same thing with the dead certain sets right wingers too; there’s just not many of those left around here and he tends to argue with the minority view of whatever group he’s in.Report

            • Saul Degraw in reply to North says:

              The politese of the Atlantic parlor game does not work anymore. It makes them skim the bottle of the barrel and get in trouble when the “respectable” conservatives they find end up being caught on tape that he thinks women should be hanged for abortion.

              Jaybird gets very annoyed at anyone who points out that politics and policies have consequences and that his background makes him largely immune from conservative policies.

              There is a problem in insisting that everything needs dulcet tea party tones and insisting trolls/fools must be suffered gladly.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                Saul, I argue for changes in policy. Seriously, I do. I argue for changes of laws and changes in accountability.

                And you know one argument I get in response all the time?

                “That’s not a silver bullet!”

                I can find you multiple examples of this.

                I wasn’t arguing that my policy changes would turn us into a utopia, either. I was arguing that it would make things better than they were now.

                “That’s not a silver bullet!”

                The policies you’re arguing shouldn’t be changed because they’re not “silver bullets” have consequences too.

                Which brings us back to what I said earlier:

                Your calibrations are off, Saul. They’re off quite badly.Report

              • North in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                This isn’t about politeness or civility Saul; this is about winning. This is about not destroying past victories because we want to vent our spleen, signal our virtue and satiate our ID. This is not idealism from me; it is ice cold calculation.

                I have pointed this out before but I’ll do so again. You realize that when you go off onto this tangent the only people you are gratifying are the ones you’re trying to oppose? I don’t think Jaybird cares but you can be sure George grins from ear to ear every time he gets a rise out of you. When right winger divert liberals into the weeds of identity they are ecstatic. Why do you think right wing media is the biggest promoter of left-wing identity politics? Why do right wingers always magnify left wing SJW twitter and paint everyone to the left of Mitt Romney as being in thrall to them? Because that is who they want to fight. That is who they think they can win against. They can’t beat mild liberalism and they know it. So the question is why you are choosing to give right wingers what they want? What did right wingers ever do for you that would make you want to do their work for them?Report

              • Saul Degraw in reply to North says:

                I want miscreants to be sanctioned for bad-faith and for people to learn that bad-faith tactics are not to be suffered gladly. I don’t see how your preferred tactic does anything to stop bad-faith trolls.

                Jaybird tried to paint the picture that Trump is bad but not uniquely bad. I don’t think pointing out his status is wrong considering it might reflect the reason why he thinks Trump is not uniquely bad.Report

              • North in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                None of that explains how you justify using ethnic or identity describers as part of your attacks. White people aren’t automatically bad faith actors; middle class people aren’t automatically bad faith actors. If some favored by the left identity describer was used the way you’re using white or middle class you’d be furious. Yet you use both pejoratively routinely. What’s worse, there’s no need to. None of those linguistic ticks are central to your points. Unlearn them. Your comments will be strengthened from doing so.Report

              • Saul Degraw in reply to North says:

                I’m in a very angry mood and perhaps my language was too strong.Report

              • greginak in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                Don’t feed trolls. That is the only thing to do about them. If you feel trolled, don’t respond. Any energy you spend on someone you think is trolling or bad faith is wasted. There is no punishment. If you want to clown on someone go for it. You might or might not enjoy it, but that ain’t stopping them. If someone is truly trolling anything, ANY. THING. you give them, feeds them.Report

              • George Turner in reply to North says:

                Back when I was writing for a top right-wing blog, we had one irritatingly loyal right-wing commenter whose debating tactic, whenever a liberal made a pretty good argument, was to challenge them to a fist fight.

                The rest of us would be writing deep George Will/William F Buckley style counter arguments, while our ever-ready member would post things like “Step away from your mother’s apron you pansy a** loser! Come meet me at 455 West North Street on Thursday you gutless girly-man! I will beat your sorry self and make you run home cryin’ to your mommy!”

                And I’d go “Darn. We lose the argument, yet again. Can someone please get him to quit doing that? For one thing, fighting-by-appointment is illegal in many states.”

                And it wasn’t just an on-line persona. Occasionally he’d rant about his problems with his ex-wife, the court (which looked at his online rantings and limited his child visitations), and the airlines, which banned him for challenging a stewardess to a fight.

                All he was doing was popping his top and making the liberals sit back and laugh at winning the argument. It was so frustrating. You spend hours carefully addressing points A, B, and C with geometric logic, and poof. If was like going hunting with someone who invariably screams and charges like a maniac, hurling threats and ululating at the merest glimpse of a deer. “Whelp. No deer again this year. Thanks Daryl. You really had ’em scared. Never seen one run away that fast.”Report

              • The rest of us would be writing deep George Will/William F Buckley style counter arguments

                As one often finds in right-wing blog comments.Report

              • George Turner in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Indeed. That’s where the deepest analysis usually appears, which often makes it rather frustrating to watch TV analysts who haven’t thought things through, don’t have good arguments, and don’t understand the topic very well.Report

          • Aaron David in reply to Saul Degraw says:

            How Dare People! Doing and having opinions I don’t like!


          • Pinky in reply to Saul Degraw says:

            First time I ever get to say this: keep the bigotry off my thread.Report

      • Pinky in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        “He would not call white supremacists very fine people.”

        Never happened.Report

        • Mike Schilling in reply to Pinky says:

          Yes, it did. The rationalization that he meant people who weren’t at the time is dumb.Report

          • George Turner in reply to Mike Schilling says:

            Surely everybody now has seen the entire exchange, not just the brief snippet the press showed.

            There were very fine people on both sides. Many fine historians defended the statues as important pieces of history that commemorate huge and traumatic events that transformed America forever and left scars that are still with us all today. Many others felt that the time to have such statutes on a pedestal is long past, because our culture has changed so much since they were erected.

            And then he roundly condemned the white supremacists who were there just to stir up trouble. He also condemned the Antifa types who were just there to incite violence and destroy property, and who wanted to erase US history. Trump correctly predicted that they soon go after Washington and Lincoln, and they did.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

      Also his firing of the FBI director and many inspectors general who wouldn’t kowtow to him, and his plan to reintroduce the spoils system.

      But sure, it’s the tweets.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird says:

      The thing with all these Trump scandals is the same thing that happened during the election. Every reporter was so, so sure that this time they’d get him, this time he’d quit in embarrassed rage, this time would be Watergate. And it wasn’t, and everyone forgot about it.

      As someone put it:

      “No way Trump’s gonna wriggle out of this jam!”
      (Trump easily wriggles out of the jam)
      “Ah, well. Nevertheless…”Report

      • Slade the Leveller in reply to DensityDuck says:

        On Earth 2, where successful, honest businessman Donald Trump got elected, the skeptics were overjoyed when he actually went to Washington and began to drain the swamp, as he promised to in his campaign. They began to realize just how far reaching and fetid the swamp really was, and he was re-elected with an EC margin not seen since Ronald Reagan.

        Meanwhile, on our Earth, Donald Trump (we all know his faults and flaws) was running on the same drain the swamp platform. Our Donald Trump brought in Scott Pruitt, and his penchant for 1st class air travel, as his EPA director. He appointed Ben Carson, and his love of fine dining room furniture, as head of HUD. These were huge tells.

        As you so rightly point out, Trump is covered in more Teflon than John Gotti. Why that is will be a mystery to at least half the country for years to come. His presidency could have been so much more.Report

    • InMD in reply to Jaybird says:

      The below sticks out from the Clairmont piece. It’s how I’ve felt since the beginning and I think it’s about right. It’s bad but not nearly as shocking when you’ve paid attention to things other democracies have been dealing with over the last 20 years.

      ‘We got ourselves a Berlusconi, and it sucks and is beneath us. I hate it too. No need to make it more embarrassing and painful for everybody.’Report

      • Marchmaine in reply to InMD says:

        Berlusconi is a good comp.

        Berlusconi’s schtick crumbled with actual populists (left and right) who came after him.Report

        • InMD in reply to Marchmaine says:

          Berlusconi. Aspects of Gerhard Schroeder’s agenda, though Trump is nowhere nearly as polished. Maybe a little bit of the Kaczynski brothers, at least in terms of who he is trying to court, but obviously there are a number of uniquely Polish cultural issues that don’t translate. But not really Marine Le Pen or Nick Griffin. That requires believing in something.Report

          • Glyph in reply to InMD says:

            I was really hopeful that “our very own Berlusconi” was as bad as it would get (IIRC Burt made that comparison, back then). He’d come in, there’d be some scandalous mistresses, some light embezzlement and cronyism, and the circus would leave town again, taking the memory of its corrupt clown with it. I didn’t count on the biggest world crisis of my lifetime…so far (as others have alluded to, climate change is here, now, and all else is nearly just a minor distraction from imminent catastrophe). I didn’t count on someone who was willing to take a few minutes off each day from lining his pockets from the public trust to tweet random bizarre and incendiary and downright dangerous statements at other world leaders and the American people. Just a staggering amount of incompetence, in addition to the expected narcissism and greed. If he just could have kept his head down and simply quietly robbed us blind maybe I could have lived with it. But this is something else, a reckless carelessness of of words and actions that will take decades to undo.

            He’s exceeded my expectations, all right, but not in the way you ever want someone to.Report

            • InMD in reply to Glyph says:

              I actually think we’re kind of lucky on the crisis and its timing, at least with respect to pushing the circus on its way. Anything can still happen tomorrow/the coming days and I take nothing for granted. But if the economy was still doing what it was doing before the pandemic then removal of an incumbent president would be historically very unusual. I don’t think an incumbent has lost in a good economy since the 19th century.Report

            • George Turner in reply to Glyph says:

              And that’s why it’s important to vote against Biden. The underage groping, the family of perverts, the brazen kickbacks and bribes, the millions of dollars raked in from hostile foreign powers, the getting in bed with mafia-style oil companies and staying on their payroll.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

      He’s such a piece of shit personally that it camouflages what a piece of shit he is as a politician, and that camouflages what a piece of shit he is as a leader, and that camouflages what a piece of shit he us as a government official.

      Take away the rest of it; stick with just his performance as president. It’s that bad.Report

    • Philip H in reply to Jaybird says:

      Trump’s bad. But he’s not uniquely bad.

      For an American President he IS uniquely bad.

      For a South American Dictator he’s about average.Report

  7. Chip Daniels says:

    This is about as good a case as anyone could make. It presents Trump as merely a normal politician and assesses him in normal policy-centric terms.

    Which of course I disagree with, entirely. Not the policy, but the entire framing.

    The most uniquely destructive thing about Trump is what doesn’t get headlines, which is his “l’etat ce moi” view of the presidency as a monarchy.
    Using his power for personal enrichment, weaponizing the organs of the state as his personal deputies.

    This is a corrosive acid being poured over our republic, because the nature of his corruption is that he enlists his entire party in the destruction. The Department of Justice, Department of State, Homeland Security, even the smaller Cabinet agencies become functioning appendages of his person rather than the people.

    So far his staggering incompetence has prevented true horrors but that only conceals the real horror.

    The real horror, the lasting damage, is that now have an entire political party that controls about half of our nation’s governance, that sees democracy and the rule of law as its enemy.Report

    • Glyph in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      Chip, you and I disagreed with some frequency back in the day, but I want you to know I co-sign all this. What he is, and what he represents, is poisonous to democracy itself and should not be normalized.Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to Glyph says:

        What’s remarkable to me is how little we talk about politics any more.

        Trump’s sole genius is the ability to warp the entire media world around himself. He isn’t an agent of a larger political idea. He himself is the idea. No one can talk about a Trump Doctrine or Trumpist philosophy of governance which can exist apart from the man because there is none.

        Which in a way IS the idea, that governance is personal, connected to the person or group in power, rather than to a universal idea applicable to everyone.

        Trump’s hallmark is racism, and racism is a form of “le etat c’est moi” except it is “le etat c’est nous” where the legitimacy and power of the state becomes synonymous with a group.

        Here we have the Director of National Intelligence tweeting a rabidly partisan attack on the opposition candidate:

        What’s remarkable is how unremarkable it is. The media barely recognizes or notes this, as if it is perfectly expected that the head of our nation’s intelligence sees himself in service to re-elect the President, rather than serving the people.

        I don’t know what the policy is that Richard Grenell is enacting; I might agree or disagree with it. It might be good or bad policy.
        But I can’t even talk about his policy, because there is this monster in the room.

        Its astonishing and horrifying that Americans have become conditioned to see the organs of state become Sovietized this way.Report

        • Philip H in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          Trump’s sole genius is the ability to warp the entire media world around himself. He isn’t an agent of a larger political idea. He himself is the idea. No one can talk about a Trump Doctrine or Trumpist philosophy of governance which can exist apart from the man because there is none.

          But don’t forget, according to our resident libertarians he’s not Facist.Report

      • Jesse in reply to Glyph says:

        As I said, this election has shown which center-right people just have actual policy disagreements with folks like Chip & I, and for which of them, the cruelty is the point.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      I ask that you remember this take three years from now when someone says “yo, um, Kamala Harris just hired her entire former prosecutor’s office and half her family to run the State Department,” and you have a number of Strong Principled Arguments for why what she’s doing is okay.Report

      • Philip H in reply to DensityDuck says:

        The Bushes didn’t do it. The Clinton’s didn’t do it. The Obama’s didn’t do it. Reagan didn’t do it.

        There’s no reason to expect Biden or Harris would do it.Report

        • CJColucci in reply to Philip H says:

          Reasons? We don’t need no stinkin’ reasons.Report

        • DensityDuck in reply to Philip H says:

          “There’s no reason to expect Biden or Harris would do it.”

          And if (when?) they do, please do remember this post, remember these comments, remember them when you explain how Trump normalized the idea so it’s his fault really.Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to DensityDuck says:

            In all sincerity, yes by all means lets hold Biden to the same standards.

            Because this is what horrifies and outrages me, that it is just expected that this is how America works now, like Biden should have the Attorney General swear to personal loyalty to him, and all the federal police agencies act as his personal Brute Squad.

            Its why I have such scorn for the Beltway journalists in the Cult of Savvy, or the low info “for the lulz” cynics on Reddit, where they pretend to be above it all and clever, possessing a superior view of things when in fact they are the biggest suckers of all, unable to even imagine a nation where politics is actually about making things better.Report

            • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              I can imagine it, I even want it. Problem is, I don’t think the parties themselves can imagine it, nor do they really want it. They want to make things better for themselves, to pad their own nests, secure their own power; but for everyone else… meh.Report

        • Pinky in reply to Philip H says:

          But if Bill runs into the AG at the airport, he’ll exchange pleasantries just before she rules about an investigation into his wife. And there were those White House staffers’ FBI files leaked in 1996. And the family friend whose husband was sending out dirty pictures from his computer that had to be confiscated. It’s about how much wiggle room you’re willing to grant your own side.Report

  8. Marchmaine says:

    As a critique from the Horseshoe Right… it isn’t lost on me that the best defense of Trump is that he’s Jeb! without the magnetic charm. That *ought* to be disqualifying in its own right… at least by Trump’s own definition of a successful Trump Presidency.Report

  9. Pinky says:

    Oh hey, there’s my article!

    For context, I wrote this before Kristin’s piece was published, and I assumed that mine wouldn’t be. It was intended as a stopgap in case no one did step up to the plate. I find it interesting that she and I made very different points, and I look forward to the strange experience of reading comments on my very own piece.Report

  10. Aaron David says:

    Praising with faint Damn.

    I feel I must be a class traitor, more than anything. See, I come from that upper-middle class that is so, so horrified by Trump that it believes every bit of sinuendo that has come down the pipe in regards to this presidency. But, even though I have every marker of this burned into my genetics, I have just never had the knee jerk reaction to Trump.Report

  11. Michael Cain says:

    41 responses as I write this, and the word “climate” doesn’t appear once. The Trump administration has been a disaster.Report

    • Philip H in reply to Michael Cain says:

      frankly his climate approaches, while regrettable, are not in any real way a deviation from Republican orthodoxy. In spite of alternative energy being the job growth sector it is, Republicans still see addressing climate change as an economic disaster not an opportunity.Report

    • George Turner in reply to Michael Cain says:

      Trump is the only one who even addresses emissions from China and India. Everything the left does on climate is completely irrelevant because of those two factors. China’s growth in emissions swamps the entire output of the United States. The US and EU could drop their emissions to zero, perhaps by committing mass suicide, and it wouldn’t make a difference. It’s all just empty virtue signaling because their corrupt leaders are owned by China, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.Report

      • Pat in reply to George Turner says:

        “Everything the left does on climate is completely irrelevant because of those two factors.”

        This argument is thrown about a lot but IMO it is spectacularly bad, really.

        Both China and India import carbon positive raw materials for energy generation, and a lot of it.

        They will both happily switch the second there is power that is cheaper.

        Subsidizing energy generation that is carbon neutral brings that day closer, faster.Report

  12. Well, I quite like Trump, and I think he’s done a good job, and I’m fine with him horrifying people who deserve to be horrified. And as I say in my article here:

    If you could conceivably vote for Trump–that is, you’re not a Dem–and you don’t like the riots in the cities, or the transgender nonsense, or the end of admissions testing, or close to open borders and amnesty and bogus asylum claims and amnesty and cancel culture, but say man, I’m voting Biden, then well, you deserve the shit storm coming your way–if there are enough of you to matter.

    I say this not to be hostile. As I said, it totally makes sense that Dems vote Biden, even though I think his policies are insane. But you do what you do. What I find incomprehensible are the people who say yeah, it’d be fine if there was no Twitter and vote for Biden, because man, there’s a lot bad coming if that’s how you feel.Report

  13. Pat says:


    Down here.

    Aside from some significant disagreement on Trump being uniquely bad in a whole bunch of areas… I will offer the one area where I believe he has been explicitly uniquely bad, and moreover *spectacularly* so, from a libertarian perspective.

    And I am not talking about tariffs.

    I am talking about the last six months of proto-police state speechifying, the blue line flags at his rallies, sitting police officers actively supporting Trump rally folks while coming down hard on other demonstrators. Capped with the pardon of Arapio, the message should be pretty clear: the President has co-opted the police into a specific political support mechanism.

    This is all the way uniquely bad. Like “generals ordering troops to vote a certain way” degree of bad.

    It would be bad enough if they were doing it entirely as a reaction to protests over police oversight and he was actively trying to tamp it down, but he’s engorged on it and creating feedback loops.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Pat says:

      I agree! Trump is spectacularly awful on that!

      Did you ever read Oscar’s great post on how to reform the police? You should check it out. You’ll see some of the strangest counter-arguments in comments, though.

      There’s also an interesting comment thread here where we were discussing whether there was any evidence for Police Unions making things worse. That turned into a discussion of knowledge theory for some reason.

      I would be 100% down with agreeing that Trump is absolutely horrible when it comes to the police and reforming it.

      Would that he were uniquely horrible.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Jaybird says:

        This seems to me to be a separate topic of conversation.

        Policing in this country needs reform, badly. Police kill and abuse with impunity, and protect their own like any other gang. This is known.

        But I think Pat’s talking about the *co-opting of that gang, into a personal police/”political” force for a wannabe Il Duce.*

        It’s bad if we have a bunch of Crips, Bloods, and Blues out there murdering people.

        It’s worse if a sitting President appears to be attempting to marshal the Crips and Bloods and Blues…well, just the Blues, into the backbone of his political apparatus.

        That’s a separate question from “what do we do about gang violence?”

        I guarantee no one (whom we should follow) would answer that question with “let’s turn the gang into an apparatus of the Executive Branch! Yeah, that’s the ticket!”Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Glyph says:

          Indeed. But start talking about cutting this relationship with the executive off at the knees by reforming the police and, next thing you know, it’s a really serious and complicated topic that shouldn’t be entered into lightly. I mean, we, as a society, haven’t properly addressed racism yet.

          Why do people think that getting rid of Qualified Immunity is a magic bullet, anyway?

          If you want me to not vote for Trump, hell. I won’t vote for him. But if you want me to vote for Biden, you’ll have to get Biden to talk about reforming the police instead of talking about making new laws to have the police enforce on behalf of us, as a society.

          Until then, I’ve gotta say that American Solidarity is looking pretty good, what with Jo being awful.Report

          • Pat in reply to Jaybird says:

            On the one hand, the conservatives around here are telling the world that Biden is going to abolish the police as part of the Kamala Harris Teojan Horse plan to put a Communist in the White House by having Joe retire after he gets sworn in, and on the other hand Joe is equivalent to his opposition, who pardoned a cop who was actually investigate by the Department of Justice *for the administration Joe was a member of*.

            It’s kinda amazing, from my perspectiveReport

  14. Saul Degraw says:

    Let us discuss the news with Trump in the past day and a half:

    1. He announced the WH was getting non-scalable walls;

    2. He had to be flagged on Twitter and FB for calling a decision from PA “very dangerous” because it kept up deadlines for counting ballots.

    Even if all of this is impotent howling, I find it astonishing that people still want to argue Trump is not “uniquely bad” with all the faux sophistication of Michael Corleone in The Godfather.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I remember how Uniquely Bad Mittler was, though. How Uniquely Bad McCain was (not because he was McCain, but because he was willing to choose Palin… that’s what made him Uniquely Bad). And Bush II!!! How Uniquely Bad was *THAT* guy?!?!?

      I think Dole was the last guy who was merely bad and not, you know, “put a dog on top of a car sociopath” bad.

      But Bush I? Uniquely Bad.

      Reagan? EXCEPTIONALLY Uniquely Bad.

      Ford wasn’t Uniquely Bad, he was just dumb.

      Nixon was Uniquely Bad, though.Report

      • Pinky in reply to Jaybird says:

        Ryan, Cheney, Walker, Cruz, McConnell, Kavanaugh, Meese, Ashcroft, Starr, Gingrich, Bolton, DeSantis…

        (Is a dozen ok?)Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Pinky says:

          Scott Walker was interesting. One of the arguments thrown against him was that he never finished his degree. (Remember us arguing about that? Good times.)

          It seemed like such a strange criticism to make. I mean, it’s not like he could have rectified it. And it’s not like there aren’t a lot of skills that a person can gain in gainful employment. Or even in government!

          I had to google DeSantis.

          But I agree that the rest of those bastards are also Uniquely Bad.Report

      • Patrick in reply to Jaybird says:

        Perhaps you could remember that you’re not currently talking with folks who thought that Mitt was uniquely bad, so pointing out that somebody somewhere called him “Mittler” isn’t really all that germane to the current conversation.

        I mean, I remember saying on these pages that I thought he’d be within a reasonable delta of the President that Obama was.

        It’s true, I thought picking Palin as a running mate was an astonishingly bad decision by McCain, but I think you’re working on some serious frameworking here if you’re trying to convince me that me saying “Trump is uniquely bad” is because I’m just groupthinking or something.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Patrick says:

          And being told that Trump is Uniquely Bad when I’m willing to concede that Trump is Very Bad and being asked to acknowledge that he is Uniquely Bad rather than merely Very Bad is weird.

          I’m not going to vote for him. What do you want?Report

        • Pinky in reply to Patrick says:

          It’s been 8 years, so we might not know if we’re speaking to the same people, granted. But I don’t remember a turning point, and there were a lot of people calling him Mittler. I know some of Group A (the Romney-haters), and as far as I can tell they’re all in Group B (the Trump-haters). Does that mean that all of Group B was in Group A? No, but there’s a lot of continuity. And if new people keep falling into the same trap, it’s maybe even more important to point it out.Report

          • Mike Schilling in reply to Pinky says:

            I’d never even heard “Mittler” before; the meanest name for him I remember is “Willard”. I’ve also never heard “Chimpy McHitler” from anyone except Republicans insisting that all liberals called W that.

            But if we want to play that game, there’s much continuity between Birtherism and “Biden is senile”.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

              I hereby refuse to vote for someone who called Biden “senile”.

              We shouldn’t have elected officials who say stuff like that.Report

              • George Turner in reply to Jaybird says:

                Biden is senile. Today at a Rally in Philly, Biden introduced his son Beau at a rally by putting his arms on his granddaughter and saying “‘This is my son, Beau Biden who a lot of you helped elect to the Senate in Delaware.” Beau died five years ago.

                He then corrected the glaring lapse and said “This is my granddaughter, Natalie.” He was actually holding a different granddaughter named Finnegan, who is Hunter’s daughter.

                He no longer reliably recognizes family members, and sometimes doesn’t remember that his eldest son is dead. Last week he thought he was running against George Bush, and at one point in the campaign he though he was running for the Senate.

                Biden cannot serve as President.Report

            • Pinky in reply to Mike Schilling says:

              I’m not thinking so much about the particular names as the idea of Unique Badness.

              And I figured that “Biden is senile” was a response to “Trump is senile”.Report

    • He announced the WH was getting non-scalable walls;

      Which makes no sense; what if they want to extend them?Report