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Donald Trump Discovers Being President Is Hard

Donald Trump Shrug

Donald Trump’s recent interview with The Wall Street Journal includes this telling recounting of Trump’s conversation with the President of China about the situation in North Korea. Apparently, Trump brought the subject of North Korea up and offered to the Chinese leader that he’d be willing to make concessions

President Trump acknowledged the complexity and political sensitivity of the relationship between China and North Korea this week, after China’s President Xi Jinping explained the countries’ relationship to him.

Trump told the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that he was previously convinced China had “tremendous power” over North Korea. But after meeting with Xi last week Trump said he “realized it’s not so easy.”

After listening for 10 minutes, I realized it’s not so easy,” Trump said. “I felt pretty strongly that [China] had a tremendous power over North Korea. But it’s not what you would think.

Ahead of his meeting with Xi last week, Trump vowed to pressure the Chinese leader to take a tougher approach to North Korea.

The president’s acknowledgement of the situation’s complexity comes amid increased tension between the U.S. and North Korea. A U.S. Navy strike group was ordered into the west Pacific near the Korean Peninsula last weekend amid concerns about North Korea’s advancing weapons program.

Zach Beauchamp has these observations:

Four quick observations about this:

  1. Trump thought China could fix North Korea until the Chinese president politely informed him that North Korea is in fact complicated.
  2. Trump seems to have required the leader of China to explain basic facts to him that he could have Googled, or at least asked one of the many US government North Korea experts about.
  3. Trump came to a profound realization about one of the most dangerous conflicts on earth after a 10-minute conversation.
  4. Trump is getting his information about East Asian affairs from the leader of America’s largest rival in the region.

One question this does bring up, of course, is exactly who’s briefing the President and what they’re telling him. Presumably, there are plenty of people at the State Department, Defense Department, and National Security Council who are capable, willing, and ready to provide the President with all the background briefing he’d ever need on the issues in Korea, including the background of the complicated history of the peninsula that shapes views about both China and Japan in both North and South Korea to this day. They’d also likely to be able to explain the limitations of Chinese influence over the leadership in Pyongyang, although that has become more and more apparent in recent years to even an amateur observer of the day-by-day events in the region and the manner in which the Kim Jong-Un regime seems not willing willing, but quite eager, to basically ignore admonitions from Beijing at the same time they continue to take aid that China provides largely to avoid the chaos that would ensue if his despotic regime were to suddenly collapse. Contrary to the popular assumption in the West, which Trump apparently shared until talking to Xi, North Korea is a puppet regime of China and China can easily control what the seemingly irrational players in Pyongyang do. Since it would seem to be important for a President of the United States to understand, you would think his advisers would be telling him about. If, that is, he is even listening to his advisers.

This isn’t the first time that Trump has expressed, in one way or another, how being President was harder than he thought it would be when he was running for President. Granted, it’s probably the case that nobody who runs for President, with the possible exception of sitting for former Vice-Presidents who have been involved in the process themselves alongside the President they served with is fully prepared for the gross tonnage of what it is a President is responsible for. Barack Obama himself admitted that when he walked out of the first full intelligence briefing he received after being that he was overwhelmed by what he had been told that he previously didn’t know because he lacked the appropriate security clearances. Other Presidents have admitted much the same thing. With Trump, though, it seems far more severe. All through the campaign, he made it seem as though only he had the knowledge and skills to deal with the problems facing the nation on the domestic and foreign policy fronts. At various points, he even claimed he knew more about the situation in the Middle East than intelligence or military officials in the government, and that he knew more about the economy than all the expert employed by the government and private industry. Indeed, this myth of Trump as the all-knowing multi-billionaire who can fix all our problems is something that has been part of Trump’s carefully crafted public image since the 1980s.

In recent weeks, though, Trump has said publicly that he’s discovered that things aren’t what he thought they were. This includes getting some form of health care reform passed, working with Congress, building his so-called wall on the southern border with Mexico and getting Mexico to pay for it, and tax reform. Now, you can add North Korea to that list, and the fact that he apparently had to be educated by the President of China is particularly embarrassing. Of course, if he’d had any experience in government at all, he’d know that none of what a President needs to do is easy. Whether that will have any impact on him going forward remains to be seen.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Pch101 says:

    What Trump meant to say was, “I felt pretty strongly that [China] had a tremendous power over North Korea. But it’s not what you idiots who get their news from Breitbart would think.”

    Yet another indication that the American right is not a legitimate political point of view but a club for stupid people. This schism is not just a matter of disagreement, but is the result of a group that holds strongly held beliefs based upon “facts” that are not true.

    ReplyReply

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  2. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Morons – Those with IQs between 51 and 70 (adequate learning skills to complete menial
    tasks and to communicate)
    Imbeciles – Those with IQs between 26 and 50 (unable to progress past a mental age of
    approximately six)
    Idiots – those with IQs between 0 and 25 (poor motor skills, extremely limited communication,
    and little response to stimulus)

    Comb-over Donnie is an idiot.
    Anyone who voted for him is off the charts of the mentally challenged.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  3. gVOR08 says:

    Trump was the perfect candidate for people with no idea what the president does, and that includes Trump.

    And he’s a slow learner.

    Might want to revisit first graph after the blockquotes – “Contrary to the popular assumption in the West, which Trump apparently shared until talking to Xi, North Korea is a puppet regime of China and China can easily control what the seemingly irrational players in Pyongyang do.”

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  4. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Comb-over Donnie owes China over $600 million.
    Who’s to say that Xi Jinping didn’t just tell him, if he layed off N. Korea and the currency manipulator thing, that they would forgive some of that?
    Are there any campaign promises that the Cheeto-Jebus hasn’t reversed himself on, yet?
    Who the fwck was dumb enough to vote for this ass-hat???

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  5. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Also his daughter, the one he may or may not have had incestuous relations with, has received over 50 shipments of her clothing line from China and Singapore since the election.
    Dumb Don has a financial interest in not messing with China.

    ReplyReply

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  6. michael reynolds says:

    What you have in Trump is basically our own Eric Florack suddenly confronting reality. Trump has the intellect and knowledge base of an internet troll.

    The reason these fever swamp idea disintegrate when they meet reality is obvious: the right has disconnected from reality. And yet, reality persists. Health care is hard. North Korea is hard. Tax reform is hard. Even building a stupid wall is hard. All the things where someone like Florack would say, “… all you have to do is X,” are actually much, much harder and almost never have anything to do with “X.”

    In other words, as @Darryl suggests, the underlying problem of American society is not race, or gender, the fundamental problem is that stupid people don’t realize they’re stupid and insist on replacing smart people, AKA: elites.

    In the end of course the elites win because the elites are in touch with reality, know what they want, and are not stupid. Of course this means that many of the elite tend to ignore or even prey upon the stupid, but that is why we have liberals. Liberals are the portion of the elite that actually does care about the stupid, and tries to help the stupid to live better lives. See: Obamacare. See: Senator Warren’s consumer watchdog agency. See: Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, food stamps, public education, Meals on Wheels, Planned Parenthood – all part of liberal elites trying to help people who are not part of the elite.

    But the stupid have been well brainwashed by the conservative elite, and since elites win regardless, that means so long as the stupid continue supporting predatory elites, the liberal elites are stymied and the stupid live still shittier lives.

    Bottom line: the elites always win, the choice is not between ‘populism’ and ‘elitism’ it is between sub-species of elites, between predatory elites and elites with a conscience, ie: liberals.

    So, Mr. and Mrs. Trump voter: you’ve been played (again!) and you’ve delivered the country into the hands of people who will flatter you while they’re screwing you, rather than elites who will sneer at you while helping you. Which of those two elites helps you put food on the table, and care for granny and gets your kid to a doctor? And which elite cuts off your medical insurance and passes the savings along to rich folks? You want medical care or flattery?

    Yes, medical reform, and taxes, and foreign policy are all hard and complicated, that’s why you are supposed to elect the elites who give a damn, even if they drink Chardonnay and eat Brie and think your TV shows are dumb.

    ReplyReply

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  7. gVOR08 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Bottom line: the elites always win, the choice is not between ‘populism’ and ‘elitism’ it is between sub-species of elites, between predatory elites and elites with a conscience, ie: liberals.

    That. A thousand times, that.

    That pretty much defines the choices in the real world. I’m voting for a hereditary NY billionaire because he understands my problems in Akron OH is not a real world choice.

    ReplyReply

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  8. grumpy realist says:

    Is anyone surprised? Trump has never had to actually use his brain in his life–it’s all been bluff and browbeating and threatening to sue anyone who challenges his Infinite Geniuz Mad Skillz view of himself.

    The fact is, Trump is an easily manipulated clueless nitwit. Very much like his supporters.

    It has, however, been amusing to watch the competing power centers trying to load their Frankenstein monster up with the correct program and get him pointed at the right village before Trump gets distracted by something else appealing to his ego.

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  9. the Q says:

    Bravo Mr. Reynolds! Very well put.

    ReplyReply

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  10. SenyorDave says:

    Trump spent most of his life rolling people. He rolled contractors because he had the leverage. “Her’s 70 cents on the dollar of what I owe you, want the rest, go sue me”. He rolled his business partners because some stupidly thought he would be an honest partner, some probably didn’t care if he went bankrupt they’d be just fine because of the way tax laws are. Does anyone really believe he’s going to roll the Chinese premier? Or Angela Merkel? Or any world leader? Even the strongman of some third world country is smarter than Trump, and he went through a lot more to get where he is. Trump spent his life dealing with chumps. Now he’s in this position:

    Old poker quote: If you look around the table and you can’t tell who the sucker is, it’s you.

    Unfortunately, the rest of the country is along for the ride. Don’t worry, though, we have Jarod Kushner on our side. His talent: he married well.

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  11. Guarneri says:

    “This isn’t the first time that Trump has expressed, in one way or another, how being President was harder than he thought it would be when he was running for President.”

    Oh, cmon now. The everyday commenters here, when they take time from their chief executive duties of saving the world (snicker), have it all figured out. Just ask them……………even though they could barely run an ice cream store.

    ReplyReply

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  12. Pch101 says:

    @SenyorDave:

    Trump spent most of his life rolling people.

    You can change that to the present tense:
    _______

    Trump’s Doral golf resort owes Miami paint store chain over $300,000, court rules

    A Wednesday ruling by Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal rejected Trump National Doral’s attempt to get out of paying a Miami paint store chain over $315,000.

    In July, Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Jorge Cueto ruled in favor of The Paint Stop, which claimed it was still owed $32,535.87 for paint used during the renovation of the resort’s lodges. Donald Trump bought the resort in 2012 and renovated the golf courses and hotel over the next two years. Cueto also ruled that Trump’s company, Trump Endeavor 12, owed The Paint Stop’s $282,949.91 in attorney’s fees.

    http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/doral/article144398514.html
    _______

    I can’t imagine why anyone would want to extend credit to this guy. Cash only, paid in advance.

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  13. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Guarneri:
    When are you going to be able to face yourself and be honest?
    You are one of the dumbest fwckers on the planet for voting for this clown.
    Never mind…you are not smart enough to know you are stupid.

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    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  14. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Now it has become apparent that Dumb Fwck Don has abdicated control of the Military…and left the inmates to run the asylum.
    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/trump-military-has-total-authorization-afghanistan-bombing
    This does not end well…and of course when it all goes South…he will hold himself blameless. Because in addition to being stupid he is a pu$$y.

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  15. CSK says:

    @Guarneri:

    The commenters here could barely run an ice cream store? Well, it’s a proven fact that Trump can’t sell steak, vodka, a board game, Trump Mortgage, Trump Magazine, Trump Network, Trump Talk Radio, men’s clothing, etc. .He also managed to lose $100 million dollars destroying the Eastern Airlines shuttle between Boston-NY-Washington, which had been running very successfully, cheaply, and efficiently for customers and profitably for Eastern for over forty years, in less than four years. And bankrupt four casinos.

    Yeah, he’s a genius.

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  16. DrDaveT says:

    One question this does bring up, of course, is exactly who’s briefing the President and what they’re telling him.

    What on earth makes you think Trump’s understanding of the world is affected in any way by what he is told by people not already on his guru list?

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  17. grumpy realist says:

    @CSK: Remember Trump is the guy who wanted to line the bathrooms on the Trump Shuttle with marble. (After much pushback, he settled for faux-marble sinks)

    We’re talking about someone here who has absolutely no understanding of anything.

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  18. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Yeah, and he also wanted the doors to be equipped with gold handles. Apparently he was impervious to the repeated explanation that the materials used in building an aircraft have to be as light as possible (commensurate with safety) in order to get the plane off the ground.

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  19. michael reynolds says:

    @CSK:
    And we also have a nice group of scientists, businessmen, social workers, ex-military, Hollywood folk and the occasional kidlit author.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  20. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Oh, sure, but how many of us have the innate talent, the acute wisdom, the keen business skills, and the comprehensive grasp of microeconomics that would enable us to go broke peddling booze and promoting gambling–something at which any two-bit gangster with an IQ of 85 seems to succeed at wonderfully?

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  21. Pete S says:

    @Guarneri: you understand that nobody here is the president, or ran to be the president? We don’t have to be good at it. Donald Trump is the president and he ran for the job. As voters it is the job of people here to judge him.

    ReplyReply

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  22. Sleeping Dog says:

    @SenyorDave:

    Unfortunately, the rest of the country is along for the ride. Don’t worry, though, we have Jarod Kushner on our side. His talent: he married well.

    Not to mention that little Jarod is a Thanks Dad.

    @Doug

    One question this does bring up, of course, is exactly who’s briefing the President

    You forget, Donald didn’t feel intelligence briefings were needed, he’d get his information from Fox, Brietbart and Infowars.

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    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  23. J-Dub says:

    I wonder if Xi Jinping held little Donnie’s hand while he explained the world to him on their walk.

    ReplyReply

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  24. J-Dub says:

    This might all be comical if he weren’t on the verge of getting 20 million people killed.

    ReplyReply

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  25. iSeeDumbPeople says:

    At least Trump is getting Asian policy advice from actual Asians.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  26. MBunge says:

    I can’t begrudge anyone taking their cheap shots at Trump but what elites are you people talking about?

    The ones responsible for Vietnam?
    The ones who stood by and did NOTHING about the genocide in Rwanda?
    The ones who think the only thing wrong with Trump’s Syria strike is that Trump did it?
    The ones who’ve done nothing about the various war crimes of the George W. Bush administration?
    The ones who turned New York City into such a disaster that voters turned to Rudy Giuliani?
    The ones who turned California into such a disaster that voters turned to Arnold Schwarzenegger?
    The ones who’ve done nothing about an American immigration system that’s been broken for 20 years?
    The ones in Europe who have disastrously failed when it comes to assimilating Muslim immigrants?
    The ones who’ve done nothing about income inequality?
    The ones still blindly pushing “free trade” even though we now have decades of evidence those policies don’t work the way they claim?
    The ones who responded to out of control crime rates in America by publicly taking the side of criminals over the law-abiding?
    The ones who thought calling the Soviet Union an “evil empire” was ridiculous?
    The ones who thought Hillary Clinton couldn’t possibly lose?
    The ones, again in Europe, who thought the right response to The Great Recession was economic austerity?

    I know you’re trying to soothe your butthurt over Trump and it is quite true that American conservatism is jammed with fanatical ideologues who care more about their ideology than actual human beings, but seriously? You think the problem we have is that non-elites are too stupid to understand how wonderful things are and what a great jobs elites have done?

    Someone in this environment is clearly undergoing an emotional and intellectual breakdown. It’s not Donald Trump, though he equally clearly has a lot of company in not comprehending the difficulties and complexities of the world.

    Mike

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  27. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @MBunge:
    Wow…the level to which you are mis-informed is epic.

    It’s not Donald Trump, though he equally clearly has a lot of company in not comprehending the difficulties and complexities of the world.

    Yeah…you for instance…

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  28. teve tory says:

    https://istrumpatmaralago.org/

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  29. DrDaveT says:

    @MBunge:

    You think the problem we have is that non-elites are too stupid to understand how wonderful things are and what a great jobs elites have done?

    What makes you think anyone is claiming that elites have always done a wonderful job at everything? The point was that ignorant tyros have never done a wonderful job at anything.

    Analogy: you could have the wiring in your house re-done by an electrician, or by the pizza delivery guy, who doesn’t know what ‘ground’ or ‘amperage’ mean. You don’t have to believe that all electricians are competent and honest to know that the pizza guy is a stupid choice.

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  30. michael reynolds says:

    @MBunge:

    Quite a list which doesn’t really say anything. Blaming the ‘elites’ is silly unless you have reason to believe that ‘populism’ would have brought a better result. Do you have any evidence to support that notion? Given the fact that Trump is fleeing ‘populism’ and evolving toward a typically elite Republican stance, it’s pretty clear that my thesis – that it’s inevitably about elites – is true.

    You’re thinking very superficially. You add up a list of what you imagine are failures of the elites, but you a) conflate left and right, b) exclude counter-balancing successes, and c) assume that populism brings a different end result. In fact what your populism has brought us so far is:

    1) The same old, same old in Afghanistan and Iraq.
    2) Deepening involvement in Syria.
    3) Obamacare lives!
    4) Goldman Sachs manning most important economic positions.
    5) A planned tax cut for the rich.
    6) Cuts in programs for the poor.
    7) A level of corruption that would impress a Nigerian prince.

    That’s some fine populism you got there. Well done getting rid of all those elites. The little guy is really getting. . . well, screwed as usual. Because, like I said, your choices are between Elite A and Elite B. What you actually got for your populism was just Elite A: war hawks, Goldman bankers, jailers, traitors and thieves.

    You and the Trump voters were played for fools. Played the same way you’ve been played since the 19th century. The same fwcking game, the same 3-Card Monte, and you fell for it again because you convinced yourself that a blustery, pseudo-macho game show host with a long history of fraud was somehow better than a capable woman.

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  31. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    The NYTimes is reporting that Dumb Don had no idea about FISA, or how it works, prior to accusing Obama of wiretapping his phones.
    Again…the only people dumber than Comb-over Donnie are the people who got conned into voting for him.

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  32. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @michael reynolds:

    The same fwcking game, the same 3-Card Monte, and you fell for it again because you convinced yourself you allowed yourself to be conned into thinking that a blustery, pseudo-macho game show host with a long history of fraud was somehow better than a capable woman.

    FTFY
    MBunge and the rest of the sycophants have never convinced themselves of anything.

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  33. Jim Brown 32 says:

    Trump’s story was a complete fabrication—but gave him a storyline to signal to his supporters that North Korea is a hard problem. He did the same with his “Who knew health care was so complicated?” comment.

    Dems should lighten up on this one–he’s actually edumacating the base in a way only he could do. No ego-driven person would make such a statement in public unless there was a ulterior motive. He’s a jerk–not a dummy.

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  34. michael reynolds says:

    @Jim Brown 32:
    No, not buying that. Trump backed the Ryan health-destruction bill and lost. Now he’s flailing, trying to come up with a plan. He’s not educating anyone except by accident, he’s doing what he always has done, evading responsibility and improvising, rationalizing intellectual laziness as ‘unpredictability.’ Trump is too ignorant to grasp how ignorant he is. He doesn’t understand that saying something like, “Who knew…” is like a toddler playing with blocks telling an architect that building things is hard, not realizing that he’s revealing the depths of his ignorance. He doesn’t know enough to know how dumb that makes him seem.

    People keep hoping he’s playing 3-dimensional chess because smart people look for the rational. He’s no more planning than a shark is planning its next meal. He’s casting about looking for a blood trail to follow. Now he’s learned that blowing things up distracts the media from his corruption, incompetence and betrayals. But Trump is incapable of rising above predatory cunning. See, Trump knows he’s guilty of conspiring with the Russians. He knows many of his people are in hock to foreign banks, including corrupt Russian banks. He knows the FBI is after him, and no one likes having the FBI after them. He knows his crimes are laid bare to foreign intelligence agencies. He’s an animal in a trap, frantically trying to distract the hunters.

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  35. michael reynolds says:

    I’ll just drop this here because it’s perfect. From Andrew Sullivan:

    Every day, the incoherence deepens: He’s going to cover “everyone,” but he’s going to push 24 million people off their health insurance. He’s going to wipe out the debt, but his tax cuts and spending spree will add trillions to it. He’s never going to intervene in Syria, but he just did. He’s going to get Mexico to pay for a big, beautiful wall, but he isn’t. China is a currency manipulator, but it isn’t. The media is the enemy of the people, but he is on the phone with them every five minutes and can’t stop watching CNN and reading the New York Times. He’s going to be a tightwad with taxpayers’ money, unlike Obama, but his personal travel expenses are on track to be eight times more than his predecessor’s. He’s going to work relentlessly for the American people but he spends half his days watching cable news. We’ve got to be “very, very tough” in foreign affairs, but when he sees dead babies on TV, he immediately calls General Mattis and lobs 59 Tomahawk missiles. He has a secret plan to defeat ISIS, but pursues Obama’s strategy instead. He is for the “forgotten men and women” of America, but his tax plan — which is itself changing all the time — benefits the superrich and depends on removing health insurance for the working poor. He wants to be friends with Russia, but he doesn’t. He’s going to challenge China’s policy on Taiwan, but he isn’t. He is against crony capitalism, but he is for it. He’s going to keep the focus on America, but just upped the ante in Yemen and Afghanistan. He’s a deal-maker, but he cannot make deals even with his own party. He’s a great manager, but his White House is consumed with in-fighting and he cannot staff his own administration. He’s a populist who stacks his cabinet with Goldman Sachs alums. He’s going to pressure China to take on North Korea, but “after listening for ten minutes” to China’s dictator, he changes his mind.

    That isn’t 3-D chess, its a stupid, thoughtless, ignorant man in way over his head.

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  36. JohnMcC says:

    @MBunge: Mike, I have some amazing news for you: Everything is run by elites. Sorry to have to break that to you. That’s the bad news, that you will never run anything. Someone will always be running things for you.

    The good news is that there are actually many elites. There is even an ‘elite’ that can appeal to someone who seems as confused as you. And thanks to our Founders and a long evolution toward greater and greater extension of the fanchise, you get to vote on which elite suits you.

    But there’s a caveat. If you hear someone running for elective office saying that they are against elites, don’t believe them. They are running a con to get your vote.

    Hope that helps.

    John

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  37. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @michael reynolds: @michael reynolds:

    What Im not buying is that Trump is dumb. Crafty is probably the best adjective. He may be relatively dumb compared to the rest of the smart population but that doesn’t make him dumb compared to the entire population at large. I don’t even believe he plays 3-D chess. Not his style. Trump is a brute force kind of guy. He plays a little chess—in a gorilla suit. A simple distraction that is easily shrugged off if one pays attention to the board and not the player.

    There are two types of hustlers you’ll meet on the streets: the guy that comes at you as if he’s smarter than you–and the guy that comes at you like you are smarter than him. Each very effective depending on the mark. Trump is the latter hustler, which, is the more dangerous guy because you aren’t on guard nearly as much against someone you think is dumber than you than you’d be against someone you think might be smarter than you.

    The Sullivan quote actually proves the opposite of what he thinks it does. It shows a deliberate (and frankly predictable) pattern of misdirection. If Trump says X–you can reasonably predict that he will do “Not X”. What’s more–he’s on multiple occasions said he would telegraph his plans or intentions. Frankly, I wish Obama had did the same his second term. The era of the truthful politician sailed decades ago. Trumps lying doesn’t hurt him anymore than lying hurt the past Presidents.

    I’ve said before the Russian thing is going nowhere. And it isn’t–except in the headlines of publications sympathetic to liberals and democrats. What crime was committed again? Foreign governments bet on candidates they think will be sympathetic to their interests. They finance and help them. Trump broke protocol and mentioned who was helping him. Are we naive enough to believe the Saudis weren’t helping their candidate HRC? Short of changing vote talleys–there is no crime in foreign governments influencing elections. Its standard operating procedure in geopolitics. Russian Bank loans, Conflicts of interest…Yawn–Trump has built in enough plausible deniability for all those. He’s not going anywhere until at least 2020

    Here is the rub: The information environment and the appetite of constituencies have changed. They don’t care about policy or “flip flopping”. They do care about vision– like “yes, we can—even one as simple as ‘make America great.’ Democrats should focus on building a vision for 2018 and lock the campus left and feminists in the basement for a few election cycles. That hodge podge of “white people problems” isn’t going to sell against the backdrop of fewer jobs due to automation, more retirees, stagnant wages

    I’m starting to see more and more that Trump was engaged in performance art. A real-life Colbert–He gave the idiots 100 days of glory now he’s starting to pivot to a recognizable form of country club Republicanism. Time will tell.

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  38. motopilot says:

    @michael reynolds: Another good article on Trump by Josh Marshall. My favorite line: So far the Trump Presidency has been a sort of Mr Magoo performance art in which the comically ignorant Trump learns elemental or basic things that virtually everyone in the world of politics or government already knew – things that the majority of adults probably know.

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/trump-the-problem-of-militant-ignorance

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  39. michael reynolds says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    Too many sources with too many hints that Trump is dirty. Russian mob money dirty, is my guess, he was fined 10 million for failing to comply with anti-money laundering laws at his casino. Legit banks lost faith in him. He needed cash. That’s my guess, and that’s not a yawn, it’s a felony. That’s either impeachment or the GOP loses both houses of Congress. They won’t go down with this ship.

    He’s not playing anyone. He’s surrounded by guys who could be in handcuffs within months. Senate Intel is taking a legitimate look, the FBI is on it, foreign intelligence agencies are on it, the news media are on it. Trump is engaged in a cover-up, that’s why no gate logs, no tax returns, no financial statements. It’s also why we’re getting this kabuki with tomahawks.

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  40. Pch101 says:

    Trump is adept at bamboozling idiots and using social media to appeal to said idiots.

    He’s also a crook, so he knows how to steal.

    That doesn’t mean that he knows anything about policy or political leadership or that he’s particularly bright.

    He’s not even a particularly good negotiator, he’s just good at taking advantage of weaker adversaries such as the smaller contractors whom he stiffs because he can afford the cost of litigation while they can’t. (Again, why anyone extends him credit, I don’t know.)

    Then again, he’s more resilient than some are willing to recognize. That comes from having no conscience and may be his greatest advantage.

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  41. DrDaveT says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    What Im not buying is that Trump is dumb.

    How about “Of mediocre intelligence at best, and ignorant, and neither able nor willing to learn, yet with poor impulse control and an unfounded belief in his own judgment”? Does that about sum it up?

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  42. al-Ameda says:

    @Guarneri:

    Oh, cmon now. The everyday commenters here, when they take time from their chief executive duties of saving the world (snicker), have it all figured out. Just ask them……………even though they could barely run an ice cream store.

    Well, based on his record of ‘accomplishment’ Trump is easily capable of bankrupting an ice cream store.

    That said, you might be right, but I’m guessing that most of the OTB commentariat that you mock would not end up filing for business bankruptcy 5 times if they were, like Trump, staked to a business career by a multi-millionaire father.

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  43. teve tory says:

    Indeed, trump shows how tilted toward the rich the system is–if you inherit hundreds of millions of Ameros, you can be a terrible businessman, so terrible you lose money on a casino for christ’s sake, declare bankruptcy over and over and hire tax lawyers and still keep a few million.

    (Again, why anyone extends him credit, I don’t know.)

    He’s burned most of those bridges, which is why his financing now comes from a bank in trouble for helping russian mobsters launder cash. Big surprise. First president in my lifetime to not release their taxes, which would show their debts? Can’t imagine why!

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  44. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @michael reynolds: Money Laundering would be a damaging scandal–no question. Unfortunately for Democrats its standard business activity across the finance world. The interconnectedness of dirty money rings and their clean banking storefronts means that no one is going to sell Trump down the river and risk their own money cleaning revenues or sources of dirty money for partisans politics. Trumps a crook–he’s in familiar company with many people at the highest levels of politics. Its a pretty safe assumption he knows where a few bodies are buried so no one is going to bail out the Democrats and shut down their own revenue streams for the sake of taking down Trump.

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  45. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @DrDaveT: Pretty close–although I wouldn’t say he can’t learn. Sociopaths are very adaptable in terms of figuring out through trial and error what works and what doesn’t for achieving their goals. They do tend to be stubborn once they’ve made up their minds however.

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  46. DrDaveT says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    Pretty close–although I wouldn’t say he can’t learn. Sociopaths are very adaptable in terms of figuring out through trial and error what works and what doesn’t for achieving their goals.

    No argument there — I only meant “can’t learn” in the sense of book learnin’ (e.g. history, science, economics). His street smarts are fine.

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