45 Seems Unclear on how Government Works

@POTUS Tweets:

a) This is not unusual. I expect most ambassadors, especially from major powers, have been to the White House a similar number of times.

b) To my knowledge, no one has denied under oath these contacts.

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, US Politics, ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. CSK says:

    Of course he has no idea how government works. He’s made that clear on numerous occasions. But the depth of ignorance is truly astounding. Even a grade-schooler would know, or assume, justifiably, that ambassadors would visit the White House.

    But given that Trump has now accused Obama of wiretapping the Trump Tower prior to the election…

  2. @CSK: Indeed: no shocking revelation. But geez.

  3. RM says:

    This has nothing to do with how government works and both you and Trump know it. The tweet is just Trump emphasizing how a US Govt person having a meeting with the Russian ambassador is not some fantastic plot to undermine the US which is what you’d think it was if you watched most of the media.

  4. Argon says:

    I’m convinced Trump’s statements and particularly his Tweets would never pass a Turing test for human-like intelligence. John Searle’s “Chinese Room” couldn’t even apply as there is terrible correlation between input and output. Discerning meaning from his comments and Tweets is about as useful as deciphering purely random strings or, at best, the Oracle at Delphi.

    We have AI systems that perform far better.

  5. @RM:

    A) there is a real difference between a Senator meeting with an ambassador and an ambassador visiting the White House. It is a truly absurd comparison.

    I will repeat my “b” from above:

    B) To my knowledge, no one has denied under oath these contacts.

    B is key.

  6. RaflW says:

    Yup. Equating logged and, one assumes, staffed and memo’d meetings in the WH by Obama with the Russian ambassador to the murkily-recollected, first denied then grudgingly admitted meetings of Flynn or Sessions is a joke.
    And then we have the skulking back-door visit to Trump tower with Kushner. It could all just be innocent, but as matters in issues of credibility and effective government, appearances are quite bad for the Trump campaign and admin.

  7. Argon says:

    On second thought, Trump could care less a how government works. What he cares about is how to work his supporters. They are much simpler.

  8. MarkedMan says:


    It could all just be innocent,

    Nah. If it was innocent, why are they lying about it? And when caught they don’t come clean, they merely concede exactly as much as they’ve been caught with and say there is nothing more. When that is shown to be lie, they just repeat the process.

    And I don’t believe that the election shenanigans is where it will end. Why did Trump take a personal interest in helping out the Russians wrt the party platform? It is literally the only thing he showed interest in and we have no reason to believe he understood anything at all about the Ukraine. Remember, when challenged he didn’t even know that the Russians were already in Crimea.

    The Russians would have screwed with the election for free. There must be something else Trump and his co-conspirators got for selling out the Ukrainians.

  9. Hal_10000 says:

    Yeah, a bunch of Trumpers RT’d that yesterday and my reaction was exactly the same: the President is SUPPOSED to meet with ambassadors.

  10. DrDaveT says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    A) there is a real difference between a Senator meeting with an ambassador and an ambassador visiting the White House. It is a truly absurd comparison.

    No, dammit, you’re missing the point.

    It’s an absurd comparison to YOU, the elitist know-it-all insider. Trump doesn’t care about that.

    It’s an absurd comparison to ME, the educated liberal. Trump doesn’t care about that either.

    It’s a stunning slam dunk comeback to the average Trump supporter, who knows even less about how our government works than Trump does, and cares only about scoring against Them (and being told by talk radio who Them is).

    Trump is not dealing in semantic content — get that through your heads. Trump is manipulating emotions among those whom logic never touches. And he could still win at that game, with the rest of America losing big and long-term. You can’t fight The Big Lie with small truths.

  11. Liberal Capitalist says:

    It’s a desperate act of a desperate man trying ANYTHING he can to make others look elsewhere, anywhere but at him.

    … squirrel.

  12. @DrDaveT: I am going to try and very sincerely answer your comment, as I get (maybe even from you) this kind of thing all the time, For the sake of speed and clarity let me do this in a list (this should not be read in a snarky or an annoyed tone):

    1) I understand that Trump is, to the degree to which he is being strategic, talking to his base (although I honestly wonder exactly how strategic he ever actually is).

    2) I understand that I am not going to persuade hard core Trump supporters with posts like this.

    3) So, what am I trying to do here? Well, a) what I have done as a blogger for 14 years: react in public to the news, especially political news, and engage readers on that topic and, b) if I have any hopes of persuading anyone,it is the educated partisan Republican who is still rationalizing their support for Trump but who, at some point, way see him for what he is. These are people who may read this blog, or my Twitter feed, and definitely are people in my FB feed (all of these post go to both places).

    4) I will confess to being a bit annoyed by people who are supposedly “on my side” in regards to Trump berating me for not attacking him the way they want me to. I say this honestly–in some ways I don’t see the point. If I can’t, in my very small way, attack the Big Lie with actual, little truths, what is it that you want me to do?

  13. Sherparick says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I think both you and Dr. DavidT have points. First, Dr. DavidT is certainly right in that part of what Trump is doing is “feeding the base.” And why not because since he started doing it in 2010 he has gone from a Celebrity Reality TV show host playing a “business man” to President of the United States. If you look at how the right wing talking heads of the Conservative Infotainment Industrial Complex have already adopted “Obama tapped Trump’s Phone” as their new “alternative fact” and now expect an indictment any day. As Steve M. from “No More Mister Nice Blog” writes:

    “…The base was ready to love “presidential” Trump not because base voters want him to be presidential, but because they want him to vanquish those of us who think he can never really pull presidential off. So that seemed like a win to them. But they think this is better: He’s going on the attack and he’s taking the bad news head on.

    No, really, that’s how they see it.


    The more Dems dig into him over #RussiaGate

    The more they’ll bury Obama over #ObamaGatepic.twitter.com/uHYPWg2fW1#MAGA
    — Boca Vista (@bocavista2016) March 5, 2017

    NEWT GINGRICH: “All this stuff smells to high heaven despite the best efforts of the elite media to cover it up.” #ObamaGate #FISA #Wiretap pic.twitter.com/Yajzpb8jkZ
    — Newt-Trump Fan Club (@NewtTrump) March 5, 2017″

    There’s more at: http://nomoremister.blogspot.com/2017/03/trumps-base-is-probably-more-energized.html

    Until there is an economic recession or a war that goes wrong (and I can’t this crew starting a war that won’t go horribly wrong), Trump will have the majority of Republicans and the vast majority of Republican primary voters behind him.

    Still, you are also right, we all have our niche, and yours simply pointing out the absurdities and right wing media simply slide by or swallow whole (because their salaries depend on it..)