George Will on Trump’s Fed Nominees

Let's just say that he isn't impressed.

George Will is not impressed with Trump’s two potential nominees to the Fed, Stephen Moore and Herman Cain: The Cain and Moore nominations are two more tests for Republicans to fail.

In regards to that title, let me just say: indeed. And, further, it would seem that they may at least pass the Cain test. ABC News reports: Herman Cain expected to withdraw from Fed Reserve Board of Governors consideration.

Those passing the test:

Senators Mitt Romney, R-Utah, Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., have come out in opposition to Cain’s appointment, likely sinking his chances of confirmation by the Senate, since it’s unlikely that he will get the support of Senate democrats.

Since Cain has yet to be formally nominated, he is expected to announce his decision to withdraw his name from consideration in the coming days, according to an administration official and a source familiar with the matter.

Will’s basic concern, which will continue to exist concerning Moore, assuming Cain does withdraw is not trivial (emphasis mine):

The fact that presidents nominate judges with whose jurisprudence they agree does not of itself “politicize” courts, because most cases that courts consider are not directly related to partisan issues, and because the political fortunes of presidents and their parties are rarely immediately impacted by the court’s decisions the way the Fed’s economic decisions can impact them. Hence, the danger of Trump’s crude attempt to lower the Fed’s intellectual quotient while increasing the perception that the Fed is a political plaything. In a crisis like that of September 2008, the Fed influences not just the U.S. money supply but something that can suddenly be even more important — the world’s confidence supply. The Fed’s prestige is perishable and endangered by these two nominees.

It is just another reminder of the recklessness with which Trump and his enablers treat that which has taken a long time to build. The current global economic order, as undergirded by the US, is far from perfect, but it better than any reasonably conceivable alternative. Turning the US central bank into a joke would be yet another threat to that order.

But, of course, Will gets to the heart of the current state of Trump and, unfortunately, his party (which, regardless of what one may feel about, we need at least two functional parties):

The GOP’s descent into vaudeville began with the 2008 vice presidential nomination of Sarah Palin, it accelerated in 2011 when Cain was taken seriously as a presidential candidate, and it reached warp speed with the party’s capture by the man who takes Cain seriously as a maker of monetary policy. Cain’s certitude about his economic nostrums is inversely proportional to the study he has invested in the subject, which probably has involved less effort than he recently invested in organizing a PAC to promote Trump’s reelection. Cain’s and his nominator’s boundless confidence in their economic beliefs demonstrates the Dunning-Kruger Effect. It is named for two Cornell psychologists who in 1999 described the bias by which the lower a person’s intellectual ability, the more the person tends to overestimate it.

We continue to contend with the Dunning-Kruger presidency, and it is disheartening to watch.

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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. An Interested Party says:

    There’s no way that any true conservative can support this joke in the White House…anyone who does while claiming to be “conservative” is nothing more than a fraud…has there ever been any other time in American history when a complete charlatan took over a major political party…

  2. HankP says:

    Fuck George Will. The decline of the GOP started with Nixon and he was only too happy to support them and attack Democrats for decades until Trump pushed his delicate sensibilities just a little too much. Remember he secretly prepped Reagan for his debates, then went on TV as a supposed independent analyst to slobber all over the performance. If you want to know why the GOP is a festering pot of anti-intellectualism and unvarnished cruelty George Will and other intellectual puppets like him are the reason why

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The GOP’s descent into vaudeville began with the 2008 vice presidential nomination of Sarah Palin,

    No George, you have to go back 28 years earlier to when a B class movie actor with a nice smile, an empty head, and the ability to remember his lines got the GOP to shoot up with the opiate of voodoo economics, and all of you have been chasing that high down a rat hole of hate ever since.

    You are just as guilty as the rest of them George, and if you had even an ounce of self awareness or the slightest sense of shame you would you would put yourself into a treatment facility.

  4. Kathy says:

    George Will definitely is not a moron. This makes him overqualified to be a Republican in the age of Cheeto.

  5. gVOR08 says:


    George Will definitely is not a moron

    I demand evidence. He’s very well educated. He’s very erudite. That he can reason better than furniture is open to question. I first became aware of Will in the mid seventies. I read a column of his because I carelessly glanced at the byline and thought it was Gary Wills. About three paragraphs in I was going, “Some of these facts aren’t right, this reasoning is sloppy, has Wills developed Alzheimer’s?” The classic Will column in the 70s was one in which he argued that the military was desperately short on personnel, particularly technically skilled non-combat personnel, and therefore they shouldn’t take in women. I’m not making that up. I seldom read Will anymore, there’s nothing to be learned from him, but when I do, I see no improvement.

    J. K. Galbraith had a line about shilling for the wealthy paying a lot better than crusading for the truth. Some years ago there was a story about some meeting of politicians at George Will’s like 20 million dollar mansion in Georgetown.

    If he turns apostate, endorses the Green New Deal, apologizes for past sins of denialism, and pledges to confine future writing to baseball, I might, might just barely, grant him some glimmer of respect.

  6. Andrew says:

    George Will is and always will be apart of the GOP establishment. He may like to write about Trump from his fainting couch, but just like the rest of the GOP somehow it must have been other members of the party, or The Democrats, that are responsible.

    George Will, like Bill Barr, helped usher in the times we now live in. And yet, the responsibility falls on another’s feet?

    Sounds like par for the course to me as far as Republicans and Trump go. How’s them Reagan/ W. Bush/ Trump tax cuts working out for ya, George? The deregulations? Hmm?

    It must be Pelosi’s, or Palin’s, or Obama’s, or AOC’s, or insert any other Republican scape goat here’s fault, right?

  7. Michael Reynolds says:

    It’s been well-said above by several people, but these old-line Republicans created the mess they now complain of. But this is basic Republican behavior: they want 100% of power and 0% of responsibility. I’ll have a great deal more respect for Will and Jennifer Rubin and Max Boot et al when they manage to cough up an apology for the mess they made.

  8. Andrew says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    I enjoy watching Max Boot. Even more so now. The man is intelligent and knows his stuff regardless of his politics. That said, watching him on Cuomo the past few weeks, Max has certainly become more pissed at the current state of the GOP. It’s fun to watch.

  9. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    How’s them Reagan/ W. Bush/ Trump tax cuts working out for ya, George? The deregulations? Hmm?

    For George Will? They’re working fine. His life is good. Probably never better. Was there some problem with tax cuts and deregulation that he doesn’t know about?

  10. gVOR08 says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I ranted above that George Will doesn’t seem terribly smart. I should clarify that I suspect Will has a high IQ, but despite that he says stupid stuff. So pragmatically, you have to say he’s functionally stupid.

    George Lakoff makes the point that conservatives can think through complex causality, but they don’t. Their default is to look at everything as a question of morality. (Teleology v deontology.) Will probably feels it’s not a sin to drive his 7 series Bimmer or Mercedes SUV or whatever, so why would anyone blame him for AGW. He probably could think through Global Warming, but he doesn’t. (Also, he doesn’t see any money in thinking it through.) The bankers didn’t intend to blow up the world in 2008, so why would you blame them? The Israeli Army only intended to kill the two terrorists with the Hellfire missile, not the 20 innocent neighbors, so what’s the problem? Big deficit, well those things just happen. What’s it got to do with our tax cut?

    Will and Rubin and Boot never thought of themselves as proto-fascists, so what’s your complaint, Reynolds? To understand how supporting, say Reagan, leads to Trump requires analyzing complex causation. They don’t do that.

  11. Lounsbury says:

    If your collective standard is a Republican pundit to be Properly Pure is to renounce all and embrace Left Green Progressive stances, well… You’re really about as rational as the Tea Party and about as welcoming (and thus about as long-term successful).

  12. Tyrell says:

    I will hold my usual comments about the Federal Reserve except for the opinion (shared by others) that there should be an open audit and the secrecy curtains need to be pulled back.

  13. Teve says:

    the last time I read a George Will column he was cherry-picking starting and ending points to claim that global warming has ceased. That is deliberate dishonesty and if I see deliberate dishonesty or any other bad faith bullshit, I’m done.

    (1998 was an abnormally hot year and there’s always noise in the data, so if you start the graph at exactly 1998 and end around 2012, it looks like the global temperature is going down. If you look at the whole graph for several years before and several years since it very obviously isn’t)

  14. @Tyrell: And I will point out, again, that “audit the Fed” talk is borderline conspiracy-theory level analysis and speaks, in my opinion, to you media consumption habits more than anything else.

  15. Kylopod says:


    That is deliberate dishonesty and if I see deliberate dishonesty or any other bad faith bullshit, I’m done.

    Another example of dishonest, bad-faith argumentation was his series of columns proving Obama’s narcissism by counting occurrences of the pronoun “I.”

    Even Will’s attacks on Trump have often been tainted by false equivalence, like when he said Trump is exercising authoritarian tendencies just like Obama.

    Jen Rubin’s commentary in the Trump era has generally been excellent, but I simply have trouble reconciling it with her years of loathsome crap like her borderline self-hating “Why Jews Hate Palin” piece, her defense of the “death panels” hoax, her repeated claims that Obamacare was failing when it wasn’t, and just her general shilling for the GOP. I know people can change, but I never sensed any meaningful transition in her case. This is in contrast with writers like Andrew Sullivan or David Frum, who I still disagree with on many things, but I was definitely able to see an evolution in their views years before Trump entered the scene. Rubin, on the other hand, seemed to morph practically overnight from GOP shill to GOP skeptic, suddenly attacking the party for things that had been true about it for years but which she’d never complained about before. Now, in fairness, she was long a vocal supporter of SSM and immigration reform. Those are exceptions, though, and they’re views that are not unusual for conservative elites. What really provoked my suspicions was a 2017 piece where she denounced global warming denial (a subject on which she’d previously been entirely silent in her pro-GOP apologia) and anti-Obamacare lunacy (something she’d participated in herself). Nor does she ever acknowledge having changed on any of these issues. This makes her shift seem more like cynical rebranding than genuine reform–like someone looking for work on MSNBC so they can become the mirror image of a Fox News Democrat.

    Per @Lounsbury, I’m not demanding that conservatives agree with me on everything or transform into hardcore progressives before I’ll respect them. All I’m asking for is a little intellectual integrity. How is that being irrationally rigid? The fact that so few conservative pundits meet this very basic standard, and that the best we usually get from them is this “Look, even so-and-so says” concern trolling, is on their head, not mine.

  16. Slugger says:

    Let’s leave Mr. Will aside. Trump recently said that proper action by the Fed would raise the Dow by 5 to 10 thousand points. I don’t entirely understand this. More goosing of the economy would lead to more inflation, wouldn’t it? The tax cut didn’t lead to an increase in the Dow which implies that easier money, more capital did not improve productivity. Federal funds are 2-2.5%, and mortgages are around 4%. They can’t get much lower. I welcome any illumination; perhaps, I should stop looking for sense in Trump pronouncements.