The President’s Self-Imposed Bubble

POLITICO buries the lede in making the case for "Donald Trump's bubble presidency."


 POLITICO‘s “Donald Trump’s bubble presidency” is quite bizarre.

I’m quite disposed to the headline thesis. Trump is obviously isolated in a way that no president since at least Richard Nixon has been. He’s definitely in a bubble. Yet, I find the piece aggravating.

The opener:

When President Barack Obama felt he needed to show off his common touch, he’d go for cheeseburgers at Ray’s Hell Burger — where he treated the Russian president to an onion-jalapeño-and-mushroom-topped patty — or to Five Guys, where he ordered burgers for his staff in front of gawking lunchtime diners in May 2009.

President Donald Trump’s decision to stick to the restaurant inside his Pennsylvania Avenue property two blocks from the White House underscores his deep and growing isolation.

In his 14 months as president, Trump hasn’t yet followed his predecessors’ habit of dropping by local watering holes (even though he’s made no secret of his love for junk food) or public service events either at home or on the road. He hasn’t gone to a baseball game or stopped at a soup kitchen. On Saturday, he ventured out of the White House to attend the annual Gridiron Dinner, taking a baby step into Washington’s elite social scene. But his appearance at the white-tie event did little to bring him closer to ordinary Americans.

First off, I’m not sure disrupting the lunches of ordinary citizens with the massive presidential security detail while said detail keeps said citizens away from the VIP really does much to expose the president to life outside the White House. Second, while he may not have gone to baseball games, Trump famously went to the Super Bowl (massively inconveniencing the paying customers). Third, Trump rather routinely goes out to do campaign-style speeches. Why start with such banal and even easily-countered examples?

Outside Washington, Trump follows a careful routine of visiting factories or local law enforcement headquarters. When he stopped recently in Parkland, Florida, on his way to Mar-a-Lago, he took a smiling photo with a girl who had been shot at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, a sharp contrast to images of Obama sitting in a small room with his head in his hands grieving with the parents of first-graders killed at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012.

No, he doesn’t have anything like Barack Obama’s emotional IQ. (In fairness, neither does Hillary Clinton.) Indeed, I think it’s quite possible Trump is a sociopath, in the early stages of dementia, or both. He’s also a germaphobe, so hanging out with a bunch of strange school kids would be especially awkward for him. But, again, this isn’t evidence of a “bubble presidency.”

Trump promised the night of his victory to govern on behalf of “the forgotten men and women of our country.” Yet as president, he rarely comes into contact with regular people except in the structured setting of the White House or during tightly orchestrated events set up by staff, including a West Wing listening session last month with Stoneman Douglas families that featured some attendees who were critical of his proposals. His announcement last week of new tariffs, the timing of which surprised even some senior staffers, came at a table packed with industry executives rather than at a Rust Belt steel mill.

Well, okay. But he didn’t promise to go hang out with ordinary Joes, just to make policies that would benefit them. To Make America Great Again. I don’t think steel tariffs will do either of those things but he actually ran on exactly that type of mercantilism.

Trump has always been more of an executive-in-chief than a uniter-in-chief. He has persisted in the habits of a celebrity, positioning himself as someone whose lifestyle is just a bit out of reach. His mingling happens chiefly at his private clubs in Florida, New Jersey and Virginia, where he is not walled off by the Secret Service.

So?

It’s another way that Trump has obliterated the norms of the presidency, according to interviews with more than 20 current and former White House officials, Trump friends and close advisers. Rather than trying to project an air of accessibility, Trump has unapologetically stuck to his insular White House life, avoiding and more or less eliminating the optics of the president appearing in public as a citizen.

There are all manner of norms Trump has broken that concern me. Most definitely including hanging out at clubs he owns while being reimbursed by the taxpayer. But continuing to be exactly the man he was before getting elected president? And what president in modern times has been anything close to “accessible”? We barricaded Pennsylvania Avenue during Bill Clinton’s presidency and have further isolated the president in the name of “security” ever since.

 The approach keeps Trump in his comfort zone but makes it harder for him to do the work of being president — both when it comes to bridging divides on polarizing issues like immigration and selling highly partisan victories like his December tax reform legislation. And in recent weeks, Trump’s growing paranoia and profound frustration with his staff have further isolated him, according to aides, who describe the president as deeply unpredictable and increasingly unwilling to listen to many of his top advisers.

Finally, we’re getting to something that matters—and that is evidence of a bubble. Being isolated from top staffers—and the information flow crucial to presidential decision-making—is a huge problem. Yuuge. Not hanging out at Five Guys? Not so much.

“President Trump has never lived a governing life before the White House. When you lead an institution and you have to govern, you create a climate of invitation. You invite people to be part of the initiative rather than dictate,” said Andy Card, former chief of staff to President George W. Bush. “If you come from the background of running a private company without a challenging board of directors or shareholders, that is much different than having to build coalitions. That has been a challenge for him.”

That’s absolutely true. Then again, Barack Obama didn’t live “a governing life before the White House,” either. Many presidents haven’t.

Bush spent about six weeks visiting different states following one State of the Union to pump up support for his policy to-do list, like the No Child Left Behind Law and tax cuts, Card said. Obama similarly traveled to promote the Affordable Care Act and the stimulus plan, and was often photographed sitting down for one-on-one conversations with people he’d traveled to meet.

While several aides and outside advisers counseled Trump to embark on a similar post-State of the Union roadshow, he delivered just one speech outside the White House in the immediate aftermath of his address to Congress, appearing alongside workers at an Ohio manufacturing plant in early February.

I don’t know that this constitutes a “bubble” but it’s certainly a waste of the office. And, while I think he’s terrible at giving speeches, he clearly manages to connect with tens of millions of people.

Unlike other presidents, Trump was famous for decades in private life before entering political life. Aside from attending events, he was rarely seen out in New York except at haunts like the 21 Club, preferring to stay at Trump Tower and order in from its grill restaurant.

Yes, he’s an introvert. But that’s who he was when he was running for president. We don’t tend to become new people in our 70s.

As president, Trump has traveled often: A POLITICO analysis of Trump’s domestic trips in his first year shows that he’s kept par with Obama. As of mid-February, Trump had taken 44 domestic trips, excluding jaunts to his own properties and stops in the greater Washington area, while Obama took 43 trips during the equivalent period after taking office.

But, following a habit established during the campaign, when Trump would often take late-night flights back to New York rather than stay overnight out in the country, the president has stayed only once overnight domestically at a place he doesn’t own or operate — at an Omni resort in Phoenix, after holding a rally there.

So? Connect the dots here. Did Obama make connections that helped him govern during these overnight stays? Or was he just more of a morning person than Trump? What impact does this habit have on Trump’s ability to govern?

And he has largely avoided visits to key blue states that supported Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election. Over the past 13 months, he has visited just seven states he didn’t carry in the election, four of which (Virginia, New Jersey, Hawaii and New York) are home to properties he or his family owns and another, Maryland, that is close to the White House and is a must-visit state for all presidents because both Joint Base Andrews and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center are located there. Obama visited six states he didn’t win in the 2008 election during the same period.

So, that seems noteworthy. Mostly, though, it strikes me that it means Trump is already in campaign mode.

Trump’s White House is only now planning a trip to California, the most populous state in the country and one that accounts for 20 percent of the nation’s economy — a seeming must-stop for a president obsessed with his economic legacy, as well as his legitimacy as an elected leader.

I think this more damning. It’s one thing to write off California from a campaign, given how badly he lost. But I suspect part of it is Trump’s peevishness—screw California, they didn’t vote for me.

Advisers largely have urged him to avoid visiting blue states because they consider it a waste of time, according to one former campaign official and two close White House advisers.

“I’ve told the president to stay away from California. It’s a hostile place for an American to go,” said one former campaign official. “All you have are elected officials that will just try to upstage you, and it doesn’t serve the public good to get into silly little fights with local politicians.”

Now that’s evidence of a bubble.

With the constant pressure of the Russia investigations and the roller coaster of chaos in the West Wing, Trump has also come to view his presidency as something closer to a four-year-long cage match than an exercise in governing. Many of his close aides have adopted and reinforced that attitude as well.

“There is a lot of staff from the campaign that still holds grudges against members of Congress, because they feel like the lawmakers did not support Trump enough during the campaign,” said one former White House official. That’s led staffers, in some cases, to nix or advocate against trips to certain congressional districts as punishment — further reinforcing Trump’s bubble mentality.

Ditto.

Finally, a million (give or take) paragraphs into the story we get to the meat of it:

The Trump administration also lacks a big-picture thinker in a high-level position to move the White House beyond its daily battles and to help staffers think strategically about the best way to approach the midterms, notch legislative wins or map out agenda items, according to current and former White House officials.

“They don’t have a Karl Rove or Barry Jackson, who can say, ‘Hey, you just pitched these ideas. Here’s how we can make them happen,'” said one former White House official, referring to two top George W. Bush advisers. “It is one thing to the next, and White House staffers all have their own fiefdoms.”

Instead, the president relies on personal friends and longtime allies for a line to the outside world, according to people close to him. Corey Lewandowski, his former campaign manager, recently took a meeting in the Oval Office, while the president lately has resumed phone conversations with Anthony Scaramucci, the ex-White House communications director who lasted just 11 days, close White House advisers say.

Trump keeps in touch by telephone with a couple of dozen friends and allies who — almost to the person — reinforce the worldview he imbibes from watching Fox News and other cable TV shows. That includes boosters like Fox host Jeanine Pirro, to whom Trump granted an interview last month.

Multiple recipients of Trump’s phone calls describe being immediately bombarded with questions about everything from gun control to his recent speeches. While Trump rarely gives a clear indication about what he’s thinking, the regular surveys of his friends and allies often deeply influence him, according to friends.

The president also keeps tabs on life outside the White House by spending several hours each day watching cable news channels like Fox, MSNBC and CNN. Valets bring him several newspapers early in the morning at his residence, including The New York Times, New York Post, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal, and he’s installed a massive flat-screen TV in the dining room just off the Oval Office, said one close adviser to the White House.

He also keeps tabs on what his base is thinking via Twitter, where he still occasionally engages directly with strangers and retweets messages from seemingly random supporters.

Close advisers to the White House argue that Trump is merely redefining the institution of the presidency for the digital age by connecting with constituents via social media, rather than in person.

“He sees Twitter as his own TV network, and it’s bigger than any network out there,” said a former campaign official. “Through Twitter, he is communicating to his followers and speaking as a ‘we.’ It is the nuance of the language that people do not get. It’s not just to communicate but to motivate them.”

None of that is new news, of course. But it’s definitely a picture of a president in a bubble. The kind of bubble that matters: one that isolates him from the massive information advantage that sitting atop the executive branch provides any normal president. Rather than getting the best information from the talented staffs at Defense, State, the Intelligence Community, Treasury, etc. he’s relying on Fox & Friends and various yahoos he plays golf with. That’s a huge problem

Where he takes his meals? Not so much.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Donald Trump, Media, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. JohnMcC says:

    I think the meaning of the article would have been clearer if — as you seem to suggest — it had made clear that his whole life has pretty much been a bubble. I’m not a NYorker but his general outlook seems to me to be pretty well explained by the fact that he’s a NYC dweller from birth and is pretending to give voice to the R-party/NRA/Reagan-democrat constituency. The result is he often looks sort of foolish (like with the gun-control or DACA summits) and then has to double down on the angry attitude.

    Agreed, that doesn’t mean any particular policy might be good or bad. Just that he’s the last person you’d expect to be able to pull off a populist act. He’s an actor at the very ragged edge of his range of parts.

    Insofar as he is ‘isolated’ and ‘paranoid’ in the WHouse, that painful and disorienting experience really has nothing to do with much of the article or his being a NYorker. It’s all about him being a thorought-going asshole.

    Not completely off topic: Saw a comment on Balloon-Juice that at least he won’t be doing the Nixon trick of wandering the WH late at night talking to the portraits. He has no idea who they are.




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  2. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    OT…must read, and that is not hyperbole:
    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/03/12/christopher-steele-the-man-behind-the-trump-dossier
    Buried deep…

    One subject that Steele is believed to have discussed with Mueller’s investigators is a memo that he wrote in late November, 2016, after his contract with Fusion had ended. This memo, which did not surface publicly with the others, is shorter than the rest, and is based on one source, described as “a senior Russian official.” The official said that he was merely relaying talk circulating in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but what he’d heard was astonishing: people were saying that the Kremlin had intervened to block Trump’s initial choice for Secretary of State, Mitt Romney. (During Romney’s run for the White House in 2012, he was notably hawkish on Russia, calling it the single greatest threat to the U.S.) The memo said that the Kremlin, through unspecified channels, had asked Trump to appoint someone who would be prepared to lift Ukraine-related sanctions, and who would coöperate on security issues of interest to Russia, such as the conflict in Syria. If what the source heard was true, then a foreign power was exercising pivotal influence over U.S. foreign policy—and an incoming President.
    As fantastical as the memo sounds, subsequent events could be said to support it. In a humiliating public spectacle, Trump dangled the post before Romney until early December, then rejected him. There are plenty of domestic political reasons that Trump may have turned against Romney. Trump loyalists, for instance, noted Romney’s public opposition to Trump during the campaign. Roger Stone, the longtime Trump aide, has suggested that Trump was vengefully tormenting Romney, and had never seriously considered him. (Romney declined to comment. The White House said that he was never a first choice for the role and declined to comment about any communications that the Trump team may have had with Russia on the subject.) In any case, on December 13, 2016, Trump gave Rex Tillerson, the C.E.O. of ExxonMobil, the job. The choice was a surprise to most, and a happy one in Moscow, because Tillerson’s business ties with the Kremlin were long-standing and warm. (In 2011, he brokered a historic partnership between ExxonMobil and Rosneft.) After the election, Congress imposed additional sanctions on Russia, in retaliation for its interference, but Trump and Tillerson have resisted enacting them.




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  3. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Then there is also this:
    CNN counts: Trump has spent 100 days at one of his golf properties.

    Politicians shake hands and kiss babies. Billionaires have protection squads to keep them away from the great unwashed. Why is any of this a surprise to anyone?




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  4. teve tory says:

    “I’ve told the president to stay away from California. It’s a hostile place for an American to go,”

    Well, devin nunes did say that it was a third world country.




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  5. MBunge says:

    Here are a few more examples of being in a bubble:

    1. Casually referring to someone you’ve never met as a “sociopath” or being in the early stages of dementia.

    2. Writing an article that simultaneously claims Trump is not listening to his advisers and is listening to his advisers.

    3. Using ANYONE from the George W. Bush administration as examples of “big-picture” thinkers. Are we sure this article wasn’t some sort of satire?

    4. Expressing concern that a President is not listening to the government bureaucracy without acknowledgment that elements of that bureaucracy have been openly trying to undermine his Presidency.

    5. Claiming the Russians vetoed Mitt Romney as Secretary of State based on anonymous sources from Russia. Have you heard of this thing called disinformation?

    5. Expressing frustration with the weak examples in the article seemingly without understanding or being willing to admit the entire article is an example of living in a bubble. Our governing elite is overwhelming made up of people from the same socio-economic and political background. The Beltway is bursting with folks from law school, J-school, and poli-sci majors who clearly don’t comprehend that the rest of us live and work differently than they do.

    6. Talking about the information advantage of the federal bureaucracy. How much tangible evidence exists of this supposed advantage? In the last 20 years, how many times has this “advantage” been demonstrated in any practical manner?

    Mike




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  6. CSK says:

    I don’t think Trump is capable of understanding that you don’t run the presidency the way you run The Trump Organization.




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  7. MarkedMan says:

    James, I agree with your analysis of the Politico article, although I gave up after the first third or so. But although they used flawed examples, it really is true that Trump is isolated in a way that we haven’t seen in a long, long time. He seems to be literally avoiding coming into contact with anyone that might have a negative view of him, as well as those that suffer the consequences of his decisions. Obama, Bush Jr and Sr, Clinton, all of them spent time with wounded soldiers or the families of fallen ones, and frequently it was without press or public announcement. Based on what has come out, they listened to the people they were talking to. Trump does not listen to common people, he tells them things.




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  8. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @MBunge:

    5. Claiming the Russians vetoed Mitt Romney as Secretary of State based on anonymous sources from Russia. Have you heard of this thing called disinformation?

    Actually what the article says is that this is what Russian’s are claiming, and this is what actually happened. It’s called reporting. Journalism.
    The fact that you are willing to totally discount the possibility based solely on your blind faith to your dear leader is telling. That’s called obsequious. Submission.




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  9. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @MarkedMan:

    He seems to be literally avoiding coming into contact with anyone that might have a negative view of him

    Um…no press conference since Feb. 16th 2017. That was his one and only since becoming President. What do you think the guy who would go after an AR-15 bare-handed is afraid of?
    Obama had 7 in the same time period.
    Bush 43…4.
    Clinton 11.
    Bush 41…27.




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  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    What impact does this habit have on Trump’s ability to govern?

    Seeing as it is non-existent, none at all.




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  11. KM says:

    @MBunge:

    1. Casually referring to someone you’ve never met as a “sociopath” or being in the early stages of dementia.

    Seeing as how he’s clearly exhibiting these symptoms and is the appropriate age for dementia to present, you don’t have to personally meet someone to note it’s a high possibility. Most Americans do have elderly family and first-hand experience with the concept. I don’t need to know him intimately to see he’s not all with it.

    4. Expressing concern that a President is not listening to the government bureaucracy without acknowledgment that elements of that bureaucracy have been openly trying to undermine his Presidency.

    “Openly trying to undermine his Presidency”? They’re trying to function as normal and get accused of being a “deep state”. Like it or not, the President is a temporary head of a long-running system and he cannot expect everything to suddenly change to his whim. At best, he has less then a decade to steer the ark to his chosen course. Of course it’s going to fight him if he’s trying to rapidly turn 180 – that’s how you capsize the ship. A good executive understands this is a longterm process and doesn’t take it personally. They listen to expertise from people they don’t like because it’s the knowledge that’s important, not who it came from.

    Trump on the other hand gets bitchy and personalizes everything as an attack – incredibly poor traits in a boss. No matter how you slice it, screaming that your employees are out to get you in a vast conspiracy isn’t the way to get them to support your agenda or attract good workers. He’s getting massive internal resistance not just because of his inadvisable actions but because he’s a bad boss!!




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  12. teve tory says:
  13. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:
    @MBunge:
    What the article fails to mention, because it is new news, is that Tillerson has not spent any of the $120 million allocated to State since 2016 to fight meddling in our elections…you know…like Russia did.
    Why do you think that is?




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  14. Mikey says:

    @MBunge:

    Expressing concern that a President is not listening to the government bureaucracy without acknowledgment that elements of that bureaucracy have been openly trying to undermine his Presidency.

    Bullshit.

    You know what the civil servants are really trying to do? Maintain a semblance of functional stability in the face of an unpredictable and chaotic President who has no real concept of how government works and his Constitutional role in it, and who has appointed people to Cabinet positions who have spent their prior careers calling for the elimination of the departments they now lead.

    That you and the rest of the Trumpist bum-lickers call this “openly trying to undermine his Presidency” says a lot about you, and nothing good.




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  15. teve tory says:
  16. teve tory says:

    “No Puppet”
    “No Collusion”
    “Deep State”
    “Fake News”

    These are barely literate even as bumper stickers. Trump sure knows his audience.




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  17. Gustopher says:

    @MBunge:

    3. Using ANYONE from the George W. Bush administration as examples of “big-picture” thinkers. Are we sure this article wasn’t some sort of satire?

    I disagree with the policies of the GWBush administration, but there is little doubt that they were able to move beyond day to day tactics and think and act strategically to move those policies along.

    The Trump administration… not so much. It’s filled with radicals who want to burn things to the ground, but no one who has done anything to shape what comes next.




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  18. Gustopher says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: Picking Romney for Secretary of State would have required Trump to do something he basically has never been seen to do: bring someone in who hasn’t shown complete loyalty.

    I don’t know why Romney was considered, but I would suspect it wasn’t Donald Trump’s idea. More like a Jared Kushner idea, trying to make his father-in-law seem normal. But there was no way Mittens was going to get the nod, given all of the behavior we have seen from Trump before and since.

    None of this means that Steele was incorrect that a high ranking Russian official said that the Russian government intervened, or that the official was lying. It’s perfectly possible that Donald Trump got to exercise his worst instincts AND please the Russians all at once.

    Were there contacts between the transition team and the Russian government at that time? Yes, of course there were. These people met with Russians all the time. So you can’t say there’s a timeline that doesn’t check out.




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  19. michael reynolds says:

    @teve tory:
    I think it’s nice the way Trump signals he’s lying. “FakeNews” means news Trump doesn’t like. “No puppet” means absolutely puppet. “No collusion” is an admission of collusion. It’s like when he made his finances, “off limits.” Because that is exactly how you get a prosecutor to lose interest in a subject: tell him to back off. He can’t help pointing to his own vulnerabilities.

    I’m slowly developing a theory (I use that term very loosely) of an IQ ladder which reality descends over time. A fact is discovered at the top of the ladder and slowly makes its way down from the very smart to the smart to the meh to the stupid to the Trump supporter. The realization that Trump actually is a criminal is down around the IQ 120 level now. That’s still well north of Trump voters, but it will start trickling down in dribs and drabs to the fat middle of the bell curve.

    My theory is that there’s an absorption time that may be regular and predictable. If you place a drop of ink on blotter paper it must surely soak and spread at a rate determined by objective factors – moisture, temperature, etc… Under my theory we should be able to roughly predict how long it takes for reality to become apparent to someone like, say, the Bung.




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  20. teve tory says:

    @CSK:

    I don’t think Trump is capable of understanding that you don’t run the presidency the way you run The Trump Organization.

    “…In surprising news which still has financial analysts confounded, the White House somehow declared bankruptcy today…”




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  21. Monala says:

    @teve tory: That’s the most disturbing part of this article. “[California is] a hostile place for an American to go.” So now California is no longer part of America??!




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  22. Kylopod says:

    @michael reynolds: Trump does seem to have this compulsive habit of denying the truth so fervently that his statements attain an absurdist aura, like when he claims to be the “least racist” person you’ll ever meet, or his recent remark that he’s fulfilled more promises than he even promised. Even if you lived in a cave for the past 50 years and had no idea who Trump was, these sorts of comments would leave you saying “Huh?” They have about the same tendency to sound like the words of an innocent man as OJ Simpson’s infamous withdrawn book If I Did It.




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  23. becca says:

    The influence of Norman Vincent Peale and the Power of Positive Thinking on Trump is apparent. Living in a bubble is crucial to maintaining the self-deception.




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  24. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: “I think it’s nice the way Trump signals he’s lying.”

    And let’s not forget his big tell — when he starts saying “Believe me,” the lies are about to start piling up.




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  25. grumpy realist says:

    @becca: You can believe in the Power of Positive Thinking as much as you want; it’s still not going to suddenly conjure a parachute out of thin air after you’ve jumped out of an airplane.

    Trump’s problem is the same as that of a lot of rich brats: he’s never had to deal with reality in his life. There’s always been someone around to bail him out of the messes he gets himself into, and he’s never dealt with any of the engineering/scientific disciplines which would have taught him Mama Nature doesn’t care how rich you are–she’ll still irradiate you/fry you/blow you up/poison you.

    (P.S. that’s a general “you” up there above–not insinuating that Becca doesn’t already know this!)




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  26. teve tory says:

    @Monala:

    @teve tory: That’s the most disturbing part of this article. “[California is] a hostile place for an American to go.” So now California is no longer part of America??!

    I have a Trumper relative who uses “American” as a synonym for “Caucasian.” She’ll say things like, “You say you met somebody named Paul Lopez? Is he hispanic, or american?” with absolutely no idea she’s said anything wrong.

    She is from the county immediately south of Harlan County, KY, if that tells you anything. Lotta “economic anxiety” in those parts.




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  27. teve tory says:

    wr says:
    Monday, March 5, 2018 at 14:37
    @michael reynolds: “I think it’s nice the way Trump signals he’s lying.”

    And let’s not forget his big tell — when he starts saying “Believe me,” the lies are about to start piling up.

    My favorite is “A lot of people don’t know…” which in practice always means, “It’s common knowledge, but I only learned five minutes ago, that…”




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  28. Kylopod says:

    @teve tory:

    I have a Trumper relative who uses “American” as a synonym for “Caucasian.”

    One of the historical definitions of “American” still included in the OED today (or at least by the time of this 2004 article) is “native of America of European descent.” (Apparently that definition would exclude actual Native Americans.) The concept that non-Europeans aren’t “real Americans” goes back a long way, and it explains why the “real America” slogan of Sarah Palin and company has always had racial overtones even when it masquerades simply as a slur against so-called coastal elites. During George Allen’s infamous “macaca” moment, one of the forgotten aspects of his remarks is that he told the American-born campaign volunteer “Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia.”




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  29. gVOR08 says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: Hadn’t seen your comment when I blockquoted the first paragraph of that same quote on Jame’s State Department/Russia post. I’ll second that it is a must read.




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  30. Joe says:

    @michael reynolds:

    My theory is that there’s an absorption time that may be regular and predictable. If you place a drop of ink on blotter paper it must surely soak and spread at a rate determined by objective factors – moisture, temperature, etc… Under my theory we should be able to roughly predict how long it takes for reality to become apparent to someone like, say, the Bung.

    Edge of the paper, that one.




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  31. Monala says:

    @Kylopod: That really p*sses me off. I’ve been doing genealogy research, and I can now trace my African-American family in the U.S. back to the late 1700s on one side, and the early 1800s on the other. I’d be willing to bet that’s more than Sarah Palin can say. I remember during the 2016 election season, Ann Coulter tweeted that we should limit voting to people of whom all four grandparents were born in the U.S.–not realizing that by that standard, neither Trump nor any of his children could vote, and that the groups most likely to meet this standard are African-Americans and Native Americans.




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  32. grumpy realist says:

    @Monala: I guess according to the Coultergeist I’m not American, then.

    Does the screeching harpy realize that the more she pushes ideas like this the more we so-called non-Americans feel “fine, if you want to play it that way….we’ll go off and offer our abilities to another country. I’m sure China can use a theoretical physicist/engineer/whatever.”

    Just like the Brits are now discovering that they’re losing a sizable chunk of their vets, doctors, and nurses because those from the EU don’t feel welcome any more and have other places to go to.




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  33. grammar police says:

    Jame’s

    Sir, I’m going to need you to step out of the car…




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  34. Kathy says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I think it’s nice the way Trump signals he’s lying.

    His mouth is open and words are coming out of it.




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  35. Kylopod says:

    @Monala: @grumpy realist: Let’s keep in mind that Ann Coulter is a troll, and one of the earliest precursors to the alt right. A lot of what she says is designed more to grab headlines than to seriously express any views she has. She’s claimed, for example, that women shouldn’t have the right to vote. When she says this kind of stuff she has the privilege of knowing it’ll never happen, but it helps fulfill her purpose as the right-wing id, where she can just wish away certain parts of the electorate (even if she belongs to them herself) that are an inconvenience to getting the people she favors elected.




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  36. Kylopod says:

    Moderators, please rescue my comment.




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  37. michael reynolds says:

    Are you people watching the Nunberg show?




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  38. teve tory says:

    One of the interviewers, I forget which, said she could smell alcohol on his breath, and it’s known that he’s on prescription medications at the same time, and you’re often not supposed to mix those.




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  39. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @MBunge:

    1. Casually referring to someone you’ve never met as a “sociopath” or being in the early stages of dementia.

    I’ve known the guy professionally for years, and I’ll go on the record here and now as saying that both of those hypotheticals are supported (strongly supported) by his behavior as I have consistently experienced it. I would characterize his particular brand of sociopathy as being classic NPD.

    Do you have any personal experiences with Trump which argue otherwise that you’d like to share with the rest of the class?




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  40. Monala says:

    @Kylopod: yeah, but Ann Coulter is one of many expreing these ideas.




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