Trump Deserves some Blame

A partial rejoinder.

“#USAxAUS” by White House is in the Public Domain

I agree with James Joyner that the current market meltdown is an event that we cannot directly blame on President Trump. The global economic effects of the COVID-19 are beyond the control of even the most competent president.

However, I also don’t think we should let him off the hook.

So, while I agree that the overall situation is not because of Trump, let’s not downplay the significance of having an incompetent leader in charge of the US during a global crisis (including how that competence affects the markets).

Consider:

-He has stoked xenophobia, which is not a helpful attitude to have in a situation like this, as large parts of the American population are primed to view this as us v. them, rather than as part of a global public health issue.

-He has dismantled/defunded important portions of the federal government. Further, he has not built a team of competent actors prepared to deal with this situation in a professional matter.

-He has promoted distrust in the media. So now a major tool for dealing with a public health crisis, i.e., the ability to disseminate useful information to the public has been politicized.

-To that last point, he has promoted an environment in which everything is political in worst sense of the word. Note the Rush Limbaugh nonsense stating that the COVID-19 is all a hoax to hurt Trump.

-He has placed too much importance on the DJIA, and he appears more concerned about the political impact of the Dow plunge on his reelection than he is about being president.

-He and his party have added to the deficit whilst artificially stimulating the economy in a way that made some kind of decline inevitable while, at the same time, taking away tools that will be needed, i.e., more deficit spending.

I can’t help but think that many, if not all, of these things, are having negative effects on the markets.

And this is just off the top of my head.

So, while James is right: the issue at and is not Trump’s fault, but they underscore why having a president like Trump is not what you want in a true crisis like this. (And, to be clear, I am sure James agrees with this–his post simply inspired this cavalcade of thoughts).

Competence matters. How one assembles the government matters. Taking government, and governing seriously matters.

(And, as a side note, as it just now occurs to me that this fits into a conversation I had in this thread, I think pretty much any other Republican who ran in 2016 would have had us in the better position to react to this crisis than Trump has us in).

FILED UNDER: 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

Comments

  1. mattbernius says:

    Adding to your list, we are about to see how appointees who were selected for unwavering loyalty and ideological purity will hand a situation that requires listening to experts.

    More on that selection process: https://www.axios.com/trump-memos-deep-state-white-house-ce5be95f-2418-433d-b036-2bf41c9700c3.html

    The recent decision that all communications/interviews with government experts need to be routed through and cleared by the White House doesn’t exactly fill one with a lot of confidence.

    12
  2. SKI says:

    He especially deserves the blame for (a) de-funding and de-staffing our structure to handle and respond to pandemics, (b) treating this as a PR problem, not a public health crisis and (c) actively promoting conspiracy theories and making claims that this isn’t serious.

    Reality is that, while 80% of the people who get Covid-19 have mild symptoms, the other 20% are facing a mortality rate 25 times higher than the typical flu (2.5% vs 0.1%). And that 2.5% is drawn from the 20% that get severe symptoms so that is about 1 out of 8 of those, typically elderly, immuno-compromised or very young . If it hits the US at the rate that the annual flu does, that means about 700,000 deaths in the US alone.

    Meanwhile, the President claims it will disappear magically, that people shouldn’t be worried and that the focus on this is just politics.

    11
  3. gVOR08 says:

    Can I upvote a front page post?

    @mattbernius: They do seem to be treating it as a PR problem. The only thing they know how to do.

    The woman in Vacaville is apparently in fairly serious condition. Vacaville is a few miles from Travis AFB where some of the cruise ship victims arrived, How she contracted it is unknown, but a whistleblower revealed how amateurish the HHS reception at Travis was. No masks, no gloves, no training, then go to motels and go home on commercial carriers. The woman wasn’t tested for coronavirus for several days because there are only 200 test kits in CA (a large state and likely entry point for travelers from Asia). Her Congressman, Garamendi, claims there’s a South Korean company making kits by the hundreds of thousands and offering them for sale.

    6
  4. gVOR08 says:

    Also, too, the picture is perfect. Apt to the situation and showing your photographers eye.

    1
  5. Kathy says:

    I agree King Cheeto of the Small Mind only deserves some of the blame. but I’m willing to be generous and give him all of it, especially in attack ads this election season.

    5
  6. Sleeping Dog says:

    Hey we shouldn’t worry, Tiny has Mike Dence on the case.

    2
  7. Kathy says:

    @gVOR08:

    Can I upvote a front page post?

    No.

    But maybe you can post: “upvote this to upvote the front page post.”

    8
  8. Slugger says:

    The reins to fighting the epidemic have been given to VP Pence who has added Larry Kudlow to the team. Mr. Kudlow in the last couple of days has said that the virus is fake news and that it has been contained. Also, we have been told that this team will be the only voice allowed to speak out out. These moves have completely undermined any trust I had that the government will do the right thing or tell the truth about it.
    Let me stipulate that I know no more than any semi-literate guy with internet access about the situation, but it is clear that a wall of government directed messaging is being put in place.

    7
  9. Michael Reynolds says:

    Trump literally imported a heaping helping of the virus.

    He overrode the CDC and, after a request from a pet congressman, flew infected Americans back to this country, without even the most minimal safeguards. They’re sitting at Travis AFB and IIRC, Riverside. And we now have a case of an infection near Travis in a person who had not traveled outside the country. That case may have been passed as a direct consequence of Trump’s stupidity and incompetence.

    Any cases – and any deaths – resulting from that brainless decision, are directly Trump’s fault.

    13
  10. James Joyner says:

    Oh we’re in agreement here. Trump has certainly made things worse on the US side. But it’s a global phenomenon.

    5
  11. Teve says:

    DJIA down another 843 right now.

  12. Michael Reynolds says:

    The fault lies most directly with the totalitarian Chinese government. They re-opened wildlife markets after SARS passed, and that appears to have been the source. Then they lied about the virus, and covered it up, making the situation dramatically worse.

    This is the sort of worldwide emergency for which American leadership is vital. No one else is in the position to lead this fight. But Trump is not capable of leadership. He’s capable of playing the Big Man and ignoring the CDC and bringing a couple dozen cases into the country. He’s capable of passing responsibility off to Pence, the dumbest man in politics, a man who denied that cigarettes caused cancer, a man who catastrophically screwed up on AIDS in Indiana.

    That is the limit of Trump’s ‘leadership.’ Fire epidemiologists because Obama, override the CDC because he knows better than everyone what with being a very stable genius, and put a fucking moron in charge at a time when we should be the ones leading the international response.

    So here we are at the inevitable crisis – there’s always something – and we have an orange baboon running the country.

    19
  13. Teve says:
  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    And, as a side note, as it just now occurs to me that this fits into a conversation I had in this thread, I think pretty much any other Republican who ran in 2016 would have had us in the better position to react to this crisis than Trump has us in).

    Well, maybe, all except for the

    -He has stoked xenophobia, which is not a helpful attitude to have in a situation like this, as large parts of the American population are primed to view this as us v. them, rather than as part of a global public health issue.

    -He has dismantled/defunded important portions of the federal government. Further, he has not built a team of competent actors prepared to deal with this situation in a professional matter.

    -He has promoted distrust in the media. So now a major tool for dealing with a public health crisis, i.e., the ability to disseminate useful information to the public has been politicized.

    -He has placed too much importance on the DJIA, and he appears more concerned about the political impact of the Dow plunge on his reelection than he is about being president.

    -He and his party have added to the deficit whilst artificially stimulating the economy in a way that made some kind of decline inevitable while, at the same time, taking away tools that will be needed, i.e., more deficit spending.

    trump didn’t do all these things by himself, he had a lot of help from the GOP.

    11
  15. wr says:

    I realize the stakes and costs are nowhere near as high — and let us all hope they never become so — but it’s truly astonishing to see the way the Trump administration’s reaction to this mirrors the Soviet regime’s to Chernobyl — by lying about the threat, punishing anyone who tells the truth, rewarding those who lie and assuming that it will all just go away.

    13
  16. Teve says:

    The Dax has fallen 14% and the Nikkei 11.5%. It’s definitely not just Trump. But he’s not helping, and unless those mortality estimates are wrong the world is in for lots of deaths and a bad recession probably.

    1
  17. Scott F. says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    trump didn’t do all these things by himself, he had a lot of help from the GOP.

    Amen to that! The impacts of an incompetent president would be ameliorated to a degree by a co-equal branch doing its job as a check. Sadly, Trump’s GOP are in lockstep with him.

    3
  18. mattbernius says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    trump didn’t do all these things by himself, he had a lot of help from the GOP.

    Yes and no…

    Again, I think this is going to go down the Policy discussion from a previous thread, but of those, really only the last bullet involved congressional oversight. The rest of those stem from executive policies (yes, we could argue that the GOP senate still had to sign-off on cabinet and key position appointees, but even there we see Trump doing end-runs around them).

    That’s where I think the Axios article, and the work of Ginny Thomas’s group is so key (https://www.axios.com/trump-memos-deep-state-white-house-ce5be95f-2418-433d-b036-2bf41c9700c3.html). I realize some people will disagree, but I don’t see that type of group rising to this level of power under a “normal” Republican presidency. And that, as a result has critical policy impacts that move things outside of normal parameters.

    I’m not absolving the Republicans in the Senate — without a doubt they have done a lot of damage. And yes, if they had a spine, they could have been done with Trump a month ago. So they’ve definitely enabled and bought this.

    But the reality remains that due to the structure and growth of presidential powers, most of this really does fall at the feet of Trump and the actors he has surrounded himself with. And if this was a different Republican president, a lot of those people wouldn’t have ascended into those positions.

    5
  19. Teve says:

    CNN:

    “It’s going to disappear. One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear,” Trump said at the White House Thursday as the virus marched across Asia and Europe after US officials said the US should brace for severe disruption to everyday life.

    4
  20. @SKI:

    treating this as a PR problem, not a public health crisis

    This is an excellent way to encapsulate the response.

    5
  21. @gVOR08: Thanks–it was a deliberate choice.

    1
  22. @OzarkHillbilly:

    trump didn’t do all these things by himself, he had a lot of help from the GOP.

    The deficit-busting is on the party, full stop.

    The rest he has had help with, sure. But no other candidate would have screwed up the executive branch the way Trump has. All the other candidates would have appointed real cabinets and not have denigrated basic governance.

    5
  23. MarkedMan says:

    @mattbernius:

    I’m not absolving the Republicans in the Senate — without a doubt they have done a lot of damage.

    I fear you are grossly underestimating Republican responsibility. On the direct side the fact that the R Congress critters have totally washed their hands of any oversight or pushback has enabled Trump’s worst excesses. And more and more they not only refuse to do their actual jobs, it’s become apparent the only R’s willing to do any job at all are the ones actively blocking for Trump.

    Longer term, the Republican Party has become more and more actively dangerous to America every year since they embraced Voodoo economics in the 80’s. Today there isn’t a Republican in a leadership position who embraces reality.*

    *Yes, there may be a few R’s that would understand reality but they won’t give it more than a Susan Collins-Esque stern look and serious consideration

    8
  24. Jen says:

    treating this as a PR problem, not a public health crisis

    Having worked in PR, they aren’t even handling this as a “PR problem” correctly. It all goes back to the one thing that Trump has never even tried to cultivate: trust.

    No one trusts what he says, and with good reason. This is a public health crisis, and you use PR and communications to convey truthful information in order to: a) prevent panic; and b) provide everyone with the factual information they need to effectively prepare themselves and prevent spread.

    This administration has undermined the public trust so many times–and the “all information about this goes through Pence’s office” does not help at all.

    5
  25. Teve says:

    When we talk about politics, and talk about who will vote for what, and what policies appeal to who, it’s always good to have a reminder that a lot of people are complete idiots.

    5W Public Relations said that 38% of Americans wouldn’t buy Corona “under any circumstances” because of the outbreak, and another 14% said they wouldn’t order a Corona in public. The survey encompasses polling from 737 beer drinkers in the United States.

    4
  26. Kurtz says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    The fault lies most directly with the totalitarian Chinese government. They re-opened wildlife markets after SARS passed, and that appears to have been the source. Then they lied about the virus, and covered it up, making the situation dramatically worse.

    The rest of your post is correct. But how is opening a market considered totalitarian? Just asking for clarity on that point.

    The tendency to lie about things is not limited to governments of one kind, or government in general.

  27. charon says:

    @Jen:

    It all goes back to the one thing that Trump has never even tried to cultivate: trust.

    He has not needed to.

    No one trusts what he says, and with good reason.

    Plenty of people trust him, believe him. The same people who trust Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, Mark Levin, believe them.

    5
  28. @Jen:

    Having worked in PR, they aren’t even handling this as a “PR problem” correctly.

    Agreed.

    3
  29. charon says:

    @Jen:

    “all information about this goes through Pence’s office”

    Pence’s way to consult expert opinion will be assiduously reading Trump’s tweets, reflecting his truest talent.

    2
  30. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Kurtz:
    Fact 1: the Chinese government is totalitarian.
    Fact 2: they re-opened wildlife markets.

    Is one of those statements false?

    2
  31. Kurtz says:

    @Jen:

    Yeah, Trump is only good at PR if PR and confidence schemes are the same thing. At least half the time, they aren’t even good at running cons.

    1
  32. Kurtz says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Not disputing either fact, but they are non-sequitur. Opening a market isn’t an example of a totalitarian action.

    2
  33. Teve says:

    @Kurtz: you’re misreading what he said.

    3
  34. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Kurtz:
    The only non-sequitur was your assumption. Did I say that because China has a totalitarian government they re-opened the wildlife market? Nope. You made a leap.

    This will perhaps surprise you, but not everything a totalitarian government does is evidence of totalitarianism. Sometimes totalitarian governments do things which are unrelated to their form of government. Sometimes they even do good things. And sometimes Democratic governments do bad things.

    3
  35. MarkedMan says:

    I dropped in at TAC to read Larison’s latest, which was about the Administation’s woeful preparedness and response. I occasionally read the comments there, especially for Larison’s pieces which tend to draw more thoughtful responses than what the usual Fox News Trumpistas spew out. But there are some still there, and this comment caught my eye for two reasons:

    Agree. Nonsense. The response has been fine so far. We can’t depend on the government to protect us anyway.

    The first reason: this is what Republican media will pivot to as soon as the death rate goes up. “Not the government’s job!”, will be the refrain cried high and low. Mark my words, the few remaining mindless Trump bots we have here will be parroting this nonsense within the week. This despite the fact that one of the few things even libertarians agree are the domain of the national government is public health and disease control, as it must be consistent and coordinated.

    The second reason I found it interesting? I’m a little in awe at how the Modern Republican Party, starting with Reagan, has so trained their membership to expect literally nothing from them except angry talk and insults aimed at groups they don’t like. Modern Republican voters are happy to watch things fall apart as it just proves what St. Ronnie always told them: the government can’t do anything right.

    4
  36. Mister Bluster says:

    “It’s going to disappear. One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear,” Trump said

    “All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.”
    ― I.F. Stone

    2
  37. mattbernius says:

    @MarkedMan:
    I definitely agree with you that I wish there was more republican oversight. However I need to put on my Steven Taylor Hat (Beard?) for a sec and ask you to unpack something:

    On the direct side the fact that the R Congress critters have totally washed their hands of any oversight or pushback has enabled Trump’s worst excesses.

    Can you help me understand what oversight would look like? Especially given that we have relatively weak party systems and congress has limited tools regarding reigning in presidential power. In fact, we’ve seen Republicans in the Senate more or less tank a number of Trump’s appointees — to the degree that he’s taking advantage of rules to temporarily fill positions to get around Congress.

    Then there’s the matter of the fact that Trump’s overall ratings with the Republican base remain strong — which means that if someone wants to remain an elected official they have to tread carefully. There clearly has been pushback, but it’s largely happened behind the scenes. And the reality is that the President has realized that there is very little institutional power to back up that pushback with actual consequences.

    To this point, if you can think of a case where a Democratic President’s party “reigned them in” in any significant way, I’d love to look at it. Because, again channeling Steven, I think what we are seeing is far more of an institutional issue than a green lantern one.

  38. senyordave says:

    @Teve: At this point I probably would not order a Corona in public. I would fear the backlash from the 38%.

    1
  39. Mu Yixiao says:

    @mattbernius:

    Then there’s the matter of the fact that Trump’s overall ratings with the Republican base remain strong — which means that if someone wants to remain an elected official they have to tread carefully.

    I’m starting to think that the support isn’t for Trump, but for “Whomever sits in the chair”. Loyalty to the party.

    It’s like the scene from Babylon 5 with the Purple and Green.

    “He who takes cloth with mark is leader. He who takes green cloth follows green leader.”

    1
  40. mattbernius says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    I’m starting to think that the support isn’t for Trump, but for “Whomever sits in the chair”. Loyalty to the party.

    I agree, to some degree that’s built in.

    That said, I think people tend to underestimate how much he resonates with key, populist portions of the current Republican coalition — in particular in rural areas and with white evangelicals (and to a lesser degree protestants). And definitely with the CPAP/Right Wing Media Crowd.

    Many of those group make up a significant portion of Republican primary voters.

  41. Michael Reynolds says:

    @senyordave:
    I wouldn’t order a Corona because a beer served with a fcking lime is not real beer.

    6
  42. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “I wouldn’t order a Corona because a beer served with a fcking lime is not real beer.”

    So I guess you’re really not down with the one served with an orange slice…

    1
  43. MarkedMan says:

    @wr: I ordered a Blue Moon just last night at the airport and was disappointed they had run out of orange slices. The two I had before that: Lagunitas Lil’ Sumpin’ Sumpin’ and Sierra Nevada Hazy Little Thing IPA. Very happy with my choices. Felt absolutely no desire to mock anyone else’s beer. Hey, if you find something you like, go ahead and enjoy it. F*ck the haters. They just gonna hate anyway.

    (Peace Michael, I know you were kidding. My tongue was in my cheek on the reply above)

  44. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Two journalists that I wish were still with us, Izzy Stone and Hunter Thompson.

  45. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @mattbernius:@Steven L. Taylor: Damned near everything trump has done, the seeds were planted in previous GOP admins and congressional actions. At best we are talking about a difference of degrees.

    Remember “Heckuva job Brownie?”
    The gutting of the Interior Dept by Watt?
    Remember wanting to abolish the depts of Commerce, Education, and… and …. and… Dammit, it also begins with an ‘E’…?
    The xenophobia that has been on full display in the GOP since W tried to reform immigration?
    The insulting of ‘pointy headed intellectuals’ as tho ignorance was a virtue?
    Ad infinitum…

    trump is finally doing what Republicans have been promising for more than 30 years. Hang it on trump, sure, but he didn’t win the nomination by accident. This is exactly where Republicans have been heading for decades and to think that this is just a perfect storm of stupidity is to ignore the years long charge toward exactly this.

    ETA: another way to look at laying all this on trump and not the GOP, is to say that he is doing it all too fast, a different Republican would have done it all at a more measured pace. Same result different time frame.

    10
  46. MarkedMan says:

    @mattbernius: I gotta admit, I’m a little dumbfounded at this question. What does oversight look like? Public hearings. Holding up budgets until you get answers. Back room pressure making it clear that you are willing to cost the president publicly if he doesn’t put in competent people who can give competent answers. Pre-Gingrich this happened all the time. You can bet your life that Sam Nunn didn’t give Democratic presidents passes on military matters, nor did Duncan Hunter Sr give a pass to Republicans. The people showed up when they were called, well prepared and respectful and if they didn’t they were publicly flayed by senior committee members on both sides and the President looked bad.

    3
  47. Mister Bluster says:

    @Sleeping Dog:..Izzy Stone

    One of my college roomates had a subscription to I.F. Stone’s newsletter, (I.F. Stone’s Weekly 1953–67; I.F. Stone’s Bi-Weekly, 1967–71). That’s how I learned about Stone.
    Several years later (1974) when I was still living in San Francisco with my friend Joe we went to a neighborhood theater (somewhere in the Sunset I think) and saw the documentary
    I.F. Stones Weekly (1973)
    Back then the the left side of the aisle in the theater was the smoking section.

    Be sure to catch ABC TV’s Tom Jarriel playing tennis with Nixon Mouthpiece Ron Ziegler at 7:48.

  48. gVOR08 says:
  49. gVOR08 says:

    @MarkedMan:

    The second reason I found it interesting? I’m a little in awe at how the Modern Republican Party, starting with Reagan, has so trained their membership to expect literally nothing from them except angry talk and insults aimed at groups they don’t like. Modern Republican voters are happy to watch things fall apart as it just proves what St. Ronnie always told them: the government can’t do anything right.

    Some talking head last night said people who respond they mostly trust what the government says has dropped, IIRC, from 75% to 15%. This was over several decades. It’s a 40+ years of GOPs saying that the government can’t do anything right, that the government is the problem, that “I’m from the government, I’m here to help you” is scary, that taxes are theft, and now the deep state nonsense. It’s 40+ years of actively sabotaging the government, then running against the dysfunction. It’s decades of FOX “News” and Limbaugh and the rest of them spreading alternate reality.

    It ain’t just Trump.

    6
  50. gVOR08 says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I’m with Reynolds, I haven’t ordered a Corona since the first time. One of the pleasant surprises of living in TX in the early 70s was that you could buy Mexican beer cheap, and it was mostly better than the then ubiquitous Bud and Miller, which were both better than the Coors everyone in TX drank. But not Corona.

  51. wr says:

    @Sleeping Dog: And Molly Ivins.

    And Charles Pierce. Who really is still among us, but charges….

    2
  52. gVOR08 says:

    @wr: God I miss Molly Ivins. She thought the Texas legislature was an unending source of material. What she could have done with Tump…

  53. Kathy says:

    @Teve:

    It’s a bit more nuanced than that.

  54. An Interested Party says:

    And Charles Pierce. Who really is still among us, but charges….

    Really? It doesn’t cost anything to read his Esquire commentary online…

  55. mattbernius says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Public hearings. Holding up budgets until you get answers.

    Ok, fair response. But then we hit this:

    Pre-Gingrich this happened all the time.

    Ok, so then we’re going back 20 years (at least a full generation in a Political sense). Let’s let “all the time” stand for the moment.

    We then move to:

    You can bet your life that Sam Nunn didn’t give Democratic presidents passes on military matters, nor did Duncan Hunter Sr give a pass to Republicans.

    At least with Sam Nunn you’re looking at a type of “Blue Dog Democrat” that simply doesn’t exist any more. And can you point to a current anolog on the Republican side.

    Further looking to the elder Duncan Hunter, can you share an example of where he ever really held the Bush administration’s “feet to the fire.” At best he held up some approvals, see the bill creating DNI, in order to influence the legislation. We’ve seen similar things done by Republicans in Congress to influence Trump’s policies. Again, we have seen some limited push-back in those areas.

    I think it’s also important to note that in both cases you are citing pushback on military issues — which historically seems to be (outside of the war powers act) one of the few places where Congress has been willing to push back on Presidents (including Trump).*

    I also will note that you seem to have sidestepped the issue of the implications of Trump’s popularity and the realities of how oversight might adversely affect people’s chances of reelection — especially in the current primary system. Again, that post-Gingrich (to your point) change in political landscape really cannot be ignored.

    * – I will note that beyond military, the only other case, post-Gingrich that I can think of where a party writ large rejected a President’s prefer major policy direction on a non-personnel issue was GWB’s attempt to overhaul immigration.

  56. @mattbernius: Let me agree with Matt’s comment (especially the part about hearkening back to the Sam Nunn era) and let me reformulate a bit to perhpas help bring this into focus:

    1. Yes, I agree that GOP members of the congress act cravenly vis-a-vis Trump.

    2. But, on balance, co-partisan members of congress will act cravenly vis-a-vis a sitting president who is popular within the party (if they think they need to do so to get renominated).

    3. Therefore, it matter who the president is in terms of what members of the congress will be acting cravenly in regards to.

    4. So, I would rather have then acting cravenly towards President Jeb, for example, than President Trump.

    For example: do you really think President Jeb would be on TV acting the way Trump is towards COVID-19?

    I am not trying to absolve the broader GOP of responsibility or say that they have done nothing to bring us to Trump. But the reality is that Trump is qualitatively, and quantitatively, different than any other serious 2016 pre-candidate on the GOP side.

    1
  57. Shorter version: parties acquiesce to their presidents on most things. Therefore, it really matters who that president is.

    1
  58. mattbernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    I cosign everything you just wrote. The tl;dr version especially.

    That’s a position that I definitely initially resisted (as little as two years ago). But the more I have thought about it, the more that clearly becomes the case. And the more obvious it becomes that a key part of that acquiescence stems from current institutional structures at both the federal and party levels.

    1
  59. @Steven L. Taylor: I will even go a step further and note that office-holders really do care about voters (mostly, however, primary voters).

    This is why I harp on electoral rules so much: politicians will pay attention to citizens. This is a good thing is a general sense (or so I would argue given the alternatives). However, how the rules structure the relationship between voters and office-holders matters one hell of a whole lot.

    See, e.g., the Electoral College.

    1
  60. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Well to be fair,

    -He has promoted distrust in the media. So now a major tool for dealing with a public health crisis, i.e., the ability to disseminate useful information to the public has been politicized.
    -He has placed too much importance on the DJIA, and he appears more concerned about the political impact of the Dow plunge on his reelection than he is about being president.

    may be on Trump almost completely. I’m not sure those would have happened in even a Cruz (my next worse choice) administration.

    1