Trump Not Simply Violating ‘Norms’

An important message from Josh Marshall.

Josh Marshall makes an important point: critics of President Trump continually point to his violation of Constitutional norms. In doing so, they’re unintentionally minimizing his misfeasance.

“Norms” aren’t laws for a reason. They are like bumpers on the roads of our civic and political life which are there to keep people of basically good faith from crossing lines they shouldn’t cross. They can also be warning posts so others can see when someone is either going down a bad path or needs to be brought back into line.

One reason that “norms” aren’t laws is that sometimes new or unique sets of facts create situations in which they do not or cannot or should not apply. But the problem with almost everything President Trump is doing today is not that he’s violating norms. The problem is that he is abusing his presidential powers to cover up his crimes and his associates’ crimes. Full stop. That’s the problem. The norms are just the orange rubber cones he knocked over when he drove out of his lane and headed for the crowded sidewalk.

I’ve noted something similar about the language of “conflicts of interest.” I have heard many people claim that that $500 million Chinese state loan to a Trump Organization partnership development in Indonesia is a “conflict of interest.” Whether or not you think that is the best example there are many others to choose from. Plug in whichever story you choose: Jared Kushner hitting up the Qataris for loans for his family business empire while supporting a blockade of their country or pressuring foreign government and political groups to use the President’s DC hotel or a million other examples.

These are not ‘conflicts of interest’. A ‘conflict of interest’ is a case in which the nature of a situation makes it impossible for a person to separate their personal interests from their public responsibilities (or to appear to do so). All previous Presidents put their private wealth into blind trusts. We assume they weren’t going to try to directly make money off the presidency. But they wanted to remove any question of it and avoid situations where there own financial interests would bump up against their public responsibilities. What we’re seeing now are not conflicts of interest. They’re straight-up corruption. It’s like “norms”. Defining “conflicts of interest” is meant to keep relatively honest people on the straight and narrow or create tripwires that allow others to see when people in power crossing the line. Nothing like that is happening here. We have an increasingly open effort to make vast sums of money with the presidency. It’s happening in front of our eyes, albeit not quite as visibly as the coverup.

[…]

The other problem with “norms” – perhaps the really critical one – is that they can easily sound like some precious bureaucratic niceties which simply aren’t that important. I was listening to the aforementioned CNN segment and it started to sound like that to me – ornate concepts from a world of foreign or elusive proprieties. Who before Trump talked so much about “norms”? It can all sound frivolous and precious. Maybe you need a President who will upset the apple cart a bit and try new things?

Again, we’re confusing the issue. It’s not norms. The President is trying to obstruct and stymie and hamstring a lawful investigation into his own crimes and those of his associates: by repeatedly lying, firing and threatening to fire people, intervening in law enforcement decisions in his own interest, fabricating fake stories to impede the investigation.

There is clear and daily evidence of corruption. Of high crimes and misdemeanors that would be grounds for impeachment were Republicans in Congress less complicit. That he’s also breaching standard protocol is almost beside the point.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, 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. Ben Wolf says:

    So, it’s business as usual.




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  2. Yep, if the only bad thing about Trump was the fact that he Tweets a lot and says things that other Presidents never would this wouldn’t be nearly the big deal that it is.

    He’s doing real damage to American institutions, and to our reputation abroad, that is going to be hard to fix once he’s out of the picture.




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  3. Ben Wolf says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Which institution wasn’t badly decayed before Trump?




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  4. @Ben Wolf:

    I think our public institutions, while shaken, were in relatively good shape before Trump. Granted, things have gone downhill for a variety of reasons since long before he came on the scene but, on balance, we were in pretty good shape even after the partisanship of the Clinton Era, the many mistakes of the Bush Era, and the renewal of the hyperpartisan insanity in the Obama Era. To the extent that those years have done damage, it was of a kind that was arguably reparable in the right hands. The damage that Trump is doing may well be irreparable.




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  5. Ben Wolf says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Ok. By what standard do we judge the integrity of an institution? If what you’re saying is correct, that standard can’t be public opinion, which showed a level of institutional approval that bordered abhorrence.




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  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    we were in pretty good shape even after the partisanship of the Clinton Era, the many mistakes of the Bush Era, and the renewal of the hyperpartisan insanity in the Obama Era.

    And what is the common thread connecting all these?




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  7. Rick Cuevas says:

    Covering up his crimes? If the indictments already in place against members of his team aren’t proof that the crimes are being found ….what is?
    .
    If the fact that his son in law just got security clearance….that’s proof that there’s no there there ….




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  8. @OzarkHillbilly:

    I know what you want me to say, but the truth is that the hyperpartisanship that has destroyed much of the political culture in this country is a two-way street.




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  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    the truth is that the hyperpartisanship that has destroyed much of the political culture in this country is a two-way street.

    The truth is I didn’t want you to say anything at all because your retreat into “both sides” was as predictable as the sun rising in the morning and setting in the evening and is exactly what every “independent” does when they want to assert their superiority over the obvious partisans. The sad truth is that both sides are not the same, they are not flip sides of the same coin. DEMs are not perfect, not by any means, but they aren’t aiding and abetting an ongoing criminal conspiracy.




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  10. Ben Wolf says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Are we sure hyperpartisanship has been the prime destructive force?

    On the right, ethno-nationalists and libertarians are accused of supporting fascist politics; on the left, campus radicals and the so-called antifa movement are accused of betraying liberal principles. Across the board, the assumption is that radical views go hand in hand with support for authoritarianism, while moderation suggests a more committed approach to the democratic process.

    Is it true?

    Maybe not. My research suggests that across Europe and North America, centrists are the least supportive of democracy, the least committed to its institutions and the most supportive of authoritarianism.
    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/05/23/opinion/international-world/centrists-democracy.html




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  11. teve tory says:

    Ever read something and be instantly jealous that you didn’t write it?

    But the problem with almost everything President Trump is doing today is not that he’s violating norms. The problem is that he is abusing his presidential powers to cover up his crimes and his associates’ crimes. Full stop. That’s the problem. The norms are just the orange rubber cones he knocked over when he drove out of his lane and headed for the crowded sidewalk.




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  12. Ben Wolf says:

    @teve tory: Nope.




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  13. MBunge says:

    As the kids used to say, FFS.

    Josh Marshall is the guy who donned a tinfoil hat to obsess over Donald Trump not being as rich as he claimed, made literally not one single comment online when Hillary Clinton collapsed on the sidewalk, and allowed TPM to be used in a coordinated effort to spread a false Trump/Russia story…a story which the freakin’ New York Times nuked from orbit a day later, a nuking which Marshall never acknowledged. And that’s not even getting into the whole tweeting of porn.

    It is beyond self-parody for this place to post something like this, given the deliberate refusal to discuss virtually ANY of the “norms” being violated not just by Trump critics and accusers but the wider trashing of “norms” by our political establishment. Even National Review, one of the Founding Fathers of NeverTrump, has taken notice of this stuff. This place? Nada.

    As I mentioned before, if all you’re doing is soothing your butthurt, fine. If you think you are legitimately contributing to the public discourse, snap out of it.

    Mike




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  14. george says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    The GOP is definitely worse. But the DEMs are still very bad. These things aren’t binary, and the argument that we shouldn’t criticize the lesser evil because they’re not as bad always struck me as a bad one.

    Put it this way; if the GOP are going around stabbing people, the DEMs are going around punching people. What the GOP is doing is worse, but both need to be called on what they are doing. Calling out groups for what they are doing is not both-siderism, its simply being observant of whats going on.

    One of the things that makes people cynical about politics (to the extent that 40% don’t bother voting at all) is that everyone seems to think that because the other side is worse (and interestingly enough, because of different values, both the GOP and DEM supporters honestly feel this), their side shouldn’t be criticized, because criticizing the lesser evil helps the bigger evil (through some magical mechanism I’ve never understood).




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  15. teve tory says:

    Ben Wolf says:
    Thursday, May 24, 2018 at 07:31
    So, it’s business as usual.

    Try reading the post next time.




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  16. James Pearce says:

    There is clear and daily evidence of corruption. Of high crimes and misdemeanors that would be grounds for impeachment were Republicans in Congress less complicit.

    No need to mention the Democrats, of course. They don’t control the committees and are, as always, blameless in all things.

    Where, I wonder, did Trump get the idea that it’s okay to cash in on being president? Is it perhaps from reading about Bill and Hillary Clinton’s post-presidency wealth? Random House is paying the Obamas $65 million and Netflix who knows how much more. Trump knows what’s waiting for him when he’s done because his predecessors showed him the way.




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  17. Slugger says:

    I was driving on a state highway, and a cop stopped me for going 67 in a 55 zone. I told him that lots of other people were also exceeding the speed limit. He recognized the power of my argument and tore up the ticket. He apologized for stopping me, and I went on my way. I complained to the Governor that the cop had been spying on me from a side road with an electronic speed gun, and the Governor is launching an investigation into cops spying on people for violations.




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  18. Moosebreath says:

    @James Pearce:

    “Where, I wonder, did Trump get the idea that it’s okay to cash in on being president? Is it perhaps from reading about Bill and Hillary Clinton’s post-presidency wealth? Random House is paying the Obamas $65 million and Netflix who knows how much more.”

    Which of them cashed in while they were President? For that matter, former presidents cashing in after they left the White House has been going on at least since Ford.




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  19. teve tory says:

    If someone ever writes a Pie Filter so I can hide particular commenters I will forever be in your debt.




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  20. JohnMcC says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: You remember that Supreme Court vacancy that was held open by Sen McConnell? That was those damn Democrats being partisan again.

    You never thought of that? Why don’t you love America?




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  21. James Pearce says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Which of them cashed in while they were President?

    So all Trump needs to do to be sufficiently virtuous is to wait, like his predecessors, until after his presidency to cash in?

    @teve tory: Grow up, dude.




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  22. CSK says:

    Just in: Trump has canceled the “summit” with Kim.




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  23. Moosebreath says:

    @James Pearce:

    “So all Trump needs to do to be sufficiently virtuous is to wait, like his predecessors, until after his presidency to cash in?”

    Yes, cashing in after the Presidency is over (and therefore no longer able to give quos in exchange for quids) is different than being corrupt (exchanging quids for quos). It’s not that difficult a concept unless you are determined to say Trump is acting like his Democratic predecessors (and you citing only Democrats as examples of Presidential corruption puts you into the same category as the Bunge-hole).




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  24. Moosebreath says:

    @CSK:

    “Just in: Trump has canceled the “summit” with Kim.”

    Proving that Trump is a master of the Art of Killing the Deal.




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  25. Franklin says:

    @MBunge: Ahh, the time-honored tradition of attacking the messenger rather than the message.

    And BTW, what original thought have you contributed to any discussion?




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  26. Franklin says:

    @Moosebreath: Gonna have to agree with Moosebreath here. There’s an obvious difference, logically and practically.

    That said, Hillary was still running for President while they were cashing in on her husband’s career.




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  27. CSK says:

    @Moosebreath:

    So what will Trump do with the coins he ordered issued to commemorate this historic occasion?




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  28. Kathy says:

    @James Pearce:

    So all Trump needs to do to be sufficiently virtuous is to wait, like his predecessors, until after his presidency to cash in?

    The Devil’s Advocate position should not mean “bring up logical fallacies and rhetorical tricks” to an argument.

    As to your question, if that were the only thing Trump needed to be virtuous, we’d be living in paradise.




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  29. teve tory says:

    It’s going to be at least a few hours before the propagandists come up with an explanation of how this is Trump #WINNING and accomplishing (something). I expect to be entertained this afternoon/evening when they decide on the particular lie, and later today and tomorrow when the Trumpers start repeating it around the InterTubes.




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  30. Kathy says:

    @Franklin:

    And BTW, what original thought have you contributed to any discussion?

    Sir, please. Do not ask of a man what he is unable to give.




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  31. James Pearce says:

    @Moosebreath:

    It’s not that difficult a concept unless you are determined to say Trump is acting like his Democratic predecessors

    Let me be clear, since about half of you see my handle and my pic and you get a little mean and a little unfair and you just can’t help yourself.

    If Trump believes the presidency is a money-making opportunity, he most likely believes that because the Clintons showed the way.




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  32. Moosebreath says:

    @James Pearce:

    “If Trump believes the presidency is a money-making opportunity, he most likely believes that because the Clintons showed the way”

    And not Reagan’s foreign speaking tour, Ford’s bevy of corporate boards, etc. Yep, it’s all our fault that we see you as one-sided.




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  33. MarkedMan says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    the truth is that the hyperpartisanship that has destroyed much of the political culture in this country is a two-way street

    This is demonstrably false. While it is certainly true that Dems and Repubs are all human and humans have a real tendency to demonize each other, only one party has deliberately created internal policies that guarantee toxic partisanship. It was Newt Gingrich that institutionalized the 50% + 1 rule (basically, that bills that pass with large bipartisan majorities represent failure because it means you could have gotten more concessions. His policy, and the policy of every Republican majority since then, is that you load up a bill with things the Dems don’t want until it barely passes.) And that rule has guaranteed that every single bill becomes a bitter and divisive partisan struggle.

    Later came the Hastert Rule. Coupled with 50% + 1 it effectively means that Republican leadership will only bring a bill to the floor if it can pass with only Republican votes. (I recognize that is not how the rule was defined but because of the 50% + 1 policy and the resultant need to bring along most of the Republican lunatic fringe with each vote it de facto means every bill is slathered in amendments almost no Democrat can accept.)

    So, yes, there are partisan currents in both parties as there has always been. What has changed is that the Republican Party, and only the Republican Party, has implemented institutional policies that guarantee that partisanship overwhelms everything else.




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  34. Dave Schuler says:

    I think that Ben is on to something. That so many incumbents run without significant opposition, that the voter turnout rate is so low, and the very great power of the Congressional leadership all point to corruption in the legislative branch and they go back decades. That one associate justice is the sole dissent siding with the White House in otherwise unanimous cases before the Supreme Court and that justice was appointed by the sitting administration suggests corruption in the judicial branch.

    Do I need to comment farther on corruption of the executive branch?




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  35. Andy says:

    Marshall certainly has an ax to grind and I think anyone who knows his history understands he’s coming at this analysis from a position with a strong pre-existing bias.

    Still, think the corruption is real, or at least the appearance of it is.

    But let’s talk about “norms” for a bit. Before Trump, I long thought that Washington “norms” (what Bacevich calls the “Washington Rules”) were in serious need of challenging. Many are not worth defending as they were specifically created to benefit certain classes of the powerful and politically connected.

    I do not like the manner in which Trump is destroying norms, nor do I like, in the least, the potential precedents he is setting going forward. But let’s not pretend the previous status quo was worth defending or that there wasn’t a shit-ton of corruption in Washington. When you boil it down, the beneficiaries of the pre-Trump norms are mad the corruption isn’t playing out according to their own rules and for their own benefit. Most of all, Trump isn’t keeping up appearances by failing to use middlemen for his influence peddling.

    So while I agree with many of Marshall’s criticisms against Trump, as self-serving as they are, I don’t agree that the answer is going back to the preexisting “norms” that are still extremely corrupt, just less obviously so.




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  36. MarkedMan says:

    @James Pearce:

    If Trump believes the presidency is a money-making opportunity, he most likely believes that because the Clintons showed the way.

    Ok. Now I’m just going back to my default position that Pearce is a moderately clever Trumpoid, someone who thinks he is being tricky by seeming to put the Orange Mangolini down while really just trashing Dems. The above statement has to be the stupidest thing I’ve seen on the Internet in a while.




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  37. michael reynolds says:

    Report: Nazis exterminating Jews!
    Cynic: Ho hum, what about Armenia?

    I see @Ben Wolf and @Pearce are exercising their tedious cynicism again. Cynicism is cheap and easy which is why it’s so beloved by college sophomores. Cynicism is the great enabler of corruption, a corrosive self-reinforcing cycle in which victims pretend it doesn’t hurt because, ‘hey, I always expected to be raped.’ It’s lazy and only impresses the most superficial of minds.

    Ben, you’re better than this. Pearce, you’re not.




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  38. teve tory says:

    Tedious is certainly the word. The next word that comes to mind is dumb.




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  39. Kathy says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    He’s doing real damage to American institutions, and to our reputation abroad, that is going to be hard to fix once he’s out of the picture.

    I can imagine other countries’ governments including clauses in treaties or trade agreements as to how these are to be renegotiated, or language stating they are good until the current presidential term expires.

    But the lasting damage is that America will long be suspected of being capable of electing another Trump, even years after the Orange Twit is long dead and cold in the grave.




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  40. michael reynolds says:

    @Andy:

    So while I agree with many of Marshall’s criticisms against Trump, as self-serving as they are, I don’t agree that the answer is going back to the preexisting “norms” that are still extremely corrupt, just less obviously so.

    Exactly. The idea is to make progress. Not to imagine a perfect past, nor to accept a degenerate present, but to work for a better future. One does not achieve progress by practicing facile cynicism. Making things better is hard. It takes commitment, a lot of work, but also idealism and hope.

    Back when I was a church-going type (Lutheran) they used to talk about being a ‘fool for Christ,’ being willing to risk embarrassment, being willing to risk failure and frustration. Patriotism demands that we be willing to risk looking foolishly idealistic. It’s easy to satirize the hopeful and easier still to strike a worldly-wise posture of indifference or cynicism. But cynics accomplish nothing. They improve no one’s life, not even their own.

    Cynicism is selfish and impotent. It’s a gutless pose. And I speak from personal experience as a reformed cynic.




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  41. michael reynolds says:

    @Kathy:

    But the lasting damage is that America will long be suspected of being capable of electing another Trump, even years after the Orange Twit is long dead and cold in the grave.

    Yep, because the problem isn’t Trump, the problem is the 46%.




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  42. Ben Wolf says:

    @michael reynolds: Cynicism is a distrust of others. Pointing out that faith in U.S. institutions had been shredded before Donald Trump is just a fact. If people want to believe that prior to November 8th, 2016, this was America the Beautiful, then that’s fine. But it’s a defensive fantasy. And the reason society has so decayed is because too many people have been living that fantasy to avoid dealing with the very serious problems coming from the system’s internal contradictions.

    Three thousand communities have lead levels in their drinking water higher than Flint. Trump didn’t do that. Nor did he make the costs of medical care skyrocket, suppress wages for forty years, sell weapons to Iranian terrorists and help drug cartels smuggle cocaine into the inner city. He didn’t institute a global assassination program with zero meaningful oversight, he didn’t bomb a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory and kill ten thousand people through the resulting lack of medicine, and he didn’t train El Salvadoran death squads that gutted women and left them to bleed to death hanging from trees by their hair.

    He’s doing nothing that hasn’t been done by his predecessors. Now, you can throw around the word cynic as a means to dismiss me, but I’m every bit outraged by Trump as I am by former occupants of his office. My position is morally consistent. I can’t denounce Bush for forty-five drone strikes and not denounce Obama for five hundred. And I certainly can’t be offended by Trump putting business parasites into government without being offended by Obama’s cabinet being chosen by Citigroup.

    Trump is not an abberation. He is the legacy of sixty years of misdeeds by government and business leaders, and the deeply negative public opinion regarding “institutions” exists for good reason: the American system as it exists today is shockingly inhuman.




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  43. James Pearce says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Ben, you’re better than this. Pearce, you’re not.

    Memo to the OTB commentariat: I do not care, at all, about your personal opinions on what I am or what I am not. Have any of you ever met me?

    I’m sorry you cannot endure a difference of opinion. I can.

    I will not, however, endure personal insults.




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  44. Modulo Myself says:

    There’s a lot of bad things about liberal Democrats, but my god–people hated Obama because he was a community organizer. You can’t complain about corruption, and then claim that working for a community is also corrupt. What does that leave? It’s just idiotic cynicism, which leaves the person holding more liable to taken in by cheapest con imaginable, aka Trump.




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  45. george says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    Cynicism is a distrust of others. Pointing out that faith in U.S. institutions had been shredded before Donald Trump is just a fact.

    And its odd that this even has to be said. It’s been a major topic of discussion at least since the ’70’s (when I started noticing politics), and from what I’ve heard, if anything faith in US institutions was lower in the 60’s.

    Trump is horrible, probably one of the five worse presidents (Andrew Jackson being by far the worst in my opinion, though of course Trump still has two years to become number one); but he’s acting as an accelerator of things which were already in motion.




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  46. george says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    Much of the hatred against Obama was clearly racist, most of the rest was because he was a Democrat (the kind of hatred Carter and Bill Clinton also automatically got).

    But that doesn’t mean all (or even most) criticism of the Democrats (or Obama) is unfounded. The GOP is horrible. The Dems are just bad. Both should be getting criticism in line with their faults – meaning most criticism aimed at the GOP, but still a healthy amount aimed at the Dems.




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  47. george says:

    @michael reynolds:

    On the other hand, to stick with your metaphor, why not stop both the genocide against the Jews and against the Armenians? I agree that cynics say why bother stopping either, but partisans only want to stop one of the two. Ideally we’d call out and stop it all.

    The answer to a “what about” response should be “good point, we’ll stop that too”.




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  48. MarkedMan says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Cynicism is selfish and impotent. It’s a gutless pose.

    Cynicism is the default position for someone who cares too much about not being taken for a fool, someone who is so afraid of that they can’t actually be for something. Oddly enough, I came to this realization by briefly reading the NY Times critics. Be it film, books, music or restaurants, they follow(ed) very strict rules. A sophisticated person was only allowed to like esoteric things. Once in a while they were allowed to like something really goofy or out there. But they always had to disparage anything that was popular. The perfect encapsulation of this can be found in the TC Boyle short story, “Sorry, Fugu”, when Willa Frank, the character who is obviously meant to be the NY Times Restaurant critic says, ”To like something,” she says, ”to really like it and come out and say so, is taking a terrible risk. I mean, what if I’m wrong? What if it’s really no good?”




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  49. MarkedMan says:

    @James Pearce: I said your comment was stupid. I didn’t say you were stupid. FWIW, I don’t think you are. But “Trump is corrupt because of the Clintons”? Yeah, that’s a stupid comment.




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  50. Modulo Myself says:

    @george:

    Republicans go after basically anyone who isn’t in life completely for the money. Thus they hate English majors, teachers, social workers, and community organizers. Plus taxes and any kind of government assistance. And the Democrats go along with this because a) they find this hate ‘rational’ and b) outside of politics, America is not country where people are comfortable being open–it’s patriarchal, top-down, Dad shaking his fist and lecturing everybody about what a great time they’re having. The problem is not institutional. What Ben wrote was true about America. But America is so unsophisticated that the appearance of rectitude is all that matters. Nobody is an Eichmann or a secret criminal, until they’re caught, and then it’s a giant mystery. Thus we have very cheap cynicism instead of empirical scepticism and subjectivity, and any attempt to challenge this is met with vicious scorn. Reagan, for example, was an insane response to the supposed breakdown of the 70s, a period which was nothing more than America trying to make itself better.




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  51. wr says:

    @MBunge: So Bungles — want to continue your lecture on how Trump’s bringing peace to the Korean peninsula proves he’s the greatest president ever?




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  52. wr says:

    @James Pearce: “Trump knows what’s waiting for him when he’s done because his predecessors showed him the way.”

    Except that TRUMP ISN’T WAITING. He is, by all appearances, literally selling the foreign policy of the United States for contributions to his “businesses.”

    If you can’t tell the difference between the two, it’s time for you to stop posting about politics forever.




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  53. Modulo Myself says:

    @MarkedMan:

    One of thing I notice more and more outside of America is how caring is considered a fundamental privilege (rather than a tedious duty) that you have to expect to exist in other people. It’s going to be imperfect and frustrating, but it’s there. And what I hear, from non-Americans, is how bafflingly selfish Americans are. Not like anyone else is less selfish or self-interested, but why are Americans the way they are? And nobody has an answer.




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  54. wr says:

    @MarkedMan: “Now I’m just going back to my default position that Pearce is a moderately clever Trumpoid, someone who thinks he is being tricky by seeming to put the Orange Mangolini down while really just trashing Dems. The above statement has to be the stupidest thing I’ve seen on the Internet in a while.”

    Occam’s razor suggests a simpler explanation for why someone would post the stupidest thing you’ve seen on the internet in a while…




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  55. MarkedMan says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    One of thing I notice more and more outside of America is how caring is considered a fundamental privilege (rather than a tedious duty) that you have to expect to exist in other people.

    This sounds interesting, but I’m not quite clear on where you are going. Mind expanding?




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  56. James Pearce says:

    @MarkedMan:

    But “Trump is corrupt because of the Clintons”? Yeah, that’s a stupid comment.

    I didn’t say that.

    I said:

    Trump knows what’s waiting for him when he’s done because his predecessors showed him the way.

    And that is not a stupid comment.




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  57. michael reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:
    If you ever actually expressed an opinion, Pearce, I would deal with your opinions. But you don’t. You don’t take a stand, you don’t state a position, you just stand on the sidelines uttering vague asides about how Democrats are disappointing you. It’s not just me, many of us have said the same thing to you, over and over, and you never, ever commit to anything but vague unhappiness. Take a stand, say something specific and you’ll be judged on your ideas. Lacking a commitment to anything you are judged on your refusal to ever say anything specific. You refuse to risk and no one respects that.




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  58. gVOR08 says:

    @James Pearce:

    Where, I wonder, did Trump get the idea that it’s okay to cash in on being president? Is it perhaps from reading about Bill and Hillary Clinton’s post-presidency wealth?

    Emphasis mine.




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  59. Franklin says:

    @Ben Wolf: I think it’s ridiculously MBunge-like to point out that there were unsolved problems in the history of America and imply that makes Trump the correct result.

    Trump is unprecedented is many ways beyond his communication “style”, and not just as a matter of degree. Which modern President didn’t release tax returns? Which modern President really needed to release a tax return? Which President’s campaign sought help from foreign countries? Which President fired their Attorney General because of an investigation (oop, my bad, not totally unprecedented)? Which President has yet to hire someone for a position for which they are remotely qualified?

    To be fair, there are also matters of degree. He lies at over 100x the rate of his predecessor. He has had more turnover in his Administration by a factor of 2 over his nearest competitor (Reagan).




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  60. MarkedMan says:

    @James Pearce: Amazing. You really showed me. I said you were blaming Trumps corruption on the Clintons and you showed just how I was writing words into your mouth. As shown by the quote you posted, you never mentioned the Clintons and were only referring to something that could happen in the future. Boy, you really put me in my place!

    Oh, wait. Let’s look at what you said, you know the quote I actually referenced in my post:

    If Trump believes the presidency is a money-making opportunity, he most likely believes that because the Clintons showed the way.




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  61. James Pearce says:

    @wr:

    Except that TRUMP ISN’T WAITING

    If it’s a virtue to wait until after your term is over before you cash in on the presidency, do not be surprised when a dude with no virtues doesn’t bother to wait.

    @michael reynolds:

    You refuse to risk and no one respects that.

    No, I refuse to take the bait.

    What I risk is a pile-on and personal insults every time I comment.




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  62. Ben Wolf says:

    @Franklin:

    Which modern President didn’t release tax returns?

    It’s never been a tradition to release tax returns, and more than a few candidated have failed to do so.

    Which President’s campaign sought help from foreign countries?

    Presidential candidates Obama, Clinton, Bush, Reagan.

    Which President has yet to hire someone for a position for which they are remotely qualified?

    Obama, Bush, Clinton, Reagan.




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  63. MarkedMan says:

    @James Pearce:

    If it’s a virtue to wait until after your term is over before you cash in on the presidency, do not be surprised when a dude with no virtues doesn’t bother to wait.

    So wait, it’s the Clinton’s fault that Trump is selling out the Presidency for Russian, Qatari, Ukrainian and Chinese investment in his properties because Bill and Hillary Clinton made money by speaking at conventions?




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  64. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Ben Wolf: Yeah, but most of the actors in the past haven’t been so “in your face!” about it.




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  65. MarkedMan says:

    @MarkedMan: Pearce’s compelling logic on why the Clinton’s are to blame for Trump’s corruption has just blown me away. I used to be such a Hillary fan, but now I see her as the devil she is. She uses her twisty evil ways, like getting people to donate to a charity that spends its money doing things like:

    Because of our work, nearly 35,000 American schools have provided kids with healthy food choices in an effort to eradicate childhood obesity; more than 150,000 farmers in Malawi, Rwanda, and Tanzania are benefiting from climate-smart agronomic training, higher yields, and increased market access; working with partners, more than 8.5 million trees and tree seedlings have been planted to strengthen ecosystems and livelihoods; over 600,000 people have been impacted through market opportunities created by social enterprises and health and wellbeing programs in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, and Africa; through the independent Clinton Health Access Initiative, over 11.5 million people in more than 70 countries have access to CHAI-negotiated prices for HIV/AIDS medications; an estimated 85 million people in the U.S. will be reached through strategic health partnerships developed across industry sectors at both the local and national level; and members of the Clinton Global Initiative community have made more than 3,600 Commitments to Action, which have improved the lives of over 435 million people in more than 180 countries.

    The evil! The tricksiness! All along it turns out that the Clintons are like Gollum and Smeagol, twin faces of lies and corruption! So of course given the example of the Clinton Foundation, Trump was all but compelled to set up his phony charity which… paid for his sons Boy Scout initiation fee with donors money. We should have all seen this when the Clintons named their charity the One Ring To Rule Them All Clinton Foundation!




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  66. James Pearce says:

    @MarkedMan:

    So wait, it’s the Clinton’s fault that Trump is selling out the Presidency for Russian, Qatari, Ukrainian and Chinese investment in his properties because Bill and Hillary Clinton made money by speaking at conventions?

    How can I make you understand this if you are so intent on not understanding it?

    Jimmy Carter built houses. George HW Bush stayed out of his son’s business and the limelight. George W. Bush paints.

    The Clintons and the Obamas, though, they’re cashing those 7-8 figure checks like they won’t get them anymore.

    You don’t need to be a genius to see which way Trump is going to go.




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  67. MarkedMan says:

    @James Pearce:

    How can I make you understand this if you are so intent on not understanding it?

    You can start by not substituting quotes when you reply to my posts. It gives the strong impression that you are just trying to blow smoke.

    But you are absolutely wrong about the other presidents, with the exception of Jimmy Carter, although even he has published quite a number of books over the years. I sat in the audience at a trade show where George HW Bush delivered the keynote, and 10-15 years later I sat in the audience at a different trade show where Bill Clinton delivered the keynote. In both cases the trade show organizers, the people who actually selects and pays them, organize hundreds of different trade shows a year for every type of industry imaginable. These trade shows, being gigantic international one, traditionally have at least one politician keynote and given the size, they get chosen from the Column A menu. I didn’t think it was corrupt when Bush did it, and I didn’t think it was corrupt when Clinton did it. In fact, in both cases I felt they did a pretty workmanlike job for their fee. Bush gave a standard “The Importance of International Trade” speech that he could have delivered as president while Clinton, who happened to be speaking at a Medical Devices Conference, was able to give a really detailed and wonkish (and charming) talk on “Trends in the Healthcare Field”, which given his background, interests and charitable work, he was actually pretty darn up to date on. Both speeches were classier than the 1980’s and 90’s Ronald Reagan / Gerald Ford selling out their names to any corporate board that could afford them without knowing a darn thing about them. Some of those were pretty sketchy investment schemes and I think they showed bad judgement. But even that is not corruption. There is no tat for the tit, so to speak.

    This constant effort to draw an equivalence between real corruption and speaking at conventions or soliciting funds for charitable organizations is childishly cynical, something that is expected from Breitbart/Fox News/Daily Kos types.

    FWIW, here’s whatInside Philanthropy actually says about their analysis of the Clinton Foundation.. You know, people who actually do this type of analysis for a living…




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  68. Monala says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    Which President has yet to hire someone for a position for which they are remotely qualified?

    Obama, Bush, Clinton, Reagan.

    Has yet, meaning Trump hasn’t hired anyone remotely qualified, not just that one or more members of his administration are lacking. Are you trying to say that that’s true of all these previous administrations?




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  69. Monala says:

    @Ben Wolf: The article says that people were asked to place themselves on the left-right-centrist spectrum. The researcher verified their self-placements by asking a few opinion questions about policy issues, and seeing how well the respondents’ answers lined up with typical left, right, or centrist viewpoints.

    I do wonder whether or not the “pox on both their houses” attitude that some centrists adopt has any influence on their views of democracy.




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  70. James Pearce says:

    @MarkedMan:

    This constant effort to draw an equivalence between real corruption and speaking at conventions or soliciting funds for charitable organizations is childishly cynical

    Yes, Trump is childishly cynical. Thank you for recognizing it. He’s exactly the type of guy who can watch Bill and Hillary Clinton rake in the bucks and think…”Hey, running for president could be good business for me. If they can make $20 million, I can make $100 million.” Why do think he ran? To make America great again?




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  71. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Jeebus am I glad I can only comment in the AM. The stupid, it hurts.




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  72. wr says:

    @James Pearce: “If it’s a virtue to wait until after your term is over before you cash in on the presidency, do not be surprised when a dude with no virtues doesn’t bother to wait.”

    When my mother passes away — hopefully far in the future — I will inherit some money. According to you, that’s the same as killing her and then collecting.

    Look, you like the whole “Mr. Contrary” thing, that’s fine. But even you must be able to see that you’re lapsing into incoherence.




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  73. Matt says:

    @James Pearce: You cared so little that you HAD to make a post here to make sure we knew how little you cared…

    @James Pearce: But you care so little so why does that matter?




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  74. An Interested Party says:

    But even you must be able to see that you’re lapsing into incoherence.

    The truly righteous probably never see that in themselves…




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  75. Monala says:

    @James Pearce: In 2012, the highest-paid public speaker in the world was… Donald Trump. Bill Clinton was a distant 4th. So obviously, “I want to make bank like Clinton is making!” isn’t why he is now turning his entire presidency into a huge grift while still in office. (And you never responded to Moosebreath’s comment about quid pro quo, and why there is a major difference between what a person does during office, with what they do after).

    Also? While Bill Clinton is currently the highest paid former president speaker (Reagan was higher when he was alive), George Bush is second, and has given more than 200 speeches since leaving office.




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  76. Monala says:

    @James Pearce: I’m in moderation, maybe because I posted links. So I’ll restate my point, and add the links to a separate post. I responded to you that in 2012, the highest paid speaker in the world was Donald Trump, and Bill Clinton was a distant 4th. So no, Trump’s grift of the presidency can’t be blamed on Clinton’s example. (Not to mention that Trump had decades of grift behind him).

    Also, if you want to call yourself honest, why don’t you address Moosebreath’s point about how quid pro quo makes what happens in office a much bigger problem than what happens afterward? The latter may be unseemly, but the former is illegal and corrupt.

    Also, Bill Clinton is currently the highest paid former president speech-giver (Reagan was higher when he was alive), but George W. Bush is second, and has given more than 200 speeches since leaving office.

    ETA: my second post, with just the links documenting what I wrote here, is also in moderation. So if you doubt what I wrote above, please use Google.




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  77. Monala says:
  78. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Pearce: He is also the same kind of guy who thought being president was the same as being a low rent slum lord on the east side* of the the Bronx.

    *said by someone who is wholly ignorant of all things NYC.




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  79. Franklin says:

    @Ben Wolf: Evidence of other Presidents getting foreign help for their campaigns?

    And yeah, I think you misunderstood the last question. You can certainly find some unqualified ambassadors here and there nominated by other Presidents, but what about the entire Cabinet?




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  80. MarkedMan says:

    @James Pearce: Yeah. This is nonsense. I’m done




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  81. James Pearce says:

    According to you, that’s the same as killing her and then collecting.

    According to who?

    But you care so little so why does that matter?

    Couldn’t you have just, you know, thought that? I guess now that we have it out of the way, though, do you have anything to add to the discussion?

    I responded to you that in 2012, the highest paid speaker in the world was Donald Trump, and Bill Clinton was a distant 4th

    I understand the point you’re making, and don’t need to check your links to accept your findings. I only ask, is it a problem that Bill Clinton, 15 years after his presidency, is still in the Top 5 paid speakers? Doesn’t it kind of seem like he’s milking it? Where was Hillary on the list? Just curious.

    As for the quid pro quo, I expect much worse from Donald Trump. If it only it was quid pro quo. If only it was blow jobs from interns and private e-mail servers.

    He is also the same kind of guy who thought being president was the same as being a low rent slum lord on the east side* of the the Bronx.

    Yeah, well…he’s wrong about that too.

    Surprise.

    I’m done

    “Ain’t no sound but the sound of his feet…”

    No, that’s harsh. I really should be watching Game 5 myself. I like the Warriors and all that, but I kind of want the Rockets to take this series. I’ll admit it. I want to see Harden in the Finals.




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  82. Matt says:

    @James Pearce:

    Couldn’t you have just, you know, thought that? I guess now that we have it out of the way, though, do you have anything to add to the discussion?

    I thought the same thing when I saw your posts… When in Rome..




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  83. wr says:

    @Monala: “While Bill Clinton is currently the highest paid former president speaker (Reagan was higher when he was alive), George Bush is second, and has given more than 200 speeches since leaving office.”

    Yes, but if Pearce doesn’t know that and is simply too lazy to look it up, it doesn’t count.




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  84. James Pearce says:

    @Matt: 3 upvotes for your 2nd off-topic comment expressing little more than your personal contempt for me?




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  85. wr says:

    @James Pearce: “3 upvotes for your 2nd off-topic comment expressing little more than your personal contempt for me?”

    Perhaps the gulf between how your messages are perceived and how you think they are perceived is wider than you think.

    (And no, I wasn’t one of those votes, up or down…)




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  86. James Pearce says:

    @wr:

    Perhaps the gulf between how your messages are perceived and how you think they are perceived is wider than you think.

    Perceive my comments however you want.

    And behave like an adult anyway.




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  87. Matt says:

    @James Pearce: There was no personal contempt in any of those posts. All I did was point out the truth about you. Apparently others agree. ..




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