Trump’s Irresponsible Foreign Policy

CNN has a lengthy, deeply reported piece on Trump's phone calls to other heads of state.

“President Donald J. Trump in the Oval Office” by The White House

Carl Bernstein (yes, that Carl Bernstein) has a lengthy and deeply reported piece for CNN detailing Trump’s phone interactions with other heads of states (From pandering to Putin to abusing allies and ignoring his own advisers, Trump’s phone calls alarm US officials). The story would be the A1 story this morning, except for the fact that we are getting revelations about what Trump should have known about the Russia bounty story and when he should have known it.

For anyone who has even a modicum of understanding of the importance of foreign policy should find the piece disturbing. By the same token, to anyone who has been paying attention, it will not be surprising.

As we may recall, Trump started his presidency with several contentious call with allies (such as Australia’s Prime Minister) and, of course, a phone call with the President of Ukraine led to his impeachment. Items in Bolton’s book likewise lend credence to the notion that Trump is problematic with foreign leaders on the phone. (I could make a list of links to stories about problematic phone calls, but do not have the time to do so).

The Bernstein piece needs to be read in full, but here is the intro paragraph:

In hundreds of highly classified phone calls with foreign heads of state, President Donald Trump was so consistently unprepared for discussion of serious issues, so often outplayed in his conversations with powerful leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Erdogan, and so abusive to leaders of America’s principal allies, that the calls helped convince some senior US officials — including his former secretaries of state and defense, two national security advisers and his longest-serving chief of staff — that the President himself posed a danger to the national security of the United States, according to White House and intelligence officials intimately familiar with the contents of the conversations.

Further, Trump “continued to believe that he could either charm, jawbone or bully almost any foreign leader into capitulating to his will, and often pursued goals more attuned to his own agenda than what many of his senior advisers considered the national interest.”

He is exactly who we thought he was.

Ignorant. Egotistical. Self-absorbed. Reckless.

The next president is going to have a substantial mess to clean up and exponentially so if the cleanup is postponed to 2025.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Donald Trump, National Security, 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. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Further, Trump “continued to believe that he could either charm, jawbone or bully almost any foreign leader into capitulating to his will, and often pursued goals more attuned to his own agenda than what many of his senior advisers considered the national interest.”

    He is exactly who we thought he was.

    Ignorant. Egotistical. Self-absorbed. Reckless.

    And yet, given the chance to remove him from office for just exactly this behavior, Senate Republicans chose not to.

    ReplyReply
    21
  2. grumpy realist says:

    I’ve been getting involved in learning more about the Artemis accords, which are supposed to be the international agreement which will control exploration and development of the Moon. (NASA’s Gateway project et al.) For these to work (and to be agreed to) there will have to be a lot of give and take and “gentlemen’s agreements” getting passed. No matter how much the U.S. can yowl about what it plans to do in its explorations on the Moon, there is nothing that says the rest of the space-faring nations have to go along with it. The only way that this can all come together will be under the construction of more international global agreements–trying to govern this under a collection of bilateral agreements (Trump’s favourite) will just collapse under the weight of its own complexity.

    I suspect that Trump has managed to piss off sufficient leaders abroad that he has already managed to totally bollix any movement in this area–they’re going to wait until he gets kicked out and replaced by someone they can work with more easily.

    ReplyReply
    5
  3. Kingdaddy says:

    On another related foreign policy front, the Russian bounty scandal:

    1. No one in the executive branch is discussing a stern response to Russia. Instead, they’re presenting laughable, childish stories about Trump not being debriefed.

    2. The White House briefed only Republicans on this issue. The Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee are now boycotting their own committee briefings.

    ReplyReply
    21
  4. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    I don’t get this. I never did. Trump would have been replaced by Pence. Wouldn’t the Senate Republicans rather do business with him?

    My only answer is that they were absolutely sh!t-scared of Cult45.

    ReplyReply
    11
  5. CSK says:

    In this photo, Trump reminds me of Ted Baxter pretending to be a hard-charging reporter. Same utterly phony expression of pretend sternness.

    ReplyReply
    10
  6. Jen says:

    @CSK:

    My only answer is that they were absolutely sh!t-scared of Cult45.

    And Cult45’s media enablers: Hannity, Limbaugh, and much of the entirety of Fox News.

    ReplyReply
    6
  7. CSK says:

    @Jen:
    I’d agree heartily, but for my sense that Hannity et al are speaking only to Cult45. Yes, it’s a big group, but it’s the same group, if you see what I mean.

    ReplyReply
    2
  8. Jen says:

    @CSK: Right–I should have elaborated.

    On their own, without Trump, much of Cult45 will retreat back into themselves, I think. It’s a symbiotic relationship: they empower Trump, Trump validates them. Where the Cult45 media group comes in is reinforcing that messaging *and* making the connection to others, thus sustaining the group when Trump is gone.

    If Cult45 fades with the disappearance of Trump, things go back to status quo. If they can be sustained (and there is no guarantee of this, as evidenced by the relative dissipation of the Tea Party types) they represent more of a long-term threat to the Republican Party than leadership probably wants to acknowledge. The key to sustaining this level of rage/upset is squarely with conservative media.

    ReplyReply
    3
  9. Constance Kelly says:

    @Jen:
    But don’t you think the conservative media takes its cues from its audience? Aren’t they followers rather than leaders?

    I ask this because of something a colleague once said to me years ago. He was a conservative: thoughtful, well-read, and well-educated. I asked him if he listened to Rush Limbaugh. He said no, because guys like Limbaugh weren’t thinkers; they were entertainers who told the audience what it wanted to hear.

    Maybe this is one of those chicken and egg things.

    ReplyReply
    5
  10. Michael Reynolds says:

    It’s fun watching policy wonks slowly, slowly, sloooooowly, figuring out that in the Trump administration there’s no such thing as policy. No policy. None. It’s like wondering what Homer Simpson’s foreign policy is. Not only is there none, there is no version of our current reality in which there could conceivably be a policy.

    Trump’s an illiterate child with ADHD, a psychopath incapable of empathy, and we’re still chin-stroking and thinking, ‘Hmm, I wonder what Homer’s policy on Kashmir is?’

    Trump has impulses which he translates into angry grunts which idiots who work for him then try to pass off as policy, despite knowing that Trump’s next grunt is likely to undo whatever they just said.

    ReplyReply
    11
  11. Jen says:

    @Constance Kelly: Media goes where the eyeballs are. This applies to all–newspapers, cable news, etc. That’s how they make money. It’s not just in Fox News’ interest to hang on to Trump supporters, it’s a matter of their long-term survival. Conservative media will have to find a way to continue to engage Trump supporters, somehow.

    ReplyReply
    2
  12. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Constance Kelly:
    It’s not either/or. A writer I know very well targets her audience with the precision of a laser-guided missile. Then, she writes what she wants to write that will work within that space.

    I don’t target my audience at all, I write what I want and then the audience finds it. (Or not).

    Either way the end product is what we want to write, with either an eye on a specific audience, or a vague hope of an audience developing.

    ReplyReply
    1
  13. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    (I could make a list of links to stories about problematic phone calls, but do not have the time to do so).

    That’s okay! That big of a chunk of solid red type would probably be hard on the eyes of many of your older readers (and difficult to sort through) anyway. 😉
    (I know it would be on mine, for instance.)

    ReplyReply
  14. de stijl says:

    That CNN account was so brutal
    .

    ReplyReply
    1
  15. grumpy realist says:

    @Jen: That’s the major problem now with far too many newspapers. It’s all bums-on-seats, a.k.a. news as entertainment. It used to be we’d have slanted reporting, but at least there was some sort of link between what is being reported and reality. Now it’s all “the customer is always right”, which means the manufacturing of stories known to cater to the prejudices of the reader, because gawdforbid if we told them anything that offended their little egos.

    The problems is–the world doesn’t work via solipsism. It works by reality. Historically, governments have discovered this the hard way when the five-year tractor production reporting turns out to have been total bollocks and your people riot because there’s not enough food to feed them. It looks like the U.S., with its enshrined worship of TehFreeMarket (TM) will also have to learn that TheCustomerIsAlwaysRight may work for sandwiches, but is horrible for the dissemination of news.

    ReplyReply
    3
  16. Teve says:

    @grumpy realist: The Internet took 90% of newspaper revenue away. All the money that Facebook and Google have is money that would’ve gone to the newspapers. Craigslist destroyed the classifieds. In my early days as a math tutor 20 years ago I would pay the Raleigh News And Observer $150 for a three line classified ad that would run four times. By 2 years ago I had a $5 Craigslist ad that was way bigger and more detailed. Silicon Valley didn’t create value so much as they caused the redirection of money streams from thousands of other businesses to themselves. I don’t want to go back to the old days, but this is why we need a serious social safety net in this country.

    ReplyReply
    8
  17. gVOR08 says:

    Laura Miller at Slate claims to have read nearly every tell-all memoir from the Trump administration, now including Bolton’s. I greatly appreciate it as I don’t intend to give any money to any of the authors. They all seem to tell pretty much the same story.

    But taken all together, these staffer memoirs offer a sense of something that no outsider can ever completely understand: what it’s like to live in Trump World. That’s what its denizens call the alternate reality surrounding our petty, distractible, praise-hungry president. Under its spell, people strive to gain and hold onto their perches in what has to be one of the worst workplaces in the history of the ruling classes, short of Caligula’s Rome. The Room Where It Happened contains its share of outraging scoops, thoroughly covered elsewhere, and is as replete with pontification, chickenhawk saber rattling, and numbing notebook dumps as its initial reviewers have attested. But it also provides the public with yet another facet of the mad tea party that is Trump World.

    The piece is worth a read for insight as to why we have an “irresponsible” foreign policy, if we have a policy at all. Foreign, domestic, economic, COVID, and whatever else policy are no different. Things aren’t always what they seem, but usually they are. And he’s what we thought he was, but way worse.

    In the administration we’ve mostly had grifters who thought they could latch onto Trump for their own purposes. And careerists who thought the same. And a few dedicated public servants who felt a duty to do the best they could in trying circumstances. They’ve all failed, except Miller, Conway, and I suppose many I’ve never heard of. But none of them wanted to be the one to blow their career by standing up and raising a red flag.

    GOP senators interact constantly with Trump and with his staff. They have to know what he is. Pelosi offered them on a silver platter a chance to replace Trump with Pence. They didn’t take it, I expect because Trump seemed the master of turning out the base. I mean, would you want to run for office on Mike Dense’s coattails? Now Trump’s blowing up in their faces. What goes around, comes around.

    ReplyReply
    6
  18. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Americans may no longer travel to the EU. Think about that.
    Our most important allies are laughing at us.
    That is our foreign policy.

    ReplyReply
    6
  19. de stijl says:

    @gVOR08:

    Read that too. Enlightening.

    ReplyReply
  20. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Trump is getting hammered.
    COVID.
    Bounties.
    This CNN report.
    What fuq’d up thing is he going to do to try and distract?

    ReplyReply
    3
  21. CSK says:

    @gVOR08:
    That was excellent. Laura Miller also has quite a good piece on the new book about Melania, The Art of Her Deal, in Slate. It points out that Melania wasn’t able to attract a better class of billionaire than Trump for the same reason she never became a supermodel: her total lack of affect and animation and her inability to fake either.

    ReplyReply
    6
  22. de stijl says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    They really can’t go full on Sleepy Joe or Dementia Joe because Trump exhibits the same symptoms.

    I imagine they are going to run against BLM and on Law and Order and just brazenly pretend it’s 1971.

    What else do they have? Judges?

    ReplyReply
  23. Kurtz says:

    @Jen:

    If Cult45 fades with the disappearance of Trump, things go back to status quo. If they can be sustained (and there is no guarantee of this, as evidenced by the relative dissipation of the Tea Party types) they represent more of a long-term threat to the Republican Party than leadership probably wants to acknowledge. The key to sustaining this level of rage/upset is squarely with conservative media.

    I think I agree with the major thrust of your argument. But I don’t think we can easily make the distinction between tea party types and hard-core Trump supporters. I suspect there is a ton of overlap there.

    ReplyReply
    4
  24. CSK says:

    @de stijl:
    Trump is toying with “Corrupt Joe.” As someone pointed out, finding a new nickname for Biden seems to be Trump’s idea of retooling and reinvigorating his campaign. That and giving Jared a larger role in it.

    ReplyReply
    5
  25. de stijl says:

    @Jen:

    In 2021 Trump will be as popular as GW Bush.

    Everyone will front as if they hated him from the get go. Let’s be clear Dude is at 88% approval of Rs today.

    They will scurry away. Mark them as they do.

    I grant Trump a pass on saying the Iraq War was foolish. What is astonishing is that 90+%
    of people that voted for Trump were the exact same folks who were 90+% in favor of the Iraq War in 2003.

    What principle accounts for that?

    ReplyReply
    3
  26. de stijl says:

    A smart cookie would chase Uncle Joe for the Stalin reference.

    ReplyReply
    1
  27. DrDaveT says:

    @de stijl:

    Let’s be clear Dude is at 88% approval of Rs today.

    When a Republican tells me they aren’t pro-Trump, I tell them I 12% believe them.

    ReplyReply
    5
  28. CSK says:

    @DrDaveT:
    Well, the Lincoln Project appears to be made up of Republicans who really loathe Trump, and I believe they do.

    ReplyReply
    5
  29. Jen says:

    @Kurtz: There is definitely some overlap, and perhaps quite a bit.

    I’m specifically thinking of the previously not-engaged/disaffected voters, who felt as though Trump’s brand of populism spoke directly to them.

    ReplyReply
  30. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: I’m waiting for Boring Biden. What the idiot won’t get is that 75% of the American electorate will think that is a good thing.

    @de stijl:

    What principle accounts for that?

    Hatred of black and brown people.

    ReplyReply
    4
  31. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    Trump seems to like to couple his stupid nicknames with people’s first names rather than surnames, I suppose as a means of diminishing them. (Remember Liddle Marco, Lyin’ Ted, Low Energy Jeb, Crooked Hillary?) So “Boring Biden” wouldn’t work for him. Beside, it’s almost…too adult. The hallmark of Trump’s nicknames is that they’re very childish.

    ReplyReply
    4
  32. CSK says:

    Please release me from moderation.

    ReplyReply
  33. Jay L Gischer says:

    Well, I think the internet had a lot to do with the demise of journalism and the shift toward “news as entertainment”. But that was a trend even in the 80’s. I remember stories about how CBS News had been told by management that it was now responsible for profit-and-loss, which probably meant they would have to do less, and get better ratings.

    Of course, the competition from cable, and in particular, CNN had something to do with this, too. And while the internet killed them, and Facebook, Google, and Craig’s List had something to do with that, for sure, I’m going to look at a few details, and then tell you why I think those details matter.

    First, the revenue stream of all newspapers in, say 1995, was only a tiny fraction of Google/Facebook’s income. Very small. Craig’s List had far more to do with killing newspapers than either of them did, because newspapers ran on classified ad revenue to a degree that made newspapermen uncomfortable. (Read Doug Edwards’ book – he switched from working marketing for the SJ Mercury-News to working for Google when G was at about 100 employees).

    This was a good thing in that Craig’s List works better for both buyers and sellers than classified ads. It’s faster, and more responsive, along with being a lot cheaper. You get to ditch the whole process printing and distributing, though the spinup costs are quite a bit bigger.

    But it’s bad for the thing being subsidized by that classified ad revenue, which was local/regional newspapers. They tried to switch to internet ad revenue, but the competition for eyeballs is really, really big, and the ad payout just keeps getting smaller and smaller.

    The second trend is that, for instance, many major city newspapers would have a reporter or 3 in Washington, DC. So, given that the internet exists and reaches everyone, does this make sense any more? You might have 300 people reporting on Presidential press conferences, when maybe only 30 would do fine in representing different viewpoints and regions.

    Of course, these days, there aren’t any Presidential press conferences, because the WH mostly goes direct to media (Twitter!) so as not to get its message diluted or deflected by those annoying off-topic questions. I don’t say that’s a good thing, just that the resource allocation of 25 years ago makes no sense in today’s world.

    And this is true in lots of walks of life. News gathering is still important, but we’re dropping lots of redundancy and replacing it with entertainment and opinion. For instance, when it was dropped that Bob Woodward nearly burned Kavanaugh for lying to him as a source, I had to click through about 5 links to get to the original reporting of it, which came from one guy. Lots of people wanted to write “news” stories about it though. We still have a lot of redundancy that probably doesn’t do much good.

    I think there is a value to good hard-news reporting, but it’s getting drowned out by the clickbait.

    So, none of this is at Google’s door. Declining ad revenue is an issue, and I’m happy if somehow we break up Googles ad monopoly. But the search engine is still every bit as wonderful as it was when I tried it in 1999. Every search adds immense value to my life, and Google takes on a very small portion of the “surplus” as economists call it.

    I’m not a fan of Facebook, however. Go to town on them. I think the whole business model stinks. They seek to commoditize and monetize our most intimate friendships. I think that’s horrifying. But this doesn’t have much to do with what’s wrong with newspapers, I don’t think.

    Which is why this is important. There’s still people trying to do good, solid journalism. Find them. Use Google to find them. Share them on Facebook if you like, or go direct. I don’t care.

    A stance of “everything is terrible” is just as bad, information-wise, as a stance of “everything is great”. That has what I’d call very poor resolution, it only has one bit of information. More are possible. We need to make these finer distinctions, we need to act on them. We need to support and push forward things that work, and let the stuff that’s harmful wither and die.

    I’m ok with there being conservative news outlets, as long as they think their job is to inform people, not make them feel good. Same goes for liberal, or moderate. News rarely makes you feel good, but it’s valuable.

    ReplyReply
    2
  34. grumpy realist says:

    @Jay L Gischer: This is why I’ve been looking for good intellectual bloggers who are obsessed about topic X and who analyse the hell out of it. Hence my love for EUReferendum. I don’t agree with Dr. North on a lot of what he says, but I certainly can trust his analyses.

    ReplyReply
    1
  35. Teve says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    News rarely makes you feel good, but it’s valuable.

    A communications professor 15 years ago told me that she quit reading all news and watching all new shows because it abused her emotions and made her life worse. And she said that since she quit consuming any news her life had gotten markedly better. It got me wondering how much news is actually valuable and how much of it is Train Crash in Patagonia Kills Eight, emotional garbage of relevance to .0000001% of the population.

    I’ve thought a lot about that comment because I consume Way way way too much news and I have had problems with anxiety, teeth grinding, and booze.

    Some news is important. But what percentage is important and what percentage is useless garbage. The last news show I quit was the Rachel Maddow show, because while I liked it, she had about five minutes of interesting information that she stretches out to an hour every night.

    ReplyReply
    3
  36. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    Good points, but don’t forget the loss of local ownership of local news outlets, including newspapers, TV and radio stations. As conglomerates and private equity swept up hundreds of news outlets they replaced local reporting, production and editorial content with syndicated “news” stories. What was left after they strip mined the newsroom was nothing that could be found on any internet new aggregation site, so why bother with the local news outlet, that’s not really local.

    ReplyReply
    2
  37. Teve says:

    @Sleeping Dog: i’m 43. When I worked at a local radio station in high school, there would be 10 to 15 cars in the parking lot at any given time. I’m really glad I decided not to stay in radio, because you drive past that place now, and it’s still operating, but there are no cars in the parking lot. Some mega company bought up all the nearby radio stations, and feed the content from somewhere else, and the content has been stripped of any local information. It’s just fake deejays and callers reading scripts that carefully leave out any place names, to justify the advertising.

    ReplyReply
    2
  38. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Teve: Well, I endorse your Comm prof’s stance. I pretty much never watch televised news. For the reason she cites and another. Spoken words are about three times as slow as I can read them. So it always feels like I’m wasting a lot of time as they talk at me. For some things, video clips are really important and valuable, but you can find those clips on the internet.

    ReplyReply
  39. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Steven L. Taylor

    The next president is going to have a substantial mess to clean up and exponentially so if the cleanup is postponed to 2025.

    Isn’t this what Democrats have been doing for over two decades?

    Republicans, that have no intent of actually governing, get elected due to 1) short memories, and 2) confusing what they SAY they are for with with what they are ACTUALLY for.

    Republicans spend wildly on ways that will benefit they pals (corporations, coal, oil) with no intent of addressing their wanton ways.

    Democrats, that actually care about governing, come in and have to clean up the mess. Since being responsible costs money, Republicans pitch a bitch about fiscal responsibility

    It’s become so repetitive that it’s become a programatic:

    10 Elect republican
    20 Republicans spend on military, coal, pork, etc
    30 IF War THEN 40 ELSE 50
    40 Reelect Republican
    50 Elect Democrat
    60 Rebuild country
    70 IF Charismatic THEN 80 Else 90
    80 Reelect Democrat
    85 Pass programs that strengthen middle class and care for poor
    90 Republicans pitch a babyfit
    100 Elect wildly unqualified Republican

    I think I may have a Master’s Thesis here.

    ReplyReply
    6
  40. Liberal Capitalist says:

    whoops… I missed

    110 IF Nuclear War, go to 120 ELSE GoTo 20
    120 End

    ReplyReply
    1
  41. DrDaveT says:

    @CSK:

    Well, the Lincoln Project appears to be made up of Republicans who really loathe Trump, and I believe they do.

    Certainly. But I can probably count them on my fingers and toes.

    ReplyReply
  42. DrDaveT says:

    @Teve:

    A communications professor 15 years ago told me that she quit reading all news and watching all new shows because it abused her emotions and made her life worse.

    ObClassicSF: Theodore Sturgeon, “And Now the News…

    ReplyReply
  43. @CSK:

    I don’t get this. I never did. Trump would have been replaced by Pence. Wouldn’t the Senate Republicans rather do business with him?

    My only answer is that they were absolutely sh!t-scared of Cult45.

    Working with Pence is one thing. Getting him elected is another (especially if the president he worked for was impeached and removed).

    ReplyReply
    4
  44. @Michael Reynolds:

    It’s fun watching policy wonks slowly, slowly, sloooooowly, figuring out that in the Trump administration there’s no such thing as policy.

    Who is it that you think is slowly figuring this out?

    (Save in the sense that his “policy” is self-serving nonsense–which is, sadly, a kind of policy choice.
    Kissing up to tyrants and pissing off allies is a policy choice, albeit a really terrible one).

    ReplyReply
    3
  45. CSK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    That may yet happen if Trump bails this summer.

    ReplyReply
    1
  46. @CSK: I’m just not seeing it, TBH.

    ReplyReply
    1
  47. CSK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    If Biden builds an insurmountable lead, it may. Losing to Sleepy Joe? Unthinkable. Trump’s ego could never take that kind of blow.

    ReplyReply
    3
  48. An Interested Party says:

    Who is it that you think is slowly figuring this out?

    Not so much policy wonks, but some Republican/conservative partisans…I’ve noticed that at places like NRO, there are a few people who are starting to voice something different than the party line…

    ReplyReply
    2
  49. de stijl says:

    @CSK:

    I would take boring in an instant and call it a win.

    With Warren or Harris in the wings good things will happen and bad things won’t.

    Four years of not having to panic read Memorandum every morning to make sure some idiot didn’t fuck up the world in the last eight hours would be a godsent boon.

    ReplyReply
    1
  50. de stijl says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    I see what you did there.

    ReplyReply
    1
  51. CSK says:

    @de stijl:
    I think you missed the point, which was whether Trump would nickname Biden “boring,” not if Biden was boring.

    ReplyReply
    1
  52. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @de stijl:

    Yeah, call me basic.

    ReplyReply
    1
  53. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    The usual array of WaPo, NYT, WSJ pundits I read, plus the ones I catch on the TeeVee. Until very recently they’ve tried to parse Trump’s policies like bishops reading a papal bull. Very few have reached the obvious conclusion, that just he’s a malignant idiot and nothing he says or does has anything to do with policy.

    ReplyReply
    4
  54. de stijl says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    You’re Basic.

    ReplyReply
  55. de stijl says:

    @CSK:

    Biden is pretty boring and I am totally okay with that.

    ReplyReply
    2
  56. @Michael Reynolds: Gotcha.

    ReplyReply
  57. Tony W says:

    As with most things Trump, it’s wisest to ignore everything he says and pay attention only to his actions.

    He *says* Coronavirus is a hoax, but he makes White House staffers wear masks and everyon in his orbit gets tested daily.

    He *says* he’s tough on Russia, but we all know the truth.

    I could go on.

    ReplyReply
    1
  58. JohnSF says:

    @grumpy realist:
    I wouldn’t be so confident about the Norths’ analyses if I were you.
    As I think I’ve said before, they are generally on top of the details, but tend to wishful thinking in policy.

    Their arguments for EFTA/EEA arrangements were logical; but they generally discounted the importance of customs alignment, which would have been a massive practical flaw.

    They also campaigned for “Flexcit Brexit” with a wilful disregard of the political dynamics among Brexiteer factions.
    That is whatever was said before a referndum, if victorious Farage and UKIP, and more importanly the ERG, would never tolerate EFTA/EEA.

    It is the same sort of wilful overconfidence and political naiveté the also marked the “left leavers” and “liberal leavers”.

    See the former-Leaver and former North colleague Roland Smith on twitter for a more scornful summary.

    ReplyReply
    1
  59. CSK says:

    Help me here. Rick Wilson retweeted a tweet by Noah Schachtman of a Trump ad (Stand with President Trump Against Antifa!) that both of them find hilarious. What’s the funny part? Trump looks like a stupid lug, but so what else is new?

    If I try to link this, I’ll be moderated. Sorry.

    ReplyReply
  60. grumpy realist says:

    @JohnSF: Oh, I never read the Norths for policy. I agree with you as to the idealist thinking surrounding a lot of their “here’s how we can do a Brexit.” But Dr. North is one of the few Brexiters who has really looked at the details of how to unscramble the omelette and identified the points which need(ed) to be addressed before the U.K. flounces out completely. He’s been saying: look, if we leave with a no-deal, this is what is going to happen, and wishful thinking and “muddling through” isn’t going to solve matters.

    He’s turned into Cassandra, because it’s pretty obvious that no one in HMG is listening to him, unfortunately. Which means that reality is going to smack into the British Government like an asteroid hitting Earth. And with about the same result….

    ReplyReply
  61. JohnSF says:

    @grumpy realist:
    I periodically recall the Iain M. Banks quote about a problem “encountered rather in the same way a sentence encounters a full stop.”

    OTOH, in my merrier moments I can persuade myself than in the face of terrifying reality Johnson will just cave, humiliate the nation, declare victory and get away with it, the s**t.

    ReplyReply
  62. DrDaveT says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Who is it that you think is slowly figuring this out?

    Steven, I recall fairly vividly that you jumped on me with both feet for asserting that Trump has no policies. As I recall, you asserted that whatever the President and his administration do is policy, by definition, and that I apparently didn’t know what the word “policy” meant.

    Apology accepted.

    ReplyReply
  63. @DrDaveT: Actually, I was wondering if that was what MR was referring to. This is part of the reason I asked as to what he was referring to, and why I added the caveat “Save in the sense that his “policy” is self-serving nonsense–which is, sadly, a kind of policy choice. Kissing up to tyrants and pissing off allies is a policy choice, albeit a really terrible one” (emphasis added).

    I stand by the notion that whatever Trump does as president are policy choices. They are just incoherent and ignorant.

    My view on this has not changed. There are clear consequences for Trump’s behavior that the next president will have to undo.

    ReplyReply
  64. I actually thought that that prior debate was about to re-erupt, and perhaps it is about to again 🙂

    ReplyReply
  65. To forestall a little bit perhaps: he makes policy by everything he does. It is unavoidable (our f’d up response to the Russia bounty business is a policy choice, and a pretty damn horrible one). But that doesn’t mean he has a coherent philosophy or strategy guiding his actions (which is, IIRC, what I think you mean by “policy”).

    I took MR to mean, and he can correct me, the notion that talking heads have often wanted to treat Trump as normal (or about to finally “grow into the presidency” or somesuch nonsense).

    ReplyReply

Speak Your Mind

*