The Truth About Trump

In his most recent Washington Post column George Will echoes something I’ve been saying about Donald Trump since before he was elected:

How can the president square his convictions with Bolton’s? Let’s say this one more time: Trump. Has. No. Convictions.

Even this scatterbrain’s Swiss cheese-style tariffs are too sloppy to reflect forethought. He has sentiments, and visceral reactions to which he is attentive. But to speak of, say, a sincere sofa is to commit what philosophers call a “category mistake” — sofas are incapable of sincerity — and to speak of this president’s convictions (or plans, or policies) about this or that is a category mistake.

Something that Mr. Will doesn’t seem to understand or appreciate is that Trump is completely transactional in his approach to things. There is no long term plan. In any given situation or negotiation he just selects the path that he considers the “better deal”. What is the decision function that determines which is the better deal? Beats me. But that’s clearly what he’s doing.

I agree with Mr. Will about the danger that John Bolton poses. That he’s “intelligent, educated, principled, articulate and experienced” is dangerous because virtually his every principle is wrong and his experience has driven him to conclusions that are almost entirely false.

2 comments… add one
  • Gray Shambler Link

    I’m disappointed he signed that budget bill. Said he had to because the military was cash strapped, but He’d never sign one again, (laugh).
    Also, He called for ending the Senate filibuster rule and giving Him a line item veto. (laugh again).
    This Federal debt thing is going to go badly. That’s why I’m in favor of tariffs , we need the money.

    As to Bolton, yeah. Trouble. But war is good for the economy, as long as you win.

  • Andy Link

    Or, said another way, Trump is the opposite of a technocrat and that is something inhabitants of the Washington bubble still don’t understand.

    On tariffs, if nothing else, Trump is getting people to look at talk about Chinese behavior. I listened to NPR’s 1A yesterday, and the usual group of insiders and experts were all opposed to Trump’s plans, but they acknowledged that China’s behavior needed to be addressed. They said Trump should instead be building a diplomatic coalition to put more pressure on China. Unasked is why no previous President had talked about this issue, much less sought to build such a coalition. If this was indeed a recognized problem by these insiders, then why has nothing been tried up to this point?

    I agree that Trump’s proposals, as they currently stand, appear ill-considered. But we know from experience that what Trump initially says is just the opening move in his transactional approach.

    Secondly, people are actually talking about China now. How many people, before the last couple of days, had any idea that the Chinese government requires US firms to turn over their intellectual property? Nevermind the more egregious incidents of Chinese authorities raiding US firms in China on trumped-up charges and removing all the computers so the contents could be copied.

    No doubt this potential trade war will be painful to US consumers and it could hurt the US economy in the short run. But IMO, it’s unavoidable, we can’t tolerate the status quo.

Leave a Comment