Somebody Is Missing Something Here

 

Jonah Goldberg has written (some time ago) that one weakness of classical liberalism (aka, modern conservatism) is that it lacks an ‘other’ to hate. Most other systems of human interaction have an ‘other’ – we are naturally tribal, and respond powerfully to outside threats to our tribe. The idea that we should all help one another, even those we don’t like, is not natural. This is one reason that Jesus Christ was such a radical. He attempted to build a movement based on love. And hate is more powerful than love. That’s just human nature. I don’t see how you could look at human history and disagree with that statement. And I think it would be difficult to disagree with Mr. Goldberg’s point here.

Republicans have tended to seek leaders who are nice people. The leftist tendency to villainize whoever they disagree with is clearly apparent when their opponent is someone as benign as Calvin Coolidge, Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, Mitt Romney, George Bush, or some other vanilla, inoffensive ‘nice guy.’ Some think that President Trump has brought out the nasty side of leftists – that he inspires a special sort of hatred, due to his unpleasant personality or whatever. I really don’t think so. I think the left’s hatred is simply more obvious, now that they finally have a target that reasonable people might dislike. Now, leftists don’t go after conservatives, they go after “Trump supporters.” And the ‘nice guy’ conservatives try to distance themselves from such an obvious target of disdain as the crude, impolite, and ‘not one of us’ Donald Trump. I throw no stones – this describes my relationship with Mr. Trump as well, although I hate to admit it.

So our natural need for an ‘other’ to hate has made Trump into a convenient straw man for both the left and the right. The Elizabeth Warrens and New York Times’ of the world now have an unlikable target on the conservative side that is easier to villainize than Ronald Reagan or Mitt Romney. The never-Trumpers on the right, like Jonah Goldberg and some of my esteemed Ricochet colleagues, now have someone to blame for the Republican Party not being quite what they wish that it was.

So Mr. Trump became the ‘other’ for, well, for nearly everyone. Saul Alinsky would understand. So would Dostoyevsky, Solzhenitsyn, Machiavelli, Churchill, and many other thinkers much more profound than I. We all seek an ‘other’ to hate. Jesus Christ would disapprove of this, although I suspect he would understand. As would Pontius Pilate.

I remember the first time I heard Barack Obama speak off a teleprompter.I thought, “My God, the guy’s dumb as a box of rocks.”

When I hear Mr. Trump speak (or, heaven forfend, Tweet), the same thought crosses my mind. But it seems to work, so I wonder if Mr. Trump might be smarter than he sounds. My daughter attends one of the top five universities in the world – an extremely elite place, where they hate Mr. Trump. But they study his Tweets in marketing class – they think they’re brilliant. They don’t seem to be, at least to me, but perhaps I’m mistaken. And it’s hard to argue their effectiveness. Lord help us.

My point is that I wonder how much of all this is intentional on the part of Mr. Trump, and how much is simply the position he finds himself in.

Perhaps he has read Alinsky, and Machiavelli, and Solzhenitsyn, and he understands that inspiring change requires an ‘other,’ so he volunteers for the job, just to get things done.

Perhaps he’s an instinctive genius, and he has an intuitive understanding of human nature, and he doesn’t need to read the great thinkers to figure this out.

Or maybe, he’s just the right guy at the right time. We demanded an ‘other,’ and he happened to show up. So we chose him. And he excels because he’s playing a role he was born to play.

Maybe there’s another option that I haven’t considered. Unlike some others, I don’t pretend to understand what’s going on here. I can’t even figure out if I like what’s going on here, much less what’s causing it.

But I’m starting to suspect that I’m missing something. Me, and a lot of other people.

I’m starting to suspect that the leftists, and the never-Trump Republicans, are being controlled and used by Mr. Trump. Maybe he really is that smart. Or at least, that instinctive. Whenever he makes a mess, seemingly via arrogance or sloppy thinking, Mr. Trump always seems to end up getting what he wanted to begin with. This is becoming so routine that I’ve stopped presuming that his apparent mistakes were actually errors.

I’m starting to suspect that the fool in this story is not Mr. Trump – it’s me.

I may be wrong. I really don’t understand. But I think Mr. Trump understands that conflict gets more done than cooperation. Hate is more powerful than love. I would prefer to get things done with love. And perhaps Mr. Trump would as well, but he just doesn’t care. Or perhaps, he doesn’t care enough to try to fight human nature. Whatever works.

Or perhaps, my confusion is leading me to give too much credit to Mr. Trump, who continues to do a remarkable job when I didn’t think he would. I don’t like him, so I presumed he would fail. So when he succeeds and ends up being a great conservative president, I look for some extraordinary plot when, in fact, perhaps my own biases are blinding me to a very simple solution.

I can’t even tell you what that simple solution might be, because I can’t see it.

My first impression of Mr. Obama – dumb as a box of rocks – turned out, over time, to be true. But my first impression of Mr. Trump – uncouth simpleton – seems to be turning out, over time, to be wrong. I think.

Rule #1 in science and math: if it seems that you’re wrong, perhaps you’re wrong. Perhaps you should consider other possibilities. Perhaps you’re not as smart as you thought you were.

Nah. It’s easier to just blame Trump. For everything. Hate is stronger than love. So I’ll just take the easy way out and pretend to be virtuous by hating him.

He doesn’t seem to mind. And maybe I’ll end up helping him, and therefore me, despite myself. And maybe that will end up being good. Because, ummm … well, you see….

Ah, I really don’t understand.

But maybe that’s ok.

There’s a lot of things I don’t understand.

Like reality TV. Another thing Mr. Trump is really good at. And urban commercial real estate. Another thing Mr. Trump is really good at. And brand promotion. Another thing Mr. Trump is really good at.

Nevermind. I’ve got to go practice medicine. That’s something I’m really good at.

I’ll stick to that.

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There are 60 comments.

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  1. Percival Thatcher

    I don’t think Obama is dumb. I think he is intellectually lazy. He’s probably capable of applying himself, but why would he start now? He’s been grifting people of good will all his life and life has been good.

    About the only time I think that he dropped the grift was when he was asked if he was helping his girls with their homework, and he confessed that he didn’t help them with their math because past thirteen or so he had started to fall behind himself. That is right about the time that he would have been hitting algebra, and unlike the arithmetic that he would have encountered previously, one has to know a little to do algebra. It went from coasting to actually working, and he didn’t want to. So he didn’t.

    • #1
    • September 16, 2019, at 6:01 AM PDT
    • 24 likes
  2. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat Post author

    Percival (View Comment):
    I don’t think Obama is dumb. I think he is intellectually lazy.

    He is certainly intellectually lazy. But he could be both.

    I just base this on hearing him do interviews, or other places where he has to think on his feet. He really seems to struggle.

    But I could be wrong. Maybe he just doesn’t speak well.

    • #2
    • September 16, 2019, at 6:10 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  3. PHCheese Member

    I think you are right about the left hating. I think the hate stems from envy which I think is an even more powerful emotional of the left than hate. Trump flaunts his success and it drives the left crazy and some shallow members on the right as well.

    • #3
    • September 16, 2019, at 6:39 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  4. Percival Thatcher

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):
    I don’t think Obama is dumb. I think he is intellectually lazy.

    He is certainly intellectually lazy. But he could be both.

    I just base this on hearing him do interviews, or other places where he has to think on his feet. He really seems to struggle.

    But I could be wrong. Maybe he just doesn’t speak well.

    Whenever Obama is off-script, he filibusters. He could take ten minutes answering a yes/no question.

    • #4
    • September 16, 2019, at 6:40 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
  5. EODmom Coolidge

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):
    I don’t think Obama is dumb. I think he is intellectually lazy.

    He is certainly intellectually lazy. But he could be both.

    I just base this on hearing him do interviews, or other places where he has to think on his feet. He really seems to struggle.

    But I could be wrong. Maybe he just doesn’t speak well.

    I think Obama is of average intelligence. Just. And lazy. And has zero curiosity. I’ve worked with many intellectually gifted, and educated people. And just educated people who have worked hard. Obama is neither and it shows whenever he speaks. Off or on TelePrompter. Scripted or not. Smart people just don’t speak that way – the really smart people have ideas that they work on and can articulate. Reading his speeches is torture. He married someone also of average intelligence who hated having to work harder than her classmates. He didn’t bother.

    Trump has always seemed to me in style and presentation to be much like all the native New Yorkers I knew (growing up in NJ) who did not go to the name schools. Pushier and more overtly brash than some but a NYer through and through. The real estate biz in NY – or anything dealing with trades – is a brutal business. So he has drive and motivation and has learned how to use what’s available to meet goals, and drive can make up for raw intelligence. And he’s known most of his life that people don’t like him. I think he’d like them to, but they don’t. 

    NB: I think that the Dems would have played the same playbook, with different specifics against any Republican candidate who ran and the rage would have been the same if the candidate was elected. The specific charges would have been the different but the same media, academic, judicial and bureaucratic efforts would have been run. I think Obama’s tenure led the left to believe they were in for good.

    • #5
    • September 16, 2019, at 6:43 AM PDT
    • 15 likes
  6. James Gawron Thatcher

    Dr. B,

    Whatever Trump is (I have been the last guy to try to define him) he’s a political phenomenon that seems to be effective in advancing American interests worldwide, the American economy, and the American social atmosphere. Yes, this is only relative in comparison to what all three would be under any of the Democrats. However, we have no magical political objective standard to compare this to where some all-knowing super pedant will put gold stars on our forehead for our good behavior. Thus we are faced head-on with continuously increasing damage levels of society by a continuously increasing level of derangement from the left.

    If you are in the deepwater struggling gasping for air and then a big ugly piece of driftwood floats by, you are advised to grab hold and climb on. You might wait for something more aesthetically pleasing but you might also drown to death while you are waiting.

    Regards,

    Jim

     

    • #6
    • September 16, 2019, at 6:56 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
  7. Jon1979 Lincoln

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):
    I don’t think Obama is dumb. I think he is intellectually lazy.

    He is certainly intellectually lazy. But he could be both.

    I just base this on hearing him do interviews, or other places where he has to think on his feet. He really seems to struggle.

    But I could be wrong. Maybe he just doesn’t speak well.

    I think Obama’s more of the Golden Child, who since his mid-20s had things done for him, because he had been identified by other activists as someone who potentially could do something for them by presenting the progressive agenda in a nice, non-threatening package (not that all those people were seeing him and immediately thinking POTUS, but that from the Harvard Law Review to the Illinois state Senate, the idea was — to borrow from Joe Biden — that Obama’s well-spoken and calm demeanor could open the door to more swing voters supporting the progressive causes he supported, in the way they wouldn’t if Obama had Bernie Sanders’ personality).

    Once you’ve had people being willing to do things for you, and even give you credit for doing them, it’s probably easy to get intellectually lazy, because you come to believe that’s the way it’s supposed to be done. It’s also why Obama was so horrible at face-to-face negotiations with people who had something close to an equal power base, because he hated that part of retail politics, and thought his job was simply to tell everyone what he wanted, and for them to go off like good little worker bees and do it, and then come back and give him credit. Whether it was John Boehner and the budget talks or Assad and his poison gas use in Syria, when Obama got pushed in face-to-face dealings, he’d fold, which is why he spent his second term as Mr. Executive Order, so he didn’t have to worry about face-to-face talks, at least on the domestic policy front.

    • #7
    • September 16, 2019, at 7:38 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  8. Jon1979 Lincoln

    EODmom (View Comment):

    Trump has always seemed to me in style and presentation to be much like all the native New Yorkers I knew (growing up in NJ) who did not go to the name schools. Pushier and more overtly brash than some but a NYer through and through. The real estate biz in NY – or anything dealing with trades – is a brutal business. So he has drive and motivation and has learned how to use what’s available to meet goals, and drive can make up for raw intelligence. And he’s known most of his life that people don’t like him. I think he’d like them to, but they don’t.

    The key to Trump apparently was the elites’ decision in the 1970s that he and his dad, Fred, would never be insiders in the Manhattan real estate market, and were essentially told just to go back across the East River and keep building your apartments for lower-middle income people. Getting the deal with Hyatt and the Penn Central receivership in 1977 to redo the Commodore Hotel at Grand Central into the Grand Hyatt was Trump’s foot in n the door into Manhattan’s real estate market, and he used Jackie Kennedy’s efforts of the time to keep the station from falling to the wrecking ball as Pennsylvania Station had as a way to initially get very favorable publicity from the NYC media.

    It was his becoming Rupert Murdoch’s Page 1 voice to ridicule the city’s politicians for their corruption and incompetence that started turning the rest of the media against him, but he was too good at selling papers and getting people to watch the local news for them not to keep on covering him. And Trump loved the idea that he was showing the elites that the working class bridge-and-tunnel crowd loved him more than he loved them. Widen that out to Flyover Country (including some outer parts of NYC), and you have the current situation between Trump and the national elites.

     

    • #8
    • September 16, 2019, at 7:47 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  9. Henry Castaigne Member

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):
    I don’t think Obama is dumb. I think he is intellectually lazy.

    He is certainly intellectually lazy. But he could be both.

    I just base this on hearing him do interviews, or other places where he has to think on his feet. He really seems to struggle.

    But I could be wrong. Maybe he just doesn’t speak well.

    If one is a lefty. They never have to learn anything about the right. He spent his entire Academic and political career being the ‘moderate.’ Furthermore, what incentive does he have to read Thomas Sowell and think about a lecture by Larry Elder? He’d be excoriated by his colleagues and risk his power.

    • #9
    • September 16, 2019, at 8:01 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  10. Bob Thompson Member

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    Furthermore, what incentive does he have to read Thomas Sowell and think about a lecture by Larry Elder? He’d be excoriated by his colleagues and risk his power.

    This. This is the difference in the intake of information between the Left and the Right, as I see it. Am I right? If so, this essentially means that the right observes and hears what the Left actually presents whereas the Left never gets their information directly but through a filter that then delivers propaganda.

    I realize I have expressed this in very simple terms but my sense as a conservative is that I am never forbidden to listen attentively to anything said by anyone in defense of their position.

    Here’s a question. How does the Left get away with banishing those who disagree? Is this the love/hate phenomenon in action?

    • #10
    • September 16, 2019, at 8:50 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  11. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat Post author

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    Furthermore, what incentive does he have to read Thomas Sowell and think about a lecture by Larry Elder? He’d be excoriated by his colleagues and risk his power.

    This. This is the difference in the intake of information between the Left and the Right, as I see it. Am I right? If so, this essentially means that the right observes and hears what the Left actually presents whereas the Left never gets their information directly but through a filter that then delivers propaganda.

    I realize I have expressed this in very simple terms but my sense as a conservative is that I am never forbidden to listen attentively to anything said by anyone in defense of their position.

    Here’s a question. How does the Left get away with banishing those who disagree? Is this the love/hate phenomenon in action?

    This is one reason I view leftism as more of a religion than a political movement. In a political movement, disagreement is simply disagreement. In a religion, it’s blasphemy.

    • #11
    • September 16, 2019, at 9:08 AM PDT
    • 14 likes
  12. Skyler Coolidge

    Dr. Bastiat: classical liberalism (aka, modern conservatism)

    Yeah, I’m not granting that premise at all. Modern conservatism has only a little resemblance with classical liberalism.

    • #12
    • September 16, 2019, at 10:11 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  13. Brian Clendinen Member

    Trump has street smarts that he has been able to apply to large audiences and the modern media. I dont think he cam articulate it but I have worked with people like him. His ability to apply one on one win the agrument at any cost and make the person i am agruing come out looking like moron is a skill set a lot of people have. His abilty to apply it to media with twitter being the perfect medium is what is unusal and brilliant. I dont think he knows why it works either. Its nothing to be proud of thou. I hate working for and with people who are good at what Trump is good at even when their direction is correct and they know skill wise what they are doing.

    • #13
    • September 16, 2019, at 10:17 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  14. DrewInWisconsin, Influencer Member

    Skyler (View Comment):
    Yeah, I’m not granting that premise at all. Modern conservatism has only a little resemblance with classical liberalism.

    Well, how would you define “modern conservatism”?

    (Ain’t that a question for the age?)

    • #14
    • September 16, 2019, at 10:25 AM PDT
    • Like
  15. Jeff Hawkins Coolidge

    Dr. Bastiat: Hate is stronger than love

    I think it’s not even necessary to bring in Trump into this, modern progressivism has in its DNA that one must be dissatisfied with what is right now, even if it’s good, for what could be.

    Thus, we throw outrage spaghetti to the wall and see what sticks

    Your kids would be safe if we could ban guns

    You’d be more well off if we could take the rich people’s money, which they got by using you

    So many black men are in prison because the justice system is racist, even though we will be using that same racist system to take your guns and protect you from crime.

    The entire govenrment is based on racism and only white progressives and minorities they deem friendly can fix it.

    The game is that you should never be alowed to feel content while Republicans are holding office, lest you not want your Progressive betters running things. Once they do, things that don’t work are “unexpected.” Remember all those headlines under Obama when the stimulus “unexpectedly” didn’t work.

    It’s not that they find Trump uniquely evil, it’s that thye have to scream louder now that they don’t have a monopoly on the bullhorn. It’s why they make over the top allegations that they then merely have to walk back once facts don’t back up the allegation. The endgame is the narrative.

    It’s not you, this is the great game.

    • #15
    • September 16, 2019, at 10:29 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  16. Skyler Coolidge

    DrewInWisconsin, Thought Leader (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):
    Yeah, I’m not granting that premise at all. Modern conservatism has only a little resemblance with classical liberalism.

    Well, how would you define “modern conservatism”?

    (Ain’t that a question for the age?)

    yes, it’s quite a question. I would only say that “conservatism” has a tendency to prefer government involvement in police and social regulation, and it certainly believes in supporting christianity.

    • #16
    • September 16, 2019, at 10:34 AM PDT
    • Like
  17. Jon1979 Lincoln

    Brian Clendinen (View Comment):

    Trump has street smarts that he has been able to apply to large audiences and the modern media. I dont think he cam articulate it but I have worked with people like him. His ability to apply one on one win the agrument at any cost and make the person i am agruing come out looking like moron is a skill set a lot of people have. His abilty to apply it to media with twitter being the perfect medium is what is unusal and brilliant. I dont think he knows why it works either. Its nothing to be proud of thou. I hate working for and with people who are good at what Trump is good at even when their direction is correct and they know skill wise what they are doing.

    The political media loved tough-guy liberal Democrats like Rahm Emanuel, who would get into opponents’ faces and never let a good crisis go to waste. It was fine for someone like Emanuel to cruden the political discourse, because he was doing it for all the proper reasons and attacking all the proper people. What they don’t like, as with all the other rules they’ve broken (such as Harry Reid killing off the filibuster), is that the changing of the rules isn’t a one-way street. Mitch McConnell isn’t supposed to be able to do the same thing Harry Reid did, and Donald Trump can’t be a no-holds-barred tough guy in politics like Rahm and other Clinton/Obama operatives were.

    They get mad, at the same time they convince themselves that they never, ever did anything to lower the level of political conversation (bring up the George W. Bush assassination pr0n that the left was putting into books and movies by 2006, and progressives either act like they don’t recall it, or think it was just some unimportant fringe individuals saying these things — because fringe individuals always get their movies reviewed in The New York Times).

    • #17
    • September 16, 2019, at 10:34 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  18. Bob Thompson Member

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    Furthermore, what incentive does he have to read Thomas Sowell and think about a lecture by Larry Elder? He’d be excoriated by his colleagues and risk his power.

    This. This is the difference in the intake of information between the Left and the Right, as I see it. Am I right? If so, this essentially means that the right observes and hears what the Left actually presents whereas the Left never gets their information directly but through a filter that then delivers propaganda.

    I realize I have expressed this in very simple terms but my sense as a conservative is that I am never forbidden to listen attentively to anything said by anyone in defense of their position.

    Here’s a question. How does the Left get away with banishing those who disagree? Is this the love/hate phenomenon in action?

    This is one reason I view leftism as more of a religion than a political movement. In a political movement, disagreement is simply disagreement. In a religion, it’s blasphemy.

    This does work as an explanation for what we see in the American political scene today. It’s much more about agreement/disagreement or conformity/nonconformity than it is about love/hate but the love/hate meme is more useful in spurring emotional responses. I know quite a few people personally, some within my family, who are aligned with the Left at present. These people I would not label as evil or hateful, but misled. 

    What is the thing this Leftist religion must have to prosper? Agreement and conformity. Disagreement and nonconformity are intolerable. Love/hate are used to fire up the conformists with outrage. Besides the political arena, the educational system and the media are used as tools to control the propaganda. Sexual and racial grievances play a big part in this propaganda. 

    President Trump, a true nonconformist, by becoming POTUS, has thrown a big monkey wrench into the works of the Leftist religion. He seems to understand the terms or rules of engagement better than most of us, but we are getting there.

    • #18
    • September 16, 2019, at 11:56 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  19. Full Size Tabby Member

    Jon1979 (View Comment):

    EODmom (View Comment):

    Trump has always seemed to me in style and presentation to be much like all the native New Yorkers I knew (growing up in NJ) who did not go to the name schools. Pushier and more overtly brash than some but a NYer through and through. The real estate biz in NY – or anything dealing with trades – is a brutal business. So he has drive and motivation and has learned how to use what’s available to meet goals, and drive can make up for raw intelligence. And he’s known most of his life that people don’t like him. I think he’d like them to, but they don’t.

    The key to Trump apparently was the elites’ decision in the 1970s that he and his dad, Fred, would never be insiders in the Manhattan real estate market, and were essentially told just to go back across the East River and keep building your apartments for lower-middle income people. Getting the deal with Hyatt and the Penn Central receivership in 1977 to redo the Commodore Hotel at Grand Central into the Grand Hyatt was Trump’s foot in n the door into Manhattan’s real estate market, and he used Jackie Kennedy’s efforts of the time to keep the station from falling to the wrecking ball as Pennsylvania Station had as a way to initially get very favorable publicity from the NYC media.

    It was his becoming Rupert Murdoch’s Page 1 voice to ridicule the city’s politicians for their corruption and incompetence that started turning the rest of the media against him, but he was too good at selling papers and getting people to watch the local news for them not to keep on covering him. And Trump loved the idea that he was showing the elites that the working class bridge-and-tunnel crowd loved him more than he loved them. Widen that out to Flyover Country (including some outer parts of NYC), and you have the current situation between Trump and the national elites.

     

    Trump has been selling to “middle America” his entire business life. I don’t know if it’s genius, intuition, experience, or something else, but it does not surprise me that he speaks to what animates middle America.

    • #19
    • September 16, 2019, at 12:09 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  20. Henry Castaigne Member

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

     

     

    Trump has been selling to “middle America” his entire business life. I don’t know if it’s genius, intuition, experience, or something else, but it does not surprise me that he speaks to what animates middle America.

    A not very intellectual bank robber was asked, “Why did you rob banks?” by a reporter. The bank robber responded, “Because that’s where the money is.” The votes are in middle America. The Democrats are appealing to the bluest of the blue cities where people will already vote for them. 

    Middle America is much more polite than Trump but it’s probably a good idea to pay attention to them.

    • #20
    • September 16, 2019, at 12:29 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  21. Boss Mongo Member

    Q:

    Dr. Bastiat:

    Perhaps he has read Alinsky, and Machiavelli, and Solzhenitsyn, and he understands that inspiring change requires an ‘other,’ so he volunteers for the job, just to get things done.

    Perhaps he’s an instinctive genius, and he has an intuitive understanding of human nature, and he doesn’t need to read the great thinkers to figure this out.

    Or maybe, he’s just the right guy at the right time. We demanded an ‘other,’ and he happened to show up. So we chose him. And he excels because he’s playing a role he was born to play.

    A: Yes.

    • #21
    • September 16, 2019, at 2:12 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  22. Bill Nelson Member

    As a never-Trumper person, I’d like to respond.

    First, we do not “hate” Pres. Trump. We do not like what he is doing nor how he does it.

    My view is quite simple: progressivism is based on emotion, not on reasoned logic. Trump and his rhetoric drive emotion in both the left and in many Trump supporters. Trump is not playing 3-dimensional chess against everyone else. There is little based on reason and logic that Pres. Trump either says or tweets. And as much of what he says or tweets is simply wrong, reason becomes a missing tool in his tool belt.

    As a conservative, I believe that Pres. Trump’s statements, actions and even, to some extent, policies are counter to what conservatism is. Look at budget deficits as an example. They do not trouble him. He has done little to reduce the size and scope of government. He seems to care little of promoting free markets and democracy in the world (I was also an adherent of PNAC). I dislike his “America First” slogan, as a good conservative works to get the world to join them so we can all be first, in freedom.

    Many supporters of Pres. Trump now find it difficult to criticism him even when he deserves it. It seems like it is either full support or opposition. This is also a key point Mr. Goldberg also makes.

    My own issue with Pres. Trump is willingness to seem to be pals with dictators. Is he setting them up? Don’t believe so given his rather appearent poor choices of personnel.

    But what really ticks off the never Trump conservative crowd is this: he won the presidency and had a great chance to really accomplish great things. And he continually tosses this away with his fights with insignificant people over insignificant issues. And tosses away additional support with his mean, insensitive and plain rude tweets and statements.

    He has done some good things, but could have done so much more.

     

    • #22
    • September 16, 2019, at 2:15 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  23. Henry Castaigne Member

    Bill Nelson (View Comment):

    Hey Bill. You seem like a nice dude. I really like how your laid out your argument without insulting anybody and how you made your points in good faith. Let me try to address you point by point. 

    1) Trump is emotional and not rational and he appeals to emotion. 

    I agree, but sadly, people are more emotional than rational. The Buckleyite/Thomas Sowell/John Locke intellectual kind of conservatism had a much more limited appeal than conservatives previously thought. But a big part of conservatism is recognizing peoples flaws and working with them. 

    2) He doesn’t play 3dimensional chess.

    Trump is a running back. He isn’t a strategist. He sees an opening and he runs for it. It works for him most of the time. He is a genius at intuition if not strategy. I’d say his strategy works most of the time. 

    His tweets are often inaccurate but he hints on important talking points. 

    3) Budget deficits.

    The average American voter doesn’t care about budget deficits. If Republicans care about budget deficits, they lose. This is a very hard to pill to swallow for me as I am sure it is for you. But the regular voting American hates a Budget Hawk.

    Douglas Murray was interviewing people in Australia about the human rights in mainland China. The people were unhappy about how the Chinacoms were bullying the Dalai Lama. The journalist, Douglas Murray asked, “Would you take a 5% cut to your wages?” Everybody said no. Every layman Republican says that the Republican party should cut the budget. But when a Republican starts cutting anything, a bunch of influential Republicans show up and say, “No. Don’t cut that, cut something else.” 

    Trump recognizes that layman Republicans are fine with budget deficits. 

    4) Supporters blindly follow Trump.

    That is a problem for everyone in politics. In retrospect, I should have disagreed more with George W. Bush on some things. People have always tended to follow the leader. I think that Trump inspires some blind followers but that’s just how people are. 

    5) Trump and dictators. 

    I just don’t know about this yet. He seems to be pretty tough on Iran which I like. He also seems to be pretty good at supporting Eastern European countries against Russian aggression and making oil cheaper. I know he pals around with Kim Jong Un and that’s bothersome but he hasn’t made a bad deal with him. 

     

    • #23
    • September 16, 2019, at 3:27 PM PDT
    • 10 likes
  24. Henry Castaigne Member

    continued

    6) Trump encouraging capitalism and democracy abroad. 

    I agree with most of your criticism on this point but I do think that he is much more effective at communicating the effectiveness of capitalism to the world than Hillary Clinton would be. The American economy is doing great as China falters so suddenly that mildly-capitalist autocratic model that Africa is looking at doesn’t look as good as democracy.

    Behind the scenes, America is still supporting democratic movements but Trump wants to distance the Republican party from the wars for democracy philosophy that George W. Bush believed in. 

    I find Trump’s lack of enthusiasm for the Hong Kong protesters disappointing though understandable.

    I find his big hug of Israel very comforting.

    Ultimately, Trump is better than Hillary on this front. America needs to be making money if a capitalist fashion to be the example to the world. The crony-‘capitalism’ of Hillary Clinton would have weakened America and made democratic capitalism less appealing in the world.

     7) Trump tosses away the opportunity to do great things. 

    Getting anything done is hard. Getting conservative stuff is usually harder. Trump hasn’t done as much as you and I would like him to do but he has made it easier for America to be free and prosperous for another generation. I wouldn’t want to drink a diet coke with the guy but I am I want my country to continue getting richer and staying free. 

    With many reservations, I am on the Trump train. 

    • #24
    • September 16, 2019, at 3:30 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  25. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat Post author

    Bill Nelson (View Comment):
    As a never-Trumper person, I’d like to respond.

    Thanks for taking the time to put together a thoughtful response.

    First, we may disagree on some policy issues, because in general, I like what he is doing. Although as I described in my post, I often don’t like how he does it.

    My first choice was Scott Walker. He seems a solid, trustworthy person. I was upset when he dropped out (I think he was the first one to drop out of the primary). But even though I’m a Walker fan, I’m pretty sure he would not have been as accomplished at this point as Mr. Trump is. Hard to say, of course. 

    You’re right in that it’s been a long time since we had a president who behaved as if he thought budget deficits were important. Who was the last one? I think Coolidge, maybe? Some presidents have occasionally campaigned on deficit reduction, but no one has governed that way for a very long time. So I share your concern about Trump’s apparent disregard for deficits, although he is hardly alone there.

    Bill Nelson (View Comment):
    Many supporters of Pres. Trump now find it difficult to criticism him even when he deserves it.

    I’m sure there are people out there in this camp, just as with any public figure or sports team. I think there are likely fewer of these with Trump than with other public figures, partly because he can be hard to support sometimes. On the other hand, there are some who love the fact that he’s not a lifelong politician. But having his supporters defend him even when he doesn’t seem to deserve their support is not new. Again, I think this happens less with Trump than with other politicians, but I may be wrong.

    Bill Nelson (View Comment):
    My own issue with Pres. Trump is willingness to seem to be pals with dictators.

    I can’t remember a president who didn’t try to work with dictators, sometimes even doing photo ops with smiling handshakes. In politics, and in life in general, sometimes you have to work with people you don’t like. Working with dictators is part of his job. It’s not optional.

    Bill Nelson (View Comment):
    He has done some good things, but could have done so much more.

    This is fair, I suppose, but again, hardly unique to Mr. Trump. Considering what he’s up against (the Democrats, the media, the educational industry, and many Republicans who just don’t like him), it really remarkable that he’s getting as much done as he is.

    On the whole, I think he’s doing a remarkably good job. I still find him hard to like personally, but I think he’s doing a good job, in an extremely hostile environment.

    It was extremely difficult for me to vote for him last time. It won’t be this time.

    • #25
    • September 16, 2019, at 3:31 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  26. Randy Webster Member

    Bill Nelson (View Comment):
    He has done some good things, but could have done so much more.

    You could say that about pretty much anyone.

    • #26
    • September 16, 2019, at 3:31 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  27. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat Post author

    Bill Nelson (View Comment):
    As a never-Trumper person, I’d like to respond.

    Let me echo Henry’s appreciation of your reasoned, thoughtful comment. I disagree with some of it, but I really like how you put it together. Thanks again for helping me think this through.

    • #27
    • September 16, 2019, at 3:33 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  28. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat Post author

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    I really like how your laid out your argument without insulting anybody and how you made your points in good faith. Let me try to address you point by point. 

    Outstanding response, Henry. If I had just waited for you to post that comment, I could have saved myself 5 minutes of typing. Much better reasoned and laid out than my response.

    Fantastic.

    • #28
    • September 16, 2019, at 3:36 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  29. Henry Castaigne Member

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    I really like how your laid out your argument without insulting anybody and how you made your points in good faith. Let me try to address you point by point.

    Outstanding response, Henry. If I had just waited for you to post that comment, I could have saved myself 5 minutes of typing. Much better reasoned and laid out than my response.

    Fantastic.

    I like yours too. It’s better to have different opinions even if they are slightly different opinions. Diversity (when it comes to thought) is a good thing. I think that your five minutes were well spent. 

    • #29
    • September 16, 2019, at 3:42 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  30. Bob Thompson Member

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    I find Trump’s lack of enthusiasm for the Hong Kong protesters disappointing though understandable.

     

    Michael Pillsbury, interviewed on Morning with Marie yesterday, said the President has linked the Hong Kong protest resolution to the China trade deal.

    • #30
    • September 16, 2019, at 3:50 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
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