Listening to Trump talk about the southern border and Mexico makes it more apparent than any other issue (China and tariffs being a close second) how much the guy literally just says whatever he thinks of to get through the moment with zero forethought, ideology, or long term strategy.

If he's mad at Mexico and immigrants, Mexico has a weak border policy and Mexico sucks.

If he's mad at the American political system and immigrants, Mexico has a strong border policy and Congress won't equal it.

As was blatantly obvious before the election, there is no policy, no *anything* lending coherence to these outbursts. He says whatever will square with, at most, his previous four or five sentences, and then moves on. It's like writing non-canon fan fiction; as soon as that rant is over, it's like nothing that was said ever happened. It's self-contained and has no effect on anything before or after it.

On the plus side, some of the "Never Trump" right-wingers who voted for him anyway are probably starting to recognize how useless all their theories about how he would grow into the office were.

Oh, who are we kidding. They don't reflect on their decisions.

37 thoughts on “TIP OF NOSE”

  • I think this is incredibly important point that was somehow lost on many during the lead up to the election. Back in 2015, I spoke with Ari Rabin-Havt on his SiriusXM show and pushed back a little on his assertion that Trump was some sort of intelligent operative. I recall that idea being pretty prevalent in the early days. And unfortunately, I’m all-too-familiar with the “get through the moment“ conversational style.

  • terraformer says:

    At the risk of stating the obvious, his supporters love him exactly for this MO. As a group, they operate like him too: all Id, only Id. "If the president doesn't need to think about anything, then that justifies how I roll too! – MAGA!!!"

  • @terraformer and what is particularly interesting to me is that when it suits them, they are also more than happy to trumpet his “shrewd businessman” approach. “He has smartly gamed the system before so he can change it.”

  • The poster child for Dunning-Kruger becomes president*…

    H.L. Mencken must be buying rounds for the crowd at the Hellzapoppin Bar.

    OK, if we're so smart, how do we defeat these morons?

  • schmitt trigger says:

    DT is a smart man. An emotional-intelligence smart.

    He knows how to tickle the lizard brain, that maintain our most primitive instincts.
    He knows PRECISELY how to work his follower's deepest fears, hatreds, bigotry and beliefs, to his own advantage.

    Whether his drivel makes sense to the rational brain, is irrelevant.

  • You are so right. One of the most frustrating things about watching the media attempt to cover Trump, apart from their tendency to respond to his tweets the way one of Pavlov's dogs responded to the dinner bell, is their inability to deal with the reality that nothing he says on any subject has any substantive meaning. They keep on acting, or pretending to act, as if each pronouncement has some sort of significance. What does this mean for China policy? What does this mean for the Middle East? What does this say about his views on race relations? Aargh! None of it means anything! Why can't they admit that?

  • Emerson Dameron says:

    I'd guess the overwhelming majority of Never Trump Republicans believe their tax cuts were entirely worth it.

  • Henry Pylori says:

    This is absolutely correct, as other commenters have mentioned. To be fair to the media (in response to seth steinzor), it's human nature to think that when another human expresses himself or herself in an intelligible language, that the human making those sounds intends to communicate a substantive thought.

    You're right that Trump doesn't do that, but it's so against the grain of how humans act that I don't blame the media for failing to adapt to him.

  • It's not just what is bothering HIM, it is whatever Fox 'n' Friends chooses to focus on. If it bothers them, it bothers him. But then, he also understands that they speak to his base and for his base.

    Just wondering, though: if this trade war he is opening up with China goes badly, will his base still stand behind him?

  • Barkus Annointo says:

    It's pointless to harp on the inconsistencies & lies. The real owners are getting what they want & they don't care about the graft & the corruption; they don't care about the awkward tweets or the nepotism or the incompetence or the vote suppression. They are getting their tax bill, their drilling rights, their mining options, their pipelines. The other stuff is just entertainment. It is Brave New World, like Ten Bears said. Maybe it has always been like this, & people like me, who feel betrayed, are naive. But in a time of #MAGAmites, it feels like a threshold has been crossed. #MAGAmites think that Trump is doing great, & the real owners are laughing at them & us as they steal what is left of our birthright. Yes, I will take a drink.

  • Never Trump was never much of anything to begin with; the parties are essentially tribes at this point. More to Ed's point, it's been rendered irrelevant by what he's actually done in office: Neil Gorsuch, an even more bloated war machine, and a massive tax cut. What's not to love?

  • "if this trade war he is opening up with China goes badly, will his base still stand behind him?"

    To a point, yes. Conservatives only abandoned Bush when this collapsed utterly. It wasn't until his policies were all an undisputable miserable failure and approval ratings in the toilet that the based abandoned him. And even then remember that they tried to rehabilitate him in 2009. Remember the "miss me" billboards?

    The Trumpery will always love him. That's why they voted for him. Not for policy, for love.

  • I think there's a _possibility_ that the one-two punch of 1) cheap-ass shit at Walmart increasing in price and 2) Iowa/Red State types seeing the price of soybeans and hogs drop into the crapper might be a bit of a tipping point re: trade war with China.


    If those fuckers stay home in 2020 that's good enough for me….

  • "Herr Drumph!" does seem to go with whatever is in his immediate personal interest, which implies, to me, that if he has to deal with a substantial Democrat majority, he may discard GOP ideology like a used condom, presupposing he ever bothered to use one…

  • John Danley says:

    DJT loves him some instant ego gratification. He enjoys the fast-food pleasure principle when it comes to labile policy decisions. For a personality-disordered lummox, I would imagine that most of this mishegas is rather enjoyable for him. After all, his fragmented sense of self is reinvigorated every time he frenetically stirs up another pot of orange fear turds. Or, as the savant prophet of Dilbert suggests, maybe he's playing three-dimensional chess and it is us who are the real fools? Yes, perhaps Trump will go down in history as the John von Neumann of sociopolitical perspicacity. But, in the meantime, I'll stick with chaos theory coming from an equal-opportunity con artist.

  • Alice Johnson says:

    > DT is a smart man. An emotional-intelligence smart.

    I can see how this appears to be true, but I don't think it actually is. You can be good at something without understanding why you are good at that thing. And when you combine that fact with all the cognitive biases observers like ourselves bring to bear on the issue, it certainly seems like he was shrewdly manipulating his way into office.

    I think it's more likely that he simply has a certain style and demeanor, plus right place and time, to fit well within the specific environment of the 2016 Republican primary and general election. The importance of the distinction is that if he truly is a shrewd operator, he will be hard to out-maneuver and must be treated like he is a shrewd operator. If he's just a schmuck whose natural demeanor happened to fit a national political moment, then he himself is not really the issue, and treating him like a shrewd operator is counter-productive. It will be more important to look to the environment that enabled him; change that, and he will fail rapidly.

  • Noticed "Trumpkin" appearing in a VOX article… Am keeping a list:

    Got some others?


  • @Alice – Charles Pierce today pretty much sums it up:

    "…voting for a vulgar talking yam because he makes you feel good about hating all the right people is a very stupid way of deciding who should be president."

    A raft of current poli sci studies demonstrate that we vote on affect, and then rationalize and make excuses and learn the party lines afterward.

    Democracy for Realists, bitches.

    So, fellow smartypantses, how do we deal with the H. L. Mencken voters that got us into our current predicament? Thousands lined up before trenches is so 20th century.

  • @democommie – well that gave me a finger cramp lockup.

    Trumplets? [cheeze-flavored]

  • schmitt trigger,

    When somebody who appears very incompetent is very successful, there are two primary possible explanations: (1) the appearance is false, and they are actually competent, but their critics are too biased to admit it, or (2) the system in which they are successful is not a pure meritocracy, instead it may under certain circumstances reward membership in privileged groups, inherited wealth, good connections, and/or popular as opposed to correct opinions more than it does reward competence, here to be understood broadly as including everything from basic job competence to mastery of ten-dimensional chess or whatever.

    I am not saying that (2) is always the right answer in this kind of a situation, but it should at least be considered as a possible explanation, and then evidence can be marshaled for and against the two alternatives. Or, what Alice and Mo wrote.

  • Schmitt trigger says:

    Perhaps I used the incorrect word intelligence, when referring to Trump.

    But like a successful whore who knows how to seduce men by appealing to their basic instincts, so does Trump knows how to work up his followers.

    A pair of recent examples:
    Funds for the border wall not forthcoming from Congress, plus the fact that Mexico won’t pay for the wall, ever? Send the US Army to the border.

    Tariffs not bullying China into submission, which has responded in kind targeting Trump land voters? Well, double down on additional tariffs.

    If one watches Fox News, they are applauding those decisions. Which, by deduction, means that HIS followers are also applauding those decisions.

  • @Schmidt Trigger; let's be fair here. Yesterday on one of the endless Fox Yelling Heads shows, they were blaming Hillary for the Chinese tariffs. Nothing is ever Trump's fault, EVER!

  • @ Mo

    I just so happen to have a couple ideas of how to censure Trump voters if the adults ever regain the asylum, particularly after the Repubs weponized the tax code:

    1) re-instate the ‘90s assault weapons ban
    2) set the estate tax to obscene levels
    3) limit federal funding to states that limit abortion

    I know most of you are yelling at me that this is not the way forward, but my counter is: Charlottesville

  • Trump is cunning, not intelligent. He knows what a good performance looks like and what gets people riled up. Beyond that, he isn't deeply policy-oriented. If I were an accelerationist, I'd see Trump as god-send. He's almost perfect for exposing every flaw in this corrupt and shitty political system without causing too much damage. That said, I'm not an accelerationist, the damage he's doing is still bad…

    My bigger concern is with how this all plays out after Trump is voted out or somehow (magically) impeached. The GOP is more or less a nakedly white supremacist/oligarchical party, and there's no going back from that. The Dems are oligarchy-lite. They're not really policy-oriented and I think I'm safe in predicting that they'll do almost nothing to combat capital. A smarter, more long-term oriented right-winger would play them like a fiddle.

  • "He's almost perfect for exposing every flaw in this corrupt and shitty political system without causing too much damage."

    I'm not sure what your value for "too much" is but he has uncomfortably exceeded mine.

  • @democommie

    This was mostly speculative. Trump is a terrible piece of shit who already has blood on his hands through ICE, Puerto Rico, and like a million other initiatives. However, the political system was kind of headed off a cliff anyway, so the largely abstract question is… did America dodge the bullet of a much smarter, cannier fascist? Is Trump a horrific canary in a coalmine? (note that this comment can also be easily undermined by Trump becoming much, much worse)

    It's pretty easy for me to imagine someone with a better understanding of the true levers of power (unlike Trump, who merely broke the sclerotic political "norms") really making a good go at a fourth reich. All the pieces are there: discontent with the current political/economic system, rabid jingoism, a devoted military apparatus, xenophobia, racism, anti-intellectualism, and as always capitalists willing to support pretty much any fascist.

    Again, I'd rather not be talking about a calculus of blood. I'd rather not be speculating about how much worse this could get… but here we are.

  • Something I heard on the radio while sitting in traffic yesterday: so, Trump "broke the gov't." This is not a compliment; in order to run a country, you need a functioning gov't.

  • defineandredefine says:

    "It's pretty easy for me to imagine someone with a better understanding of the true levers of power (unlike Trump, who merely broke the sclerotic political "norms") really making a good go at a fourth reich."

    *ahem* Mike Pence. Who says the GOP won't impeach if the opportunity to do so with limited fallout presents itself?

  • @ jcdenton:

    Though we disagree on a number of items I agree with you that things could be much worse but it's all down to scum rising to the surface and staying there unless it's skimmed off.

    I often hear the thing about all that is required for evil to triumph is for good to do nothing.

  • It's not a thin layer of scum. It's the very core history of a country based on invasion, genocide, slavery, rabid capitalism, etc. It's deep and fundamental. And somewhat universal for complex human societies, although some are worse.

  • @ Brian M:

    Sorry, not meaning to discount any of that. What I meant was that the worst of the worst are the ones who wind up running things when a large enough %age of the citizens opt out of giving a fuck about others. Then, of course, they see enemies everywhere–especially in the crowds of folks that don't cheer with enough enthusiasm.

    I will be watching the Trumpligulamygdalan "Triumph" in D.C. (assuming it ever happens) to see how many MILLIONS of people show up to protest it.

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