Republicans Are Shackled to a Suicide Bomber

It is hard for me to parse the news on Trump.  I made it clear I thought he was an egregious and unsuitable candidate in advance of the election, but I would like to evaluate what is going on in the Administration based on actual facts rather than my preconceived notions.

What makes this hard is that the whole Russia thing the media is obsessed over is almost certainly total BS.  It is, to my eyes, the Obama birth certificate of this election (sort of Karmic given Trump was about the last man standing after Joe Arpaio in publicly supporting the whole birth certificate thing).  It is not just me who thinks the Russia thing is absurd, Glenn Greenwald, certainly no friend of Republicans, agrees.

So given that the #1 story about Trump is probably completely bogus, is all the rest?  Is Russia representative of a general trend in poorly sourced attack stories on the Administration, or is it a distraction from substantial and real problems that are getting less play.  I have been suspicious that the answer is the latter and Megan McArdle has reinforced this opinion with this devastating wake-up call to Conservatives:

But for connected conservatives in DC, the media isn’t the only source of information about this administration. I’d venture to say that most of them have by now heard at least one or two amazing stories attesting to the emerging conventional wisdom: that the president either can’t, or refuses to, follow any kind of policy discussion for more than a few minutes; that the president will not be told no, or corrected about anything, forcing his staff to take their concerns to the media if they want to get his attention; that the infighting within the West Wing is unprecedentedly vicious, and that those sort of failures always stem from the top; and that his own hand-picked staffers “have no respect for him, indeed they seem to palpitate with contempt for him.” They hear these things from conservatives, including people who were Trump supporters or at least, Trump-neutral. They know these folks. They know, to their sorrow, that these people are telling the truth.

They can also compare what they’re hearing to what they heard, both on and off the record, during the last Republican administration. Even in Bush’s final days, when the financial crisis was in full swing and his approval ratings hovered around 25 percent, there was nothing like this level of dysfunction inside the White House, this frenzy of backbiting leakage.

So even though they agree with conservative outsiders that the media skews very liberal, and take all its pronouncements about Republicans with a heavy sprinkling of salt, they know that the reports of this administration’s dysfunction aren’t all media hype. They have seen the media report on their own work, and that of their friends; they know what sort of things that bias distorts, and what it doesn’t. Washington conservatives know that reporters are not making up these incredible quotes, or relying only on Democratic holdovers, or getting bits of gossip from the janitor. They know that the Trump administration is in fact leaking like a rusty sieve -- from the top on down -- and that this is a sign of a president who has, in just four short months, completely lost control over his own hand-picked staff. Which is why the entire city, left to right, is watching the unfolding drama with mouth agape and heads shaking....

So what conservatives here know is that the freakout in Washington, which looks from afar like a battle between Trump and “the establishment,” is actually one side screaming in amazement as the other side turn their weapons on each other.

Read the whole thing, as they say.  During the campaign, I took an analogy from WWI in which the Germans were being dragged down by an Austro-Hungarian Empire that could never seem to win a battle even against small or dysfunctional armies like Serbia, Russia, and Italy.  The Germans joked in black humor that they were shackled to a dead man.  Similarly, I wrote last year that in nominating Trump, the Republicans had shackled themselves to a suicide bomber.  I actually underestimated the problem -- I thought he would just lose the election big, but now he is blowing up the Republican agenda in a much more thorough way.


  1. August Hurtel:

    The Republicans are broken. That's why Trump was able to beat those twelve little dwarves before moving on to beat the witch.
    This is becoming a sort of show-and-tell, as a variety of people demonstrate their inability to do analysis. It actually makes me somewhat hopeful because it might mean Trump could out-wit D.C.

    I have not liked this twist towards war, nor this healthcare bill. But the firing of Comey was actually good, which is funny, because many on the left and right were happy about bombings, and the Republicans are responsible for this mere permutation of Obamacare. I doubt Trump even realizes how bad it is.

    But I found out we have a trade deal with China by accident- via the Chinese media while trying to learn more about their Belt and Trade Initiative. Trump seems to be getting stuff done where ever he can, while the American media ignores it. I should just take a page from the Chinese and cal them the 白左 (white left) media.

  2. Mars Jackson:

    I don't think anyone in government looks good right now. Republicans seem to have to many disagreements and cannot seem to get legislation passed, even as they control the congress. Democrats are pushing silly, stupid stories along with the media in what some are calling a "soft coup" to sabotage the President of the United States. Trump just won't shut-up when he should and adds fuel to most of his fires in Tweeting about silly and stupid things. In other words, I find the entire government shameful at the moment, and the opinion polls seem to agree with me.

    While there may be problems in the White House, as some have said, this is a matter of the swamp fighting back. The American people elected Donald Trump as president, not Donal Trump's employees. He most likely feels that he's the man in charge and that the people underneath him should do what he tells them, not unlike many business people I've worked with in the past. I think we might be on the verge of a major restructuring of the Trump administration and we will see many of the politicians and Washington insiders tossed aside in favor of more non-career Washington types. After all, Tillerson seems to be working out as I have read no complaints about him, especially as high a profile as he has in the Trump administration.

  3. davidcobb:

    People act like this is a bad thing. Having burn it all down Bannon, Uni-party Rance, and socialist Ivanka arguing and defending their positions should help someone whose main concern is how many checks he had to cut to meddlesome bureaucrats.

  4. kidmugsy:

    he's already done the one thing that was crucial: he's kept the appalling Hellary out of the office. Anything else is a bonus.

  5. Recovering libertarian:

    So you reference Meagan McArdle, who references the NY Times and Eric Erickson, himself a proud NeverTrumper. No named sources there.


  6. ColoComment:

    "Washington conservatives know that reporters are not making up these incredible quotes, or relying only on Democratic holdovers, or getting bits of gossip from the janitor. They know that the Trump administration is in fact leaking like a rusty sieve -- from the top on down -- and that this is a sign of a president who has, in just four short months, completely lost control over his own hand-picked staff."

    I generally like McArdle when she writes on topics at the intersection of business and economics, but... she lives in the D.C. bubble. "Connected" "Washington conservatives" are her sources? These are the same people whose livelihoods are threatened by a Trump drainage project. I wouldn't be surprised were some of McArdle's "sources" the same people who are quoted in flimsy anti-Trump news articles as highly placed administration officials (could either be Obama holdovers or anti-Trump staffers, who knows, as they're all "anonymous.")

    And "Washington conservatives know that reporters are not making up these incredible quotes, or relying only on Democratic holdovers, or getting bits of gossip from the janitor." They "know" that, huh? In which case, NYT, CNN, MSNBC, WaPo, et al., should be able to do more than report unattributed hearsay communicated during a phone conversation with someone reading from a purported "memo."

    This bit of selective hearsay/tripe is not up to my expectations for McArdle. It's not even close.

  7. morganovich:

    i have a new theory i am evolving about trump that seems related to this notion of trump as a suicide bomber.

    he is one and that is a very good thing. trump is what DC needs and may wind up being the most important president in a generation.

    now, before everyone freaks out, let me explain:

    trump is NOT a DC insider. he's an outsider and a hated one. no one will work with him, the media hates him and vilifies him and runs smear campaigns. this isolates him utterly. this is important.

    DC is a fetid swamp of corruption, shady deals, crony capitalism, and the outlandish misdeeds of the political class from land deals to affairs to selling influence to god knows what including possibly murder. the gop and the dems hate one another, BUT at the same time, they are all on the same team: team pork. you get yours, we get ours, everyone has their snout in the trough, we're all dirty and scummy, bu no one will ever go after another politician for this. it's a form of mutually assured destruction. you look into OUR stuff and we'll look into YOURS. no one can take the reciprocal scrutiny, so outright crime syndicates like the clinton foundation and absurd slush funds, bribes, and influence peddling is all ignored. the bazaar is always open: buy your politicians here. there is no sunlight because they are ALL vampires. they may disagree about the EPA, but they all agree about not letting the public see the dirty laundry.

    enter the suicide bomber. he doesn't care. come at me. this is not my career or life or fortune. i do not need this to be rich. i can fire comey. he had too much dirt on y'all, but me, i LOVE touching third rails. let's blow it ALL up. a set of really interesting dominoes appears to be getting set in motion. DC insiders are SCARED. this is more than not just business as usual, it's "am i going to jail/losing my career/losing all the dirty money?"

    this is breaking the MAD doctrine. left and right are suddenly in a world where the secrets are coming out. after 8 years of iron clad info discipline from obama and his chicago style seal team of corrupt bureacrats who would never leak and never divulge, we have an informational free for all. it's ALL coming out. the DNC leaks to wikileaks. trump leaks EVERYWHERE. the skeletons are getting shaken out of the closets and it is going to get UGLY. small wonder the whole political class is going after trump as one and is so desperate to get him out. but it's already too late.

    this is fantastic. it's the best thing that could happen. let's expose all of it. let the sunshine in! turning DC into a food fight of intra and inter party fighting and competitive revelations of misdeeds will finally let us see what's going on. it might actually be time to buy newspaper stocks. (no, not really)

    stop and think about the framing for a minute. leaks get discussed like they are awful. are they? who's supposed to be in charge here? i thought it was we the people. not telling us all this stuff is like hiding things from your board of directors. it's malfeasance. leaks are great. leaks inform the electorate. i'm not talking about military plans or anything like that, but why shouldn't we hear all of every side of debates about education or energy or social security? this framing of leaks as bad is just plain wrong. giving the actual info to voters is right and just and necessary. how else can a republic run? sure, this is terrifying to the political class, but hey, they work for us.

    so if we have a bull in a china shop here, GREAT. let's get him a triple espresso and really bust stuff up. let's catch all the cockroaches out on the floor by turning on every light in the house and let's start squashing them.

    the deep state and bureaucracy of DC is so entrenched and so powerful, that it takes someone as nuts as the orange guy in the bathrobe to actually cut the Gordian knot. if trumpo wants the scissors, i think that's great. he's going to accomplish nothing legislatively. no one is going to let him build anything. but he can sure knock stuff over and expose the wriggly stuff underneath.

    it might be the best hope for getting DC back on the side of americans instead of political elites and those that buy them.

  8. The_Big_W:

    Agreed. The levels of corruption in DC may be of unimaginable magnitude. Which is likely why the elite are looking to so thoroughly disband the electorate and select themselves another.

    One thing of note is that DC has subsisted quite welling allowing problems **cough**cough** illegal immigration to fester. The left openly backs lawlessness in sanctuary cities And derides Trump actually enforcing the laws on the books.

    Now the little people have noticed that to these elites laws don't matter, we don't matter, the country doesn't matter, only POWER matters.


  9. Mars Jackson:

    The best thing that could come from a Trump presidency is that the congress may try and limit presidential power because of Trump. That is a good thing and is desperately needed in our government.

  10. CapitalistRoader:

    Meh. Viewed from 30,000 feet, everything's good. An excellent Supreme Court Justice with a promise of at least one more, generally excellent cabinet picks with the exception of drug warrior Sessions, and a steady roll back of insane Obama regulations.

    What's not to like? Don't get stuck in Voltaire's trap of making the perfect the enemy of the good. Trump, for all his faults, so far has performed by far better than the corrupt Chicago politician Hillary and the corrupt Chicago politician Barack. We dodged a bullet when he defeated Felonia.

    Be happy.

  11. Mercury:

    “So what conservatives here know is that the freakout in Washington, which looks from afar like a battle between Trump and “the establishment,” is actually one side screaming in amazement as the other side turn their weapons on each other.”

    So….what’s the bad part? Dysfunction in Washington? Let me get a tissue…

    If everyone in Washington hates Trump it IS Trump vs. “the establishment.”

    Bring it on. Many of us can’t see much daylight between Big Shot Democrats and Big Shot Republicans anyway.

    Is there a way regular folks can send much-needed weapons to both sides?

  12. Rondo:

    Allow me a single false premise, and I can prove anything I like –

  13. mlhouse:

    Unnamed sources and gossip.

    On the other hand, look at Trump's trip to the Middle East. He is completely changing the idiotic policies of Barrack Obama. For whatever reason, some may even call it treason, Obama pushed the advancement of Iranian power in the region. The truth of the matter is that Israel and Saudi Arabia have been in a quasi-alliance over the past several years to contain Iran. Trump is moving in to utilize these facts, contain Iran, and bring everyone's shared interests together. This is the biggest movement forward for the region in decades.

    The United States was strapped to a moron for the past 8 years and there is no way that Donald Trump is worse, or the country is worse, even if the only factor is that Donald Trump is not Hillary CLinton.

  14. John Moore:

    Yeah, not buying it. Trump is certainly very different, but he didn't become successful by being a suicide bomber.

    I have noticed that those who are most attached to a certain class (read: Ivy League, intellectual, etc) have the worst reaction to Trump. Otherwise sensible people simply cannot put Trump into their heads because he goes against all the manners they have been taught.

    Too bad - it keeps them from thinking carefully about it.

  15. John Moore:

    Nonsense. Lots of good things can come from Trump - for example, while the Libertarians hate him, his administration is getting rid of all sorts of statist programs. His national security staff are rapidly reversing the horribly dangerous trends that Obama set in motion.

    But never mind, Trump is crazy so too many cannot see the good that is actually happening.

  16. mx:

    I mean, did you watch the man speak, say during the campaign, on health care policy? Did he strike you as someone with any understanding of policy issues whatsoever? Did he strike you as someone who was capable of sitting down to study an important issue in any depth? Have you noticed the objective signs of dysfunction in the White House: say, a staff that can't get its story straight, followed by the President contradicting everything his Press Secretary has been saying for the past two days? Have you noticed major campaign promises that have been completely reversed, sometimes along with the President claiming the opposite?

    I follow the primary sources directly, words that come from the President and his staff on-the-record, without regard to leaks and anonymous sources and I've heard plenty of evidence to back up McArdle's assertions just there.

  17. Daniel Barger:

    Is Trump not a particularly good POTUS.....perhaps. But he is a damn sight better than Jeb Bush, Cruz or anyone else the GOP offered up and INFINITELY preferable to Cankles Clinton, the Bernster or any of the other blatant communists the DNC wants to foist on us.

  18. kidmugsy:

    They'll shoot him if they can't sack him.

  19. morganovich:


    fwiw, i am a serious, dyed in the wool libertarian, and i agree with you. i'm not sure you are characterizing the generally libertarian position that accurately. watching trump take a hatchet to federal agencies and slash their power looks like a great thing to me. i wish he were being more aggressive about it. i'm particularly disappointed with his tepid choice to lead the FDA, a group that really could use a shake up.

    but, i think one must admit, it's a really mixed bag. sessions is a nightmare. he's an old school more cops more jails longer sentences drug warrior. homeland security under trump is frightening and his views on things like eminent domain are hideous.

    he's awful on some issues that matter to libertarians and good on some others. it tends to be the flip side of obama who was awful on many that trump is good on, yet good on many trump is awful on.

    neither is at all libertarian. they are both authoritarian. it's just a question of where they choose to express it.

    to be sure, there is some good stuff happening. but there is also some awful stuff going on. to focus on one or the other side of the scale exclusively is to miss the picture.

  20. Mars Jackson:

    If Trump could just keep his mouth shut he might actually improve his poll numbers. Most of his problems are accentuated by him saying dumb things on Twitter or in other conversations.

  21. Mars Jackson:

    While I agree with you in general, he also is mired in scandal, which is as bad for the country as all the rest is good. While the scandals might be manufactured, he and his administration gets an F for how they have handled them. In particular, Trump's ability shove his entire foot in his mouth and swallow it has been his biggest weakness so far. None of the good he does will matter if the Democrats take over the House and impeach him in 2019.

  22. morganovich:

    fwiw john, this was on reason (one of the more libertarian outlets on of any size on the web) today.

  23. ColoComment:

    Hey, calm down. I agree that the first four months of the Trump administration have been chaotic, at best. Although not yet fatal to his presidency. And, remember, he's just recently gotten a full Cabinet, who are still trying to fill vacant positions and set up information flow processes. Let's give the guy a break -- no one ever thought he'd win, and the Republican Party actively tried to undermine his campaign. (For all we know, it's still trying.... The "Republican" agenda mentioned by McArdle is not necessarily the Trump agenda.)

    I'm critiquing McArdle's opinion piece.

    What I am saying about her writing is that, if there's "plenty of evidence to back up [her] assertions", then i'd expect McArdle to include some factual evidence and/or attributed quotes in her piece. Her post as written (and I had earlier read the whole bit at her Bloomberg page) is no better than the unsubstantiated, unattributed, rumor & gossip pieces that we see coming from (and echoing in) the major news outlets. McArdle's opinion pieces, when it's her personal opinion and she explains the factual basis of her reasoning, are generally interesting at the very least. Here, when she cites nothing but unnamed "connected conservatives" who have indicated (to her, verbally, apparently) their agreement with "the emerging conventional wisdom" spewed by those same questionable news outlets, as being sufficient explanation, I find it weak reasoning and unpersuasive.

  24. Carl S:

    If Hillary had won, the left would now control Supreme Court, and they would currently be in process of dismantling your rights. The leftist justices would rip, root and branch, the last vestiges of libertarianism from this country and gleefully burn the carcass to ashes. But please, pat yourself on the back for being so sophisticated as to label Trump a suicide bomber. Thankfully, your right to free speech is still intact. How's that working out in Canada and Europe?

  25. Nehemiah:

    The opening sentence in Megan's article blows her credibility, "But for connected conservatives in DC,". Please name the conservatives that live in DC. If you send someone to DC to blow up the establishment and drain the swamp you better believe they'll be leaking like crazy about anything real or imagined if it hurts the President.

  26. John Moore:

    I agree that Trump's tendency towards scandal is a problem. I have trouble forecasting how big it will be - Trump's success so far in the face of his own behavior and the vicious efforts to take him down have been amazing. Will it continue? I don't know. Will it hurt the congressional elections? I don't know. We live in very strange times, or he would never have been elected.

    I do think one big problem is that the establishment, of which Coyote is culturally part of, viscerally hates the guy - not for what he does, but for his style, his vulgarity (note that "vulgar" means common, as in the common man), his exaggerations, his populism. "Real" leaders "don't do in the minds of the elite.

  27. gvanderleun:

    Ye olde classical reporter Don Surber has this twit's number:

    "Hmm. She hears things, even though she is a social hermit, hermetically sealed in her office, churning out 181-word paragraphs. As we used to say in the Time When We Had Manual Typewriters: hit the damned return, lady.

    So unlike conservatives outside Washington, "connected conservatives in DC" have access to other information that is damning about President Trump, and which happens to confirm all the media information fed the rest of us.

    She would have us believe that suddenly, after a career built on trust -- after building an empire by annealing talented people to him -- President Trump is hand-picking staffers who “have no respect for him, indeed they seem to palpitate with contempt for him.”

    I am not quite sure whom McArdle quotes. Maybe if she trusted her readers enough to disclose something other than an unattributed quote, for example the name of her informant, we might believe her.

    And if she had shown any support for Donald Trump last year, we might believe her.

    And if she offered us something other than the liberal stereotype of President Trump, we might believe her.

    But what she sees -- and I believe her -- is a Washington Establishment with the knives out for the outsider who wants to drain the swamp.

    Republicans slow-walked his nominees -- or more accurately, allowed Democrats to slow-walk nominees without consequence -- and have shelved his domestic programs just to show him who is boss. Like the Never Trumpers in the media, they are willing to tear the nation apart just so they can show who owns the Republican Party.

    McArdle ended her column: "Are conservatives in Washington missing something through their myopia? Undoubtedly; that’s how they missed the rise of Trump, after all. But the folks outside of Washington are missing things too. The two sides can surely find some better way to share information than shouting past each other."


    We won, you lost. Now get lost. "

  28. gvanderleun:

    Short form: As a glib writer I know you shouldn't get sucked in by glib writers.

  29. mlhouse:

    Right or wrong, people have been telling Trump this for 18 months now. Since then, he came from politically no where to win the Republican nomination and then surprised just about every mainstream pollster and won the general. His political strategy of winning both of these political contests was virtually perfect.

    His messaging created a critical mass no one contest in the primaries which was when I switched to support him. And in the general, his political constituent group making was brilliant.

    So, while your advice might be really great, Trump will be Trump.

  30. Rick Caird:

    That was exactly my point. I have been reading Megan's work since she first started blogging in 2001. These last two pieces were way below her standards. As you put it, she is in the Washington bubble. She is not a conservative. She is a libertarian and favors (and works with) Cato. Your point about her merely repeating unsubstantiated memes from the CNN, MSNBC, WaPo, and NYT are true. She added nothing to our knowledge nor did she riff on why we should believe these unsubstantiated rumors. I particularly doubt this 10 minute attention span meme. Trump builds things that take years to finish. He does not change the architecture every 10 minutes as these nut jobs would have you believe.

  31. Dave Boz:

    I see a certain level of organizational dysfunction - not what I would call "chaos," and not quite a threat to the republic. I have certainly seen nothing that makes me wish Hillary Clinton had won. You can point out Trump's faults and shortcomings all day, and I will probably agree with all of your points. But none of it takes the stink off Hillary. That, remember, was the option. It wasn't like we had two dignified, honest, accomplished candidates to choose from.

  32. mx:

    Read, say, this transcript from February or this one from March and tell me in all seriousness that the President has a long attention span and understands complex topics.

    I agree that McArdle doesn't do much to justify her points besides citing unnamed acquaintances, but my point is that there is plenty of public evidence of what she describes simply from listening to the words that come out of the White House.

  33. MSO:

    The headline should read that conservatives are shackled to Republicans. The Trump election was one of anybody but Hillary! and the Republicans had nobody in the race.

  34. Rick Caird:

    Oh, sheesh. You no want to hold Trump to a standard you would not expect any other politician. Every politician answers the question he wants to answer, not always the one asked. Grow up and learn a few things.

    How do you expect Trump to answer a question on the growth of "anti antisemitism". How would you answer that.

    It is clear Trump is correct on the wiretapping. That is also the "unmasking" Susan Rice is responsible for. Our intelligence community collects almost everything. The question is if soeone is unasked. Trump was unmasked. That is what he learned.

  35. mx:

    The danger is in the number of libertarians, unlike yourself, who fail to notice the difference between libertarianism and authoritarianism, or at least look the other way on authoritarianism because they see some regulations being dismantled.

    To the extent that federal agencies are being dismantled, there's no ideology there. Programs aren't being evaluated for effectiveness or whether they fulfill a federal purpose, but are being slashed across the board indiscriminately. Many environmental programs, for instance, are simply being cut "because economic growth, because jobs," not because they've been found to be unconstitutional or an improper intrusion of the government into private affairs or the costs outweigh the benefits. That's not libertarianism; it's "someone from a polluting industry told me these regulations cost too much, so now they're gone" cronyism.

    Social welfare programs are cut by some random percentage simply because "there's waste and abuse," but no effort is made to justify the continued existence of program from first principles or to quantify the waste and determine what steps will be taken to lower costs by identifying the abusers. If we accept that there is to be a Social Security Disability Program (and if we don't, why not phase the whole thing out entirely?), what basis is there to conclude there should be $72 billion less of one? What analysis determines that is the right amount and what policy changes will result in the lower costs?

    A principled libertarian administration would be looking at these programs, determining whether the federal government should be involved in them at all, and if so, reshaping them into less intrusive forms. That's not what's happening here. The programs largely aren't being eliminated, just cut, which results in the worst of both worlds: underfunded programs the federal government shouldn't be running at all. Personally, I think that if we're going to have the federal intrusion to do some program, it should at least be done properly; ether eliminate a program entirely, or do a zero-based budget to figure out what it takes to do it well. Starving the beast so everything is done poorly just makes every situation worse.

    On the other hand, we have Sessions and the drug war, as you note, an "always support the police in everything" attitude to law enforcement, military actions being fought in countries where Congress has explicitly not authorized the use of force, talk of crackdowns on the press and rewriting defamation law (despite defamation being largely a matter of state law), his attitude toward immigration and immigration enforcement, etc...

    Ultimately, my objection to the present state of affairs is that the people running the country, these are not serious people and they don't have serious ideas. The budget is a joke that double-counts economic growth to the tune of trillions of dollars based on completely unrealistic projections, a giant ??? where the tax plan is supposed to be, and comments from officials that military spending will really be increased as soon as they figure out what they're buying. The only tax "plan" we got fails to answer basic questions like "how much will I have to pay?" or "what revenue impact does this have on the budget?" Health care plans are passed before any analysis is performed of their costs or effects. Five months in, and campaign promises are being badly contradicted. A border wall is either vital to national security or simply not included in the budget, depending on who and when you ask. Tariffs are either key to job growth or entirely off the table. Complex issues like the nation's healthcare system or mid-east peace are greeted with "nobody knew that...could be so complicated" when experts have been studying these things their entire careers.

    There's no clash of ideologies here, no policy debate going on. Just a President who listens to whoever the last person who spoke to him and reverses himself a few days later.

  36. mx:

    It's not a hard question. Answer it by condemning anti-Semitism, then answer two yes or no questions about Israel. Or, fine, I don't begrudge him dodging a question, but at least dodge it by saying something vaguely related to the topic. I wouldn't care if he just had some platitudes about how anti-Semitism is bad and how Mideast peace is good.

    My point is that this stuff is word salad. He claims that he wants to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians, but when asked some basic questions, he talks about how many electoral votes he won. I'm not expecting a 20-minute lecture, but an answer that bears some minimal relationship to the question isn't unreasonable.

    He's asked to back up the claims in his "tapp" tweet, and besides twisting the meaning of a New York Times article, there are just paragraphs of gibberish. He has, as you note, an argument to make, so why not actually make it? I submit that it's because, as McArdle writes, "the president either can’t, or refuses to, follow any kind of policy discussion for more than a few minutes."

    Do you have a counter-example? Can you cite some occasions when the President has spoken, without reference to a prepared speech, on a policy topic or ongoing issue that demonstrates he's understood the topic and formulated a response to the extent he could satisfy the professor of a freshman polysci course with his explanation?

  37. Ike Evans:

    The Coyote proves to be a rarity among all the interwebs. His insight is simply spot on the mark.

  38. Ike Evans:

    Negatory. The Dems should be happy Trump won the election. If Hillary had been elected, she would be doing much of the same damage to her own party that Trump is doing now. Give 2 or 4 years. Someday the GOP will see Trump as the cancer he is, while he saved the Dems from their own.

    Sure Gorsuch was a great pick, but before long, even his most ardent supporters will forget who he even is.

  39. Rick Caird:

    I am amazed that the left (and Megan who seems to be turning) thinks that a billionaire who constantly produces new projects that take years to come to fruition is suddenly, according to you guys) unable to pay attention longer than 10 minutes.

    OK, it seems to be a technique of the left to claim that Republican Presidents are not very smart. Reagan was supposedly a dunce who slept away his afternoons.

    Bush was supposedly exceptionally dumb. But, here is a short piece by Keith Hennessey, and economic advisor to Bush on how smart (and analytical) Bush is:

    I particularly like the segment of the 3 meetings with economic advisors and the Bush summary.

    Trump is a CEO. CEO's get to the heart of the matter in a short time. They also do not waste time. You do not have to be a policy wonk to make decisions. In fact, policy wonks are always searching for more info and never get enough to make a decision. Trump is plenty smart. He ran an unorthodox campaign and won, didn't he. Keep telling yourself he is dumb and can't handle complex policy. The watch as he continues to clean your clock.

  40. stan:

    Megan is beyond silly on this one. Just insane.

  41. mx:

    So that's a no on identifying any topic under the broad purview of the federal government where President Trump has demonstrated a journeyman's level understanding of an issue and spoken about it for a couple of minutes without reading a prepared speech?

    I really don't think it's an unreasonable standard to expect that a President be capable of speaking extemporaneously on some policy topic with a modicum of nuance and depth.

  42. ToddF:

    Name one single elected politician that will have an honest talk about costs and benefits of health care. Trump is no better or worse than any other politician in both parties, in that regard.

  43. Rick Caird:

    I just don't see any point in investigating your request. Anyone who has been as successful as Trump does not have the short attention span you and the left are claiming he has. I find it amusing that you now claim some standard you want to hold Trump to, but were quite willing to vote for a woman of no accomplishments because she was "experienced". Take the example of health care. Trump does not need to cater to you. As he points out, ObamaCare is in a death spiral and is imploding. The Democrats will have to do something and he is willing to wait until they accede to that idea.

  44. morganovich:


    if i am understanding you correctly, i think you;'re raising something of an ontological issue.

    eg. as a libertarian, i support legalizing marijuana (and all drugs) because it's your right to make these choices and none of the state's business.

    the states that are enacting such legalization are, most emphatically, NOT doing it for that reason. they are doing it because they want the tax money.

    this creates a weird cross current where, because the state is in deficit and needs to pay for programs i mostly dislike, it needs to do something i do like (legalize pot).

    the fact that they did it for reasons i view to be bad does not mean i do not like the outcome. sometimes the right thing gets done for the wrong reason.

    similar things may be going on at the EPA where regs get cut because a coal company asked, but, on the other hand, those same regs were put in place because green companies asked.

    so it's just crony vs crony. the science on CO2 is massively misstated and it poses no real threat. legislation treating it like so2 is just insane. so getting rid of that is good, even if it's for the wrong reason.

    the problem with the federal budget is that it is 10 times too big. the federal government is 20 times too intrusive.

    as long as one has such big government with such ability to pick winners and losers, it will be hopelessly corrupt.

    what good has the department of energy or the department of education every done? i mean it. literally, what positive effects have they EVER had?

    the healthcare system is a mess because there is so much government in it. ACA made if FAR worse. we need to pare it back, and doing this delicately is impossible. as soon as you try, all the vested interests come out of the woodwork and pit a stick in your spokes. you HAVE to dynamite it. that's going to be ugly and disruptive, but there is literally no other way.

  45. pterodyne:

    "He can't possibly as incompetent as evidence suggests, because he inherited a lot of money when he was younger.
    Obviously that means that taking a look at the evidence would be useless."

    Circular logic much?

  46. Rick Caird:

    He has increased his net worth. Did you even realize that most big fortunes are dissipated in three generations. Trump has increased his. So, you now tripling down on your nonsense.

  47. buanadha:

    McArdle's an idiot who voted for Obama

  48. pterodyne:

    Failure to account for inflation. Trump has underperformed the sp500 by more than 30%:

  49. FelineCannonball:

    I thought this would be your dream President. No one will ever trust a politician again.