Cringe but true
“'Orange Man Bad' is the 'Buy index funds' of political commentary.
Any idiot can repeat it, and it beats more sophisticated analysis virtually every time. People who talk themselves into deviating from the simple strategy always looks silly. It's undefeated.” - captured it nicely IMO
I usually avoid this topic, but this was great. How do they not get it?!
I hope it was as cathartic to write as it was satisfying to read.
I'm convinced that Trump sincerely believes--that it's the one thing he sincerely believes in--is that life is abuse or be abused. He could have avoided the indictment so easily by playing "Oops, I goofed, I'll return them now." But anything other than complete dominance feels like complete submission to him. I've known people like that, and know what happens when they have power.
Trump's supporters know he's an abuser, and have convinced themselves that he'll only abuse the people they want him to. Even putting the evidence Matt cites aside, he literally put Mike Pence's like in danger!
To me, the most deranged thing about the Orange Man as a cultural phenomenon is how his followers see him as some kind of epitome of masculinity. It's weird as fuck that at the same time that Josh Hawley is writing books about the need for a positive vision of masculinity, Republicans are slobbering all over this draft-dodging, germaphobic, selfish, vain, status-obsessed whiner---the antithesis of every masculine virtue that our culture has come up with over the last 100 years. Literally the only things about him that code as masculine are that he sexually assaults women and doesn't follow rules. Like what the hell?
The funniest thing about the Trump era is the anti-anti-Trump Republicans. People who are furious about the indictment because it makes it more likely Trump wins the nomination -- because GOP primary voters have no agency (or something).
David Frum, anything else aside, said it perfectly:
Donald Trump is a man of many secrets, but no mysteries.
He's not particularly hard to figure out. If you say nice things about him, he will like you. If you say anything critical of him, he won't. Whether you are are a Saudi prince, a talking head, a journalist, a fry cook, or a meth addict, that rule applies.
I have always thought that the secret of Donald Trump’s appeal isn’t exactly his ruthlessness. Ron DeSantis is ruthless. Ted Cruz is ruthless. Donald Trump is ruthless, but his appeal is a little different.
Apocryphally (?) during the 1936 presidential campaign, a worker was quoted saying that he supported the Democrats because “Franklin Roosevelt is the only president we’ve ever had who understands that my boss is a son of a bitch.”
Likewise, Donald Trump is the only president we’ve ever had who understands that my DEI consultant is a son of a bitch. He seems to feel it in his bones. That’s why his speech is garbled, that’s why he’s mad all the time, that’s why he doesn’t have any serious governing ideas, that’s why he flipped off the DOJ and the National Archives. He’s just *frustrated* like you or me.
So it’s weird, I’ve always sort of disliked Trump since before his venture into politics. But even though I didn’t vote for him the first time or second time, after he first got elected, I didn’t think he was that bad. I was sort of tired of the typical politician, so I thought the criticism of him was overblown.
Yeah, I was wrong.
As a moderate, I can honestly vote for either party. So I sort of evaluate the person.
And I basically come to the decision that I will 100% base my vote on who I think would be a good boss. And I don’t mean a CEO, I’m talking about my immediate supervisor. That person that I have to directly work with Day after Day.
I would find Biden pretty annoying as a boss, but I could handle it there is no way that I could work for Trump… He is such an obvious bully, Backstabber, and the type of guy that would take credit for your work.
So yeah, orange man bad.
Dictated on my iPhone at a hotel in red deer, Alberta, Canada… Where the weather is Smokey.
>But for my money, the most morally shocking thing about Trump’s post-presidency is still the extent to which he sullenly refused to be a constructive player in promoting Covid vaccination in 2021.<
Thank you. I've spent countless (fruitless) hours arguing with selective-memory-equipped people on the internet about this. "But Trump once said in a speech that vaccines were good. And at a Mar-a-Lago wedding two years ago he bragged about Operation Warp Speed!"
Sure, once. Or maybe two or three times. Long ago. But after leaving office, he very quickly (and cynically) took to telling his followers what they wanted to hear (namely, antivax quackery). Not what they so desperately needed to hear (and would have followed him on). Dude has more American blood on his hands than anybody since Hồ Chí Minh.
There were some comments earlier today comparing this to Nixon, when people were dishonestly claiming norms go against prosecuting an ex-president, with others pointing out Nixon was almost certainly going to be prosecuted, which was why the Ford pardon was needed. All fair, but then I had a realization, ask yourself what changes if the following happens:
It's the afternoon of January 20, 2021. Pres. Biden tells an aide: "gimme the damn Trump pardon". Bits are copied word for word from the Nixon one, full immunity from crimes against the United States committed by Trump while President. Biden signs it, happy to put the past four years to bed. The country breathes a sigh of relief.
Except Trump still faces this indictment: he hadn't committed these crimes yet. And he also faces the New York indictment, because that offending predated his presidency, and is being prosecuted under state law. And the Georgia grand jury is still there too. A full Nixon pardon, and it makes absolutely no difference.
I think this is dead on, and have long believed that the biggest victims of Trump are his most die hard supporters. The deeper question is how does the Republican party fix this? I may not be among their ranks but I'm not so devoted to the Democratics that I can't see we have a two party system that can't function forever with only one that is semi serious about governing. I also think a lot of the odder things that have come out of the left that are the occasional topic at SB are part of a bad feedback loop created by the GOP's apparent inability to reform itself after the disastrous policy failures in the Bush years. All they have left is a media apparatus extracting money from an aging, overly credulous base, and Trump is the ultimate manifestation. As darkly amusing as this can be from a partisan angle, in the American system it inevitably means that some of these conservative celebrity buffoons will occasionally win, which is bad for as all, while also leading to a right wing party incapable of keeping the left wing party honest.
“ The central political fact of our era is that Donald Trump is a total piece of shit and scumbag.”
This is eloquent in its directness.
It seems to me that there are quite a few conservatives in this country who do not really care that much about conservative policy per se. They simply get much more utility out of owning the libs: offending them, making them unhappy, and ruining their days. Conservative policy may be a means to those ends, but does not have much value in and of itself, and there are other means to those ends that may be more effective. They are also short-term thinkers: it's better to ruin a lib's day today and potentially lose an election tomorrow, than to refrain from ruining a lib's day today and increase the odds of winning an election tomorrow - a bird in the hand, after all.
Call it revealed preference.
Eh. There will always be bad human beings, in every society across all of time for the rest of humanity. That doesn't mean they have to win political office! I disagree with chunks of this piece because it makes it sound like Trump seized power almost illegitimately. Like, this piece is a little vague on how this bad guy became President of the United States. It was due to the voters!! Lots of human beings- voters- are dumb, cruel, and open to a strongman leader, and Trump won a democratic election specifically because of them.
If I had my own Substack, I would be braver than Matt and write 'many voters are in fact bad', which is how we ended up here and how Orban wins in Hungary, Bolsanaro won in Brazil, and so on. It's OK to be a little pessimistic about human nature- it's OK to be a bit of a misanthrope, especially when you're engineering political systems. Humans are deeply receptive to a charismatic strongman. The solution to this problem is
1. Don't be a presidential system
2. If you have to have a presidency, for God's sake, *control who runs for your party's nomination and limit the candidates. Don't do open primaries. Don't allow every random guy to run for your nomination who wants to. Gatekeep. Make it less democratic.*
The real One Weird Old Trick to beating demagogues is to prevent them from getting on the ballot in the first place, which involves some elite gatekeeping, which is a good thing. Mob rule is bad. The median voter is kinda dumb. Thank you for coming to my TED talk
On a completely unrelated note, whatever happened to dysphemistic treadmill? I haven't seen his comments for a couple of weeks now. I hope he's all right. He always had such witty comments.
I'm worried Matt thinks that Trump can't change. I mean, he used to be a piece of shit, ordering a big, well-done cut of meat with water dumped all over it, water splashing around the table.