- The American Conservative - https://www.theamericanconservative.com -

Our Tabloid President

You saw this over the weekend, or at least reporting on it:

And:

As you likely have read, the White House offered no evidence to back up this extraordinary claim. FBI Director James Comey felt compelled to deny Trump’s allegation [3], because if Trump is right, it means the FBI may have broken the law. Comey’s request in effect calls the President of the United States a liar.

And Trump, via a White House spokesman, is not backing down this morning. [4]

change_me

Over the weekend, Sen. Ben Sasse released this statement:

I agree with this a thousand percent. If Trump has reason to believe that there was an illegal wiretap, then he has to explain why he believes that. If the federal government surveilled a presidential candidate, even legally (that is, with a FISA Court order), then that is massive news. President Trump has levied an extraordinary allegation against another president. If he’s going to say something that explosive, he has to show proof. If there’s proof, that’s massive news.

But if Trump is just airing conspiracy theories, then that too is massive news, though of a different kind. It means that the presidency is occupied by a reckless fool who thinks nothing of destroying the authority of his office and the institutions of government for the sake of gratifying his own ego.

Which one do you want to bet on?

I am sick of the drama. Sick of it. It’s all so unnecessary, and all generated by Trump’s lack of discipline. During the campaign, I wasn’t so worried about the policy goals Trump would likely pursue as president. I’m not a conventional conservative, and I was ready for disruption of the Washington consensus. What concerned me was Trump’s character, especially his thin skin, his quickness to anger, and his habit of rhetorical recklessness. These are dangerous qualities in a president, to grossly understate the matter. We see now what this can do.

We are two months into the Trump presidency. He has been given a world-historical opportunity to make tremendous changes. Yet he’s going to blow it with his big mouth and his Twitter account. Worse, following Sen. Sasse, Trump is going to worsen already low levels of public trust in American institutions. To be fair to Trump, the Iraq War and the fallout from the financial crash of ’08 demolished the ability of many Americans to trust our institutions. This did not start with Trump; in fact, his election was a result of the lack of trust half the country has in its institutions.

But rather than rebuild that trust, Trump seems determined to obliterate what remains of it. And for what? Who can possibly believe a thing he says? If he doesn’t produce any evidence backing up his wiretap claim, there’s no reason to take Trump’s word seriously at all. When the US faces a serious national crisis, who will follow him?

We’re only two months in. This thing is not going to last. And then?

Advertisement
167 Comments (Open | Close)

167 Comments To "Our Tabloid President"

#1 Comment By Fran Macadam On March 8, 2017 @ 1:27 pm

“[NFR: I don’t see myself as between a rock and a hard place. I write what I believe, not what I think will please my audience. — RD]”

Believe me, a person truly concerned for neighbor and nation, who takes it as a serious responsibility to be engaged, knows that hard place. To what terrible level has the system devolved, to where a gambling magnate has become our last, worst choice?

It’s easy to jump on the President’s character flaws and his unorthodox way of interacting. But who can seriously say that they are other than a condensation of what our nation has genuinely become? Even those who accuse him, are as guilty, sometimes more, of dissembling and generating hysteria and are more than his equal in every wrong policy and folly.

What rough beast of tyranny awaits when democratic will, the peoples’ attempts to rehabilitate the nation, are rejected in favor of overthrowing democracy for Deep State coups by unaccountable, unknowable, deceptive miscreants? Surely, that is worse.

There is no one available who is going to save us, but ourselves – and I would claim only those who pledge themselves not just to the people, or some people, but those who make a compact with God asking His help have any chance. For those who note such things, this President is the first to take the oath to serve, by swearing on a stack of Bibles. Maybe he means it, and the things that bind us to our sins instead of responsibility to one another, can be broken.

#2 Comment By JCM On March 8, 2017 @ 2:12 pm

Actually, Nixon released his taxes while under audit. JFK’s administration even audited Nixon’s mother just to show they could. Those were different times.

Yes, nearly all FISA applications are granted. The reason for that is that they are never frivolously presented or less than nearly perfectly vetted. If you had 50% being declined, critics would say that that proved that they were a recklessly used tool of the Executive Branch.

Can’t win. I have no axe to grind here. I just happened to make a living out of the subject in question for 18 years.

#3 Comment By Elijah On March 8, 2017 @ 2:31 pm

@ JonF – quite so, but Obama has personally denied it. So IF the allegation is true, Obama either didn’t know or he approved of it – tacitly or not.

#4 Comment By Christopher O’Brien On March 8, 2017 @ 7:49 pm

The problem the dumb man child can’t fathom is that he is unpopular! No ones going to tell the idiot either. The fact remains this guy was elected by a MINORITY of Americans. Unfortunately, weasels like Paul Ryan are willing tolerate this lunacy to roll the clock back and hurt Americans. Party over country.

#5 Comment By VikingLS On March 8, 2017 @ 11:45 pm

“The fact remains this guy was elected by a MINORITY of Americans. ”

So was Bill Clinton.

#6 Comment By muad’dib On March 9, 2017 @ 7:08 am

“The fact remains this guy was elected by a MINORITY of Americans. ”

So was Bill Clinton.

Bill Clinton was elected by the PLURALITY of Americans, i.e. more people voted for Bill Clinton than for any of his opponents.

Trump, like Bush jr. was elected by a minority of Americans, in both cases more people voted for their opponent. In Trump’s case, almost 3 million more people voted for Hillary Clinton. In Bush Jr’s case half a million more people voted for Al Gore.

#7 Comment By VikingLS On March 9, 2017 @ 8:54 am

“Bill Clinton was elected by the PLURALITY of Americans, i.e. more people voted for Bill Clinton than for any of his opponents.”

But more people voted for his opponents COMBINED than him.

“Trump, like Bush jr. was elected by a minority of Americans, in both cases more people voted for their opponent. In Trump’s case, almost 3 million more people voted for Hillary Clinton. In Bush Jr’s case half a million more people voted for Al Gore”

Which is a difference of less than 3% for Clinton less than half of a percent.

It’s also irrelevant. My point stands. Bill Clinton was elected by a minority of Americans.

BTW His approval rating averaged 50% which is not much higher than Trump’s currently.

So no, if you are going to say that it’s just a matter of Trump being unpopular, you have to explain how that’s different from Bill Clinton.

#8 Comment By VikingLS On March 9, 2017 @ 8:55 am

That should be a difference of less than 3% of the population for Clinton, and less than half of one percent for Gore. Hardly convincing numbers.

#9 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 9, 2017 @ 2:35 pm

Viking LS is pushing this point a little harder than the facts sustain. Bill Clinton had an actual plurality of the popular vote. Donald Trump did not, nor did George W. Bush. Both had less votes than the closest of their opponents. In the 2000 election, it was so close that the morning after headlines read “Too Close To Call.” I personally didn’t vote in that election, I said it was “Anti-Christ v. The Blob,” had reasons to disdain Buchanan, and doubted Nader to be capable of executive office. (George Bush was Anti-Christ, Gore was The Blob).

Trump clearly led in the electoral college by midnight, and clearly fell much farther behind in the electoral vote than Bush. A gap of three percent is significantly greater than a gap of 1/2 percent.

I’m also not impressed that more people voted for one of Bill Clinton’s opponents than voted for Clinton. It is a fool’s game to assume or infer that all those who voted for Ross Perot would have preferred Bush to Clinton — in fact some studies suggest the second choice was about even. For that matter, it is a fool’s game to assume that most Bush voters would have preferred Perot to Clinton, or most Clinton voters would have preferred Perot to Bush.

All that said, it is short-sighted for people to prattle about how “unpopular” Trump is and speak as if “the people” unanimously reject the man. There are tens of millions of American citizens who love seeing him as president, and tens of millions more who aren’t all that disgruntled, although they weren’t enthusiastic. There is a dangerous level of “nobody I know voted for him” in the rhetorical opposition.

Our real problem is that pundits and politicians have come to view 49.5 percent as a “mandate,” which isn’t really true of 53 percent. Most elections, something close to half, or a little more than half, of the American people did not vote for the candidate who won. That’s a mandate to listen carefully to those other voters, and develop a set of policies that a good seventy percent of voters will support, meaning most of your own voters and a good third or more of those who voted for your closest opponent.

#10 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 9, 2017 @ 2:37 pm

Trump clearly led in the electoral college by midnight, and clearly fell much farther behind in the electoral vote than Bush. A gap of three percent is significantly greater than a gap of 1/2 percent.

and clearly fell much farther behind in the POPULAR vote than Bush

#11 Comment By VikingLS On March 9, 2017 @ 7:36 pm

“All that said, it is short-sighted for people to prattle about how “unpopular” Trump is and speak as if “the people” unanimously reject the man. There are tens of millions of American citizens who love seeing him as president, and tens of millions more who aren’t all that disgruntled, although they weren’t enthusiastic. There is a dangerous level of “nobody I know voted for him” in the rhetorical opposition.”

My “pushing the point harder than it needs to be pushed” is exactly about this. Are you seriously trying to tell me you didn’t get that?

#12 Comment By muad’dib On March 9, 2017 @ 8:34 pm

vikingls,

2000
Gore 50,996,582 – 48.38%
Bush 50,456,062 – 47.87%

2016
Clinton 65,844,610 – 48.5%
Trump 62,979,636 – 46.4%

The Democrats got more vote. Period!

Neither Bush, nor Trump have anything that looks vaguely like a mandate…

#13 Comment By Fran Macadam On March 10, 2017 @ 1:08 am

Getting a big majority in one state doesn’t mean you can’t win by capturing more states with smaller majorities. One might as well argue for abolishing states, and the senatoral system. You don’t play and strategize by the rules of the game, then claim it’s illegitimate when you lose by the rules you agreed to. But then, some people believe democracy’s only legitimate when it confirms their own biases, and ought to be overthrown by any means when it doesn’t. Fewer and fewer these days like democracy, which accounts for our Deep State colluding against it, abroad and now at home.

#14 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 10, 2017 @ 5:54 pm

My “pushing the point harder than it needs to be pushed” is exactly about this. Are you seriously trying to tell me you didn’t get that?

I was trying to tell you that you read more into the cold hard numbers than the cold hard numbers sustained. That undermines your point a bit, although there is a good deal of merit to the point.

I suppose this reflects that you voted for Trump, and feel good about it, while I voted for Clinton, and felt bad about it, but not as bad as I would have if I had voted for Trump. Granted, we both preferred Sanders. And I think we both recognized that Sanders was a bit milquetoast.

I might add that Trump is clearly NOT trying to rally the voluntary and substantial support of 70 percent of the electorate, he is pandering to the thirty some percent who really adore him and bombastically pretending that 70 percent approve.

#15 Comment By Sandra Embry On March 11, 2017 @ 2:13 pm

What does it matter – minority or plurality? Remember the words “a republic madam, if you can keep it”? Trump was elected by the lawful process delineated in the US Constitution. We have certainly had spoiled brats and dangerous men occupy the highest office in the land before. Trump is far from the worst of these.

#16 Comment By jprtist On March 14, 2017 @ 7:43 am

Who was the worst of the “spoiled brats and dangerous men” who’ve occupied the White House previously?

I can’t think of any who have come close to Trump.

If there were a betting pool, I’d wager Trump will be relieved of his duties, via Article 25, before he is impeached.

It hurts me to state; I’m amazed the GOP, and people like Paul Ryan haven’t figured out that to do so would spare their party much damage, and insure far more of their agenda would be passed under Pence’s leadership.

#17 Comment By kthomasina On March 15, 2017 @ 5:27 pm

It is astounding to me all of this talk about the voting results. To me, the point was – anger, thin-skin, recklessness and also the fact that the American people do not trust him. Even when many Americans would support a reorganization or efficiency audit of our government, in this case, with this man, he is not trusted and so even this one potential positive destroys the project. He is ruined as he sits there. Thanks to 45, the future return to values and decency is NOT owned by the GOP, which continues to eat itself alive.