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Monthly Archives: November 2016

The Case for Trump

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If there is a case to be made for Donald Trump among reasonable Republicans it goes something like this: Yes, of course he is a creep, but as president, he might not be so bad. He will surround himself with smart people and defer to them on major issues. As an outsider, he will break through partisan gridlock and force Congressional Democrats and Republicans to work together. He will be a dealmaker. And most of all, he would be better than that corrupt liar, Hillary Clinton. 

Many Republicans will admit that this rationale relies heavily on speculation and some degree of wishful thinking. But the truth is, Trump has already given us clues as to his actual governing style just from the way he has run his campaign. Speculation isn’t all that difficult when one looks at the evidence already available.

Let’s start with the first assumption: Trump will surround himself with smart people and defer to them on major issues. In a word: wrong. Trump’s campaign management and advisors are, with few exceptions, recruited from the B and C teams of the GOP roster. There are two reasons for this. First, most top Republicans simply don’t want to work with Trump. Personally, they find him repellent, and professionally, they are reluctant to hitch their wagon to his. But part of this is by Trump’s own design. He is not a man who seeks out dissent. He wants advisors who will be “yes” men. His choice of Corey Lewandowski and then Steve Bannon show that he is happy to recruit those who echo his own style–even if that means sometimes recruiting from the paranoid fringes of the party.

But even when Trump manages to hire more competent advisors, like Kellyanne Conway, he frequently ignores their advice. It has become a joke of this campaign that the worst job to have is that of a Trump advisor–because the Donald operates completely on his own impulses, good advice be damned.

The three presidential debates provide a clear window into how Trump might operate in the Oval Office. These were high stakes events for which Trump refused to adequately prepare and seemed incapable of listening to his handlers’ advice or staying on message. He seemed to think he could wing it, and he failed spectacularly. It is not difficult to imagine how this same approach could prove disastrous on the international stage. Just imagine Trump meeting Vladimir Putin for an intense one-on-one negotiation. Would he try to wing it, as he did with Clinton? Just think about how Hillary Clinton was able to exploit Trump’s obvious psychological weaknesses in the debates–his vanity, his thin skin, his short attention span–and use them to her advantage. Surely, Putin would do the same–as would any serious foreign leader. By contrast, when it comes to high pressure diplomatic meetings, can you imagine any U.S. president who would walk into the room better prepared than Hillary Clinton?

But let’s get back to Trump. Read More »