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Trump Isn’t a “Centrist.” He’s the More Racist Third Term of George W. Bush.

[ 70 ] April 17, 2017 |

miss-me-yet[4]

Beutler observes that it’s still very wrong to say that Trump is meaningfully pivoting to the center:

It is strange, for instance, to describe the combined law enforcement policy of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, economic policy of adviser Gary Cohn, and foreign policy of Trump’s Twitter feed and the military generals in his good graces as “centrism.” Trump has instead taken the three-pronged fusionism of standard movement conservatism—pro-corporate economic policy, religious right-wing social policy, and hawkish foreign policy—and stripped away any pretense of concern for racial equality and inclusiveness. Describing that kind of platform as “centrist” is both inaccurate and a gift to reactionary forces in society.

Chait has similar thoughts:

From the perspective of 2017, more than eight years after Bush departed office, the comparison between the two presidents may sound comforting. That is largely because Bush has disappeared into his painting studio, his reputation benefitting from both his general absence from the political scene and the particular contrast with his frightening, orange quasi-nemesis. It is easy to look back on Bush’s tenure as comparatively benign — but Bush’s presidency was a period of gross misgovernance. His legacy includes not only Iraq and Katrina, but his obsession with cutting taxes for the rich, a comprehensive fealty to the business lobby, rampant corruption, refusal to take any steps to limit climate change, and a deregulatory agenda that set the conditions for the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

The Bush presidency was the most comprehensive governing failure of any administration since at least Herbert Hoover, and it ought to have poisoned the party’s national brand as deeply as it did Hoover’s GOP (which did not win another presidential election for twenty years). But the Republican Party managed to largely skirt the reputational fallout from the Bush catastrophe. It did so, in part, through the tea party: Conservatives hailed right-wing protests against Barack Obama as a call for ideological purity, cleansing the supposed big-government, cronyist tendencies of the Bush administration. The Republican Party of the Obama era insisted it had learned the lessons of the Bush years, when its agenda had devolved into little more than shoveling cash to K Street. The post-Bush GOP was allegedly sadder and wiser and filled with righteous abhorrence for the temptations of lobbyists and deficit spending.

Those lessons have all been forgotten. The Republican government, under Trump, has retraced the steps it took under Bush — from the obsession with tax cuts for the rich, to the vanishing line between the party’s paid lobbyists and its public servants. The reality is that, contrary to the willful misreading of conservatives elites, the tea-party revolution was not fundamentally a reaction against deficits or crony capitalism: It was a heavily racialized backlash against social change. And that spirit — the true animating spirit of the grassroots right — has lived on in Trump’s presidency.

[…]

The Trumpian mix of K Street economics and Breitbartian racial messaging is not a perfectly natural one. Trump’s vicious ethnonationalism makes his wealthy advisers and donors (many of them the same people) uncomfortable, especially the portions that disrupt their transborder workforce. And Trump’s elitist economic policy is the opposite of what his downscale white base thought he would deliver. But it fits together closely enough to function. The political reality Trump has discovered through trial and error is that he is delivering each constituency the thing it most craves. Trump’s white-identity politics satisfy his voting base enough to make his plutocratic economics tolerable. And the financial and political elite are willing to swallow their qualms about his ugly ethnonationalism because they are going to get paid. If you thought George W. Bush was generally.

In terms of “political time,” I’m more convinced than ever that to the extent that regime politics is applicable to polarized, ideologically coherent partisan coalitions, Trump is an “articulation” president rather than a”disjunctive” one. The Trump administration is just a further refinement of Reaganism: tax cuts, attacks on civil rights from the executive and judicial branches, deregulation, but lacking the ability to carry out frontal assaults on major New Deal programs. Trump doesn’t fundamentally change this, and even a one-term Trump presidency wouldn’t indicate that this coalition is no longer a viable force.

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  1. NobodySpecial says:

    The problem is that there are two definitions of the word center.

    One is the popularly misused form that indicates some balance point between two extremes.

    The other and correct one is the object whose gravity causes all shitbird journos and talking heads to orbit it unquestioningly. They fall into orbit around it because that is physical law in their dimension. Sadly, what they do in their dimension kills people in ours, but that’s not a concern for the Tire Swing Crowd.

    • Aaron Morrow says:

      More specifically, pundit centrism of the past 25 years seems to share the same characteristics of the specific type of Reaganism as defined by Lemieux:

      – tax reform, which starts as upper class bracket tax cuts and … something something

      – proclaiming that anyone defending attacks on civil rights is “politically correct”

      – deregulation is common-sense and will grow the economy, but anyone who looks at different groups in the economy is engaging in “class warfare”

      – stating that “everyone agrees” that there must be “entitlement reform,” which is defined as cutting Social Security and Medicare but never ever ever increasing the progressiveness of those taxes. Also, every other major New Deal program is regulation that must be deregulated.

      • The Lorax says:

        Add in a measure of “on the one hand; on the other hand” ism of NPR News and CNN. Stir. Yields 1 Simpson-Bowles.

      • CP says:

        deregulation taking from the poor to give to the rich is common-sense and will grow the economy, but anyone who looks at different groups in the economy taking money from the rich to give to the poor is engaging in “class warfare”

        STFY (Simplified That For You).

  2. DamnYankees says:

    Matt Yglesias just made an interesting point on Twitter which is similar to this idea, which is that you can tell what the voters actually cared about by comparing Trump’s approval ratings to his flip flopping on positions.

    As pathetic as it is, Trump’s approval ratings are relatively stable. Pathetically low, but stable. So how do we interpret the stability of his ratings in the face of his massive flip flops on stuff that was supposedly core to his appeal/disappeal? He has changed on economic policy and on foreign policy. Goldman Sachs runs the government’s economic wing, basically. As you note, his interventionism is going to be greater than anything in recent memory.

    His base doesn’t care. They haven’t turned on him. Why not? Well, what hasn’t he flopped on? Bigotry and judges. Jeff Sessions runs the Justice Department. Muslim ban has been attempted twice. Gorsuch to the court.

    That’s what these people cared about, to the extent they paid attention at all. And that’s why I think Trump can *remain* a GWB clone and retain basically this level of approval. His base doesn’t mind theoretical Bushism (though they might punish failed Bushism), and there are enough of them to buoy a presidency.

    • CP says:

      Also, as someone else here pointed out not too long ago, the only thing the Gooper base fundamentally cares about is that one of the right people be in charge.

    • aab84 says:

      I don’t totally disagree with this, but there’s also a certain point at which pure tribalism kicks in (this point may be much earlier for Republicans than Democrats — Cleek’s Law and all that).

      Which is to say, once you’ve backed Trump and voted for him, he’s “your” guy, and you’re willing to forgive him just about anything, because the people criticizing him are attacking your team. Anyone who has ever read a team-specific sports blog after one of their players is accused of domestic violence is depressingly familiar with this.

      In other words, I’m not sure Trump’s numbers would be any worse if he were to throw the racial resentment overboard either. His Fifth Avenue comment recognized something deeply true about human nature generally, and perhaps about Republican psychology more specifically. Somewhat seriously, I think Trump could come out tomorrow for transgender rights and literal communism and a significant percentage of his supporters would leap to his defense, because he’s their guy, and nothing can ever change that.

      • efgoldman says:

        Anyone who has ever read a team-specific sports blog after one of their players is accused of domestic violence is depressingly familiar with this.

        At first blush, I was going to jump all over you for this; then I thought for half a second. Good comparison.

        I think Trump could come out tomorrow for transgender rights and literal communism and a significant percentage of his supporters would leap to his defense, because he’s their guy

        About 1/4 of Americans thought Tricksie Dicksie didn’t do anything wrong when he was getting on the helicopter.

      • Cheap Wino says:

        One thing that I’ve never seen mentioned in connection with tribalism is how it is determinative of where and how you consume your information. Without elaborating it means that probably most of the people who still support Trump have no idea that his administration is stuffed with Goldman-Sachs banksters. You don’t get that information when you watch Fox News. They think he is draining the swamp.

        • Just_Dropping_By says:

          Right, the fact that Trump’s support hasn’t eroded more is only meaningful if one can also document that his supporters are aware of his policy flip-flops.

        • Aexia says:

          Even if they were aware, they’ll just rationalize it as “Well, you want people who know what they’re doing to be in charge, right? And Trump will pick the good ones”

        • Dennis Orphen says:

          The base of the GOP/right wing is pathologically incapable of due diligence, which helps explain why it’s all grift over there all the time.

        • I’ve been thinking about this, because there’s some deep psychology behind this. I’ve written a much longer piece that I’m still working on (I’m not sure I’ve touched on all the implications), but I can cover some of my points here.

          First of all, humans are very, very bad at determining the trustworthiness of people they regard as authority figures. No matter how much evidence they receive that an authority figure is malevolent, they are likely to remain oblivious, particularly if that figure makes appeals to the goodness of the ideology (ostentatious displays of piety and the like). They can also be persuaded to do things they otherwise wouldn’t do with appeals to the ideology.

          Now, combine this with blue lies, lies told to benefit an in-group at the expense of an out-group. At some point, the GOP leaders figured out that they could lie shamelessly and no one in their base would even care. Even if they do figure it out, we’re back to the point where it’s about the supposed benevolence of the ideology. And it looks like the only people who may be able to convince them the whole thing is bullshit are other people they recognize as part of their group.

          There’s more, but this was the part directly relevant to this discussion.

          I think DamnYankees is correct below that Republicans believe in having Republicans in power. The ideology now exists in service of itself. It looks a bit like a cult from the outside.

      • ForkyMcSpoon says:

        Hmmm, I would probably add that this leeway may not be indefinite for all of his supporters. Abandoning many of his promises won’t necessarily be forgiven in 2018 or 2020 just because it hasn’t lost him their support yet.

        Over time, you’ll also find that a lot of disenchanted Trump voters will “misremember” who they voted for/whether they voted.

        People’s memories get strategically fuzzy around things like this.

      • los says:

        aab84 says:

        once you’ve backed Trump and voted for him, he’s “your” guy, and you’re willing to forgive him just about anything, because the people criticizing him are attacking your team. Anyone who has ever read a team-specific sports blog after one of their players is accused of domestic violence is depressingly familiar with this.

        Trump Can Grab My Pussy

        Though I’ve read that a few Jonestowners did object to mass suicide.

    • nemdam says:

      They’ve been stable for a couple weeks. I’d hardly say that is indicative of a long term trend. It can take some time for this stuff to sink in. He won’t drop 10 points from his flip flops, but they will hurt him. At a minimum, his voters are more likely to abandon him when there is a real problem that he will fail to deal with. IOW, even if his supporters still approve, I would bet a number of them have gone from “enthusiastic” to “tolerate”.

      And as this blog post says, it’s probably the case that as long as he is keeping POC and women in their place, they will stay with him. Despite all the rhetoric, economic and foreign policy just don’t matter to most of his voters.

    • Warren Terra says:

      One of the most revealing things has been the polling on the Syria missile strike: in 2013, when Obama was asking for authority to bomb Syria, just under 40% of Democrats and 20% of Republicans backed such action. In 2017, when Trump did it, just under 40% of Democrats and 80% of Republicans backed such action. Republicans – or at least the voters, as opposed to the funders – don’t have any actual policy views, they just want to see some ass kicked. In 2013 it was Obama’s ass, now it’s Assad’s. And always, always, anyone who’s not straight, white, Christian, and preferably rural.

      • DamnYankees says:

        That poll about Syria was just another example of my theory that the GOP is the party of identity and Democrats are the party of people who actually believe stuff.

        I’ve made this point before, but the Syria poll really reminded me of one the most instructive polls I’ve ever seen:

        http://www.people-press.org/2015/11/23/1-trust-in-government-1958-2015/trust-2/

        It’s a poll asking whether people trust the government to do what’s right most of the time, with the results broken out by party. Given the current party alignments shifts, I think its most interesting to start looking at what happens in 1980, when the GOP was taken over by movement conservatism.

        What you see is that Democrats’ trust in government is relatively stable over time, and doesn’t depend very much on who is President. The trust in government for both Reagan, Bush and Clinton is basically flat, with it increasing or decreasing mostly in line with economic booms/busts. Bush then cratered this trust (among both parties), and then under Obama, it returned to the Reagan/Clinton levels.

        But that’s only among Democrats. The trust that Republicans have in government swings wildly. Under Reagan and Bush I its really high, until Bush cratered it. Then it drops really low under Clinton. Then Bush II is elected and trust again skyrockets. Then Obama is elected and it craters. The amount of trust the GOP has in government, as an institution, is highly predicted by which party controls the Presidency.

        I always thought this poll was extremely revelatory. To me, it shows that Democrats believe in government. Republicans believe in Republicans. Republicans simply will not assent to a government they don’t control, and it takes a lot to make them remove assent to a government they do control. Democrats are much more even keel; they see government as an institution, something instrumental. They don’t see it as only good when they are in charge, and they don’t love it just *because* they are in charge. Same thing with the Syria poll – Democrats believe in principles, Republicans believe in Republicans.

        Republicans are tribal. Democrats are not.

        • Gizmo says:

          Republicans simply will not assent to a government they don’t control, and it takes a lot to make them remove assent to a government they do control.

          This is an old, old problem. Lincoln talked about it in the Cooper Union address – They will rule or ruin.

          Fundamentally, the conservatives do not believe in democracy. I hold out some thin hope that the democrats and and the liberals are going to get this – the only way we’re going to beat these people and restore shared prosperity to America is by going after the Republicans hammer and tongs for being republicans.

        • los says:

          DamnYankees says:

          Yes, along with
          “obama – most divisive president in history.”
          “trump – the jobs president.”
          “don’t listen to what trump says! listen to what trump is saying!”

          etc.

          Republicans are tribal

          jim jones cult. pol pot, etc.

        • Domino says:

          That is a fascinating take, that I find myself nodding in agreement with. Add in pretty much the exact same supports Dems have for strikes in Syria under Obama and Trump, versus the 60 point swing in Republicans, and it really is all about who is in power, not questioning if someone should have the authority.

          That’s why (well, there are many reasons, but the main one) that there will never be a more “libertarian” GOP. Most of it’s members only care about having their guy (sometimes gal) in charge. They couldn’t care less about “personal freedom”, until in affects a family member. Then they personally will care, but they won’t convince anyone in their party to switch.

  3. NewishLawyer says:

    I think in this case, “Centerist” means “returning to bog-standard GOP policies that we elites know and understand and fit into our worldview of the systems.”

    The pundit class and bigger media companies were never scared of a bog-standard politician with bog-standard policies. They were unsure about what to do with someone who would truly propose protectionist trade policies like Trump stated he would do on the campaign trail.

    “Centerist” Bush just allows the media to be lazy and go back to their old game which fit them more comfortably. Will Oremus at Slate noted how uncomfortable CNN looked in the early Trump admin when they had to do “actual reporting.”

    How much do reporters and anchors and pundits at places like CNN make? I assume it is at least a healthy upper-middle class salary with the big names making millions or tens of millions of dollars. This is what it means when people talk about a “global elite” who are more comfortable with each other than their fellow country people even the relatively well to do members of their own country.

    But I do think other media outlets, especially ones that focus on-line, are starting to pushback against the old guard for these kind of stuff.

  4. cleek says:

    Trumpism is “that which makes Trump feel like the most important man in the room.”

    there’s no data to suggest Trump deeply cares about policy – he’s flipped on nearly everything he campaigned on, and will get to flipping on the rest of it in time. he’s just in it for the clapping. if position X gets the claps, he’s all about X. if ~X is doing better, ~X it is.

  5. tsam says:

    A whole bunch of people miss the fact that policy-wise, Trump is pretty much straight down the line Republican. For his supporters who couldn’t/wouldn’t elect McCain and Romney, you have that same Republican with a filthy streak of white nationalism and a level of childishness that resonates perfectly with your average white fuckhead drunk on haterade.

    The media desperately wants Bannen’s demotion and the rise of Kushner/I. Trump and Cohn to be a move to the center, but it’s really trimming back the more outrageous dogma in favor of people who prefer to do the punching behind the curtain instead of out in the open.

    • efgoldman says:

      it’s really trimming back the more outrageous dogma in favor of people who prefer to do the punching behind the curtain instead of out in the open.

      And no more competent or politically astute.

    • FMguru says:

      Yeah, after that day last week when he shed pretty much every non-standard GOP position (NATO good! Assad bad! Ex-Im bank good! No we’re not going to renegotiate NAFTA. The current Fed is a-ok. etc.) I said he was now basically a dumber Marco Rubio, which is effectively the same as Dubya’s Third Term.

      He doesn’t care about any actual policies or passing any laws (just the family grift and looking tough and “winning” in the media) so he’s perfectly willing to outsource 90% of all policy decisionmaking to the GOP’s usual suspects. Same as it ever was.

  6. CP says:

    From the perspective of 2017, more than eight years after Bush departed office, the comparison between the two presidents may sound comforting. That is largely because Bush has disappeared into his painting studio, his reputation benefitting from both his general absence from the political scene and the particular contrast with his frightening, orange quasi-nemesis. It is easy to look back on Bush’s tenure as comparatively benign — but Bush’s presidency was a period of gross misgovernance. His legacy includes not only Iraq and Katrina, but his obsession with cutting taxes for the rich, a comprehensive fealty to the business lobby, rampant corruption, refusal to take any steps to limit climate change, and a deregulatory agenda that set the conditions for the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

    Also? Bush was nothing but a continuation of the ever-rightward-trend of the GOP, with all the implications it’s had for the country and the world, which led naturally to the teabaggers and Trump.

    So feeling nostalgic for the Bush years is kind of like saying “oh, how I miss the time thirty seconds ago, when the mugger had only punched me in the face, and hadn’t yet stomped on my balls and broken three of my ribs!”

    • DamnYankees says:

      So feeling nostalgic for the Bush years is kind of like saying “oh, how I miss the time thirty seconds ago, when the mugger had only punched me in the face, and hadn’t yet stomped on my balls and broken three of my ribs!”

      This is true, but if someone was stomping your balls it would be totally reasonable to be nostalgic to just be punched in the face. I don’t find that all that weird.

      • CP says:

        But one action led to the other. It’s all part of the same beating.

        Also, the ribs would actually have freaked me out more than the balls, in this particular hypothetical.

  7. los says:

    A woman who claimed to begun a TP group in 2009, abandoned the TP. Apparently she was truly anti-cronyist.

    I think in 2012, I read of another woman in a small western state who was a “leader” in a local TP, and who was pursuing an anti citizens-united or similar anti-cronyist project.

    • los says:

      There is a little risk when the Kochs play with “anti -establishment, libertarian” etc. fire.

      • Dennis Orphen says:

        And that’s why the Kochs, in the words of the great E. Rodney Jones, ‘may laugh and joke, but they do not play’.

        They are aware of the potential risks and do not take them if the impacts are not easily managed, mitigated and minimized.

        ETA: What postmodulator said below. They are playing with Play Dough, not fire, Nerf balls, not bombs.

    • efgoldman says:

      A woman who claimed to begun a TP group in 2009, abandoned the TP. Apparently she was truly anti-cronyist.

      There will be stories like this here and there, but the TeaHadis as a whole were a top-down astroturf “movement” midwifed by Dick Armey.

      • nemdam says:

        It’s funny to hear even reasonable conservatives (the few that have emerged this cycle) claim with a straight face that the Tea Party was a grassroots driven movement. I don’t know its entire history, and I believe it did start out that way, but it was so quickly co-opted by big money that it is merely an academic point.

        • jmauro says:

          The start was staged speech by journalist Rick Santelli on CNBC during a news cast that lead people. This was then shared via the Internet in the right forums that folks to a bunch of pre-made sites with the Tea Party manifesto, goals and operations that were already built by Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks organization and ready to go.

          I know just a few things, but I’m fairly certain anything kicked off on CNBC is likely not to be a bottoms-up grassroots movement.

    • postmodulator says:

      To paraphrase Lieutenant Aldo Raine, exploiting gullible rubes has many advantages, the chief of which is that they are gullible rubes.

  8. PunditusMaximus says:

    Since the fundamental “centrist” position is bombing the shit out of poor brown countries, I don’t think it’s actually possible to be “more racist” than “centrists” are. They’ve fully occupied the white supremacy space. It’s all just flavoring.

  9. C.V. Danes says:

    There’s a few takeaways here:

    1. The Bush Administration was an unmitigated disaster.
    2. The Republican base doesn’t care.
    3. The Trump Administration will be an even bigger disaster.
    4. The Republican base still won’t care.

  10. Tracy Lightcap says:

    No, I think he is a disjunctive president.

    Look at the prime example: Jimmy Carter. Carter was as closely tied to basic New Deal ideas as Trump is tied to Reagan’s. In both instances, they are trying to resurrect the programs by changing their emphasis, not their goals. And both were doing this from a position as “outsiders” who “ran against Washington” and “listened to the people”. And neither one of them could depend on either party loyalty or electoral self-interest in Congress to propel their programs to completion.

    This could be wrong; it’s still early days. But even someone a lot more energetic and a good deal more intelligent then Trump couldn’t help a policy regime whose time had come. I don’t know what’ll happen in 2020, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the final end of the Reagan legacy resulting from Trump’s presidency. Stay tuned.

  11. DAS says:

    It is strange, for instance, to describe the combined law enforcement policy of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, economic policy of adviser Gary Cohn, and foreign policy of Trump’s Twitter feed and the military generals in his good graces as “centrism.”

    It’s not strange at all, if you think about it shallowly enough. Gary Cohn is a Jew Democrat, and hence liberal. Jeff Sessions is a racist SOB conservative Republican. And the generals are all centrists just like Ike. So Trump, in taking advice from the left (Cohn), right (Sessions) and the center itself, is being a centrist. Any further analysis is well beyond the scope of our pundits’ capabilities.

  12. ochospantalones says:

    This is part of why the constant demand that Trump be identified as “not normal” always troubled me. Plenty of terrible shit is normal in this country. Nothing is more normal than a U.S. President launching some cruise missiles at a majority-Muslim country, but that doesn’t make it a good idea.

    George W. Bush’s administration kidnapped and tortured people, conducted illegal surveillance, pushed bogus voter fraud prosecutions, and invaded Iraq for no good reason. Trump embracing that kind of normality is not to be celebrated.

    • CP says:

      No reason we can’t believe that “normal” is nowhere near good enough and still note when a new leader is being abnormally bad even by the usual standards.

      Like, to Godwin this right away, Hitler, who was in many ways a product of and inspired by an authoritarian and militaristic society that was objectively terrible in a lot of ways – Kaiserite Germany – and yet was also “not normal” and utterly horrific even by the standards of that society.

  13. Murc says:

    The Bush presidency was the most comprehensive governing failure of any administration since at least Herbert Hoover, and it ought to have poisoned the party’s national brand as deeply as it did Hoover’s GOP (which did not win another presidential election for twenty years).

    I think we have to regard FDR and Truman as extreme outliers who shouldn’t be counted. World War II doesn’t come along every day, nor does the Great Depression.

    More to the point… I know this is a hobby horse of mine, but I’m gonna jump back on it again anyway: Chait comes perilously close to, but does not actually, do something which I think is necessary, which is to question some of the foundational mythology of our increasingly-less-democratic society.

    Because he’s all “Bush should have discredited the Republicans for ages, what happened?” Well… what if nothing happened? What if it just doesn’t work the way you think it does? What if there’s no trick or alignment of the planets or anything like that at work, what if it is, quite simply, the case that politics really is a pendulum and that it takes something truly remarkable for it to not be so, and that it doesn’t matter how well you govern or deliver on your promises, there’s a strong bias towards throwing you out of power after a relatively short period of ascendancy and letting the other guys back in.

    Maybe a lot of the things we think matter with regard to the intersection of politics and policy don’t matter much at all.

    • tsam says:

      Chait comes perilously close to, but does not actually, do something which I think is necessary, which is to question some of the foundational mythology of our increasingly-less-democratic society.

      Well, one variable that’s changed is a dangerously ubiquitous right wing media. It’s not new, but its presence is certainly a recent(ish) thing.

      On the other hand, there was one elected president between Nixon and Reagan, so…?

  14. elm says:

    Not all of Trump’s economic policies are corporate-friendly, which is why I think some people are confused into thinking he’s centrist in some way.

    Take, for instance, his trade policy, where the Chamber of Commerce position has been pro-trade. If you think trade policy exists on a single dimension from free trade to protectionism, then you might think that Trump is towards the left of this dimension and he is, thus, more moderate than other Republicans. Of course, he is not the first Republican to be anti-trade and we rarely called the previous ones (like Pat Buchanan) moderate or centrist, so even here it’s problematic to call Trump such.

    I’m also finishing up an entire book about why trade policy is not uni-dimensional, so I could go on and on on this topic until I hit the (mythical?) character-cap for comments, so I’ll just leave it by saying that if one views all policies as existing on a single left-right dimension, it might be possible to view Trump’s more populist policies as indicated a degree of centrism. But it’s probably better to use Trump’s populist policies as evidence that a single dimension is insufficient.

  15. Tybalt says:

    Scott the last paragraph is the strongest-reasoned piece of analysis you’ve uttered on the administration yet. He has not only taken the Reagan playbook on policy, though. He is re-running the political playbook as well, especially on the disregard for truth and the open challenge to the media to beat them and cover them at the same time (that challenge failing badly in both sets of circumstances, ours only so far).

    The increasing zealotry with which the political class is howling THIS IS UNPRECEDENTED leads me to believe that there is no desire to deal with it, that the excitement of Responding To This New Challenge And Mapping Out Uncharted Territory is overwhelming the basic analytical capacity of most to deal with the reality of a hard-wing grifter lying lazily and endlessly to enact basic, boring slabs of hard-right policy.

  16. DocAmazing says:

    If Trump is Bush for Dummies, would old Fred Trump be Prescott Bush for Dummies?

  17. […] The inevitable end game, therefore, was exactly what Trump is proposing: another Bushesque round of debt-financed upper-class tax cuts. It will probably pass in some form, although I doubt the elimination of most deductions will fly, and this will suit Ryan just fine. […]

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