Donald Trump

The Buck Stops Over There

In his first year, Donald Trump took presidential blame shifting to new heights.


After he won what he erroneously described as an Electoral College "landslide," Donald Trump explained away his failure to attract the support of most voters by conjuring "millions of people who voted illegally"—a massive fraud that somehow went completely undetected by election officials throughout the country. A few days after taking office, Trump revived that fantastical claim, setting a pattern for the excuse making and blame shifting that would mark the first year of his presidency. Here are some of the highlights.

Smooth talk. A hasty, half-baked executive order that Trump issued on January 27 immediately blocked entry by travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries, including legal permanent residents of the United States and people who had already received visas. Despite the ensuing chaos as hundreds of people were detained at airports around the country, Trump insisted that "we had a very smooth rollout of the travel ban," blaming any problems on the judges who blocked its enforcement.

Who's the boss? After the first travel ban got bogged down in the courts, Trump issued a revised version that was designed to be more legally defensible. Then he acted as if he had nothing to do with the executive order he had signed, tweeting, "The Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version."

Secretarial oversight. "It is so pathetic that the Dems have still not approved my full Cabinet," Trump complained on March 3. At that point the White House still had not sent the Republican-controlled Senate the nomination paperwork for the two Cabinet jobs that remained vacant.

Tax dodge. After making an issue of his tax returns by repeatedly promising to release them but never actually doing so, Trump blamed the news media for creating a phony controversy. "Nobody cares about my tax return except for the reporters," he said on May 4, contradicting polls finding that most Americans think he should make the information public.

Comey cover. When Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in May, the White House said he did so at the recommendation of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who argued that Comey deserved to be sacked because he had treated Hillary Clinton unfairly while investigating her email practices as secretary of state. Trump, who had long complained that Comey went too easy on Clinton, later admitted the Rosenstein memo was nothing more than window dressing for a decision he had already made.

'They lost Ryan.' After a Navy SEAL, William Ryan Owens, was killed during a raid in Yemen on January 29, Trump made it clear that his role as commander in chief did not mean he bore any responsibility for the operation. "This was a mission that was started before I got here," Trump said on Fox News a month later. "This was something that…they wanted to do. They came to see me, and they explained what they wanted to do, the generals, who are very respected….and they lost Ryan."

'They have decision-making ability.' Even after Trump had been on the job more than eight months, he was not prepared to accept responsibility for military mishaps on his watch. He emphasized that he did "not specifically" authorize an October 4 mission in Niger that ended with four American soldiers dead, because "my generals and my military, they have decision-making ability."

Careless condolence. When Trump called the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, one of the soldiers killed in Niger, his awkward attempt at condolences, which included a statement to the effect that Johnson "knew what he signed up for," offended her. Instead of apologizing, Trump blamed the controversy on a congresswoman who was present during the call and accurately reported the widow's reaction.

Trump is hardly the first president to blame other people for his failures, but he does so more promiscuously and preposterously than any of his recent predecessors. I'd say these episodes reveal a man who seems constitutionally incapable of accepting responsibility, but even that sounds like an excuse.

© Copyright 2017 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  1. Trump is the worst president America has ever had. This is known.

    1. If he declares war on Germany and the remnants of the Austro-Hungarian empire, sure. It’s only been 100 years since the previous worst president, or at least a pretendant.

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        This is what I do…

    2. I mostly agree, but still better than HRC.

      1. Why didn’t Jacob Sullum mention the Keystone Pipeline?

      2. The Dems promised a carbon tax (carbon pricing), subsidies for solar panels and windmills (see Puerto Rico) and sabotage of real power plants, and to continue shooting kids over plant leaves while keeping those kids from shooting back. God’s Own prohibitionists promised unsubsidized access to energy and keeping the Second Amendment save and legal so the kids can at least have the satisfaction of popping a few narcs even though prohibition has not yet been repealed. None of this has anything to do with either one of the candidates those looter parties trotted out as poster children.

    3. Even before he took office it was known.

      1. It was very well known, and the message (big upraised middle finger) to the GOP and Dems was we think this clown is better than anyone the RNC or DNC offered us as a choice for President.

    4. Seriously. Reason, or any libertarian should be having an all out assault on progressive ideas, instead they nit-pick a single man who has done more for liberty from his position than any of his predecessors have in decades.

      1. “Progressive ideas” do not, currently, have a majority in both houses of Congress, nor do they currently occupy the oval office. Libertarians are the opposition party. We oppose power, and those who hold it presently. You, apparently, are an apologist for those in power.

        1. No, you are not the “opposition party”, you are the Outlier Party.
          Because of your propensity to make the perfect the enemy of the good, your philosophy is not just rejected, but shunned by the average voter (it’s those damn Depolorables), and you stand outside the councils of government kvetching about the pencil point not being sharp enough.

        2. Why do you say ‘we’?

          You’re not a libertarian.

          Libertarians are not “the opposition party” Libertarians are the party that values liberty. We do not fight liberty if it’s offered by someone we find offensive. We do not oppose things we desire simply because they come from someone who is not a member of the party.

          And, real libertarians do not accept things that have the appearance of fulfilling positions we value that actually promote statism.

          But you would know none of this.

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  2. Remember that time Obama took responsibility for the soldiers that died in the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound? Yeah, me neither.

    1. He also never blamed the economy on his predecessor for multiple years after his inauguration.

      1. No. He just basked in the undue credit for the “regression to the mean” that followed.

        1. I love the assumption that this was inevitable. If Hillary had won, the growth this year would’ve been the same moribund growth we’ve had for the last 8 yrs.

    2. Obama was the first non-animated ‘I didn’t do it boy’.

    3. “Remember that time Obama took responsibility for the soldiers that died in the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound?”

      What are you talking about? There were no US casualties during that raid.

  3. TDS

    1. Lamenting a jackass who can’t stop tripping over his own douchebaggery is not derangement. The fact that you like him speaks more about your own shortcomings than anyone else’s.

      1. I’ll take a jackass and douchebag who does things I like. I don’t have to like the man personally.

        1. ^ times a lot
          DeVos, Gorsuch, out of Paris ‘agreement’, Dow up 30%, low unemployment and more.
          Maybe it’s because he’s caused grid-lock, I don’t know. But I can tell you he’s done more good than about any pres I can recall.
          So go ahead and bust his chops for being a blowhard and a loose cannon. I’ll take the results.

        2. Bingo.

          Because you don’t like what he does and how he speaks is NOT an argument.

          And all this leads to counter-factuas anyway. Me? I just like that he’s taken an axe to Obama’s ‘legacy’.


          1. A lot of toss-ups on that list for me & I’ll pretend I didn’t read that section on opioids.

            Nevertheless, I think it’s remarkable how he’s cleaned up many of the turds that Obama left on the carpet on his way out the door.

  4. It’s the libertarian moment. Our government is in tatters and our leadership is incompetent, and because of that economy is on fire.

    1. The guy said “Libertarianism? I like it!” then got nominated, and got elected. We got 4 million COUNTED spoiler votes out of the deal. If he unleashes another bunch of Comstock Sharia Law asset-forfeiture looters on These States, the resulting Crash and Depression will again cost his party its government paychecks, graft, boodle and murder ops. Electrical power plants are legal as sea salt. What me worry?

    2. Yup. Everyone has it wrong. We’re doing well precisely because Trump is incompetent. But make no mistake, he is incompetent. But this is a good thing.

  5. “We worship our Lord and savior, Block Insane Yomomma, and dream of sucking his cock.”
    -The staff of Reason

    1. ^ This post is a classical example of psychological projection folks.

      1. I’m always somewhat impressed by people are so obsessed they spend all their time accusing others of being cucks or blacked. Things very few people think about. They make it the focus of their whole existence.

  6. This is just so sad.

    This was Reason Magazine. The voice of libertarians everywhere.

    Now, it happily cites sources it once decried for their bias. Statist sources.

    1. Now, it happily cites sources it once decried for their bias. Statist sources.

      I’m confused about the proof that the cite is wrong or fraudulent merely by pointing out to an opinion. Can you show that he claim is untrue in a valid way?

      1. There isn’t anything to be wrong or right about in this article: it’s a propaganda piece pointing to other propaganda pieces with a statist, progressive bias.

        1. OM’s gone totally round the bend on Trump–despite any valid stances he might take otherwise. That speech with the ‘they’re not sending their best” bit in it really hit him hard. Frankly, I think Trump could become the ideal libertarian president and OM would still cling to the propagandized version of that speech.

          Which is bizarre because, on most things, he cuts through the spin like a laser scalpel.

    2. “I’m a liberal.”
      -Matt Welch

      1. “I’m a sad pathetic fuck who has nothing to do but make the puppets dance.” –Tulpa

      2. Simple Mikey doesn’t know the actual meaning of the word “liberal.” Sad!

      3. “I’m an illiberal.”


    3. Jacob Sullen is highly biased, and refuses to acknowledge any bias. He and others have taken Reason so far downhill, Shame!

  7. Trump is hardly the first president to blame other people for his failures, but he does so more promiscuously and preposterously than any of his recent predecessors.

    He sure grabs hard blame-shifting by the p….y.

    1. He only grabs things by the p…y that desire to be grabbed by the p…y.

  8. I don’t know about “new heights” of blame-shifting – any criticism of The One was cited as proof of racism, that’s a pretty high bar for blame-shifting.

    1. True but it wasn’t Obama himself whining about racism. That’s what your media lackeys are for.

      1. Truthfully, I don’t recall Obama whining all that much. Trump whines all the damn time about everything. That’s what I don’t understand about the Trump cheerleaders – the guy spends more time on his hair and fake tan than any man should, he’s famous for his interior decorating and fashion design, he spends all kinds of time keeping up with the gossip on the twitters and the TV, he’s a whiny little crybaby – around these parts we’ve got a name for that kind of fellow and it ain’t “masculine”. If Clinton was our first black president, Trump’s our first female president.

        1. And… none of that matters. I didn’t give much of a s–t about Obama’s constant pretensions and belittlements either. What matters is what they do.

        2. As long as he cuts taxes, doesn’t appoint progressive judges, insults European leaders, and causes high blood pressure in wealthy aging self righteous pricks in Congress and beyond, he can be a cross dressing horse molester for all I care.

            1. If he’s a horse molester then the standing O goes with out saying.

        3. Do you believe the press treats him or his family fairly? If he points it out their bullshit, that’s considered whining? How often do you beat your wife, crybaby?

          1. The POTUS lies constantly and picks fights with anyone who disagrees with him. I’m glad the press calls him out. Once they learn to ignore his lies and march like good little drones like you…that will concern me. Until then I hope they keep it up.

        4. Obama didn’t whine because he had 90% of the media and government workers in his hip pocket. The media fawned over Muslim-loving, leftist Obama and his linebacker-in-drag “wife” Michelle because they were black.

  9. It hasn’t even been a year and I don’t know how much more of Drumpf’s nonsense I can take. It’s like every day this Russian puppet government does another thing that’s totally outrageous. Just in the past couple weeks they’ve restricted abortion access by changing net neutrality rules, and banned words at the CDC. As if all that wasn’t bad enough, now Ivanka is posting pictures with a Confederate flag in the background!

    Why is Mueller taking so long? 17 intelligence agencies confirm that Russia hacked the election to install Drumpf. How much more evidence does he need to gather?

    1. “…Drumpf’s…”

      Oh, how cute. You should meet the right-wing retard just up-thread. You two have a lot of stupidity in common, commie kid.

      1. It’s a pretty obvious parody, dude. Nobody serious would string together that many cliches in one post.

        1. They finally got her. Band all foreigners for being Confederate Dog Whistles

    2. The brain-dead tweet is a nice touch.

      1. Who is this guy?

        Hey kid, word of advice. If you want people to take you serious I’d lay off the ‘Drumpf’ for a while, kay kiddo?

        /light punch to the jaw followed by bum tap.

        1. That guy’s parodies are better than most Reason articles.

        2. If it’s not commie-kid with a new handle, his style and his stink were lifted by this ‘tard.

          1. Take another sip of coffee and read again. It’s satire.

            1. Yes, I understand it’s an attempt at satire. So what?
              I’m not taking the message as a serious comment, far from it. It’s a lame attempt at a stereotype.

      2. Brain-dead? LOL. I’ll have you know the tweeter is a political scientist with a Ph.D. from Columbia. She’s undoubtedly well trained in identifying subtle examples of white supremacist imagery.

        1. I’ll have you know the tweeter is a political scientist with a Ph.D. from Columbia.


        2. Come on pal. Get real. I read her blurb.


          She’s just another hyper-shrill left-winger. That she has three little letters next to her name means shit.

          I graduated with honors in History and look how I turned out.

      3. BUT PhD!

        1. I’m a Ph.D. This says everything that needs to be said.

          1. Yeh. You’re now selling used cars.


    3. Good God, people (not just OBL’s trolling) are actually bitching about the Confederate flag in that picture. As if somehow the Trumps planted the flag on someone else’s boat to get it in the background.

      What’s worse than that though is just reading through the endless hate that is spewed in response to some woman they don’t and never will know posting a picture of her family fishing on Twitter. WTF.

      looking at these pictures of a family of grifters having a grand old time on the American taxpayer’s dime when they should be in prison tells me exactly what’s wrong with this country.

      I’m starting to think we should elevate written garbage like this to “fighting words” and go back to allowing duels for anyone who wants to put an end to it Andrew Jackson style.

  10. Testing. John Berresford

  11. Trump does something everyone in the history of politics has done but its worse because its TRUMP hide the kids get in the bomb shelter its the MAGA creature from the political class we don’t like

    TDS anyone

  12. Alt text should read:

    Sullum et al Double Down on TDS. More tonight at 10.

  13. You say “After he won what he erroneously described as an Electoral College “landslide,” Donald Trump…” But factually, “landslide” is NOT an erroneous description.

    According to Factcheck at…..counties/, “The Associated Press finds that Clinton won 487 counties nationwide, compared with 2,626 for President-elect Donald Trump.” That’s 83% of the counties in the country – the country’s vote. So you, Jacob Sullen, are the one erroneously describing his Electoral College victory.

    If winning 83% of the counties in the USO doesn’t count as a landslide, then what would? If Clinton had won 83% of the popular vote, everyone in the USA would call it a landslide. I imagine you would join them, but if you wouldn’t, then what percentage would you call a landslide?

    So your obvious and egregious bias against Trump allows youi to call 83% of the POPULAR vote a landslide yet you deny that 83% of the COUNTRY’S vote is a landslide.

    Reason – and you – needs to start reporting Trump’s accomplishments fairly instead of creating highly misleading, biased, click-bait material…

    1. Hmmm. You need to look at all the facts rather than only those that support your biased view. Trump said he won by a landslide, so he’s undoubtedly talking about the facts that show this is true, rather than those that don’t!

      I’m sure President Trump knows he only won a slender margin in the Electoral College. If failed candidate Clinton’s supporters are correct in claiming she won the popular vote while she actually lost, then President Trump can similarly and truthfully claim he won the countries vote in a landslide.

      Why don’t you and all the Clinton supporters get over the fact that she lost, that he won and so is the president. You also need to acknowledge the factual truth: President Trump won the countries’s vote – as measured by geographical counties – in a landslide.

  14. The Dilbert guy has put together an informative list of predictions about the Trump Administration made by himself and others. The thing will be wasted on anyone who has not read and compared the Dem, GOP and Libertarian platforms, and I do not see anyone offering to make bets on the conjecture and wishful thinking going on here either. As for lies… you expected what, exactly, from a politician nominated by a looter party?

  15. The mental gymnastics required of the media to paint this twaddle as evidence of Trump blame-shifting is made more fantastic by the mental gymnastics required of the media to ignore all the material blame-shifting done by his predecessor.

    Maybe all of this is just Bush’s fault?

    1. Or while signing 2009 budget and ARRA resulting in a 1.4 trillion deficit, claiming it was inherited from the previous administration.

  16. On 11/08, America faced a binary choice, and as much as you detest the choice they made, the alternative was geometrically worse; so GTF over it.

  17. Another POS leftist article in Reason – I guess Soros must have bought you out and hand-picked your writers. You call Trump a “Tax Dodge”, implying he’s done something illegal – there are no constitutional or otherwise legal requirements to open up your finances to public scrutiny in order to be President. If Obama’s politically weaponized IRS did not find any criminal activity in Trumps tax returns, it’s fair to say that there’s probably none there.

  18. Seriously? Why is any of this a surprise considering Donald Trump? Trump is a silly, self-promoting clown who bamboozled a group of sheeple who feed on boozle …. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! …. BUILD THE WALL! …. LOCK HER UP! In a democracy, the mob gets what it deserves.

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