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Trump Is More Like Recent Presidents Than Anyone Wants To Admit

On trade, foreign policy, and so much more, he's Clinton, Bush, and Obama without the charm and respect. That can be a good thing.

Nick Gillespie, ReasonNick Gillespie, ReasonThe flipside of Trump Derangement Syndrome, whose strongest form argues that the president is an "extinction-level threat" to democracy itself, is Trump Exceptionalism Syndrome, which holds that Trump is the greatest leader since Winston Churchill, the biblical kings David and Cyrus, or whomever.

Recent events reveal something more mundane: Trump is all too much like the other recent inhabitants of the White House. We are neither living through the End Times nor at the start of New Dawn. Instead of entering some sort of political Singularity, we're still stuck in the Regularity. Trump is not a transformative character. Once we accept that, we can support the good things he does (supporting school choice, cutting corporate tax rates and regulations) while criticizing the bad (waving away due process, throwing in with white supremacists, and deporting immigrants, among other things).

Trump's decisions to levy tariffs on steel and aluminum clearly fall into the bad category. They are idiotic, indefensible, economically counterproductive, and...not so different than similar policies levied by both George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Both of those guys pulled similar tricks on steel, after all. Bush did the same on Canadian timber, as Trump also did last year to much less fanfare than the current plan is getting. Hot and bothered that Trump isn't listening to his economic advisors? Back in 2009, Obama waved away concerns that slapping a 35 percent tariff on Chinese tires would hurt U.S. workers. His administration took credit for saving 1,200 domestic jobs, even though later analyses found that the tariffs cost domestic consumers an extra $1.1 billion and actually pink-slipped over 3,000 workers on net.

So when it comes to trade, Trump is doing exactly what recent presidents—conservative and liberal, Republican and Democratic—have done. It's lamentable, but FFS, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is out there saying she's "not afraid of tariffs" and that we need to chuck over free-er trade because it helps the corporations. She's also protecting her brand, so she's refusing to say whether she supports Trump's tariffs, his pullout from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or his renegotiation of NAFTA. But she plainly does, right? She just can't admit it, because it would screw up the narrative to admit that she and Trump—and Bush and Obama—actually share the same views on a bunch of stuff. As a presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) ran on explicit promises to protect U.S. industries from "unfair" competition. If you're a free-trade, more-open-borders libertarian like myself, such broad, transpartisan agreement about letting in fewer goods (not to mention people) from abroad is actually a bigger problem and a tougher nut to crack than simply ascribing Trump's random policy choices to insanity, ignorance, and narcissism.

When it comes to foreign policy, Trump isn't staking out bold new pathologies, either. The establishment has been flipping out because Trump agreed to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. There's no question that Kim is a despicable human being, even if various Americans were willing to walk a mile in his shoes when his goons arrested and tortured American college student Otto Warmbier for being a "frat bro." And there's no question that Trump doesn't seem to have any idea of what he's doing. Yet it seems more than a little overwrought to argue, as my friend Eli Lake does at Bloomberg View, that Trump "shouldn't waste his time negotiating with the dictator of North Korea." After all, it didn't work for Madeleine Albright during the last years of the Clinton administration, right? Instead, counsels Lake,

Trump could go back to his instincts from the State of the Union speech this year when he told the story of dissident Ji Seong Ho's heroic escape from Kim's gulags. Trump said Ji's journey to freedom was "a testament to the yearning of every human soul to live in freedom." Helping North Koreans achieve this basic human yearning is much harder than meeting with their tyrant. It's also more promising—and less nauseating.

If history is any indication, it's actually not more promising to keep on doing what we've been doing. The United States has held the line against North Korea since the 1950s, and things don't seem to be getting any better. Even so, the fact that Trump is willing to say he will sit down with Kim makes him more like other presidents than different. Bill Clinton didn't hoof it to Pyongyang, but he did send his chief diplomat to negotiate with the regime, and even Lake admits that there is "an argument that says Albright's visit in the end was worth it."

Trump may be acting like Clinton in another related way, too. Former congressman and current MSNBC host Joe Scarborough has said it's "painfully obvious" that Trump is talking up the North Korea sitdown as a way to distract attention away from Stormy Daniels, the porn actress who seems ready to say she slept with Trump while he was married and was paid hush money by his personal lawyer.

"He just makes a decision on tariffs because of Hope Hicks, and he makes a decision on North Korea because of Stormy Daniels," said Scarborough. "People can deny that all they want, but if you're doing that you're in the tank for Donald Trump because it's painfully obvious that that's exactly what's going on."

That's a highly plausible read, especially for those who remember the advice of Politico's Jack Shafer to "stop being Trump's Twitter fool."

That is, we should be hip to the idea that every time Trump does or says something outlandish, he's trying to divert our attention from another problem. Clinton did the same thing, except in more violent form. Back in 1998, Clinton bombed targets in Sudan and Afghanistan on the very day that Monica Lewinsky delivered grand jury testimony about whether the president had lied under oath. Later in the year, he saw fit to bomb Iraq on the day the House of Representatives began voting on articles of impeachment, thereby delaying the proceedings. So even if it's true, as Scarborough claims, that Trump said yes to Kim Jong-un because "he did not want the Washington Post to have the word 'Stormy Daniels' on the front page today," we've been there and done that as a nation.

The point here isn't to "normalize Trump" on trade, foreign policy, or anything else. It's to reduce the rage and fear factors a bit so we can more clearly understand exactly what we're dealing with. Trump isn't President Beastmode; he's simply the current occupant of the White House. Detractors and sycophants would do well to stop ascribing superpowers to a guy whose tenure has been marked by spots of good and lots of bad. Wired co-founder Louis Rossetto, recently told Reason that Trump "diminishes the power of the state in our heads" by being such a volatile mix of jackass, narcissist, and bullshit artist:

Trump is a refreshing reminder that the guy that's in the White House is another human being....The power of the state is way too exalted [and] bringing that power back to human scale is an important part of what needs to be done to correct the insanity that's been going on in the post-war era.

The media, too, have refused to treat Trump with the decorum and politesse they gave Obama, Bush, Clinton. At least in this one sense, Trump is the end of the 20th-century consensus that even your enemies are somehow ennobled in the political realm and entitled to the benefit of the doubt.

When it came to foreign policy, domestic surveillance, governmental overreach, the drug war, deportations, and so much more, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton crossed lines that never should have been crossed. Trump is the shocking apparition that's left when all the ceremonial trappings and respect have been stripped away.

As a country, we should have the guts to admit that and the resolve to be better than our presidents.

Photo Credit: Nick Gillespie, Reason

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    And Nick Gillespie's scheme to normalize Trump continues apace.

  • Hugh Akston||

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Cartoon, not photo.

    One file, not plural.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    But the "actual" part is accurate at least, right?

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Actually, yes, you are right. For once, actually.

  • XM||

    Nick literally wrote "The point here isn't to "normalize Trump" on trade, foreign policy, or anything else" though.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Yeah, and me thoughts the writer doth protest too much.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    ""On trade, foreign policy, and so much more, he's Clinton, Bush, and Obama without the charm and respect.""

    His haters just expect charm and respect. I doubt they could give 1 policy issues per year for their favorite president.

  • El Oso||

    'deporting immigrants,'

    Hey, Nick, open up your house to the illegals, but don't ask me to....

  • Hugh Akston||

    Pretty sure they have their own homes.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    How come they get homes while some of us legals have to live in our parents' basements?

  • timbo||

    They took our jobs and our homes and our food. They somehow did not earn it. That kind of rational is fit for progs and marxists.

  • vek||

    Whether they directly paid for their home or not is irrelevant. They snuck in through the back door illegally, break others laws to continue their existence here, and almost 100% of them are net tax drains on citizens because their average income is so fucking low it doesn't even cover the cost of roads and other basic infrastructure, let alone if they have kids going to school!

    Not to mention then their kids, who should not be here in the first place, then are giving birthright citizenship if born here, where they will vote against the majority of the countries will, AND outwardly profess their hate for the majority of the country... Yeah, no problems here at all. This is coming from somebody who is part Mexican. We don't need this shit.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    The backward, bigoted, superstitious, ignorant, poorly educated, and economically irrelevant do not constitute a majority in America. They constitute a majority in our deplorable backwaters, but they are a minority of Americans.

    America's electorate improves daily, in a manner that disadvantages an electoral coalition that trends toward the rural, religious, backward, white, and intolerant.

    America is great, in large part consequent to a half-century of liberal-libertarian progress. The folks who hate today's America are the stale-thinking goobers who will improve their country when they take their backwardness and bigotry to the grave.

  • vek||

    Too bad your view is completely divorced from reality.

    The harsh facts are that most of the statistics that show "America" becoming shittier, poorer, lower education outcomes, etc are almost entirely related to the brownening of America.

    White education scores are still some of the highest in the world. National average has gone down because we have more blacks and Hispanics as a percentage of the population.

    White murder rates are some of the lowest in the world. Our murder rate is lower than it used to be overall, but our RELATIVE stance in the world is worse because blacks (13% of the population) commit about 50% of murders, and Hispanics (16-17% of the population) commit another 36% of the murders.

    So you're full of shit. White Americans are what held shit down, and held it all together. I would add Asians in there as well. White America is mostly still doing fine, although some places are hard hit... But not nearly as hard hit as black/brown places.

    And as far as things go, I would bet my life I make a lot more money than you. I make several times the average per capita income in this country. The facts above may not be nice or kind, but they're true. And I could go on for eons. The progressives, and many libertarians, are divorced from objective reality because they don't want to believe certain facts. Reality doesn't care, they're wrong whether they like it or not. YOU are wrong.

  • Mark22||

    They get homes because some of us legals pay taxes that pay for the government benefits that let them buy homes.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    I'm pretty sure this administration has not deported any immigrants who are here legally.

  • Red Tony||

    Trump's isn't like Clinton in that he hasn't decided to randomly bomb the crap out of some third-world dictatorship "FUR FREEDUM AND DEMACROSSY!" like Clinton did whenever scandals cropped up in his administration.

    That's probably for the better.

  • colorblindkid||

    I have little reason to believe President Al Gore wouldn't have also wound up launching a full-blown war with Iraq, with Senator Hillary Clinton's rousing support.

  • Tony||

    Al Gore would have had a bunch of Republican neocons as advisers?

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Tony spent the '90s so hopped up on amyl that he has no memory whatsoever of that entire decade.

  • Mark22||

    To be fair, it's hard to pay attention to the news if you have three beer cans stuck where the sun don't shine.

  • MJBinAL||

    You DO remember that Al Gore was the alter ego for Bill Clinton when he was President ... right? I would expect a Gore Presidency to be just like a Clinton one.

  • Tony||

    How terrible that would have been.

  • XM||

    Yeah, Al Gore would have had to deal with the bubbles bursting from unsustainable housing market and stock value, which inflated the 90's economy. When people spend like no tomorrow, the economy can hum along.

    Don't forget that Clinton's economic policies facilitated lending and investing. He deregulated the banks and cut capitals gain tax.

  • colorblindkid||

    In 1998, 70% of Americans wanted Bill Clinton to target Saddam himself with his bombing campaigns. It was Clinton's administration that made regime change in Iraq official US policy. Everybody was caught up in a fervor after 9/11. Had Gore been in power and had the responsibility at the time, there's no reason to think he would have done what he claimed he would have done if he was.

    Gore's Vice President would have been Joe Lieberman, who was arguably even more hawkish than Cheney. Gore was one of the only Democrats who supported Desert Storm from the beginning. Gore wasn't opposed to getting rid of Saddam and getting rid of his WMD program (which he, like the Clintons, thought was very real right up until we all found out it wasn't); he was only opposed to Bush's approach to the UN.

  • Tony||

    Well thank God we were spared the Bush administration except with Gore's name at the top. Too bad we had to have the actual Bush administration.

    It's curious why we even bother with elections since both parties are exactly the same on all the issues.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    It's the same reason we have Superbowls. Go team.

  • Mark22||

    It's curious why we even bother with elections since both parties are exactly the same on all the issues.

    It's the process of elections that makes that happen: both parties shift around their positions until they both are considered equally bad by all voters. It's a pretty good system once you understand it.

  • colorblindkid||

    Which is why I haven't voted for a major party candidate in the last 3 elections, and everybody else should do the same.

  • Tony||

    How's that working out for you?

  • Hugh Akston||

    What would you call Trump's cruise missile attack on Syria?

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Very presidential. Big league. Believe me.

  • Red Tony||

    That one I knew nothing about.

    So maybe Trump is following in Clinton's footsteps after all. He's becoming Presidential™!

  • Kivlor||

    I'd call it disappointing. I was absolutely sad that he did it. But in context, I think we'd have had a lot more than 1 or 2 missile attacks to "teach them not to use WMD's" (it was probably not Assad) if it had been anyone other than Trump.

  • DajjaI||

    At the risk of being banned again by Reason - I agree completely. Though I think it's pretty obvious that Trump wants to go to NK so he can defect and become KJU's 'bigly-me'.

  • timbo||

    Trump is an ass yes. A jerkoff and scumbag - seems so.
    He is definitely a big government spend thrift POS which makes him Clinton/Bush/Obama.

    I do not think he is a white supremacist and I think it is childish to go that route.

    Remember, capitalism loves green, not black or white. Even though he is far from a free-market guy, he certainly understands the value of business and not alienating paying customers.

  • Tony||

    He may be the first president ever to actually turn away paying customers for being black. And we had presidents who owned black people.

  • MJBinAL||

    That is pretty stupid Tony, even for you.

  • Tony||

    I'm just saying, Trump actually did discriminate against customers in his business for being black.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Whereas the Light Savior Obama had no business experience whatsoever, so he's clean and perfect. Ph, except for all those non-Obama-worshippers he discriminated against. But they were all from states which rejected Obama, so that's ok.

    Gun owners -- half the country -- rejected.

    Republican and Independent voters, and all non-voters -- 3/4 the country -- rejected.

    But that's all ok.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Three-quarters of your neighbors might be bigoted and backward, but most of the country has improved and left those stale-thinking yahoos at the curb. The electorate moves increasingly away from the stale-thinking goobers every day. Unless you figure rural, religious, white, backward, and intolerant voters are going to conduct a remarkable comeback, the goobers have lost the battle.

    Their orange-coiffed death rattle has been entertaining, though.

  • Mark22||

    I'm just saying, Trump actually did discriminate against customers in his business for being black.

    There is no evidence of that.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    No evidence, or not enough to persuade you, or not enough to precipitate charges, or not enough to precipitate a settlement?

  • vek||

    Actually Tony, he discriminated against customers who were on government assistance, who happen to be disproportionally black. I would rather rent to somebody with a job than a deadbeat welfare case too...

  • colorblindkid||

    He actually opened up Mar-A-Lago to Jews and blacks when no other country club in Florida would. Of course, I don't think it was for any altruistic reasons. He just wanted the business and to give big FUCK YOU to the smug elitist Old Money country clubs who shunned him.

  • Mark22||

    He may be the first president ever to actually turn away paying customers for being black.

    I'm not concerned with his stupid business decisions. What concerns me is the two centuries of racism, bigotry, and discrimination imposed on the country by Democrats, including Obama and Clinton.

  • Teddy Pump||

    Trump is a mixed bag at this point, he's done some good things & continued some bad things & also is in the process of reforming some bad things, but he is a pretty sharp cookie & tough as hell too.....Trump knows the evil he is up against & he knows if he changes too many things too fast they will kill him like they killed JFK & like they tried to kill Reagan...Reagan was never the same after he was shot!!!

    I love Ron Paul & I love Rand Paul, (I even wrote him in for 2016), but if those guys ever became prez & started changing things they way they said they would do right from the beginning, they would be killed within 6 months!

    The reason most pols on BOTH SIDES hate him is because they are scared of losing their Big Govt. status & control & easy money!

  • ||

    He may be acting the same way but he does it so meanly!

    Sober take on Trump aside, it's worth noting every other day it seems the deranged left talk freely of harming the Trump (as they did with Bush) and on this front they clearly take the cake.

  • timbo||

    You didn't know the only sophisticated violent mob are leftists.

    That will always be the calling card of the statist/leftist/prog. They have absolutely no compunction worth concealing their bloodlust when it comes to class warfare. That is why leftists are deep down savages to the core.

    All leftist/statists groups have always been marked by violence(communism, fascism, socialism, authoritarianism, name it) . As long as you are killing a capitalist though, then somehow coercion, force, violence, and oppression of rights is noble.

    These people are animals.

  • ||

    The animus possession.

  • Tony||

    It is comforting the extent to which normality remains in place despite the president being a demented buffoon. But give him time.

  • ||

    Does he play the fiddle in your dreams?

  • Tony||

    No but it'd be interesting to see his fingering style what with his dainty little hands.

  • MJBinAL||

    Indeed Tony, I am sure you would.

  • Mark22||

    It is comforting the extent to which normality remains in place despite the president being a demented buffoon.

    It was even more comforting that the nation survived racists, proto-fascists, bigots, and buffoons like Clinton and Obama.

  • Tony||

    Is it that you want people to think you're nuts, or are you just nuts?

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    I disagree. Obama is a Nobel Peace Prize winning constitutional law expert who became the first sitting President to endorse marriage equality. Drumpf is a white nationalist Putin puppet who has already wrecked the excellent economy he inherited, called non-white countries "shitholes," started the transformation of the US into The Handmaid's Tale, and may ruin the entire planet with his recklessness with North Korea.

    Speaking of Obama and Drumpf in the same breath just because of some tariff issue misses the big picture.

  • NoVaNick||

    who has already wrecked the excellent economy he inherited
    started the transformation of the US into The Handmaid's Tale

    Evidence please

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    Dude, if you're gonna spoof ya gotta do better than that. Way too over the top.

  • Teddy Pump||

    LOL!!!!

  • Teddy Pump||

    Funny thing about Obummy's Nobel Peace Prize: For the 7 years after he won it, he, helped along by his wonderful Sec. of State, became a much worse War Criminal than Shrub #2....Heck, Obummy & HildaBeast make Shrub #2 look like Mr. Rogers!!!

  • Teddy Pump||

    So, Obummy was a constitutional law expert who actions got slapped down unanimously by SCOTUS 12 times, the most by any president.....Oh, yeah a constitutional law expert who without a Teleprompter always sounded like a stammering crackhead!!!

  • vek||

    How now, what's so bad about being a white nationalist? And he didn't say ALL non white countries are shitholes... Just all the ones that are objectively shitholes! I'm sure he thinks Japan is plenty nice!

  • NoVaNick||

    The big difference between he whose name must not be spoken and other recent POTUSs seems to be the former's liberal use of Twitter to launch his unfiltered tirades. Take that away and he fits in nicely with the rest of the them. He will probably be re-elected too if the economy keeps up and the dems nominate a sadsack white guy or Elizabeth Warren to run against him (both seem strong possibilities).

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    If Trump was running against Warren, how many times would he call her Pocahontas during the debates?

  • John||

    He would probably show up to the debate wearing a war bonnet. It would be awesome. I think that is why she is not going to run.

  • NoVaNick||

    Well, the fact that she refuses to take a DNA test has pretty much settled it that she has earned the title Fauxcohontas.

  • NoVaNick||

    If I were Warren, I would start wearing a chief's headdress just to troll Trump.

  • Mark22||

    First of all, that would be cultural appropriation for a rich white woman.

    Second, most of those wonderful native American societies were quite strict on gender roles, and wearing a chief's headdress wouldn't be permitted.

  • colorblindkid||

    When Sacagawea was 12, her villagee was raided by another tribe who killed a bunch of people and stole the young girls, like herself, to be sold as child brides. Toussaint Charbonneau, a French trapper, either won her and another girl gambling, or bought them for a few beaver pelts.

    Chief Seattle owned over a hundred slaves at the time of the emancipation proclamation. By some estimates, up to 30% of the pre-Columbian population of the Northwest was slaves.

    This doesn't mean they were savages or worse than the Europeans, but white people in America are the only ones who aren't allowed to whitewash their cultural histories at the moment.

  • ||

    The big difference between he whose name must not be spoken and other recent POTUSs seems to be the former's liberal use of Twitter to launch his unfiltered tirades.

    Yeah #bringbackourgirlsagain!

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    "dems nominate a sadsack white guy or Elizabeth Warren "

    Isn't that statement redundant?

  • John||

    You can argue forever about whether Trump is a good or bad President. That is a question of opinion and can't be settled. But the idea that Trump is somehow outside the norm of Presidents and some kind of uniquely bad President or grave threat to the Republic in ways no other President has been is self evidently absurd. The only reason articles like this have to be written is because the media and various members of the political and media class didn't think Trump would ever be President. So they figured that they could say anything about Trump and never face the prospect of him proving them wrong. The entire election cycle was an orgy of virtue signaling where every member of the self-appointed "elite" signaled their virtue and membership in the elite by saying increasingly insane and stupid things about the dangers of Trump. Well, Trump did win and now they look really stupid and more stupid every day.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "On trade, foreign policy, and so much more, he's Clinton, Bush, and Obama without the charm and respect."

    Are we talking about how the White House press corp doesn't find Trump charming or have respect for him? I don't care what they think about such things. I suspect there are plenty of swing voters in swing states who find him charming and have respect for him specifically because the media's minions in the White House press corp are contemptuous of him. That's why so many of them feel like he's one of them--because the media treats him with the same contempt that they exude for the white, blue collar, middle class of the Midwest, too.

    Gabba Gabba, one of us!

    In relation to foreign policy, Trump may be like Clinton, but not Bush or Obama. Bush and Obama were both neocons, and Trump has both extolled and executed a pragmatic foreign policy--which we haven't seen since Clinton, Bush Sr., and, especially, Reagan. Trump is wiling to work with Putin if it suits American security interests to do so--much like Reagan embraced support for Pinochet. Neither Bush nor Obama nor Hillary Clinton could have or would have done that--and we'd still be looking at invading Syria to put down ISIS and Assad if we hadn't elected a pragmatist like Trump. If it's in American security interests for Trump to embrace Duerte and the fat kid, let's hope Trump does so.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    The current era reminds me a lot of the '70s. Of course that's partly because that was the decade I became an adult. And I'm not arguing that it's an exact parallel. But the issues we have now we had then, sometimes in a different form and sometimes very much the same. Things weren't all good but we made it, and I think we can make it again.

    My saying that will probably piss off those who are anxiously peeking out their windows to see if the Nazis are goosestepping up their street.

  • Ken Shultz||

    There are other distinctions between Trump and Obama on policy that we should be clear about.

    When Trump was making making his America first statements during the campaign, they were in contrast to what the Obama administration was doing. I can think of three examples off the top of my head:

    1) Paris Accord

    That treaty was not in the best interests of the United States. It was Obama's attempt to find traction in forcing average Americans to make sacrifices in their standard of living for the benefit of people in the developing world.

    2) Iran Treaty

    Again, that agreement wasn't about American security. Obama effectively capitulated to an adversary in an attempt to handcuff future administrations in their ability to use Iran's nuclear program as a pretense to isolate Iran in the future. Letting them off the hook and letting them enrich their own uranium certainly wasn't in the interests of American security. He was appeasing the Iranians in the hope of having peace in our time.

  • Mezzanine||

    "wasn't in the interests of American security" "hope of having peace in our time."

    So achieving diplomatic peace by lifting a large amount of sanctions that should never have never even been in place on a sovereign country isn't in the interest of American security? Sounds like the neocon position to me.

  • Ken Shultz||

    3) Refugee policy

    Just one example, Obama made a backroom deal with the Australians to take their refugees from Manus Island--whom the Australian government refused to allow into their country. These refugees were so bad, the Red Cross had gone public with widespread rape and abuse. They had to start turning families with children away to another facility because the children were being subjected to rape on a systematic basis.

    Obama agreed to bring them all here to America--in exchange for . . . nothing. He wasn't doing it for the benefit of the U.S. He was doing it for the benefit of the refugees.

    If Trump's America first rhetoric is empty now, not that I'm saying it is, that wasn't always the case--certainly not in contrast to the Obama administration.

  • XM||

    In terms of actual policy, Trump is probably no different than most of his predecessors. By this time of his presidency Obama was well on his way to Fast and Furious and destroying usable cars with cash for clunkers.

    But he's really in his own league in how he conducts himself as a president. I don't I have to list any examples.

    Theoretically, Trump could get up one morning and say "Guys I'm pulling our troops out of AFG next Monday, so get ready for that" to the bewilderment of his advisers. That's a refreshing quality that libertarians could appreciate about Trump. He's the kind of guy who just says what's on his mind, and does what he thinks. It's not always a good thing, obviously.

    If there was a venn diagram of Trump and Ron Paul, there would be a decent amount of things in the intersecting middle. They're both cranky old white dudes driven by anti establishment sentiments. President Ron Paul would value due process more and heed counsel, but truthfully anything he proposes would be greeted with the "He's batshit insane" response from the media that greets Trump.

  • Brian Whittle||

    Winston Churchill was only a good wartime leader, in peacetime he was not so good.

  • GILMORE™||

    "Winston Churchill was only a good wartime leader,"

    Arguably, he wasn't even that.

    He was a good wartime *cheer*leader. he was an ace morale-booster. he was a shrewd politician.

    But he had a remarkable string of absurdly-grandiose military failures,

    - starting w/ Gallipoli in WWI,
    - the occupation of Norway in the "phony war"
    - nearly losing the entire British Expeditionary Force in the Battle of France
    (Dunkirk might be an inspiring film, but there's a reason you never see/hear from Churchill until its over, because the viewer might ask, "how the hell did they let this happen in the first place""),
    - the error of sending troops to Greece, then deciding that they shouldn't actually risk them in any fight
    (they were hoping to engage only Italians; when it turned out that the Germans decided to pay a visit they did this)
    - His influence in convincing Americans that they should try to invade Italy rather than go straight at the Germans....
    ... and more

    he was notoriously stubborn even in the midst of obvious failures and never accepted that any decision was a bad one. iow, he never learned from his many mistakes. In the end he was cut out of many WWII decisions simply because everyone else recognized he was impossible to negotiate with, and that his sole interest was a vain (and failed) attempt to hold the British empire together

  • John||

    You forgot Crete. But it is a real stretch to blame the collapse of France on Churchill. It was Churchill who thought up and ordered the rescue operation,. Most of his cabinet wanted to negotiate a peace.

  • vek||

    Sometimes being stubborn and a good cheerleader is the best thing you can hope for. I think we all know Chamberlain would have fucked things up even worse! Do you all forget that George Washington lost almost every single battle of the Revolutionary War? That one of his most daring military achievements was a sneaky retreat? Churchill was a good leader for the time, place, and situation. AFAIK he did okay when he got reelected PM in the 50s as well. It was all pretty business as usual, but nothing horrible.

    Not everybody can be as well rounded and awesome as Frederick the Great or Julius Caesar ya know!

  • buybuydandavis||

    "And there's no question that Trump doesn't seem to have any idea of what he's doing."

    Remind me when Nick predicted that Trump would win the presidency

  • vek||

    I love how even in an article trying to paint Trump as being fairly normal, which really he is... Nick can't help but throw in jabs, virtue signalling, and general hysteria about things.

    If, and it is a big if, Trump ends up following through on a lot of the great things he has promised, and ends up being one of the most beloved presidents in recent history, I do wonder what all these silly media folks are going to do with themselves... Especially libertarian and conservative ones. I mean half the country still recoils at the name "Ronald Reagan" as if he were Hitler, so you can't expect to win over those folks... But the Never Trump so called conservatives, they're going to have to eat their words just like all the establishment Republicans did after Reagan.

    *Not that Reagan was great by most objective standards, but being the least shitty turd in a few decades you still get lots of kudos.

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