Donald Trump

Both the Grammys and the State of the Union Worship at the Cult of the Presidency: Podcast

Working toward a de-presidentified future while trying to imagine an immigration deal that isn't awful


Truer every year? ||| Reason

Last night's Grammy Awards telecast included not just the headline-making reading by Hillary Clinton of Michael Wolff's Trump-trashing bestseller Fire and Fury but also a set-up from host James Corden pointing out—as if it were a normal or admirable thing—that previous Grammys for Best Spoken Word Album have gone to Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and Al Gore. Is that not a sign that—as will be in evidence during tomorrow's State of the Union address—we are a nation still in thrall to the Cult of the Presidency?

That question kicks off today's Reason Podcast, which features Nick Gillespie, Katherine Mangu-Ward, Peter Suderman, and Matt Welch debating the news of the week. How can we "de-presidentify" the SOTU? Suderman wants presidents to read policy white papers. Mangu-Ward suggests pointing out that "America is an idea about eagles." And Gillespie argues that Trump's own behavior has already demystified the Oval Office in overdue ways. Other discussion includes deal-points on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Steven Spielberg's missed opportunity to trash Ben Bradlee in The Post, and the audio-visual problematics of Luke and Laura.

Audio production by Ian Keyser.

Relevant links from the show:

"Grammys Have Time for Hillary Clinton, But Not Lorde, To Perform?," by Nick Gillespie

"The Necessity of Stephen Miller," by Ross Douthat in The New York Times

"Are Microschools the Next Big Thing?" by Tyler Koteskey

"How Immigration Crackdowns Screw Up Americans' Lives," by Shikha Dalmia

"Why Trump Supporters Are Bringing an Elephant Man to the Beauty Pageant," by Matt Welch

"When the Entire Democratic Party Was Like Donald Trump," by Matt Welch

"The Cult of the Presidency," by Gene Healy

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NEXT: Is Selfishness a Virtue? A Debate With Yaron Brook and Gene Epstein.

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  1. Well, if you need a place to stay Nick in the Dayton area, I can ask my parents to put you up.

    1. Are you offering to sacrifice your parents to The Jacket?

      1. I’m offering my parents to take The Jacket to Skyline Chili.

          1. I know there is some good in his heart, and I believe the true goodness of Skyline will help make that goodness shine.

  2. How can we “de-presidentify” the SOTU?

    I’m partial to the Jeffersonian method – just write Congress a letter and make somebody else read it out loud.

    I suppose Trump could tweet the address @RealHouseofReps @Senate4Lyfe instead.

    1. What? And no Trump hands bobbing up and down in the universal gesture of scrumptiousness for emphasis as he talks?

    2. Trump tweeting out the SOTU would be at once truly Trumpian and surprisingly Jeffersonian.

  3. The president should just be a glorified DMV clerk. You shouldn’t really care who is president…

    All you lefties who love government power because you think you will always be in power… did Trump give you any pause? I don’t think you actually care about him having too much power, just that he’s using it in a way you don’t like.

    1. As much as I despise Trump his efforts have been checked by the courts, Congress, and his own ineptitude.

      The real damage was done by Bush – or the “Unitary Executive” as he thought of himself. Or The Decider. Or just a plain stupid idiot.

      1. “Unitary Executive”

        Former President Barack ‘Pen-&-Phone’ Obama could not be reached for comment.

      2. “Or just a plain stupid idiot.”

        Mirror, mirror….

      3. You aren’t swooning over George W Bush like the Democrats are right now?

    2. That’s pretty much the way the Founders envisioned the office. It’s only because Congress has delegated so much of its own power to the Executive branch (or failed to react when it was summarily taken) that the presidency has become so over-powered.

      Of course, when you look at the caliber of representatives and senators we have these days, it’s hard to wish that they were still the preeminent branch.

  4. Humans are pack animals. The President is the pack leader. Humans have always obsessed over the pack leader. Most people are like Hitler’s dog.

    1. Well, Hitler’s dog loved him, so most people aren’t that I suppose.

      1. Well, loved or obsessed? There is a thin line there.

          1. Plus, they have no sense of time. They love the pack leader forever.

            Unfortunately, Trump is a different pack leader. grrrrrr.

          2. True that.

    2. Most people are like Hitler’s dog.

      And Hitler killed Blondi just to make sure his suicide pill would work. That certainly sounds like how the president treats the electorate.

  5. The people in these two giant groups are all exactly the same.

    Also NEVER collectivize.

  6. I haven’t been able to stomach the SOTU for years now. It’s embarrassing to a nation that calls itself a republic.

    1. I have not watched a single SOTU ever. I can reveal to you the secret of how to do this for only $19.95.

        1. “Paypal?”
          1) Paint something
          2) Watch it dry

      1. Wow! Do you have a newsletter too?

      2. I’ll reveal the secret for only $14.95, and I’ll throw in a free LED key light.

  7. Humans seem to have an innate need for hierarchy, so the “Cult of the Presidency” should be no surprise. Especially in the wake of the destruction of the family. We’ve swapped having small hierarchies mostly independent of the state for having a great national hierarchy, which provides for the masses where families would have done so in previous centuries. The state is the new family. The POTUS is daddy.

    Don’t get me wrong, the Cult of the Presidency is, in some ways much older than the breakdown of the family but it is quite obvious that it was small and checked in generations past, only becoming pervasive and ubiquitous in the wake of the sexual revolution.

    1. I wonder how much of it had to do simply with much more limited access to the President. Information spread so slowly 100 years ago. If you lived 100 years ago in California, learning about the President involved hard discussion and telegraphs from a city 3000 miles away. Days and weeks of travel would have been required.

      1. When families were intact, and divorces extremely difficult people were a lot more concerned with their family than the POTUS. How many intact families talk that much about the POTUS at dinner? You’ve got better things to be doing with your kids.

        It’s easy to try to blame communication speeds, but honestly, it’s not likely the fault of radio or telephones. Sure, more people heard the POTUS with such inventions, but most didn’t care too much about the policies of the POTUS on the day-to-day and didn’t look to him as some magic panacea.

        1. But we can see the rise of the imperial president with technology. You say no one cared about day to day, but that’s likely due to pre-cable television and radio was still too limited to fixate constantly with constant updates.

          Because the first radio president was FDR. And you can’t tell me that he did not foster a tremendous Cult of the Presidency.

          1. Imagine if we could go back and make regular daily updates on the POTUS available to the public in 1790. Do you think most people would listen or care President Washington said: “Loser Thomas Jefferson thinks I’m the dumbest of the Founding Fathers. He’s scared of my popularity and my tremendous IQ. I know it. You know it. Everybody knows it.”

            No one would care. They’d go on about their day. If anything, they’d be confused as to why someone thought they’d care in the first place.

            FDR certainly had a cult of personality. This coincides with a depression where people were looking to the government for handouts en masse. I would wager a lot of that was due to feminine rent seeking.

            1. How do you know no one would care? You are making up outrageous claims and taking them as fact to support your flimsy hypothesis. You actually suggested that people who are married and have kids suddenly stop caring about politics and the president? What? Do you know and interact with any live humans in real life?

  8. headline-making reading by Hillary Clinton of Michael Wolff’s Trump-trashing bestseller

    It’s nice that grandma reads fiction to the children.

    1. My local rag (SF Chron) is as pro-hag as you are going to find. There was no comment at all on the hag-reading. Not only no headline, not one single word.
      When I ran into it here, I first thought it was some sort of satire.

      1. I think this is the first time I felt pity for Hillary.

  9. I noted that the four “spoken word album” Grammies all went to Democrats.

    My respect for the office is so great that I never once referred to Obama as stupid. I consistently referred to him as a nincompoop. The distinction in choice of words is small, but telling. It recalls Grandpa on the long-running TV show Hee Haw, who regularly insisted that Junior was not silly, but merely foolish.

    Well, sometimes narcissistic nincompoop, for the alliterative effect.

    1. This is because Democrats are the only people who will sit and listen to politicians for fun, so Republicans never make spoken word albums.

  10. I can’t stand to watch this guy, most of all when he’s doing his monotone teleprompter work, but I am taking bets on the denture/stroke situation. I presume if his teeth fall out/he strokes out while speaking, it’ll get replay.

    1. Where is Hillary speaking? I have yet to see her teeth fall out yet.

      I have seen the coughing fits and the collapse where her SS detail had to carry her heinous to her van.

      1. And you probably called Obama the Teleprompter President.

        1. Tony, I have to say, I’m continually impressed by your jumping ability. The way you make the logical leap from, “People I disagree with said this thing,” and, “You are a person I disagree with,” to, “Therefore, you said this thing,” is truly a joy to watch.

  11. Last night’s Grammy Awards telecast included not just the headline-making reading by Hillary Clinton of Michael Wolff’s Trump-trashing bestseller Fire and Fury but also a set-up from host James Corden pointing out?as if it were a normal or admirable thing?that previous Grammys for Best Spoken Word Album have gone to Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and Al Gore.

    Of course he did

    Is that not a sign that?as will be in evidence during tomorrow’s State of the Union address?we are a nation still in thrall to the Cult of the Presidency? .

    No, Matt, it’s not a sign that we’re a nation in thrall to the Cult of the Presidency.

    It’s simply yet another example of the fact that the left worships power, genuflects before power, fellates power– whenever and however it can.

    I suspect that it’s really hard for you to see that anymore. And we can only expect it to get harder.

    1. Sour grapes. Republicans can barely speak properly let alone write.

      1. You just responded because you can’t help yourself when the words ‘fellate’, ‘hard’, and ‘harder’ are in a post.

        You got turned on.

        1. Yeah there must be something wrong with me. Imagine a dude who enjoys fellatio.

  12. Sexy Bulgarian? Rusev udria…Rusev machka…

  13. I came to the sad conclusion tonight that Trump will not announce the appointment of two new special prosecutors tomorrow night—one to investigate whether Hillary’s deliberate violation of all security protocols at State was beyond reasonable doubt so that she could run a pay-for-play scheme and never have her emails subject to scrutiny, to include her destroying said emails after Congress formally requested to see them (to include the issue whether Obama darn well knew about her private email server as well ((not to mention the five nations that hacked into the rinky-dink system))). One special investigator also to investigate blatant, deliberate, and nasty FISA warrant abuse to spy on Republicans and sabotage and destroy Trump using a fake dossier that Hillary ordered up for $12 million and that was fleshed out with the help of paid Russian sources.

    Special Prosecutors are problematic anyhow. They are so independent they can drift off course on a random walk and no telling where they will end up. A.G. Jeff Sessions will have a ton of evidence and I expect many of those who know they did wrong will break under pressure and try to cut deals. The mainstream media will be squealing all the way like a hog being castrated with a broken bottle, but their cheerleading for the far-left routine is so stale that nobody will even notice them anymore.

    1. What checks and balances exist on special prosecutors?

  14. I’d like to applaud Katherine’s metaphor explaining how immigrants are like pizza (even the bad ones are still pretty good). I can’t wait to use it even though I’m sure everyone will take offense to it.

  15. I can see what your saying… Raymond `s article is surprising, last week I bought a top of the range Acura from making $4608 this-past/month and-a little over, $10,000 this past month . with-out any question its the easiest work I’ve ever had . I began this five months/ago and almost straight away startad bringin in minimum $82 per-hr

    HERE? ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  16. My favorite part of every podcast is Nick interrupting someone to force a joke that doesn’t land.

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