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Samizdata quote of the day

One of the biggest mistakes people make when dealing with Trump is thinking it is all about him. This is understandable given Trump thinks everything is about him and so did his predecessor. But even Trump would probably acknowledge that on this issue, and several others, he is simply representing the interests of the people who elected him. That is his job after all, but Merkel, Macron, and the rest don’t seem to understand this: they talk of changing Trump’s mind as if he’s decided to withdraw from the Paris Agreement just for the fun of it, instead of it being something he was specifically elected to do. I genuinely doubt they realise that the commitments they’re demanding must first be approved by the senate. The way Macron has kicked off his presidential career, he probably thinks everyone at the G20 can do anything they like, as if they’re medieval kings.

Tim Newman

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50 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Thailover

    Statist rulers think of themselves as kings, so it’s no wonder they think of Trump as king as well.
    BTW, it shouldn’t have to be said, but it doesn’t occur to some people that statism is just another way of thinking about tribalism, or as Bashir put it, roughly speaking, nations are tribes with flags. Even if that tribe is purely democratic, that would still be a tribe, but with arbitrary mob majority rule rather than arbitrary rule by chieftain. Statist leaders consider the state (and thus themselves) to be excempt from law, but as Ayn Rand said, individual rights are the means of subordinating society to moral law.

  • pete

    Trump does not have a mandate from clever, educated people and that’s why he has no right to speak for anyone.

    This is how ‘liberals’ now think.

    And why they tell us that democracy is threatened.

  • Myno

    Another aspect of the focus on Trump is that it robs attention from the work of those he has appointed. Trump may be a clown, but his SCOTUS appointment is not. Ditto for his appointments for UN, Education, Environment, Interior (gov’t land), Communications, and Regulation. Even the Veteran’s Administration is apparently getting cleaned up. To understand the Trump Presidency, you need peripheral vision.

  • Alisa

    given Trump thinks everything is about him and so did his predecessor

    We all tend to think it is all about us, but most of us are not nearly as narcissistic as Trump’s predecessor, and that includes Trump.

  • hennesli

    talking of trump, this video on his twitter account made me burst out laughing when the music kicked in.
    no wonder Matt Parker and Trey Stone have given up trying to satirize him.

  • bobby b

    Yes, they’re behind the times. Back here at home, we the kings sent Trump our messenger to them to communicate our disdain for their ideas and values. Merkel et al might as well serenade the mailman who has brought them their breakup letter.

    This is the way government is supposed to work.

  • Michael Brazier

    “Trump may be a clown, but his SCOTUS appointment is not.”

    So Trump is treating the US Presidency as if it were the Presidency of the Galaxy in Hitchhiker’s? The President’s job isn’t to wield power himself but to draw attention away from those who do?

  • bobby b

    “The President’s job isn’t to wield power himself but to draw attention away from those who do?”

    It may be more of a hobby than a job to him. He seems to be successfully drawing attention away from others by wielding his various powers with great affect.

    Feints within feints . . .

  • Runcie Balspune

    One of the occasionally readable articles on Zero Hedge takes a sideways glance at this.
    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-09/hamilton-hustle-why-have-liberals-embraced-americas-most-reactionary-founder

  • Confused ’Old Misfit

    Michael Brazier & bobby b have it. Donald Trump is a rough diamond. He knows the entertainment business and how to make an audience focus on what he wants them to focus on. He also knows the business world and how to delegate and manage. You’ll have to work very hard to con him. You’ll also have to be very wary that he does not con you!

  • Mr Black

    The moment I read something to the effect of Trump being a clown, I know that I can disregard what ever nonsense follows. If his astonishing success thus far isn’t enough to convince people that he just might know what he is doing, nothing will.

  • Jacob

    “Trump would probably acknowledge that on this issue, and several others, he is simply representing the interests of the people who elected him.”

    That is totally and absolutely wrong.
    Trump does what he believes and thinks correct. That is what all presidents and kings do.
    If somebody (say the NY Times) showed Trump a poll where 70% of the American people support the Paris agreement, he would tell them in no uncertain terms what they can do with it.

    To portray Trump as a meek follower of public opinion is false.

    I think Trump is misunderestimated.
    He has his ideas, his beliefs, his capabilities (quite impressive) and also some limitations.
    The trouble is – many of his ideas are wrong (mercantilism), but others are correct (against bureaucracy and excessive taxation).
    He is a mixed bag, like all presidents.

  • Trump does what he believes and thinks correct.

    Trump wouldn’t have had the faintest idea what the Paris Agreement was until he stumbled onto the campaign trail and a load of people wearing MAGA hats cheering his name told him they didn’t like it and it was costing them their jobs.

  • Jacob

    You don’t have the slightest evidence for such a claim.

    You’re buying the absurd MSM propaganda. (They suppose that the only reason one can oppose the Paris agreement is ignorance, or idiocy).

    Trump is as able and intelligent and knowledgeable as anyone. At least as any of the Presidents at least since 1960.

    The MSM always paint any Republican as dumb, racist and evil.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Alisa: 😀

  • Chip

    “Trump wouldn’t have had the faintest idea what the Paris Agreement was until he stumbled onto the campaign trail and a load of people wearing MAGA hats cheering his name told him they didn’t like it and it was costing them their jobs.”

    Right. A guy running a $10 billion company with 22,000 employees and interests in multiple countries while residing in NY and regularly socializing with the global elite including the Clintons and Bloomberg is a dumb hick who could never have known about an international treaty that frequently dominated the front page of the New York Times.

    Simple people like silly caricatures.

  • Stonyground

    “They suppose that the only reason one can oppose the Paris agreement is ignorance, or idiocy”

    As opposed to well informed and intelligent people who think that politicians can control the weather presumably?

  • Dave Roetman

    Trump is a very wealthy alpha male who bangs supermodels. He doesn’t need affirmation from anyone, especially anyone from Europe trying to cajole him into accepting a bad deal. European “leaders” trying to isolate him won’t work – they are doing him a favor by taking their complaints elsewhere.

  • You’re buying the absurd MSM propaganda. (They suppose that the only reason one can oppose the Paris agreement is ignorance, or idiocy).

    Given I’ve written a lengthy article in which I cite other reasons to oppose the Paris Agreement, and that article is linked in the OP, it is a bit silly to claim I’ve bought the MSM propaganda.

  • Right. A guy running a $10 billion company with 22,000 employees and interests in multiple countries while residing in NY and regularly socializing with the global elite including the Clintons and Bloomberg is a dumb hick who could never have known about an international treaty that frequently dominated the front page of the New York Times.

    Trump’s in property development, not manufacturing or energy production. The Paris Agreement wouldn’t have affected him that much, but it affects those who are his core support. I doubt there is any record of Trump opposing the Paris Agreement before he hit the nomination campaign trail; I might be wrong, but I doubt it.

  • Alisa

    a load of people wearing MAGA hats cheering his name told him they didn’t like it and it was costing them their jobs

    And then maybe he looked into the matter, maybe even read about it (he can read, I imagine?), then consulted people who know more about it than he did, and then formed his own opinion? Isn’t this what all Presidents do when confronted with issues about which they know nothing or very little?

  • Paul Marks

    Many Europeans still seem to have a problem understanding the separation of powers – the idea that the legislature is not just a rubber stamp for the government. Even though Montesquieu wrote extensively on this matter – and his words were carefully read in the later Founding Period of the United States.

    As for actually listening to what people want and doing it – as opposed to brainwashing the public to accept what the elite think is best, no people such as President Macron have no respect for that. European leaders see their role as representing the “educated” elite and improving the public – by making the public want what they “should” want.

    To Rousseau (the inspiration of modern Europe – but not the United States at least not the traditional United States) what people said they wanted was just the “will of all” – to be despised, the true “General Will” was what people were educated to want, by the wise “Lawgiver”. This is why Robespierre sincerely thought he was reflecting the “General Will” during the French Revolution – because it was up to him (as the Lawgiver) to decide what the people “really” wanted, even if they did not know it themselves.

  • Myno

    Mr. Black’s “The moment I read something to the effect of Trump being a clown, I know that I can disregard what ever nonsense follows…”

    What is the purpose of a clown, be it Rodeo or Circus? It is to distract… the bull from the downed rider, the children from the change in acts. Your point is that Mr. Trump knows what he is doing. If so, then part of that great knowing is how to distract the Powers That Be. The perfect role for a clown… who has made some outstanding appointments.

    Snap judgements are useful in heavy traffic. Not so much in reasoned discourse.

    And Alisa [July 9, 2017 at 9:57 pm], THAT!

  • And then maybe he looked into the matter, maybe even read about it (he can read, I imagine?), then consulted people who know more about it than he did, and then formed his own opinion? Isn’t this what all Presidents do when confronted with issues about which they know nothing or very little?

    Exactly.

  • Jacob

    “it is a bit silly to claim I’ve bought the MSM propaganda.”

    You bought MSM propaganda – not about the Paris accord, but about the claim that Trump is too dumb to have his own opinion about this accord.

    I submit that Trump is no dumber than you are, and if you were able to read and learn the subject and have an own opinion about Paris, maybe Trump was able too…

    Try to find out what made you think that Trump is dumb and is unable to understand the Paris accord.

  • Alisa

    So where’s the problem, Tim?

  • bobby b

    “You bought MSM propaganda – not about the Paris accord, but about the claim that Trump is too dumb to have his own opinion about this accord.”

    I didn’t perceive anything in his statement that was an insult to Trump. To the contrary, I read it as a compliment.

    Trump doesn’t seem to be placing the worth of his own preferences above those of his constituents. He campaigned on the idea that he would empower Americans by serving their desires as to what the president should be doing rather than simply seeking some carte blanche to push his own personal agenda.

    The fact that he educates himself as to the issues, and then continues to serve our desires rather than his own, means (to me) that he is properly representing the people who elected him, just as he promised he would.

    Remember, the theme of his post was representation versus leadership. Trump is being a true representative. He was waffling on the global warming issue even through his campaign, but he’s now coming down firmly in support of OUR consensus. If he had been pushing his own personal preferences over ours, this would be a very different presidency.

  • bobby b

    From The Washington Post of November 2016:

    “So, for those keeping score, Trump has:

    – Denied that climate change is happening and called it a hoax.
    – Suggested that the world is actually warming, but that humans aren’t involved.
    – Suggested that the world is warming and that humans had a “minor” effect.
    – Suggested that the world is warming and that there is some “connectivity” to human behavior.
    – Called for the adoption of policies to curtail human-caused climate change, providing a boon to the economy.

    That’s all within the past 10 years. Where Trump actually stands once he has to make a decision as president is anyone’s guess. But, as always, pay attention to public opinion and the opinions of the people around him.”

    This took me less than a minute to find.

  • So where’s the problem, Tim?

    I have no idea. I get the impression people think I was bashing Trump: I wasn’t, I was merely pointing out:

    1) He is representing people’s interests over the Paris Agreement
    2) He probably showed little interest in the Paris Agreement until his supporters let him know it would impact their livelihood.

  • Jacob

    “1) He is representing people’s interests over the Paris Agreement
    2) He probably showed little interest in the Paris Agreement until his supporters let him know it would impact their livelihood.”

    Both statements lack evidence.

    “and then [Trump] continues to serve our desires rather than his own”

    Also without evidence.

    We could easily say that, over the Paris accord, opinion is divided, and those in the public who think global warming is a big threat, and the Paris accords a necessary step toward preventing catastrophe – those are at least 50% of the US electorate, and possibly more.

    So, the least Trump did is decide which of these two big groups to represent…

    If Trump had signed and supported the Paris accords you could have claimed equally, and with the same justification, that he is bowing to the will of the people and representing them rather than his own opinion.

    The claim than Trump “is representing” rather than “leading” is wrong.

  • Jacob

    See this tweet from 2012:
    Reckless! Why is @BarackObama wasting over $70 Billion on ‘climate change activities?’ Will he ever learn? http://thedc.com/JnQpHU
    10:23 PM – 18 May 2012

    Seems the desire to stop wasting big money on climate is very much Trump’s own, and his position is not a humble bow to public opinion.

  • bobby b

    Jacob
    July 11, 2017 at 8:47 am

    “We could easily say that, over the Paris accord, opinion is divided, and those in the public who think global warming is a big threat, and the Paris accords a necessary step toward preventing catastrophe – those are at least 50% of the US electorate, and possibly more.”

    That 50% who believe global warming is a big threat which calls for the accords?

    They’re called Democrats. They’re not the people Trump represents. There’s always that happy-talk about how the president must be everyone’s president, but you mostly only hear that when the president is Republican.

    Remember all of the calls from the press for Obama to govern more from the center?

    Yeah, neither do I.

  • Alisa

    OK Tim, you and I are in furious agreement – got it 🙂

    Still, Jacob has a point, and Bobby’s quote seems to support it. It looks like Trump has been debating this issue in his own mind for quite a while (much like most of us, really), but once he had to choose between the two positions, he chose the one that was more in line with that of his core supporters and with his own personal proclivity. After all, it is not by accident that voters who hold certain positions on this and other issues are also Trump’s core supporters – rather, it is because they feel that his own proclivities are similar to theirs.

  • Alisa

    BTW, I don’t see representation and leadership as mutually exclusive.

  • bobby b

    “Seems the desire to stop wasting big money on climate is very much Trump’s own, and his position is not a humble bow to public opinion.”

    Jacob, when I say that Trump’s position has been all over the boards for a while, you don’t contradict me by raising one statement of his on one side.

    You seem to think I’m denigrating Trump – that I must think him dense or slow or pandering or . . . something. I don’t. I was very happy he won, and my happiness has only risen since then.

    Leaders are great. Leaders, completely aside from their stand on the specific issues, can bind together nations and drive great efforts. We can safely elect true leaders without reference to their position on issues, because we can depend on their great wisdom and empathy such that their own decisions and positions turn out to be good for us.

    Every five or six presidential elections, we get one candidate who truly is, or could be, a great leader. These people are rare. In the other four or five intervening elections, we end up trying to select a leader from a batch of candidates with not one true leader amongst them. And then we’re usually disappointed.

    We need to vote for people who are smart, and who possess a managerial competence that allows them to run the country competently, according to our wishes. As our representative. Trump is doing that very well.

    If he develops into a leader, great. Time will tell, and I’m not counting him out. But even after his election, there was great confusion as to how he would deal with the Paris Accords. It was no sure thing that he would pull out.

    But he settled on a course of action that (coincidentally, I guess some would hold) matches that of his supporters. He has been a true and honest representative, without the egotistic grandiosity with which not-quite-leaders cloak themselves. I like him.

  • Jacob

    “He has been a true and honest representative, without the egotistic grandiosity with which not-quite-leaders cloak themselves. I like him.”

    You’re welcome.

    What I like in him is not his being a “true and honest representative”, which I don’t believe he is. He has his opinions, and I like them ( I think they are correct – as far as the Paris accord is concerned).
    I think that being a humble or obedient representative of the community is NOT what Trump is. “egotistic grandiosity” … more like it. I don’t know about “egotistic” but Trump sure doesn’t suffer from lack of “grandiosity”.

    About Trump dumping of the Paris accord: it was the right thing to do, but in his speech he gave the wrong reasons for it.
    He said the accord hurts the American people, and is bad for America. This is WRONG. The Paris accord is wrong for ALL people, it hurts ALL people (though it is possible it hurts Americans and the developed world more than the others).

  • I didn’t perceive anything in his statement that was an insult to Trump. To the contrary, I read it as a compliment.

    The Trump fanboyz perceive anything less than adoration as a mortal insult, bobby. Anyone who has not sucked hard on the weird hallucinogenic stoogie that is Trump is an enemy to be denounced 😆

  • About Trump dumping of the Paris accord: it was the right thing to do, but in his speech he gave the wrong reasons for it.

    Which is an excellent indication Tim is right and Trump has not really pondered why but is simply do so because that is what his Amen Chorus wants him to do. The fact he is correct is nice but you will find it hard to convince me Trump is a thoughtful man.

  • Chip

    This is even sillier than Tim’s original comment because there are now multiple posts showing that Trump was a climate skeptic as far back as 2011, long before he had an “Amen Chorus” and in fact at a time when such a stance was very unpopular, especially in New York.

    And the allusion to Trump Fanboyz is simplistic signalling. On a personal level I can’t stand Trump. His narcissism, vulgarity and speaking style grate heavily. But his policies are pretty good. Polls show many if his voters feel the same because his personal popularity numbers trail his policy numbers and those of other republicans elected in November.

    It’s a rational weighing of the man and his actions, rather than an impulsive siding with the tribe. I wish all democracies could separate a leader’s personality from his policies. It’s healthy.

  • Laird

    “About Trump dumping of the Paris accord: it was the right thing to do, but in his speech he gave the wrong reasons for it.”

    I disagree. Trump’s obligation is to the American people, and to oppose anything which will harm them. That’s true of the Paris Accord, unfettered immigration, and any other topic you might care to mention. The fact (assuming it is so, with which I don’t totally agree) that the Paris Accord would also be harmful to others is, at best, mere icing on the cake, but more likely is simply irrelevant.

  • bobby b

    ” . . . there are now multiple posts showing that Trump was a climate skeptic as far back as 2011 . . .”

    No one has claimed otherwise.

    Point is, he’s also been a warmist. And an agnostic. One month before he pulled us out of the Paris Accord, the world had no idea which way he was going to go. Go back and google his ruminations in April and May. He announced his decision on June 1, and said that he’d just finally arrived at it.

    ” . . . you will find it hard to convince me Trump is a thoughtful man.”

    I’ve known several CEO types who were carbon copies of Trump in many ways. Very intelligent, very cunning, accomplished in strategy and tactics, and shrewd judges of other people, but I doubt they ever spent three minutes in self-reflective contemplation. People with absolutely no self-doubt leave me cold to the point where I could never imagine spending a pleasant weekend with them, but I’d hire them in a minute as CEO of my company. And we need a good CEO more than another philosopher king running our country.

  • Chip

    Not sure what your point is. Over ten years he was agnostic and then increasingly a skeptic. isn’t that how people form opinions?

    I believed the AGW position a decade ago as well.

    The original claim in this post was that Trump is too dumb to have an opinion on a climate treaty before it became politically expedient to do so. That was false. End of story.

  • bobby b

    “The original claim in this post was that Trump is too dumb to have an opinion on a climate treaty before it became politically expedient to do so.”

    The original claim in this post was that Trump is too smart to have an opinion on a climate treaty before it became politically expedient to do so.

  • Laird

    “The original claim in this post was that Trump is too smart to have an opinion on a climate treaty before it became politically expedient to do so.”

    The original claim in this post was that Trump is too smart to have an opinion on a climate treaty before it became politically expedient to do so necessary for him to make a decision, and thus to solidify his opinion. There, really fixed it for you.

    There is nothing wrong with being generally agnostic, and leaning toward the skeptical side, on this issue. The “science” (such of it as there is*) is muddled and complex, and with strident voices screaming on both sides (although, truthfully, almost exclusively on the “sky is falling” side, and reportedly including some within his own family), that is arguably the most rational position to take. But once he became President he could no longer indulge in armchair pontificating like the rest of us; he had to make a decision. Which undoubtedly forced him to focus more on the issue than he previously had to. Perhaps he marshalled his science advisors, and maybe his economic advisors, and sought their counsel; perhaps he just went with his own gut. But either way he reached the correct decision (in my opinion). To denigrate that decision as being driven by mere political expediency is unwarranted, and a cheap shot.

    * Michael “hockey stick” Mann’s refusal to disclose his data and code, per the court order in his Canadian libel lawsuit against climatologist Tim Ball, should put a significant dent in the alarmists’ case (assuming, of course, that it gets any significant public exposure, which is absolutely should). Obviously, the man so utterly falsified his data that having his suit dismissed and being subject to a possible contempt citation was preferable to exposing it to public review (and ridicule). With luck this should (finally!) drive a stake through the heart of this fraud’s “academic” career and, since he was one of the leaders of the warmist camp, put a serious crimp into the credibility of that entire movement. Time will tell.

  • bobby b

    “To denigrate that decision as being driven by mere political expediency is unwarranted, and a cheap shot.”

    The phrase “mere political expediency” is rather objectionable if you believe that the highest calling of an elected official is to represent the desires and opinions of her constituency. If you do hold that belief, and you note approvingly that a politician DID place high value on his constituents’ views, there’s certainly no cheap shot involved.

  • Laird

    To me, the phrase “political expediency” is a pejorative, indicating that the action was taken merely as a sop to some group with which you wish to curry favor rather than from principle or any belief that the action is correct in itself. If you intended it is some different sense I apologize.

  • bobby b

    My fault. I was looking to change just one word in the replied-to sentence and pass it back. It would have been more accurate to change out the “expediency” – but I was hoping he’d just see that I wasn’t denigrating Trump.

    So that worked well . . .

  • Laird

    Yes, I see that the “politically expedient” phrase was originally Chip’s, not yours. My criticism of it stands, but it was misdirected. Sorry.