It is, truly, fascinating to observe the endless outrage cycle over President Trump’s twitter feed. Trump is brilliantly trolling the living crap out of the political Left, yet the Left responds as desired every. single. time. And you know they cannot help themselves because they are aware enough to admit, while physically hyperventilating, that Trump wants them to physically hyperventilate. And how ironic that one of the top accusations leveled at Trump is lack of discipline, when in fact his highly disciplined trolling has obliterated any sense of discipline the Left ever possessed.
In my January submission to the Portland Press Herald I cited Trump’s twitter feed as one of the key risks to his re-election chances. Subsequently I have posited that I underestimated the risk, as any and all policy wins have been overshadowed by the outrage machine. I am just not sure how this will play out at the polls in 2018 and 2020. My gut says that “it’s the economy, stupid,” and that Trump’s highly economic growth friendly policy implementation will ultimately shine thru. But the Virginia referendum on Trump concerns me, as does this quote from Bret Stephens (the point of this post):
“The benefits [of disciplined twitter trolling], for Trump, are threefold: a political opposition that is exhausting itself — and much of the public — with its perpetual state of moral apoplexy; a political base that thrills to his readiness to scandalize the bien pensant; and an effective means of distraction from his electoral, legislative and foreign policy failures.”
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What is disturbing, across the board, is that we cannot even agree on basic facts (setting Trump’s casual relationship with facts). Electoral, legislative, and foreign policy failures? Really? I am not even sure what Stephens means on the electoral front, outside of perhaps approval ratings. But legislative and foreign policy have been objectively rock solid.
With regard to foreign policy, has he done some embarrassing things on the world stage that everyone would prefer him not to do? Obviously. Did Obama? Obviously. What matters is: He has shaken up developed world political complacency, emphasized “Western values”, reestablished a relationship with Israel, obliterated ISIS, built rapport with China and other Asian allies, took decisive military action in Syria to establish actionable credibility early, and has put the globe on notice that North Korea will not become a recognized nuclear power under his watch.
Spare me the “he’s embarrassing us on the world stage and removing the US from its position of global leader” garbage. Obama was a colossal embarrassment that weakened America’s resolve for eight years, and his on the ground policies were atrocious, demonstrated no better than the odious Iran deal cooked up by him and his sidekick, Ben Rhodes. Obama was a politically correct pansy who pussy-footed around the world preaching down to everyone with long winded speeches.
Obama pussy-footing around is demonstrated no better than the shocking level of bureaucracy he imparted on the military. Layer after layer of decision making simply to get food supplies somewhere. My word – cannot make it up.
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On the legislative front, Trump has deregulated the economy at the fastest clip on modern American history – though following Obama’s torrid regulatory clip it has merely served to offset the damage, thus far – gutted the “Affordable” Care Act’s regulatory core via executive order while maintaining coverage (so far, we shall see in 2018, hopefully the GOP does not push for Medicaid contraction), is in the process of overhauling the federal judiciary – again, merely offsetting the Obama damage, thus far – ramped up border security, and is in the process of a pushing thru a massive corporate tax cut & reform and individual tax reform package.
Policy items to watch going forward include trade negotiations, infrastructure, the wall, and perhaps an inner city stimulus package of sorts (?).
The wall is pointless – who cares. But it was a central campaign promise and the Breitbart crowd will go nuts if it does not happen, so I could see it happening. Infrastructure and trade are critical items to rounding out the campaign promises, and they have significant economic consequences – easily the two biggest items to watch going forward.
Trade is the biggest potential policy landmine, since engaging in a full blown ideologically-driven trade war would wreak economic havoc on developed market economies. But as I have outlined, with Wilbur Ross at the table I am comforted that we are moving in the direction of fairer free trade agreements.
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The entire debate really comes down to style, because Trump’s substance has been fantastic, which is the exact mirror image of the Obama presidency. Obama had great form and style, but his substance (outside of the brilliant 2009 stimulus package that saved the global economy, and the utterly brilliant expansion of healthcare coverage thru Medicaid) on balance was atrocious. Outside of those two aforementioned policy moves, Obama’s substance was a nauseating mix of anti-free market capitalism, redistributionism, and global elitism.