Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Jonah Goldberg, speculating
on how Donald Trump might run things as President, asks, "Can America
afford to have a ceremonial President?" Considering my low opinion of
Trump, and his alarming admiration for strongmen worldwide, this would
be a best-case scenario:
... Trump's not interested in policy. He's fine with outsourcing it to congressional Republicans and to his Cabinet secretaries. Trump wants to do the fun stuff. He wants to give cool speeches and fly around in a better plane. He wants the respect that comes with being president. He doesn't want to do the hard stuff.Goldberg, perhaps assuming for the sake of argument that this inner circle that would actually run things weren't composed entirely of sycophants, notes that even this might be cold comfort:
For those willing to see, there's been a lot of evidence of that all along. He's said he won't even start learning about policy until he's elected. That Trump doesn't know or care much about public policy is obvious to literally every human being who knows anything about public policy. One could fill books with examples of him talking about articles of the Constitution that don't exist, events that never took place and proposals that make no sense.
... Because there is so much power in a president's words, a president's words matter. Just this week, the GOP nominee suggested that he would not honor our commitments to NATO if Russia attacked our allies in the Baltics. Those words are dangerous from a nominee. They would be catastrophic from a president.Goldberg is on the right track here, but it's worse than that because, as he notes earlier, "Presidential power is the power to persuade." The big problem is that Trump neither has a discernible political philosophy nor attempts to make a case for any position he might hold. Make America great again? What was great about America? How would we do this? Why should we do this? He acts as if all of this is self-evident, when even the most patriotic Americans can disagree on any or all of the answers to the above questions. Worse, he acts as if what millions of grown adults think doesn't matter. As a businessman, Trump should realize that a team not even knowing what its objective is (beyond some nebulous notion, like "make profits") would derail any serious undertaking. And yet, here he is hoping to do this with our entire country.
A president with a verbal hair trigger -- one who doesn't know enough to know what not to say -- could ignite a financial crisis or a war.
America's problems weren't brought on all at once by a single individual acting nefariously, and no single individual, acting alone, can fix them. That Trump seems to think he can get away with pretending otherwise worries me even more in some ways than the fact that, for at least four more years, there will be no defender of liberty speaking from the bully pulpit of the presidency.