The Political Circus

From Ross Douthat The Impotent Executive

But Trump is still extraordinarily weak. Some of that weakness is invisible because we simply take it for granted; it’s just part of the scenery, for instance, that this White House has no legislative agenda, no chance of advancing any policy priority on the hill, barely two years into the president’s first term.

Although he’s an ‘anti-Trumper’, he is right that Trump is weak–but I would add, only in terms of domestic policy. No wall. No Obamacare repeal (in fairness, that is McCain’s fault). A ‘travel ban’ that is too porous. He caved in on ‘family separations’ after media and GOP pressure. Tweeting about drug prices and Amazon has not changed anything. The only successful legislation has been the tax cuts, which wee a shoo-in. Now in terms of foreign policy, Trump has had more success. His use of sanctions on countries that do not cooperate is a powerful bargaining tool.

The good is, regarding domestic policy, Trump is presiding over a period unprecedented economic and geopolitical calm. The media keeps trying to create this narrative that the stakes are high; they aren’t. Or that the world is teetering on crisis; it isn’t. Unlike Bush and Obama, both of whom faced actual crisis (for Bush, it was 911; for Obama, it was the financial crisis), all Trump has to go is finish the remaining 2 years of his term without a recession, bear market, geopolitical disaster, and he will likely be re-elected. Trump knows this and that’s why he tweets way more about how strong the economy is, than about immigration. He has so many followers and so much influence on Twitter, it’s likely his tweets alone can change sentiment.

There are parallels between the Trump and Clinton presidencies. Similar to the economic and geopolitical tranquility that characterized Bill Clinton’s presidency juxtaposed with the hyper-partisanship and internationalism of the media (such as Fox vs. CNN), the same juxtaposition is observed with Trump.

Th stuff that is going in Syria, Russia, Iran etc. is ongoing and a long way from crisis mode. This is similar Kosovo and Serbia conflicts of the 90’s under Clinton.

Regarding bullshit jobs, politics could be viewed as another form of bullshit. What I mean is, all this effort and time expended worrying about politics, but also the negative secondary effects politics has on society. Half the country hates the other half. Friendships ruined. Millions of angry posts on Twitter and Facebook between people that have never met yet hate each other. Reagan in 1980 famously asked, ‘are you better off than you were 4 years ago?’ I hope so, if we don’t all lose our minds first.