On The Disapproval Of President Trump

Talk about cognitive dissonance…

The recent barrage of  anti-Trump stories, self-inflicted Presidential wounds and media smears has the President’s approval ratings down again, back to his unshakable 37% or so core, presumable the American who, as he so memorably joked, would support him if he shot someone in Times Square. It has also been as high in some polls as 50% in the not so distant past, and substantively, not much has changed, except that the economic news keeps getting better. “There’s Never Been a President This Unpopular With an Economy This Good,”writes Bloomberg, and I’m sure that’s true. There was also never an individual as unpopular as Donald Trump elected President of the United States before he was.

The “disapproval rating” of his performance is incoherent, of course, because it is an undecipherable mess of apples, oranges, and wooden shoes.  Some disapprove of Trump because of his almost completely revolting character. Some disapprove of him because they disagree with his policies, since they are socialist, statist  One Worlders who believe, against all evidence, that Barack Obama was a great leader. Some are Republicans who are embarrassed to have such a man representing their party, no matter what policies he pursues. Some are conservatives who regard Trump as not sufficiently conservative, for indeed he’s not a conservative at all. Some are classist snobs. Some are morons who just believe what social media and the mainstream media tells them to believe. I’d love to know how this group breaks down, but we’ll never have that information.

Still, I find it encouraging that Trump remains unpopular despite his many positive achievements, some arguable, some not. It is good that the idea that there is more to being a respectable and admirable President than presiding over positive economic times, strong foreign policy, and military success. It is especially encouraging to see Democrats and progressives being driven to that position after stubbornly refusing to acknowledge that the character of a national leader is important during the Bill Clinton years, and after nominating Hillary. The President of the United States is not a CEO, and not a mere policy wonk (Yes, I recognize the absurdity of calling someone like Donald Trump a “wonk” of any kind). Leadership is as much a symbolic role as a pragmatic one. Leaders shift cultural values and norms; they define, or should, what a nation and its public regard as good, bad, right, wrong, admirable, and unacceptable. This was the basis of my initial, long-held, endlessly expressed, and unyielding opposition to his leadership style and personal demeanor, perhaps most forcefully explained here.

The importance of a President’s character goes far beyond being an automatic role model, however. A President, while he is in office, defines the Presidency itself. If he defines it in negative terms and values, everything connected to the Presidency suffers as well (See: the Cognitive Dissonance Scale): our system, democracy, the separation of powers, constitutional government and its institutions. A President has a duty to strengthen his office for future occupants, and to uphold the highest standards that his predecessors set. Donald Trump does not understand this aspect of his job, and never has. The reasons for this can be debated; he is obviously not a student of history, and as someone who has succeeded by breaking rules and defying conventional wisdom, he would be unlikely to understand why this role should be regarded as different from any other executive post.

Is a President who fails to accept or respect his duties to the office itself but who is successful in his policy objectives to the benefit of the public and the nation a better or worse President than one who plays the King/Flag/ Symbolic leader well, but who is incompetent and deluded when it comes to the practicalities, necessities and complexities of government? Well, would you rather have your left arm or your right leg sawed off with a rusty hacksaw? Both are terrible for the country. Neither can be fairly called a good President.

Even now, President Trump would greatly benefit his nation, the office and himself if he would just stop acting (and tweeting) like a 16-year-old asshole. We can, and should, condemn the mainstream news media for concentrating upon, and too often hyping, his embarrassing breached of style, manners, honesty and decency while intentionally minimizing the Presidents substantive successes, as if they didn’t exist. But the President keeps issuing ammunition  for the destruction of his own power, influence and policy agenda. There are no better words for this besides stupidity and incompetence, and this too is a good reason to disapprove. The Democrats have thoroughly exposed their party as without principles and unworthy of trust, favoring incursions on liberty and the Bill of Rights, and increasingly drifting toward socialism. Only a few Democrats—Maxine Waters, Hillary, Andrew Cuomo, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi—present themselves as even close to the President in loathsomeness. His self-indulgence, flat learning curve and arrogant refusal to moderate his conduct to the demands of political reality is creating an existential threat to the United States by driving voters to make a self-destructive choice out of pure revulsion.


22 thoughts on “On The Disapproval Of President Trump

  1. It is especially encouraging to see Democrats and progressives being driven to that position after stubbornly refusing to acknowledge that the character of a national leader is important during the Bill Clinton years, and after nominating Hillary.

    What proportion of them are doing this out of principle?

  2. Michael Ejercito wrote, “What proportion of them are doing this out of principle?”

    Was that a trick question?

    Democrats doing something based on “principle”?

    That would imply that Democrats do things based on some kind of fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning; all I see anymore from Democrats is Political Antiology.

  3. So much to comment on so little time as I have my own crisis to deal with. First the way we are measuring the economy is currently corrupt. This president suffers from foot in mouth. Let him. I will have more time to contribute in ten days. Back then.

    • Wow, talk about dropping a bomb and leaving…measuring the economy is currently corrupt. Hmmm as opposed to when? What is the source of this corruption? How is it being corrupted? Is the corruption based on bias or faulty statistics?

      I hope we’re not in for another Dan Ratheresque “cooked the books” moment.

      Guess we’ll see in 10 days.

  4. Interesting hypothetical question. However, the title of your essay — “On The Disapproval Of President Trump” — makes the question no longer hypothetical, but instead makes it specific to our sitting President.
    Unfortunately, I am unable to answer the question as you phrased it because the question is loaded. What you call policy successes are in the eye of the beholder. Tax cuts? Check. Good economic numbers? Check.Regulation rollback? Check.
    But the tax cuts and current economic figures don’t really help most Americans, and the trickle down effect of the cuts to the wealthiest and corporations who really did benefit is minimal.
    Regulation rollbacks are heavily at the expense of environmental and consumer protection, and the availability o heal;th carte to millions of Americans. We will all regret those rollbacks, and I predict many will be restored in the not too distant future.

    • You need to check your education in economics. Regulations do not all apply to the environment and consumer protection. To assume they do is, well, ignorant. Capital at risk is how economies grow. To call that trickle down is, well, ignorant.

      Are you secretly Paul Krugman?

      Enjoy your Obama was great fantasy. He sure did…to the detriment of our economy.

    • The “most Americans” argument is Pelosi nonsense, though, and baseless cant. Over 50 per cent of the public benefits directly from the stock market, for example. Figures show middle class income going up; black employment going up. More new businesses starting. Growth in the economy benefits everyone. The tactic of denying where there has been real improvement makes Democrats look dishonest.

      My “checks” would be reducing regulations, improving the business climate, economic growth, defeating ISIS, unequivocally opposing illegal immigration, undoing the various “Dear Colleague” letters, rebalancing the judiciary, ending the Iran deal, moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, and getting tough with the UN. That’s not a bad two years.

      NOT the tax cut. Definitely not the deficit and the debt, but that’s a bi-bartisan botch.

      • Jack,
        Instead of saying tax cuts don’t help it might be more useful to say increasing the debt creates a threat to our ability to deal with future unknowns.

        If we cut corporate subsidies and NGO grants that only serve to promote legacy programs in an equal amount of the tax cut then there is no change in deficits or debt. Even if cuts in corporate subsidies lead to higher food prices the people get to choose because they vote with their dollars. This would reduce the disequilibrium that arise through subsidies and price controls. That is a good thing. Therefore, cuts in subsidies should be done and tax cuts will insulate the consumer from the real price hike.

        I really hate when tax cuts are predicated on being “paid for” . Government pays for things not revenues. To think otherwise would be to believe that all personal income belongs to goverment which they allow us to keep a portion.

        Imagine if we stopped using the term tax rates and instead used the term allowed income retention rate. Would that change the way we see government taxation.

        • Tax cuts do not necessarily create increased deficits or debt. Thinking revenue collected is in direct correlation to tax rates is a fallacy. If you increase economic activity via your tax cut (like now) you are likely to collect more revenue and reduce the deficit and decrease added national debt.

          • I left that part of the analysis out for simplicity. While Keynsian theory suggests that government spending results in a bigger multiplier than reduced taxes so to does gross private domestic investment which is directly corrolated with expectations of future profits. So first year Econ students stop thinking when they simply compare Increases in G relative to decreases in T. They always fail to recognize the effects of other forms of spending and the psychology behind the “animal spirits” that drive human behavior.

          • Tax cuts are thought to be directly correlated with revenues when one assumes the money will squirreled away by money grubbing misers that hoard cash.

            It makes no damn difference on GDP on who spends the money or on what provided what is bought is produced domestically. Based on past experience there is no more a guarantee that government will spend all funds it receives at home.

    • I’m curious how any tax cuts don’t help. If I get to keep even 10 dollars of the money I’ve worked to earn, how does that not help me? You can’t really be suggesting that the 10 extra doesn’t help because it’s not 50 dollars? Taxes were going up, and would have gone up further under Clinton’s plan, and even further under Sander’s plan. So I’m pretty happy to keep more of my own money, even when democrats assure me it’s not helping me.

  5. Jack,

    By your own admission the polls represent a hodgepodge of reasons why his approval numbers are down. Yet, it appears that your analysis suggests that it is because people want a presidential president.

    Let me offer a different analysis. We have become as a nation wedded to the idea that the only priorities the president, or any elected leader, should focus on is on those that benefit our group. We have competing commercials on the E15 issue that demonstrate farmers want more regulation favoring year round ethanol blend in gasoline while others criticize that use as it can lead to higher costs in engine maintainence. Those adversely affected by his tariff strategy are willing to sacrifice long term benefits (if any) for short term sales.

    The establishment group sees Trump as an existential threat to their power and would be willing to sacrifice him to ensure their long term positions of power.

    On immigration, you have the open borders crowd that will disapprove of any person that threatens their ability to obtain cheap labor at the expense of American workers and those who want massive immigration of marginally skilled workers that rely on government for their well being. Such well being accrues to the recipient as well as providers of services.

    Some that disapprove see the Bill of Rights through their own biased lens. For them rights only accrue to them and using government to bludgeon others into sacrificing their rights is no problem. If Trump pulled the stunt Lincoln did by suspending habeous corpus he would be crucified by the group affected negatively while many would applaud him. I would bet every president has used the ends justify the means rationale to achieve his goals.

    We really have little experience to compare past presidents against Trump because none before him had access to immediate statements of the president. Even FDR’s fireside speeches were carefully scripted. What if in 1933 we had a 24 hour news cycle that picked apart every word or utterance made by FDR. Would our assessment of Trumps words be somewhat tempered by the fact that we were used to seeing our presidents as they really were. How would history judge JFK if he had Michael Avennetti attacking him on the opposition news networks.

    In general, I agree that the president should be a model of decorum and technically astute but in our world we as a people have been sliced, diced and made into julienne fries by professional marketers. We have become accustomed to being promised the world but regularly left to deal with the fact that no promises were actually pursued.

    Polls reflect the immediate thoughts of a person who feels their needs are being met or unmet. It makes no sense to ask if one approves or disapproves of a president without asking why do they disapprove and how did they arrive at their conclusion. If I had an employee who was good in most things but substandard in others I cannot expect improvement if I do not articulate that for which I am dissatisfied.

    Polls reflect what is asked. What do you think poll numbers would be if we compared Obama to Trump and asked people to respond to this question:

    Do you think the President is working to advance the interest of the majority of Americans?

    • CM wrote: Do you think the President is working to advance the interest of the majority of Americans?

      Polls reflect the immediate thoughts of a person who feels their needs are being met or unmet. It makes no sense to ask if one approves or disapproves of a president without asking why do they disapprove and how did they arrive at their conclusion.

      The country — according to some — is now beginning to be torn as a result of demographic choices made at other times which are now maturing and ‘raising their head’. This is one part of an assortment of problems that is coming to fruition in the sense of fleurs du mal. If the present is a portent of what the future will hold, it will require a fairly radical reordering of one’s concepts to *correctly appreciate what is going on in our present*.

      Obviously, to agree to see things as I am stating here is a big step right at this time. Some will refuse to take that step. Whole internal systems of opposing sentiments and ideas rise up to defeat the thought, as it were. These are idea-structures constructed, as it were, in the postwar and in the Sixties. Now, on a world-scale (pertaining to Europe and the Europe-derived) there is a movement afoot that challenges, and in some case opposes, the values of the ’68 generation.

      It has not come into focus among the American intelligencia, and indeed it hardly could given the high levels of intellectual coercion that exist and which we all submit to, often voluntarily.

      Trump seems to represent a ‘threat’ to the System, but what a strange and unlikely form for consciousness to take!

      The following explains in skeleton form, according to my view, a necessary meta-political foundation in order to grasp the basic issue that lies under the surface. I can see no way to refute it. It transcends Trump as indeed it should and must.

      [ https://youtu.be/eQRUM3fjMWE ]

    • Good point.

      And Polls are careful not to ask clear questions. There is always one word that has multiple interpretations; they like wiggle room.

      • In the heartland, we call that “being a lying snake.”

        Pretty much sums up our feelings on the polls. Too many times have we heard of folks being berated due to their answers. Common folks don’t take polls: we just simmer in resentment and vote.

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