Trump Reveals Himself to Be Bumbling Strongman

American president Donald Trump makes an appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 24
American president Donald Trump makes an appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 24 (Michael Vadon)

What is the essence of Donald Trump? Is he an aspiring strongman? Or is he just a plain old bumbler?

These two schools of thought have been in competition ever since we started to take Trump seriously. Of course he’s narcissistic, duplicitous, misogynistic, bigoted and so forth. But what is at the heart of Donald Trump? Does he intend to emulate Mussolini? Or is he primarily an uncurious incompetent?

The answer: He’s both. And after the firing of FBI director James Comey on Tuesday evening, this has been made astoundingly clear. Read more

French System Encourages Temporary, Not Permanent, Polarization

The Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, October 8, 2010
The Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, October 8, 2010 (Millan P. Rible)

Matt Yglesias of Vox points out on Twitter:

You see in Trump vs Le Pen once again that authoritarian nationalist movements only win with the support of the establishment right.

There are two particular reasons why this may be the case. Read more

Eagerness to Criticize Obama Explains Trump’s Inconsistency on Syria

Businessman Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 27, 2015
Businessman Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 27, 2015 (Gage Skidmore)

Critics are calling Donald Trump’s missile strike against Syria a flip flop, but it’s really the logical outcome of holding two wildly inconsistent opinions on an issue. Read more

Toxic Trump Doomed to Disappoint Supporters

Businessman Donald Trump makes a speech in Derry, New Hampshire, August 19, 2015
Businessman Donald Trump makes a speech in Derry, New Hampshire, August 19, 2015 (Michael Vadon)

Last week, I wrote about Donald Trump’s soft support among Republicans. Democrats already strongly disapprove of his bigotry, buffoonery and right-wing ideology. In order to dip down to Nixonian or Bush ’43 levels — high 20s, low 30s — he will have to lose support from conservatives and Republican-leaning independents.

This is looking more and more likely. The recent health-care debacle shows why Trump is in trouble — and, unless he makes a fundamental change, doomed to a pointless presidency free of policy accomplishments. Read more

Trump Ignores Reluctant Conservative Supporters at His Peril

American president Donald Trump attends a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, January 19
American president Donald Trump attends a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, January 19 (US Army/Alicia Brand)

Donald Trump is on the fast track to approval depths last plumbed by George W. Bush, or at least that’s what many Democrats hope. RealClearPolitics has his approval at 41.1 percent — and trending downward.

But without a major change in the political environment, Trump’s ratings won’t sink that much lower. Why? Because he has already burned off the public benefit of the doubt normally afforded to new presidents. In other words, those that could disapprove of him because of his clownish behavior or rank bigotry already do.

Any further decrease in his popularity will have to come from disaffected Republicans and conservative independents.

Until the health-care debacle, this was an unlikely prospect. But now it may be inevitable. Read more

Trump’s Ban: Alternative Facts Create Real-Life Policy

Vice President Mike Pence applauds as President Donald Trump signs a document confirming James Mattis as his secretary of defense during a ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington DC, January 27
Vice President Mike Pence applauds as President Donald Trump signs a document confirming James Mattis as his secretary of defense during a ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington DC, January 27 (DoD/Jette Carr)

Donald Trump has always had a difficult relationship with the truth. His sheer volume of daily falsehoods overwhelms an unprepared news media — and buries unsavory stories which the Republican would prefer to keep hidden.

Trump even manages to construct entire narratives via a steady diet of alternative facts delivered to his supporters.

This weekend, we saw something new: For the first time, those falsehoods came together to generate, enact and justify policy. Read more

Muslim Registry Would Require Investigation of Thought Crimes

Visitors wait in line outside the Islamic Institute of Orange County, California, October 17, 2010
Visitors wait in line outside the Islamic Institute of Orange County, California, October 17, 2010 (IIOC)

As the Trump transition rolls along, the infamous “Muslim ban” has returned to the forefront.

It all started on December 7, 2015, when then-candidate Donald Trump spoke to supporters after the San Bernardino mass shooting. He advocated a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” This proposal is still on his website.

It has been willfully forgotten or explained away since, but the fact remains: Trump’s first instinct was to call for a Muslim ban of indeterminate length.

It doesn’t stop there. Even in July, Trump said his plan had undergone an “expansion” and would bar individuals from places “compromised by terrorism.” This includes NATO allies like France and Germany. They “totally” meet this definition, Trump said, because they “allowed people to come into their territory.” Read more