I can't believe I need to write a column about Trump being a bad president. In 2023.
Maybe it’s reassurance, but it’s not a waste of my 10 minutes if you do a proper takedown of these jerks, so thank you!
I think you sum it all up quite nicely, thank you Dan.
But are you SURE two plus two equals four? (I wanted to laugh maniacally)
Matt Taibbi (along with Mark Ames) wrote an entire book about how 1990s Russia at the nadir of the post Communist transition (hookers, hitmen and kleptocracy) was *awesome*. First, because in page after page he now claims was fictionalized, he could do drugs and fornicate with half the population of Moscow as a Godlike Westerner, and second because Moscow was not "beige" and awful, like the horrible America of the 1990s.
The America of the 1990s, you see, had bored rich kid Taibbi. The bland process of a functioning democracy, a booming economy and (towards the end of the decade) lowering crime was worse than a gulag -- it was bland. So he went to Mongolia to play basketball, landed in Moscow and invented himself as a "journalist" running a publication serving the expat community with nightlife ads that paid the bills and nightlife reviews that famously included a helpful system of one to four "flatheads" (for the number muscular men in leather jackets) and "fahkahee factor" (the chance that an newbie Westerner could go home with a local). Along the way they launched a nasty hate campaign against the squares actually trying to do things in Russia (Michael McFaul was a particular target), the rest of the English language media and with incredible juvenile bile expat females, who were not remotely comparable to the dollar bewitched local talent. And they happily published Eduard Limonov, the bohemian novelist slash ultra-nationalist who would go on to found the "National Bolshevik Party" as a cross between a cult, performance art and Gregor Strasser's inheritance because Ames thought it was edgy.
To be fair, occasionally they did some good investigative journalism alongside the paens to picking up local teenagers at the Mucky Duck, but it was always cynical and overblown-- the aid project in question or the management consultant spend wasn't just stupid -- it was clearly part of a vast system of corruption. Without exception. Taibbi is if nothing else a gifted polemicist with a nice turn of phrase. He put it to use later for Rolling Stone, among others. His "reporting" on the financial crisis was just as engaging, funny, searing and fundamentally dishonest as his reporting in Russia for the Exile or his work for the Twitter Files.
Matt long since cut ties to Ames (also a professional contrarian and crypto MAGA type, but one who struggles to publish) and tried to bury his past. But if you want to read him "joke" about how they made the Russian females working at his paper act, buy the book he would rather you didn't: https://www.amazon.com/Exile-Sex-Drugs-Libel-Russia/dp/0802136524. But I heard most of it from people who were there.
Dan, you have good enemies.
He met with Kim Jong Un three times without accomplishing anything of note.
The commemorative coin of Kim Jong Un and the dotard deserves recognition as one of the major achievements of his presidency.
Delicious takedown. Not a waste. Thank you.
I would tend to think not of Trump, but the anti-establishment candidate that might take the executive branch. Apparently there are several. This is what Russia and China are hoping for -- domestic damage to the American hegemony. Knowledge of how the actual system works is hardly widely held. Concise and distilled literature has not really been distributed or publicly discussed. MSM has only delivered sound bites.
I remember reading the Economist saying at the end of George W Bush's presidency that America is less loved by its friends and less feared by its enemies than was the case at the start. I thought at the time that was a devestating but self evident statement. I would argue this clearly applies to Trump and the effect is even more noticeable.
I have forgotten the name of the Balloon Juice commentator who was a real accountant (J. Michael Neal, I want to say) and said that Taibbi has made his name attacking Goldman Sachs without really knowing what he was talking about but the burden of proof has been on Taibbi to prove he knows what he is talking about ever since.
Ugh. Noam is responsible for the best comedy club in New York City (The Comedy Cellar). I met him once. Sad and strange to hear he's this politically shallow.
So my view of Donald Trump is that he should have been thrown into prison on the evening of January 6th, and the DOJ should have figured out the due process stuff afterwards. Basically, I don’t need to be persuaded that he’s a bad actor in American life.
Nevertheless, I think it’s ridiculous to pretend that sensible foreign policies only emerge from ethical national leaders. For example, NATO defense spending increased during Trump’s presidency; and even if one argues that those increases were already included in pre-Trump budget plans, it seems likely that Trump’s browbeating helped to keep the budgets on track. It’s beyond embarrassing that globally wealthy European states can’t adequately support Ukraine’s military on their own, and, like it or not, Trump hammered away at this inadequacy.
Similarly, while Trump deserved to be impeached for linking Javelins to Ukraine to domestic political advantage, the fact remains that the impeachable offense concerned the second tranche of these missiles. Trump provided the first group of Javelins without such tawdry preconditions. In contrast, Obama refused to provide Kyiv with any Javelins whatsoever. Many of today’s Ukraine hawks were Ukraine doves back in 2014/15 - a fact that they would like everyone to forget (Iraq in reverse).
Finally, regardless of the technical demerits of Trump’s trade war with China, he ensured that stiff economic pressure against China would be widely accepted on the American right. And this acceptance has made it easier for President Biden to pursue his own anti-China policies.
Bottom line, people are complicated, and politicians are complicated, and efforts to create categorical narratives often run afoul of the details. Heck, Joseph Stalin is one of history’s greatest mass murderers, but he was also integral to the defense of Western Civilization during World War Two. So by all means, throw Trump into the clink, but please don’t pretend that knee jerk anti-Trumpism is an adequate substitute for sophisticated policy analysis.
Trump is an objectively bad president. Every single president we've had since FDR has been an objectively bad President, possibly sparing JFK. Sure they have all had one or two bright spots, but if we treated international law as though it was applicable to us rather than just something we can use to bludgeon other countries with, they all could have left office and retired at the Hague.. Of course we show how much respect we have for the rules based international order with our hague invasion act.
I am absolutely glad I missed this entire thing. The measured, not-laughing perspective which I would come up with is that Trump managed to charm most of the conservatives who were skeptical about him with Supreme Court picks and tax cuts and other things that they liked but for any kind of rule of law in this country or anything that wasn't all about him and what Fox News would say about him he was a complete disaster.
Oh, yay!’ Thank you for that. How refreshing.
If Trump had a bad Presidency, Biden’s is abysmal.
Once upon a time - I'm thinking of his Rolling Stone days - Taibbi wrote good columns. His descent into contrarian buffoonery has been disappointing to watch.
The notion that Trump is somehow uniquely bad as a president is an infantile notion that can only be believed by ignoramuses with a 3rd grader’s understanding of history