- He will sometimes defy the conventional wisdom
- Judicial Appointments
- He tries really hard to keep his promises
- His instincts are anti-interventionist
- He is more available to the media than any other modern President
- He delivered large tax cuts
- He is reasonably open about his motives
- He is sceptical of regulations
- Middle East peace deals
- He is a cultural warrior against the woke cancel culture
So what are my list of the ten worst things:
- He suffers from narcissistic personality order
A US Senator once said that narcissism is a bit like pornography. It is hard to precisely define, but you know it when you see it.
It is clear that Trump has extreme narcissism. I don’t mean the minor variety that many politicians have. I mean the variety which controls him so badly, he can’t act outside it.
Trump is addicted to the need for adoration. He constantly claims he is the greatest or the best at everything. He sees almost everything through a sole prism of how it impacts him personally.
His NPD is responsible for so many of his other failings. It also makes him very easy to manipulate. Other world leaders know they can get the US on side, merely by sucking up to him.
When asked what was the worst aspect of the Covid-19 pandemic which has killed 230,000 people his answer was that he knew a couple of people who died. His only lens is how it affects him.
2) Record deficits and debt
The national debt was $19.9 trillion when Trump took office. Last month it was $27 trillion, a 36% increase in four years. This is the fastest increase of any President.
He promised to eliminate the debt within 8 years. It is now $82,300 per person.
Debt to GDP is now 136%. His projected deficit for 2020 was $1.1 trillion pre-Covid. It is $3 trillion post-Covid.
Under Trump the GOP has abandoned their record of fiscal conservatism and are leaving the next generation not just massive debt, but a deficit that probably is too large to be eliminated.
3) Trump is a pathological liar
Now again all politicians tell lies from time to time. Most try not to, but there are few politicians who you will find are invulnerable to a fact check.
But Trump has a pathological tendency to lie constantly. He lies around 50 times a day. He can’t help himself. I’m not sure if he even regards them as lies. He seems to live in a fantasy universe of his own where whatever he says must be the truth. On one day he told 189 lies.
What convinces me his lies are pathological is because many of them are totally unnecessary. Take for example his lie that he had a bigger inauguration crowd than Obama, which he forced his press secretary to repeat.
No one (except Trump) ever expected he would have a bigger crowd than Obama. DC votes 91% Democrat. It is also 46% African American. Of course the first black Democratic President will have a larger crowd in DC than a Republican. No one expected Trump to have a bigger crowd.
But Trump could not handle the reality. So he lied about it, forced Sean Spicer to lie about it and instructed a Government photographer to edit or crop photos to remove empty spaces. And all for something no-one but Trump cared about.
4) Trump is a protectionist
Trump is an enemy of free trade and a rules based trading system. He is trying to cripple the World Trade Organisation, and sees trade as a zero sum game. He doesn’t see trade as something where both buyer and seller gain. His trade policies have been to the left of every modern Democratic President.
5) Trump is incompetent
I’ve worked for a head of government. I know a wee bit about what the role involves, and the sort of issues that need to be managed.
Trump is profoundly incompetent in almost all aspects of the job. He is a terrible negotiator who failed to get funding for the wall. He turned down an offer of $1.6 billion, shut down the Government and then did a deal where he got $1.38 billion. His negotiating style only works when he holds all the power. In a system of shared power, he has failed time after time.
He can’t even manage basic stuff like giving a clear message on Covid-19. For eight months he had done worse than nothing. A semi-competent head of government would be saying what are the fives most important things we need to do to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 and then make sure he was getting daily or weekly updates on them – important but non sexy stuff like PPE supplies.
Most Presidents have a problem that they can’t possibly find time for all the issues that they could help resolve. So staff triage issues so only the most complex go to the President.
Trump is the opposite. Almost nothing goes to the President. He is not interested. Other Presidents work 16 hour days. Bush would start at 0645. Obama would often work until 1 am. Trump barely had three hours of work or meetings a day. His diary often has up to eight hours of executive time, which we now know means watching Fox News.
Conservative Commentator Kevin Williamson has a good article here on Trump’s incompetence, and how his areas of success are generally the ones he knows nothing about.
6) Trump doesn’t read
It has been often reported that Trump basically doesn’t read anything at all, except articles about himself. He doesn’t read fiction. He reads very little non-fiction. He doesn’t read briefing papers. He has never read a biography of another President.
Again this is part of his NPD. He has no interest in anything but himself and has no need to read anything because he already knows the answer to everything.
7) His own appointees know he is a bad President
People appointed by the President to a senior job in the White House or Cabinet tend to be loyal to that President for pretty much life. They form an informal club and often get together and meet, and catch up with their former boss. These are people personally picked by the President.
With Trump the vast majority of those who were hand picked by him for senior jobs now say he is incompetent, dangerous, unfit for office or worse. These are people who worked with him day in and day out. Now sure you can be delusional like Trump and think they’re all wrong, or you could pause and think hey there is a pattern here.
Those who are known to have said Trump is unfit for office include two of his own Chiefs of Staff, two National Security Advisors, a Director of Communications, his Secretary of Defence, two Homeland Security Secretaries, his Attorney-General, his Secretary of State his Director of National Intelligence etc
8) Trump is cruel
Trump reminds me of the kids who pulls wings off flies. He has a streak of cruelty and lack of empathy that disqualifies him for public office. That’s not just my view, but the view of his sister who has known him all her life.
He mocks disabled reporters, the appearance of wives of candidates. He withdrew funding of medical bills for his nephew’s infant with cerebral palsy because of a dispute with his nephew. Yes he used a critically ill infant member of his family as negotiating leverage.
I’m an employer both in my own business, and have been on several boards that have had to decide to let people go. Like most decent human beings I try to do it in a way to treat people with dignity. Trump does the opposite. Cabinet Secretaries literally find out they have been sacked through his Twitter feed. There is no excuse for that, except that it illustrates Trump enjoys humiliating people and harming them,
He spreads vicious unfounded conspiracy theories that his former friend Joe Scarborough murdered Lori Klausutis because Scarborough is now critical of the President. He has no empathy for the huge pain it causes Lori’s parents to have her death made into a political attack. He is incapable of empathy unless it is of political benefit to him.
9) Trump is vindictive
The Washington Post is critical of Donald Trump. This is no surprise. It is a left leaning newspaper. Jeff Bezos purchased the Washington Post. Becuase Trump doesn’t like the articles published by the Washington Post he repeatedly demanded the Postmaster-General (which he appoints) double shipping rates for Amazon to pubish Bezos.
He tried 50 times to get the US Government to stop a merger of AT&T and Time Warner because TW own CNN which he doesn’t like.
Trump has a binary view of everything. Either you are personally loyal to him or you are an enemy. He sacks public servants because they told the truth under subpoena and oath. He sacks law enforcement officials because they won’t drop investigations.
He uses the power of his office to punish people because they are critical of him.
10) Trump is a danger to the rule of law
The rule of law may seem abstract to some people but it is of vital importance. It is what separates great countries from what authoritarian countries. It is the principle that everyone must obey the law, including those in Government.
Trump has publicly demanded his AG and FBI Director lay charges against his political opponents. He has publicly demanded charges be dropped against his friends. He has pardoned or commuted convicted criminals whose testimony could implicate him.
He put a freeze on funds approved by Congress for Ukraine, to try and blackmail the Ukrainian President into smearing Joe Biden.
He has spent months undermining faith in the democratic process by claiming that the elections will be fraudulent if he loses. This does potentially irreversible harm to democracy. If a major segment of the population do not accept the outcome of voting as legitimate, society crumbles.
I have little time for Al Gore, but after the US Supreme Court halted any further recounts in Florida, he did his country a huge service by declaring while he disagreed with the decision, he accepted it and George Bush was the President-Elect. Could you imagine Trump saying that if he was in that position. He would be calling for civil unrest or worse.
He has called for a Judge to be removed from a case because the Judge’s parents were Mexican (the Judge was born and raised 100% in the US).
Do you recall the outrage from Republicans when Obama’s AG had a five meeting meeting with Bill Clinton on a plane while the FBI was investigating Hillary’s emails. It definitely was an inappropriate meeting. But my God that is a 2 or 3 or a scale from 0 to 100 compared to Trump publicly demanding his AG and FBI Director open investigations or file charges against his political rival and/.or his son which is around a 90.
I could carry on with a list beyond 10. But in my mind Trump is psychologically unfit of office. There is no amount of policy outcomes that can compensate for him being who he is. He can’t change. He doesn’t want to. And this is not just a matter of style. This is about his eroding of democratic norms and values that may never be undone. He has set the bar so low for presidential behaviour that if God forbid you ever had a Democratic President who acted like Trump, the Republicans have sacrificed their ability to hold him or her to account. Once you accept a new low bar, it is very very hard to raise it again.