Thursday, January 11, 2018


Political Mayhem Thursday: Trump and the Farmer

So, maybe you missed it, but last week the Waco Farmer came back to the Razor! In a comment, where is what he said:

--> "Good morning. Hello from the other side. Some of you will notice that I have not checked in for a while. Some of you will remember me as a crazy guy who said a lot of crazy things. For most of 2015 and 2016 I asserted with absolute authority that Donald Trump would not make a serious run for the Republican nomination, even if he did--he could never win the nomination, and, in the end, he absolutely, categorically, unequivocally could never be President of the United States.
In the aftermath of that nightmare, I remembered a few fundamental truths ("nobody knows anything," hubris was in fact the original sin, and I had taken a professional oath at the beginning of my career to never predict the future). How had I gone so wrong?

I resolved to take a year to listen, ask questions (to which I did not already have all the answers), reject conventional wisdom, and observe. 

Questions. What is the true impact of the Trump presidency on American policy and political culture? Smaller and more Specific. What grade do I give his judicial appointments? What do I think about his re-orientation of the regulatory state? What do I think about his tax policy? What do I think about ACA moving forward? What do I think about his foreign policy? What is the state of our relations with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, Iran, Iraq, Russia, Pakistan, North Korea, Venezuela, China, Japan, and Mexico--just to name a few? What do I think about the Paris Climate accord, the Iran nuclear deal, the decision to re-evaluate our traditional policy of buying off our allies and "frenemies" through foreign largesse?

And there are lots more. Just a sample of the many ideas to ponder. I will check in every once and while and let you know what I am seeing and hearing and how it has affected my thinking. Happy New Year."

So, after realizing "Hello from the other side" did not mean that he was dead (it just means he is conservative) I was so glad to see him back-- over the years, the Farmer has contributed some significant insights here.

In terms of what he said in the comment, I have been thinking some of the same things. The bad things about the Trump presidency are so bad that we see everything in the negative. But there must be some things going right, huh? And what is going wrong requires a more subtle analysis that some of the screeds I have read (and, at times, written).  

So, what do you think of his questions?  

I think pondering those questions, Waco Farmer, will feel like a full-time job. It seems as though you'll have the weight of the world on your shoulders.

One Trump influence I think about often is his influence on language and communication: the unique form and diction of his tweets, the ability to declare two opposing things true, normalizing ad hominem attacks, and policy-by-Twitter.
Thank you, Amy. Pondering politics often feels like a full-time job to me.

You inspire several important questions in my mind:

1) Trump and language. Has Trump contributed to a debasement of our political conversation? Does his communication style accelerate the long and disastrous trend in political discourse? Is he a symptom of a degenerating condition? Is he a cancer that can be removed as a first step on a path to restored health?

2) Tweets. Have the tweets really affected anything policy wise? His tweets make a lot of us feel bad (about ourselves, our government, our national reputation, the loyal opposition, etc.). But is there any parallel policy impact to the tweets? Serious Question. Can I name any specific policy change or official act resulting from a tweet?

3) Ad Hominem Attacks. Funny you should bring this up, as I have been thinking about this question (only works for conservatives): Is there anything I don't like about Trump that transcends his personality and character? That is, back to policy, has anything happened (actually happened, legislatively, administratively, etc.) that really bugs me? That is, do I have anything against him that does not boil down to my disdain for him personally (ad hominem)?
Amy - don't you feel like the weight of the world is upon your shoulders? I feel that many days.

I find it difficult to watch TV news on most days because the focus is on what "he said or tweeted". Not about things in our broader United States or World that I may or may not care about. Do I place some blame on the media; absolutely. I have not felt this with other Presidents in my adult lifetime. I didn't necessarily agree with earlier Presidents but I didn't fear them making inflammatory statements that others, including me can't reasonably interpret. I find this Presidency utterly exhausting. It can't end soon enough.

The world may run out of bourbon before it is over.

Well, as for Trump and language, he had a very bad day (calling Haiti and African nations "shithole countries" in a meeting with congressional leaders).

I think the tweets get too much attention. If you obsess over his tweets, you are doing exactly what he wants.

As for your last point, Farmer, in my tiny field of expertise, he has done something specific that bugs me-- but I have already written about that....
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