It’s been big news recently: the economy is improving at a fairly impressive clip. And this is good news, generally. Of course, whoever holds political office at the time tends to accrue the credit for a booming economy, as if their very presence somehow steered the great hulk of the economy away from the iceberg we were about the impact. With arms raised high to collect applause at a rally, Trump gladly receives the praise of the many moronic masses that attend his masturbatory post-election self-congratulation sessions. Trump might even believe that he’s responsible for this economic empowerment.
The Myth of Presidential Effectiveness
The truth is that the economy doesn’t move quickly. It’s not the stock market, bouncing and shaking in time with every perturbance around the world. It’s an ocean liner, chugging along reliably but changing direction slowly.
Economic changes that happen in the first few years of a presidency are attributable to the president beforehand. This was true of Obama, who inherited the Great Recession from Bush 43. Trump inherited Obama’s gradually improving economy, and it’s continued to do just that. The shocking news is that Trump, somehow, managed to stay out of the way of the economic growth that President Obama began.
But let’s put all that aside and image a different world. Let’s imagine that Trump is responsible for the improving economy, even though we know that’s not true. Even with his dubious economic accomplishments, Trump is still the worst president we’ve ever had: he is perhaps only slightly behind President James Buchanan, who earned the title by supporting slavery and passively allowing a number of Southern states to secede from the Union. And even if Donald Trump was somehow a brilliant president, bringing prosperity to use all, I would still call him bad.
But the Facts!
Surely that sounds absurd, right? It must just that fabled Trump Derangement Syndrome that causes leftists and journalists (but I repeat myself) to unthinking detest Trump. I wouldn’t be so arrogant as to claim that I am purely rational and unaffected by such bias, but I don’t think it’s the primary motivator. Rather, it’s Trump’s manner to statecraft, if you could call it that.
The president represents the United States on the world stage. He stands up for Americans, and whether we like it or not, he represents what it is to be an American. When Barack Obama was in office, he projected the image of an intelligent, sober, compassionate man who was willing to talk and collaborate, though not as hot and heavy about getting things done.
On the other side of the mirror, in the funhouse bizarro world we currently inhabit, Trump cuts a strikingly different image. Trump is, simply put, a giant jackass. He’s moronic, brash, arrogant, clumsy, badly dressed, loud, self-aggrandizing, and foolish. If a building was on fire, he’d block a fire truck with his town car, stand in the way of the firemen, and then pee on the fire, only to hold a press conference to congratulate himself on how he was instrumental to putting out the fire.
Ugly America: Where We Are Today
Trump projects the image of the “ugly American,” the American no one wants to be friends with. The frat bro who won’t stop changing “Shots!” on a Tuesday night. The basic bitch that only knows how to do ordinary things. The obese garbage pile that complains loudly about the “small” size of the portions in Europe. The socks-and-sandals-and-flag-t-shirt-wearing, mouth-breathing, goggle-eyed simpleton who blithely assumes that all people of all countries speak English, or, on the B-side of that particular behavior, assumes that no one speaks English and he is free to insult the locals aloud as much as he pleases. If somehow he encounters a person that doesn’t speak English (unlikely, considering he is loathe to venture from the sequined glitz of deeply cushioned tourist traps), he is a strict adherent to the belief that everyone speaks English, provided you speak with sufficient volume. This is the vision of America and Americans that Trump projects.
Even worse, he knows it! And what’s more, he likes it. He plays this role at major events, believing that he strengthens American’s hand global by, basically, being rude to everyone, and doing it loudly. Of course, sometimes a coldness is required for successful foreign policy: Peter Baelish would hardly have accomplished all he did if he approached power with grinning enthusiasm.
But Trump approaches statecraft with a brickbat and nothing else. He has one trick: be a dick. Once that card is played, he has nothing left but to be more of a dick. Point to any of Trump’s suspect foreign policy “victories,” and you’ll see he achieved what precious little he did by either relying on subordinates who actually know how to do their jobs or being a dick to a leader long enough that they caved. That’s a great way to treat countries like Canada and Mexico, our nation’s most erstwhile allies.
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