The case against Donald Trump
Donald Trump would be an absolute disaster of a president — so bad it’s almost impossible to grasp.
But allow me to try.
First, this birther business.
Trump got his start in national politics by peddling the racist conspiracy theory that President Obama was not born in the United States.
Trump attempted to memory-hole that history last week with more lies, blaming the whole thing on Hillary Clinton and claiming credit for clearing it up.
But it must not be forgotten that the whole thing is a transparent smear on the first black president, created by and for outright racists, and without which Trump would not be the Republican nominee for president today.
Second, his business record.
Trump’s business career is his major — indeed only — argument for why he is qualified to be president, so it deserves close examination.
In the reporting on his various business ventures, one consistent pattern emerges:
On traditional notions of business or investing, Trump is mediocre to poor.
But he is very good at enriching himself at the expense of others.
Borrow a ton of money, invest in real estate during a boom, cash out the equity to a protected location, than declare bankruptcy after the market turns.
This is an effective strategy when conditions are right, but it is purely taking advantage of external conditions.
No business is really happening.
It’s pure parasitism. (It’s unclear whether Trump even understands this is his strategy.)
Trump is, however, almost preternaturally talented at two things: self-promotion, and structuring contracts and deals so as to extract the maximum benefits for himself at the lowest risk.
These sometimes butt into each other, as Trump’s unquenchable desire for flattery and media attention overpower his weasel sense for the contract, or cause him to surround himself with dimwitted yes-men instead of intelligent advisers.
Third, domestic policy.
Trump does not have a remotely comprehensive policy platform.
He clearly has no interest in building one.
He clearly is unable to build one.
Trump constantly (and inadvertently) reveals his staggering ignorance of the most basic facts of government and recent history.
Trump didn’t knowthat Russia had annexed Crimea.
He is very obviously a guy who gets his news from half-watching cable TV and the racists in his Twitter mentions.
First he was against raising the minimum wage, then he was for it, then he said it should be up to the states.
First he said Japanshould have nuclear weapons, then they shouldn’t. And on, and on, and on.
When NBC News attempted to compile a list of every Trump flip-flop, they came up with 117 major changes in positions — and that’s likely an underestimate, since it was published a few days ago.
Even on his signature issues — the border wall that Mexico is supposedly going to pay for, and banning all Muslim entry into the United States — Trump is all over the place.
One day it’s round up and deport all 11 million unauthorized immigrants and ban Muslim immigration, the next it’s a path to citizenship, and only partial Muslim restrictions, then back to mass deportation.
It’s unclear whether Trump’s constantly shifting positions are the result of trying to obscure past views, or merely the fact that Trump can’t pay attention to any one thing for more than five minutes at a time.
Just read the transcript from one of his
Insofar as one can discern any sort of domestic agenda through his blizzard of nonsense and rapidly shifting positions, Trump’s favorite things are discriminating against Latinos and Muslims.
The political forces behind him include a sizable fraction of straight-up white nationalists.
On women’s issues, too, his personal record is grotesque.
In his family life,he has boasted that he has never changed a diaper in his life and that he expects his wife to do all the child-rearing while he merely pays for things.
His policy on women’s issues is virtually absent.
Now, under the influence of his daughter, he did release a paid leave “plan,” which calls for a pitiful six weeks of paid maternity leave, to supposedly be paid for by reducing fraud in unemployment insurance (his funding mechanism is about 90 percent short of the needed total, at best). But this is a fig leaf, nothing more.
God only knows what sort of laws the Trump administration — which would be certain to enjoy large Republican majorities in Congress, as well as GOP control of something like three-quarters of state governments — would produce.
But if I had to guess, it would be some combination of state bigotry and Paul Ryan’s budget.
Put Muslims in camps, plus massive social service cuts for minorities.