Modeling Donald Trump as a deal-maker

by on December 13, 2016 at 2:15 am in Current Affairs, Economics, Political Science, Uncategorized | Permalink

Imagine a politician who had trading in his utility function, and furthermore used some intertemporal price discrimination analogies from real estate — what might that look like?  That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, here is an excerpt from the latter part of the piece:

If those trades take up much of the legislative calendar over the next year or two (while the Republican majority remains secure), what might Trump then do next? He hardly seems like a caretaker president or someone who would enjoy presiding over gridlock.

Like a good real estate magnate, the next step then would be to turn to the lower valuation buyers – namely the Democrats in Congress – and offer them some lesser deals at lower prices. The Democrats are the buyers who will value dealing less because many (but not all) of their voters are less enthused about working with Trump, and also they value less what Trump might plausibly offer. Still, there will be room for further exchange.

If Trump, perhaps working with his daughter Ivanka, crafted a reasonable federal child-care or preschool policy, many Democrats would jump on board. They wouldn’t become Trump supporters in return, but they would moderate their criticism, as they would have a victory to take home to their voters.

In short, the second half of the Trump administration might consist of Trump offering a series of smaller but still significant trades to Democrats, taking care to bring along some Republican votes as well.

And what might the final fire sale consist of? Imagine Trump in his fourth year, essentially running for re-election as an independent, feeling he has nothing to lose and intent on showing that he has broken gridlock. Imagine a Trump whose ideology remains fluid and who loves to make deals more than to adhere to an ideological line. Could he also “sell” climate change legislation and a higher federal minimum wage to Democrats and a smattering of swing-district Republicans?

That is just one scenario, not an absolute prediction, but it would mean lots and lots of policy change under Trump.

1 Massimo December 13, 2016 at 2:34 am

I think you left out schooling. If he decides to push vouchers, Ryan and the establishment will consider it a major victory, and could give a lot in exchange.

2 GoneWithTheWind December 13, 2016 at 9:34 am

“reasonable federal child-care or preschool policy”

What would that be? Can you even use the word “reasonable” in the same sentence with a massive unconstitutional massive federal program intended to transfer massive amounts of money from the middle class tax payers to the unions??? Why would anyone believe a federal child care program would be reasonable or affordable or wouldn’t simply become another runaway government program that wastes money and destroys exactly what it was supposed to help?

3 Jan December 13, 2016 at 10:32 am

Because it’s daycare, you dolt.

4 Thor December 13, 2016 at 12:32 pm

Such a clever rebuttal. Clearly Jan was educated in an elite, perhaps private, daycare.

5 Cliff December 13, 2016 at 10:55 am

Just make it tax-deductible

6 JWatts December 13, 2016 at 2:13 pm

Per Trump’s website:

Rewriting the tax code to allow working parents to deduct from their income taxes child care expenses for up to four children and elderly dependents.

Allow parents to enroll in tax-free dependent care savings accounts for their children or elderly relatives.

Provide low-income households an Expanded Earned Income Tax Credit – in the form a Childcare rebate – and a matching $500 contribution for their savings accounts.

7 stephan December 13, 2016 at 2:36 am

I agree with the analysis. Trump is not an ideologue , he has been on both sides of many issues and will just tell you his thinking evolved. He loves unpredictability and surprise, and create drama and act as the deal maker.

He breaks the mold. He really is different. He can be Santa Claus and the grinch at the same time. I am looking forward to it.

8 aaron December 13, 2016 at 2:51 am

I’m not sure I agree with the analysis and I’m definitely am not looking forward to President Trump, but I do hope the analysis is correct.

Trump is extremely unpredictable though I think a lot of that is based on the fact he’s still very unfamiliar with the Presidency and policy in general so he doesn’t have strong views.

Another facet to consider is Trump is strongly driven by winning and media attention. The groups who convince him they can best facilitate winning are the ones who will have the most influence

9 JC December 13, 2016 at 5:51 am

Acting ideology-free can be either great or awful, we can hope for the best but I can’t help but expect the worst. Looking at things he said about reforming education looks like he can please both sides… let’s see if he can pull it off

10 anon December 13, 2016 at 8:14 am

The common pattern now is for Trump to say something, like “don’t trust the CIA,” and for people to look back in his timeline to when he said the opposite, in this case 2014:

“The CIA deserves our praise for taking the fight to the enemy in the dark corners of the world. The CIA perseveres, the politicians whine!”

That’s Trump talking. Amazing.

So no, I don’t think his thinking “evolves,” it is always situational.

11 Ldt December 13, 2016 at 9:35 am

“The common pattern now is for … ”

The common pattern now is for everyone to pompously speculate & hypothesize on Trump’s future behavior… based upon ethereal conjecture and biased personal opinion. It’s just gossip and noise.

12 chuck martel December 13, 2016 at 9:52 am

You’re right. Has predicting the future doings of political figures always been a popular obsession? Did the nation agonize over what the terms of Grover Cleveland or FDR would entail? Or is this speculation limited to people with an unhealthy fixation on things over which they have no control?

13 anon December 13, 2016 at 10:07 am

Trump is a wildcard. Recognizing that is a bit different than trying to predict what he’ll do six months from now.

14 msgkings December 13, 2016 at 11:43 am

I think most recognize that he’s a wild card. And those that prefer him to a known, loathed quantity like Clinton are fine with it. And if you are very anti-Trump, realizing he’s a wild card means there’s a good chance he won’t be as bad as you make him out to be in your head.

He’s different, he’s weird, but he probably won’t be the ruin of the nation any more than Obama was.

15 Unanimous December 13, 2016 at 4:16 pm

Human communication is mostly gossip and noise.

16 A Black Man December 13, 2016 at 9:56 am

Common for the unhinged, sure. Normal people don’t do anything of the sort.

17 anon December 13, 2016 at 10:05 am

Research is for elitists!

18 derek December 13, 2016 at 5:20 pm

What does that have to do with the current controversy? I thought leftists had the capability of actually reading things and understanding the difference between some unnamed CIA hack pontificating to the NYT about Podesta emails throwing the election, and the CIA doing the clandestine and dangerous intelligence gathering and operations in nasty spots.

Unless of course talking to the NYT is like being in Kandahar.

19 A Black Man December 13, 2016 at 10:05 am

Trump uses a familiar tactic. He disguises his intentions, not to keep them a secret, but to reveal the intentions of others. He uses decoys, false sincerity and ambiguous affiliations to flush out the intentions of the people he expects to bargain with at some point. Once he thinks he knows what you want and what you are will to give up for it, he engages in serious negotiation. It’s why he likes having these daily meetings with people people like Ryan and Romney. He correctly figures he will be cutting deals with the Bush wing of the party, not the Democrats.

For the history buffs, read up on Bismarck. The you will understand Trump better.

20 Chip December 13, 2016 at 4:31 pm

Interesting take. Ties in with what Thiel said about everyday Americans taking him seriously but not literally (while the media did the opposite).

21 chuck martel December 14, 2016 at 10:26 am

There isn’t much resemblance between Bismarck and Trump. Bismarck himself was a very private person who spent extended periods of time unavailable to all but his closest associates. He was married to the same woman his entire life. What Bismarck, an ordinary Junker from rural Prussia, had was the patronage of very important national figures and, ultimately, the Kaiser himself. His vision of a unified Germany was perfect for the era, as was his embrace of a welfare state. When the Kaiser’s son, something of a rival of Bismarck, took over, his influence came to an end.

22 Alain December 13, 2016 at 11:01 am

Trump has been crystal clear with his cabinet picks : he is a business concervative, as one would expect from a billionaire.

He is going to enact business conservative policies, i.e.: reduce government involvement in the economy. No matter how much poor liberals bleat about how he is ‘destroying’ their favorite machine for imposing their will on others it is going to happen.

The question is how quickly will the new republican administration act? We’ll find out day one. if they remove what little filibuster that Harry Reid left behind, then we’ll know that change is going to happen. If OTOH they don’t remove the last of its powers, then they will be in for a very slow slog.

23 stephan December 13, 2016 at 1:32 pm

Not quite crystal clear. He has picked Gary Cohn of Goldman Sachs a democrat to head the National Economic Council (NEC). He has also picked Steve Mnuchin, as Treasury secretary. Their position on Trump’s supply side tax plan is not clear. There were not the choice favored by conservatives.

24 Pshrnk December 14, 2016 at 1:15 pm


25 dan1111 December 13, 2016 at 2:37 am

This would more or less replicate his strategy in the election, where he first staked out an extremely conservative position on certain issues to appeal to a core of primary voters, and later moderated and even tried reaching out to Democrats.

It had limited effectiveness in the election, because talk is cheap, and he could not really convince different audiences he believed different things (though it didn’t undermine his credibility nearly as much as one might think it would). I could imagine it being much more effective in governance, though, because the credibility issue can be addressed by actually putting deals on the table. Democrats seem set to align themselves in the exact same “party of no” stance for which they so sharply criticized Republicans over the last eight years. But I don’t think they could hold that line against a president who is willing to make real concessions in their direction. And I do expect Trump to make real concessions, since he wants to win over all else.

This is one of the reasons I was worried about Trump. Conservatives seem largely happy with the transition so far, but Tyler’s analysis should give them pause.

26 Li Zhi December 13, 2016 at 9:59 am

“Tyler’s analysis” ? I’d like to believe you were kidding, but know you’re not. TC’s “analysis” is so flawed it should be an embarrassment. The only thing (in the next 2 years) the Democrats will be able to do is to contribute to the dominant Republican side, when some Republicans oppose Trump’s legislation due to local or philosophical issues. Assuming that Trump & Company don’t hugely overstep themselves (an assumption which requires discipline not common in the human animal), then Democrats will be spending the next 4, possibly 8 years posturing and attempting to obstruct the Right’s agenda. Trump has a very limited ability to “reach out” to them, simply because he risks ALIENATING the Right, who have spent the last 8 years being abused by Obama and his lap dogs. Yeah, what would go wrong if Trump turned his back on his main stream supporters? I can’t think of a thing…I mean seriously? How naive can you be? D.C is about power. Tell me what power the Democratic Left has now?

27 msgkings December 13, 2016 at 11:47 am

He’s already turning his back on his mainstream (“I love the poorly educated”). It’s still early but there won’t be a big wall, or a Muslim ban, or a jailed Hillary, or a trade war.

28 derek December 13, 2016 at 5:28 pm

He needs the establishment Right for the moment. He has a government to put together. The deep bench of people who have been waiting around is only accessible through that channel.

This is a pretty common thing to do when taking over a large organization. You use the current people to run things, and over time effect the changes. Someone has to know how to turn the boiler on, where the electrical panels are and recognize the current leasees. In time, especially of those people are a bit on the useless side they get replaced.

Congress won’t get what they want and neither will Trump. If they are smart, and I’m not certain they are, they will use Trump as the lightning rod attracting all the controversy and attention while they go about reforming the various bits of government. I think they are hoping to roll Trump. I suspect they won’t.

A large number of his appointees have either antipathy or pure hatred of the departments they are now heading. Expect that Trump positions himself as an advocate for the voters against an unwieldy and uncaring bureaucracy.

29 msgkings December 13, 2016 at 8:48 pm

Certainly plausible. What makes this so interesting is no one has any idea how it’s going to go. Trump is obviously making it up as he goes, and in some ways that’s refreshing. As I’ve said, if President Trump is a dealmaking, pragmatic, pro-growth guy and not the crazy idiotic jerk that was Candidate Trump, things may be pretty good.

But we just don’t know.

30 So Much For Subtlety December 13, 2016 at 3:31 am

If Trump, perhaps working with his daughter Ivanka, crafted a reasonable federal child-care or preschool policy, many Democrats would jump on board. They wouldn’t become Trump supporters in return, but they would moderate their criticism, as they would have a victory to take home to their voters.

This seems like more of the “let’s hope Trump is really a Democrat” school of thought. It is a sign of refusing to accept the election. Yes, he is a Democrat as it happens, but if he wants to get re-elected, he does not have to please the Democrat voter base. He has to please his own. Obamacare is working out so well, that he ought to get on border Obamagarden? I don’t think so.

Why should Trump throw his opponents a single bone? He stands to the Right of most Republicans. At least in theory. They are the people he needs to bring over. He promised to drain the swamp. He cannot win re-election by wallowing in the sty with the Democrats.

31 dan1111 December 13, 2016 at 4:37 am

But Trump actually proposed child care support (in the form of tax credits), as well as paid maternity leave. These proposals are still on his website.

Predictions that Trump compromises with Democrats on some issues are rooted in actual statements that candidate Trump made. Writing it off as wishful thinking seems like wishful thinking in itself.

Moving to the center and claiming the victory of “getting stuff done”, bi-partisanship, etc. is usually a good political move for presidents. They almost never get a serious primary challenge for re-election, and it allows them to broaden their base. Given the amount of ideological flexibility Trump showed during the election, and the fact that he is largely a political blank slate, I will be shocked if he doesn’t reach across the aisle on some issues.

32 So Much For Subtlety December 13, 2016 at 4:50 am

Bi-partisanship works does it? Remind me again of how well No Child Left behind worked out for George W. Bush?

There is no point working with Democrats because there are no Democrats worth working with. They have moved to the Left and become ever more extreme. And after all, refusing to compromise kept Obama in the White House for two years, so maybe that is what the voters want.

There is no benefit to giving billions to the Democratic Party’s main supporters.

33 dan1111 December 13, 2016 at 5:00 am

You have a point with Bush. He got painted as a right-wing extremist despite pushing centrist policies on several big issues, and having strong bipartisan support for the Iraq war, his most contentious action.

Still, compromise worked great for Clinton. And I’m not sure Obama is such a good example in favor of your point. His intransigence arguably gutted the Democratic party at every level and enabled the (unthinkable) election of Trump. I don’t think Congressional Democrats will be thinking “let’s continue the Obama strategy”.

34 So Much For Subtlety December 13, 2016 at 5:36 am

They re-elected Pelosi. They are doubling down on their outstanding “our voters are stupid” strategy. It doesn’t look like they have learned anything to me. I agree Obama’s strategy did not work out well. Still, neither did the Republican’s obstruction.

I have a more likely Trump policy. The Republicans now control roughly two thirds of State houses. Trump should call an Article Five Constitutional Convention. Offer to remove the Interstate Commerce clause. Insist on a balanced budget amendment.

They would need 38 states to ratify whatever they like. So taking the governors as an indicator of control, they would have to flip five – actually less because they control some states with veto-proof majorities. Virginia is coming up for election in 2017. Alaska, Colorado, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania in 2018? Not likely but theoretically possible.

If that gives him enough votes to win there are lots of things he could do. Remove votes from women for instance.

35 The Original Other Jim December 13, 2016 at 8:56 am

This is a good exchange.

I agree that the Dems have learned nothing, and will continue with the Obama “strategy.” Why? Because he got elected twice, and incredibly they still believe that Hillary “should have” won – as if that makes a difference.

Every time you hear a dope like Krugman or a politician like Reid or Hillary mention the popular vote, or the Russians, or a pointless recount doomed to fail… laugh. Hard. It proves they don’t get it, and they have no intention of ever doing so.

Can things change over 2-4 years? Sure. Look at all the Dems that voted to invade Iraq and then pretended they never did so. Hell, Hillary even got nominated for President.

(She then went on to lose the historic election to Donald Trump.)

36 Dean December 13, 2016 at 9:20 am

Wouldn’t removing the commerce clause essentially return us to a confederacy, or is that the goal here?

37 Alain December 13, 2016 at 11:09 am

Loving this thread.

Let’s focus on 1st simply removing what’s left of the filibuster and subsequently implementing a pro growth, pro business, strategy. Perhaps after that is done, or concurrently, focus on getting more governors elected and get some admendments passed. That would, of course, be the dream scenario.

38 FUBAR007 December 13, 2016 at 11:53 am

Dean: Wouldn’t removing the commerce clause essentially return us to a confederacy, or is that the goal here?

You just answered your own question.

Alain: Let’s focus on 1st simply removing what’s left of the filibuster and subsequently implementing a pro growth, pro business, strategy.

You poor, deluded thing. You actually think Trump & co. are on your side.

Stock up on Vaseline. Your turn is coming.

39 Bob from Ohio December 13, 2016 at 2:26 pm

“Wouldn’t removing the commerce clause essentially return us to a confederacy,”

The current Supreme Court treatment of the commerce clause only dates back to the New Deal, the famous “switch in time that saved 9”.

Did we have merely a confederacy in 1930?

40 So Much For Subtlety December 13, 2016 at 7:04 pm

Dean December 13, 2016 at 9:20 am

Wouldn’t removing the commerce clause essentially return us to a confederacy, or is that the goal here?

You think the Commerce Clause is all that is impeding the reintroduction of slavery?

34 FUBAR007 December 13, 2016 at 9:57 am

SMFS (aka King Douchebag): …. Wow. You really are a completely unreconstructed asshole. Been masturbating over The Handmaid’s Tale again, have we?

Thank you. I try to please. Actually no, I have read it but I was not impressed. I just really like Sharia. Well most of it. I don’t think women should go out of the home without covering up appropriately and with the permission of their nearest male relative. Nor should they vote. Why do you hate Muslims so much? Is it, you know, their race?

35 Alain December 13, 2016 at 11:09 am

Let’s focus on 1st simply removing what’s left of the filibuster and subsequently implementing a pro growth, pro business, strategy. Perhaps after that is done, or concurrently, focus on getting more governors elected and get some admendments passed. That would, of course, be the dream scenario.

A Balanced Budget amendment? I can see Republicans loving it but Trump is not perhaps the right man. The Establishment would cower in fear at the idea because of pressure for DOMA or a ban on Abortion. Social issues are one of those things they only care about when looking for votes from Hicks. The rest of the time they would be happy to gyrate on a float at a Gay Pride parade.

But I think 38 in ’18 is a viable goal and should be the GOP strategy. So far it looks like the Democrats are going to help them.

41 Troll me December 13, 2016 at 7:01 am

The link between “actual statements that candidate Trump made” and what he will actually do is not clear.

I heard that at least one time, or perhaps twice (this isn’t straining slander laws, is it?) … he might have been known to play fast with the truth. Maybe to the tune of being 20% misleading, but definitely never ever a flat out lie.

Did you hear about all the Muslims dancing on the streets of New York after the twin towers went down?

If proven false, just double down, double down again, and then pre-commit to doubling down on the lie ad infinitum.

I hope he is a better president than candidate.

42 Taxes Can Be a Worthwhile Investment in Our Future December 13, 2016 at 7:23 pm

He was a great candidate, as far as winning the election is concerned. But he can’t seem to do anything other than self promotion. That is that problem.

43 TMC December 13, 2016 at 7:54 pm

So we’re looking at Obama II?

44 anon December 13, 2016 at 8:24 am

I would say that this is a “let’s hope Trump is normal” piece, and the party tribalism is an extremely second order concern.

45 dan1111 December 13, 2016 at 10:46 am


46 msgkings December 13, 2016 at 11:50 am


47 Thor December 13, 2016 at 12:42 pm

Re: Party Tribalism.

Oh, and what tribe is Trump?

I ask sincerely. He’s not a Dem, really, and he’s not a standard Republican.

Answers to the question “what tribe is Trump?” i) We don’t know. ii) Notwithstanding i), he is a Trump-first tribe member, for sure. But that still doesn’t answer the question.

48 anon December 13, 2016 at 3:09 pm

Trump shows something interesting. He is in many ways unique, but the tribe that was conservative, Republican, in some cases libertarian, can just go with it.

That says to me that many values I took as the honest part, not the membership signalling, were in fact membership signalling as well.

49 Massimo December 13, 2016 at 10:34 pm

Anon, I do not know what kind of libertarian you met, but no decent libertarian thinks he is libertarian. He is a righ-wing extreme statist. Some libertarians (wrongly in my opinion) like him because they think he can “change the system” ( Block, Molineaux…) whatever it means. But if you want to read what a real libertarian thinks about him, read this short piece of Jeffrey Tucker, one of the most gifted libertarian writer around: Note that Jeffrey wrote it one and a half years ago.

50 anon December 14, 2016 at 9:20 am

I agree, but I am speaking of more rank and file Republicans who were all “shrink government until you can drown it in a bathtub,” and are now ok with Carrier deals.

51 Taxes Can Be a Worthwhile Investment in Our Future December 13, 2016 at 7:07 pm

His cabinet is from the Far Right of the Republican party. So if you go by his cabinet, that is his tribe.

52 Taxes Can Be a Worthwhile Investment in Our Future December 13, 2016 at 7:08 pm

Certainly anything that has ever seemed like honesty from Trump was a misunderstanding, LOL.

53 Brian December 13, 2016 at 3:32 am

Alternatively, if we model someone who’s core objective is to win by dominating their opponent it could very well be that no deals get done whatsoever.

It will be interesting as a test case to see how health insurance reform gets negotiated via twitter insults.

54 Area Man December 13, 2016 at 3:34 am

It seems everywhere you look, folks are projecting their policy views onto Trump. Trump’s not going to lift a finger to address climate change because he dislikes the arrogant nerds who want him to. He deeply distrusts experts, and takes pleasure in refuting them and reminding them he’s in charge. He’s going to repeal it all, unless he gets distracted by other things.

Kerry was crucified for being a flip-flopper, yet Trump’s inability to stick to anything he says – and indeed, vehemently deny he ever said it – is his greatest political strengths. Anything is possible when you ‘didn’t really mean that.’

His incessant gaslighting in the age of youtube is breathtakingly brazen. Perhaps it is the only way to win in this new media era: sow distrust in everything, and speak with emphatic sincerity so you become the only source one can trust.

55 ladderff December 13, 2016 at 8:54 am

Yeah, it’s great isn’t it?

56 Thor December 13, 2016 at 12:47 pm

I find it intriguing and yet alarming. Intriguing because it ties progressives in so many knots. Their derangement, which began under the relatively benign centrist G. W. Bush, has reached epic proportions.

And yet I am alarmed at the blustering buffoonery of our Twitterer-in-Chief. I’m an Eisenhower Republican. I like politicians to be modest, sombre, sensible and clear about what they intend to do, on our behalf, while they are in office.

57 Taxes Can Be a Worthwhile Investment in Our Future December 13, 2016 at 7:18 pm

Area Man “It seems everywhere you look, folks are projecting their policy views onto Trump.”

Indeed. He’s like an ink blot test. Many people see what they want to see. In fairness to them, DT has said so many inconsistent things that everyone can quote some of it as justification for thinking that DT is promising to do exactly what they want to see happen.

This is not the only way to win an election in the media era. No one else has ever won this way. And maybe no one ever will again. Trump is a unique person, who can get away with things others can not. He is an expert self promoter and con artist, a successful business man, a billionaire, a celebrity reality TV star, and a politically incorrect macho alpha male type — all categories of people that American admire to the point of worship. All of these qualities helped him to win the election. None of these qualities is likely to be useful in performing the duties of president, however. Therein lie many concerns people have about him.

Thor, the relatively benign centrist who crashed the economy and started a long expensive bloody war based on lies about WMD? That benign centrist?

What Trump does is certainly great performance art, and great selling of himself to voters. As far as performance of a POTUS, it certainly looks like it will be a disaster.

58 Taxes Can Be a Worthwhile Investment in Our Future December 13, 2016 at 7:22 pm

Yes, it’s intriguing to you when Trump harms progressives, tying us in knots. I guess when Trump’s policies harm you, we will have to be intrigued and pleased also. We are in the politics of cruelty now. Even Eisenhower Republicans, who used to think highly of modesty, somberness, sensibleness and clarity, participate in the cruelty. it’s just an irresistible impulse now, isn’t it?

59 Joshua Fox December 13, 2016 at 3:36 am

Trump has no ideology but must toe the line of the Republican congressional leaders, because they have the power to depose him, through impeachment.
In the terminology of The Dictator’s Handbook by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith, they are the “selectorate.”

60 dan1111 December 13, 2016 at 4:39 am

Bizarre claim.

Unless he commits a major crime or abuse of office, there’s no way. Just look at what happened with the Clinton impeachment.

61 Troll me December 13, 2016 at 7:03 am

There are a few things he could probably already be impeached for, but I think the assumption is that he’ll get a clean slate in terms of thing relating to impeachment.

62 TMC December 13, 2016 at 8:01 pm

Since you can only be impeached for things you do while in office, and he’s not President yet, it’s pretty fair to say he’s got a clean slate.

63 Troll me December 14, 2016 at 1:23 am

I did not know that. I guess we can easily see right now that there’s a good reason for it 🙂

I don’t mean that in an anti-Trump way. It’s better if the ability to blackmail the president is reduced.

64 NatashaRostova December 13, 2016 at 12:09 pm

It’s not a bizarre claim — it’s a sub-game equilibrium claim.

65 Taxes Can Be a Worthwhile Investment in Our Future December 13, 2016 at 7:06 pm

Yes, look at the Clinton impeachment. Dems can be impeached for consensual sexual activity. Republicans can start a long bloody expensive war with Iraq based on lies about WMD and they do not get impeached. Trump ran as a Republican. So impeachment is not possible, with our Republican dominated Congress.

66 Stuck-Record December 13, 2016 at 5:28 am

Is there a sense of realisation slowly dawning that Trump isn’t the Hitler caricature the media spent so much money and time portraying? (Hello, Simon Schama!)

I don’t like the guy at all, but as Scott Adams has been saying for 18 months there is a gigantic cognitive dissonance problem with the mainstream ‘clever people’s view of Trump. It can’t be pointed out often enough that the Republican party spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to stop Trump. There’s a reason for that. He’s not really a modern Republican. He’s not a modern Democrat either. He’s also not Hitler as the snowflakes are screeching.

Everybody who interprets his action through the lens of those positions is going to look increasingly stupid in the coming years. (Especially the Hitler ones).

He’s not an ideologue. He’s a salesman and a family man. He wants to go down in history as successful, famous, and liked. But unlike most politicians he simply doesn’t care about offending or even crucifying his enemies.
His priorities AFAIK seem to be:
1. His family.
2. His business.
3. His country.
But those three are very, very intermingled. His brand and ego are, I think, proxies for a love of those things. So there is a risk of a Berlusconi, but… My guess is that his future actions and policies will be predicated on whether or not they might hurt any of those three things. The upside to this is that he has what Taleb calls ‘Skin in the game’. Unlike most politicians he is obsessed about what the future thinks of his family.

He wants the world to remember the Trump family as winners.

67 Troll me December 13, 2016 at 7:06 am

Sorry if the ID tags for religious minorities raised some back hairs. It the comments on incoming rapists, the desire to build walls, start trade wars, bomb families by virtue of association to terrorists, invade foreign nations and “take their oil”, and some variety of other things.

That kind of stuff might have got some people wondering.

Or maybe he just needs to take a second or two to choose his words, every few seconds, to try to keep from saying dumb stuff.

68 ladderff December 13, 2016 at 8:59 am

Hey Nate, do you by chance ghostwrite Cowen’s Bloomberg pieces?

69 Troll me December 13, 2016 at 10:50 am

I highly doubt they would publish what I would send them, if I had an interest in trying to be published in some foreign media outlet.

70 Thor December 13, 2016 at 12:51 pm

The Bloomberg pieces show signs of having been edited, so no.

71 FUBAR007 December 13, 2016 at 10:07 am

Stuck-Record: 1. His family. 2. His business. 3. His country.

1. His brand. 2. His family. 3. His business.

Fixed it for you.

Trump has no conscience, only ego.

72 eccdogg December 13, 2016 at 10:10 am

Yep I think that is closer to the order. But that does not have to be a bad thing.

73 FUBAR007 December 13, 2016 at 10:25 am

But that does not have to be a bad thing.

Only if his perceived self-interest aligns with the broader national interest. It doesn’t.

Also, ego is not a reliable indicator of rationality, foresight, or competence.

74 Turkey Vulture December 13, 2016 at 11:53 am

“Only if his perceived self-interest aligns with the broader national interest. It doesn’t.”

Why wouldn’t it, if (1) His Brand and (2) His Family are his top two concerns? If the nation is in ruins following his Presidency, so is (1), and (2) won’t be happy.

75 eccdogg December 13, 2016 at 1:05 pm

Right. I don’t see how his ego/brand/family is improved by him being widely perceived to be a disaster.

76 FUBAR007 December 13, 2016 at 1:56 pm

TV: Why wouldn’t it…

That’s why I said his perceived self-interest.

Trump rightfully gauges that his brand, and by extension his family’s continued good fortune, rides on the success of his presidency. Looking at his Cabinet picks, he’s betting the success of his presidency on pleasing the corporate elite, chiefly Wall Street and Big Oil. Contra his campaign rhetoric, he’s not “draining the swamp” of crony capitalism and corruption, he’s simply un-diluting it. Instead of appointing corrupt surrogates of the corporate elite, he’s appointing the corporate elite themselves.***

The problem is the interests of the corporate elite are diametrically opposed to those of the American population writ large i.e. the broader national interest. By rendering American workers non-competitive on cost and less valuable as consumers, globalization severed the alignment between U.S. capital and U.S. labor that made Reaganite trickle-down economics work. Why hire Americans (and by extension invest in American infrastructure) when there’s more growth potential, and thus potential profit, to be found abroad?

Trump either doesn’t recognize this disconnect or, more likely, doesn’t care. If the former, he genuinely thinks trickle-down economics can still work in which case he’s failed to accurately perceive the broader national interest. If the latter, he’s defining the broader national interest as what it’s in the best interests of the corporate elite…in which case he’s failed to accurately perceive the broader national interest. Either way, his perceived self-interest doesn’t align with said broader national interest.

***No, Hillary wouldn’t have been any better. She’d have just stuck with the surrogates.

77 Turkey Vulture December 13, 2016 at 4:22 pm

I potentially agree with you, except I don’t think we know quite yet if his perception is so far off. To the extent I am following The Transition (which I am trying not to), he does seem to be indicating what you describe with his picks. But I think it is possible he is doing so a strategic means of getting some portion of the Republican establishment more onboard with him, with the goal of pursuing an agenda somewhat closer to an “accurate” view of the national interest.

In a year I may think you hit the nail on the head here.

78 Thomas Taylor December 13, 2016 at 10:22 am

I really love how the Neo Nazis, the guys who “heil” the Chief, took to using “snowflake” as a catch-all word to describe people who don’t find racism particularly attractive.

79 So Much For Subtlety December 13, 2016 at 7:10 pm

I love how effective it is. Snowflakes don’t like being called on their, errr, snowflakiness. But snowflakes they are.

I also love the resurrection of the word “Fascist”. I haven’t heard that so often since I stopped hanging out with a bunch of Trots in the 70s.

80 Cliff December 14, 2016 at 1:18 pm

Was it neo nazis? I noticed WaPo the other day defined alt-right as a group of people wanting a whites-only state, with no citation or anything. First time I had heard that definition.

81 JC December 13, 2016 at 5:44 am

First half of Trump’s term will be dominated by foreign policy, particularly his relationship with Putin and if (despite the current circumstances: Allepo falling to Assad and the Hacking case) Trump will still push for more engagement and cooperation with Russia. Seems to me Donald Trump is overestimating his power and is building a wall that separates him from NATO allies and ultimately diminishes US standing in the world.

82 rayward December 13, 2016 at 7:01 am

I shouldn’t complain that Cowen sees a silver lining in the very dark cloud hanging over Trump. And I shouldn’t complain that Cowen understands Trump is all ego and that stroking it in the right direction is likely the only path to policy not based entirely on what enriches Trump. So by all means, negotiate, negotiate, and negotiate some more. Here’s a good place to start, a corporate tax overhaul that rewards domestic industry while discouraging American firms from shifting production overseas, that encourages equity finance while discouraging over-reliance on debt, that rewards firms which employ domestic labor while discouraging American firms from relying on low-cost foreign labor. “Economists don’t rule the world; I understand that,” the economist who devised the overhaul is quoted as saying. “You never know when or if your policy ideas will have an impact.” Now, if Cowen can combine his very practical suggestion with an economist’s version of corporate tax reform, then we might have something to celebrate. Negotiate, but make it worthwhile.

83 Slocum December 13, 2016 at 7:28 am

This would sound much more likely in a couple of years if the Democrats regained the senate after the midterm elections. But right now Democrats are under a lot of pressure not to ‘normalize’ Trump or even accept his victory as legitimate. And it appears to me that the Trump administration is going to start out with a repeal of the ACA, rollbacks of a number of Obama’s executive orders and a bruising Supreme Court confirmation fight that could well end in Republicans invoking the ‘nuclear option’ for the filibuster (as Harry Reid injudiciously suggested the Democrats were set to do with a Clinton presidency and a Democratic majority). If that’s what the first few months of Trump look like, I don’t see deal-making across the aisle happening for quite a while.

84 JWatts December 13, 2016 at 1:49 pm

“…and a bruising Supreme Court confirmation fight that could well end in Republicans invoking the ‘nuclear option’ for the filibuster”

There will probably a pro forma attempt to do it with the filibuster, but then as soon as the Democrats actually use the filibuster, the Senate Leader will remove it as an option. I don’t think it will get to the level of bruising. The Republicans will just follow Harry Reid’s lead and remove the filibuster. The Democrats will whine about it, but they set the precedent and they’re powerless.

85 Bob from Ohio December 13, 2016 at 2:31 pm

Lots of Red State Dem senators up for election in 2018. Tester, Manchin and Heidkampf [sic] and others are probably not eager to filibuster, no matter if Vox and the NYT thinks they should.

86 Turkey Vulture December 13, 2016 at 4:29 pm

If part of Trump’s problem is that he doesn’t have certain portions of the Republican camp on board, wouldn’t a hard-fought, early confirmation fight (for a reliably conservative pick) be to his potential advantage?

87 Turkey Vulture December 13, 2016 at 8:23 am

In my adult life, I’ve now witnessed the spread of Bush, Obama, and Trump Derangement Syndrome. Perhaps I am just more sensitive in my middle age, but the Trump strain seems to have spread among its sufferers with amazing speed – well before he was even elected. All strains leave their victims with images of Hitler dancing in their heads, but the Trump strain is especially potent in this regard. Right now I have a hard time imagining its sufferers wanting to collaborate with the occupation force. And for any who do, beware on liberation day.

88 anon December 13, 2016 at 8:41 am

Do you really have so little discernment?

Criticisms and derangement can run in parallel but they are not equivalent sets.

Now since you make your claim this week, let me ask you directly, is it a valid concern that a President ignore the US intelligence apparatus and simply goes with his gut?

Can we count on being lucky with that for 4 years?

89 Turkey Vulture December 13, 2016 at 8:48 am

Sorry about your illness friend. I wish you a rapid recovery.

90 anon December 13, 2016 at 8:57 am

Well, you seem to think “all criticism is madness” is a cute and safe position.

Wear it.

I think Chuck Schumer, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Jack Reed, are not in fact deranged.

91 anon December 13, 2016 at 9:04 am

I want to be clear, because some people are apparently stupid:

The concern here is not the short term tactical one of “which side” benefits or gets hurt.

The concern is Trump’s response, method of resolution. He could have said “concerning news, will investigate, blah, blah.” That would have been conventional and would actually have strengthened his position.

He didn’t do that. He denied reality, despite the obvious outcome that he is weakened with many, including those Senators.

This shows that he will “face save” even when it hurts himself and the country.

92 Turkey Vulture December 13, 2016 at 9:52 am

Thanks for raising the level of discourse friend, here as always.

93 anon December 13, 2016 at 9:59 am

Still choosing cute/stupid I see.

You made no attempt to frame Trump’s denial of intelligence reports as smart for him or good for the country.

94 Turkey Vulture December 13, 2016 at 10:04 am

You have reliably been providing the anti-Trump Message of the Day for a long while now. I have no faith in your genuine concern on any issue, nor in your good faith in argument.

You are also invariably an ass. I am not sure if Trump caused that or if it is who you really are. If the former, as I said, I wish you a speedy recovery.

95 anon December 13, 2016 at 10:10 am

That is a weak return, borderline ad hominem.

Should everyone ignore the Senators’ letter because I linked to it? Is that what you are saying?

Who is arranging now? Can you not process fact when it comes from me?

96 anon December 13, 2016 at 10:11 am

Apparently my tablet doesn’t like “deranging” as a verb. As opposed to “arranging.”

97 FUBAR007 December 13, 2016 at 10:33 am

Turkey Vulture: You are also invariably an ass.

Pot, meet kettle.

98 Turkey Vulture December 13, 2016 at 11:30 am

Fubar, not sure I’ve ever even directed a comment to you. But much appreciated.

“Do you really have so little discernment?”

“Well, you seem to think “all criticism is madness” is a cute and safe position.”

“I want to be clear, because some people are apparently stupid:”

“Still choosing cute/stupid I see.”

99 anon December 13, 2016 at 3:11 pm

Every one of those was an opportunity for you to acknowledge that “Criticisms and derangement can run in parallel but they are not equivalent sets.”

Instead, games.

100 Cliff December 14, 2016 at 1:21 pm

No one owes you acknowledgment or engagement.

101 HL December 13, 2016 at 3:54 pm

Would the average American citizen be better off if the US Intelligence apparatus was dismantled?

102 Turkey Vulture December 13, 2016 at 4:00 pm

I don’t know, they sure had a great run from 2001-2003.

103 anon December 13, 2016 at 4:46 pm

The security post mortem is not so clear. Congressional testimony was that the Whitehouse went around normal channels to get what they wanted.

So, it is perverse to cite 2001-2003 to support a President doing that to even greater degree.

104 anon December 14, 2016 at 9:22 am

That page above was probably the most important “fact of the day” – as Trump surrogates continue to say it was the CIA, and not Bush ignoring the CIA that got us into Iraq.

105 AlanW December 13, 2016 at 8:45 am

Remember, though, that Never Trump started as a Republican movement, and a significant number of Republican intelligentsia and a few politicians are still in that camp. It’s really not the same as the extrwme partisanship we saw in the last two administrations.

106 Turkey Vulture December 13, 2016 at 8:52 am

I think one side of the partisanship is nearly the same, and that’s the side I am referencing. Trump admittedly lacks the built-in set of vaccinated foot soldiers that Bush and Obama had.

107 AlanW December 13, 2016 at 9:38 am

And my point is that Trump’s rhetoric and tactics provoked genuine concern from both sides of the aisle. Saying that there is a derangement syndrome going on waives off the unprecedented nature of Trump’s campaign.

108 Turkey Vulture December 13, 2016 at 10:00 am

My point is you don’t cooperate with Super Hitler.

109 anon December 13, 2016 at 10:13 am

I think TV has demonstrated that he is what he fears.

He cannot process the news, only the sides.

110 Turkey Vulture December 13, 2016 at 11:37 am

“He cannot process the news, only the sides.”

Any news can only be reasonably processed through awareness of the sides involved: where it is coming from, what their angle is, and so forth. Even the choice of which “facts” to present guides the discourse. And people regularly arrive at amazingly divergent views about what you would think are just straightforward facts. Try reading some opposing briefs in a litigation for an example.

111 anon December 13, 2016 at 3:12 pm

“If the facts are on your side, Dershowitz says, pound the facts into the table. If the law is on your side, pound the law into the table. If neither the facts nor the law are on your side, pound the table.”

In which we see TV pound the table.

112 Turkey Vulture December 13, 2016 at 3:58 pm

anon you have been pounding the table for approximately a year now. Your interest in Russia, as with so much else, is in how you believe it can discredit Trump, not a genuine concern about the evil Ruskies influencing our elections. You want to be able to say “Russia supports Trump!” as much as possible, hoping to kindle nationalism and Cold War memories so that people think “Well if the Ruskies want it, we don’t!”. That is it. When it came to Clinton, you casually dismissed any possible problems inherent in having an acting Secretary of State accept donations for her foundation from foreign companies with potential ties to foreign States. Indeed, the whole Clinton Foundation issue you dismissed as “Doing well by doing good.”

Your supposed concern is not genuine. If everything about the world were the same except that the story was that Russia hacked Trump to help Clinton win, you would not be harping on the issue. Can you honestly dispute that?

And then even in this thread you are pounding the table and demanding that I provide rationales for Trump’s behavior. I’m not a Republican and I didn’t vote for Trump, though you seem to think that anyone trying to say that Trump probably isn’t as terrible as the left/media story-line is one of his brownshirts.

I can compromise with you though. If there is solid evidence of a quid pro quo between Trump and Russia – that he has adopted or will adopt certain policies with regards to Russia in exchange for Russia helping get him elected – I will consider him a traitor and support his impeachment and potentially capital punishment. I care quite a lot about corruption. I don’t care about tarring a U.S. politician because a foreign nation thinks he will be better for them than the other option.

113 anon December 13, 2016 at 4:42 pm

That is not a rational response, in any particular.

Again, you are doing what you saying you don’t like, shotgunning every position based on who it comes from, rather than what it is.

You ignore the Senators’ letter today, just as you ignored the Clinton Foundation’s charity watch rating, because those are FACTS not convenient to you.

This quid pro quo stuff doesn’t even address my concern above. Again it is not about short term particulars, it is about the bigger question of how Trump deals with reality:

Whether it is good to reject the entire intelligence apparatus wholesale.

114 Taxes Can Be a Worthwhile Investment in Our Future December 13, 2016 at 5:17 pm

Now, Anon, don’t you realize that people who disagree with Turkey Vulture can never be sincere. Every sincere person always agrees with Turkey Vulture, LOL. Open up the dictionary and look up sincere. It will say: Agrees with Turkey Vulture.

115 Taxes Can Be a Worthwhile Investment in Our Future December 13, 2016 at 7:02 pm

That was no Bush derangement syndrome. All fears of GW Bush were legitimate. He very nearly completely destroyed the country, through his foreign policy, and economically, all at once. Anyone not afraid of G W Bush’s devastation was deranged.

116 Cliff December 14, 2016 at 1:23 pm


117 Massimo December 13, 2016 at 7:31 pm

Re: the Trump derangement Syndrome

I think there is an actual psychiatric condition that many Trumpsters share (not all, some think he is the proverbial wrecking ball). You can find it also in some radical Obamites, especially in the non-straight community (again, just some of them). A friend of mine called it Zombism:

118 msgkings December 13, 2016 at 8:54 pm

Massimo, there is Trump Derangement Syndrome, just as there was Obama DS, Bush DS, and Clinton DS. That’s about when the sides started getting unhinged and unable to get their heads around the other side, right around 1994. Trump, being a wild card, MAY be the first step towards ending that, as he’s obviously not a party line Rep or Dem

119 Massimo December 13, 2016 at 10:00 pm

Kings, I tend to agree with you, he’s not particularly dangerous, what he started to do after being elected is fairly reasonable and it might even be a force of good.

But then I remember what a Venezuelan lady friend of mine told me just after the election. She now lives semi-retired with her family in Miami, started in top management consulting, then Harvard MBA, then associate and partner in a prestigious VC in Silicon Valley. When she told me she was worried and I told her not to worry, because Trump is more smoke than fire, she just told me: “It already happened once to me, remember? I told you twenty years ago that I was going to stay in Mexico (we were working in the same company in Monterrey) only a couple of years, until Chavez was elected out. Well, I haven’t returned yet, and I do not want to go through that again.”. I stood silent. I know the possibility is low, maybe 2-3%, but the risk exists, and the downside is huge.

The US brushed with disaster in the past, most notably with Lincoln and FDR. It was resilient, but it was also lucky. When I see Trump crowds that, whatever the man says, start to chant “USA, USA”, or “Build the wall”, I feel uncomfortable. Maybe I suffer of the Trump syndrome myself, but I do think this guy is different.

120 msgkings December 14, 2016 at 12:23 pm

I’m glad we agree, but then you go on to beclown yourself with the rest of this post. The US and its institutions and history are nothing like Venezuela’s, and there is no chance of Trump being able to take over the country as a dictator like Chavez, or Hitler, or whomever. None.

And to double down on your oft-repeated bashing of Lincoln and FDR, considered by non-crackpots to be 2 of our finest presidents, is amusing as always. If Trump is even 1/2 as beneficial to the country as those two, I will be very shocked and very pleased.

121 Massimo December 14, 2016 at 12:58 pm

Sure, Dr Pangloss, tout est pour le mieux dans le mellieur des mondes possibles.

And whoever doesn’t agree is obviously a crackpot.

122 msgkings December 14, 2016 at 1:35 pm

Sure Doctor Doom, everything is careening towards disaster and the world is ending. Anyone who doesn’t agree is a naïve idiot.

Pessimism always sells, and makes one look smart and ‘in the know’. Any talk of ‘things will generally work out well like they have throughout the history of the world’ is obviously stupid, evidence be damned. Read some Matt Ridley, you could use it. Anarchism is childish, not (rational) optimism.

By the way the crackpot comment wasn’t about your pessimism, it was about your repeated assertions that Lincoln and FDR were terrible presidents. That is a crackpot belief.

123 collin December 13, 2016 at 8:29 am

You should model his interest in deal-making to other nations whom he appears to willing to talk to. Obviously Russia and Taiwan favor Trump. But given the example of Iran buying lots of US planes (Boeing) can Trump tear up the Iran nuclear now? (Bolton is part of his team?) Should China identify a few products to increase trade, corn and coal, to better engage Trump up front? Maybe Germany can increase its buy of coal as well?

I believe the main thing that could hurt Trump in today’s economy is an ill-advised long war.

124 AlanW December 13, 2016 at 8:55 am

I understand where this belief comes from, but you have to consider his team. Trump has appointed the most hard core conservative cabinet at least since Reagan. Who is going to be bringing these olive branch ideas to him? Ivanka and Bannon are the only plausible sources, and neither of them knows much about the details of policy.

I think it’s far more likely we’ll see more gags like the Taiwan call – cabals of advisers manipulating Trump to further their pet goals, regardless of what might be good for the administration.

Trump can be convinced of anything under the sun, but it’s going to be Sessions and Pruitt and Tillerson who have the opportunity to do the convincing.

125 aMichael December 13, 2016 at 9:00 am

I think there’s something to the idea that he gets utility from making deals, but your analysis ignores the filibuster and tight partisan control of the House, which is really good at negative agenda control, meaning Trump’s pro democratic deals won’t even get out of committee unless he’s able to use the bully pulpit and other deals with republicans to do this, but I doubt it. Of course, Trump breaks the presidential mold, so maybe he’s the one pull it off, but remember, the speaker needs the support of the freedom caucus to keep his position and if anyone has a sound in Congress, it’s them.

126 aMichael December 13, 2016 at 9:03 am

“spine” not “sound”

127 Ray Lopez December 13, 2016 at 9:03 am

Brilliant post by TC, once you get past the first sentence (which is explained more in the Bloomberg article in non-technical jargon). Has over 100 comments already, home run!

128 8 December 13, 2016 at 9:35 am

The Democrats Trump will throw more than a bone to are the inner city residents. Trump will try to increase the GOP vote share to 20 percent with blacks, or at the least make those voters stay home in 2020 because they won’t vote against Trump. The cities he needs to hit most are Charlotte, Detroit, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Philadelphia.

129 AlanW December 13, 2016 at 9:42 am

That’s a fascinating idea. What policy proposals do you think are likely to help him (genuine question)? School choice? Health care? Industrial policy?

130 JWatts December 13, 2016 at 1:55 pm

“Establish new immigration controls to boost wages and to ensure that open jobs are offered to American workers first.”

Restricting illegal immigration obviously. Low skilled immigrants compete against low skilled black labor, probably to a greater extent than against low skilled white labor.

“Provide low-income households an Expanded Earned Income Tax Credit – in the form a Childcare rebate – and a matching $500 contribution for their savings accounts.”

Target regulatory reduction that makes it harder for low skilled workers to compete.

“End the radical regulations that force jobs out of our communities and inner cities. We will stop punishing Americans for working and doing business in the United States”
Expanding the EITC for child care.

131 Bill December 13, 2016 at 10:10 am

How do narcissists negotiate? Personality traits determine negotiation behavior. Negotiation is with the Congress and the public.

Here’s what to expect from a narcissistic negotiator:

*Events at which the negotiator releases the “great plan” that will “solve the problem” with people on stage applauding the leader and showing their support. (Expect a guest appearance by Mitt Romney, following his testicular surgery).

*Movies of the event produced by Steve Bannon with assistance by Leni Riefenstahl. The leader will be portrayed with many flags behind his back, and some events will occur with Roman columns in the background.

*Legislation will be proposed which is no more than 144 characters and which can be retweeted. Expect trademarked slogans.

*Characterization of opponents as “bad people” or “stupid people” as part of

*Expect props as part of the negotiation strategy to separate true believers from those who are critical. Bring back the yellow ribbons. Let’s get out the flag.

*Narcissists do not take failure personally. They fire the subordinate and blame them or others for the failure. Never themselves.

132 Bill December 13, 2016 at 10:24 am

I can post some links on personality types and negotiating behavior, but I think you might want to look at the background on narcissistic personality traits and behavior here first:

133 chuck martel December 13, 2016 at 10:40 am

“The leader will be portrayed with many flags behind his back, and some events will occur with Roman columns in the background.” OK, you’re describing Obama’s event in Denver, right? In fact, these expectations have all been seen during the current administration.

134 Bill December 13, 2016 at 1:33 pm


Were you one of those folks who criticized Obama for not wearing a flag lapel pin?

135 JWatts December 13, 2016 at 1:58 pm

Have you ever noticed the fact that when Bill is faced with a point he doesn’t want to address, he immediately attacks the other poster?

“The leader will be portrayed with many flags behind his back, and some events will occur with Roman columns in the background.”

136 JWatts December 13, 2016 at 2:00 pm

I particularly like the mock of Air Force One they created for the event:

I wonder if the Trump team will try to out do the 2008 inauguration spectacle?

137 Bill December 13, 2016 at 2:08 pm

JW, Fooled you with your pictures.

Those were not Roman columns.

Those were Kenyan statues with inscriptions on them extolling his birth in Kenya as a Muslim cleric.

I read it on the internet.

138 Bill December 13, 2016 at 2:18 pm

JW and Chuck, You do have a point about politicians using the flag. They all do. So you make a valid point. But, time will tell about whether the President elect who would put you in jail, or strip you of citizenship, for flag burning will drape himself more in the flag than his predecessors. I personally think he will exceed Richard Nixon’s and Ronald Reagans flag draping, but I could be wrong.

Let’s come back to this a year from now and look at how a narcissist negotiates and behaves and judge whether he follows the event schedule, the movie or documentary model, the prop strategy, the bad people or stupid people model, the flag and yellow ribbon separation signaling, and the angry dismissal of a subordinate when Trump fails. Also, since narcissists like praise, look for some buttering up of Trump by Putin before he shoves something uncomfortably in his personal space.

139 chuck martel December 13, 2016 at 3:10 pm

The point wasn’t about the flag, it was about your attribution of narcissistic behavior to come on the part of Trump when we’ve already seen many examples of exactly what you describe by his predecessors. You’re actually engaging in the same shameful amateur psychology that the lefties used on Sarah Palin. It’s remarkable that a complete picture of a human’s psyche can be deduced from his appearances in television shows and advertising.

140 Bill December 13, 2016 at 4:49 pm


NO ONE, NO ONE matches the narcissistic behavior of Donald Trump. As for Sarah Palin, she has problems too. The American Psychiatric Association prohibits its members from making public psychiatric assessments, but that does not prevent citizens from pointing out the obvious, and linking to the various descriptions associated with the personality disorder.

Besides, I have it on no less of an authority than David Brooks that Donald is a narcissist. And, that from not even looking at his hands.

But, I do agree with you on one thing. Although not a complete assessment, you can, in your own words, get a “picture of a human psyche…from his appearances in television shows and advertising”, supplemented by his own biography, failed marriages, statements of co-authors, etc. But, of course, you initially limited your statement to television advertising and appearances, which, of course, is limiting…but you knew that, you just tried to stack the deck with that limitation because a fuller picture of the person confirms the assessment of a narcissist.

141 Bill December 13, 2016 at 4:59 pm

Here is a link on how a narcissist negotiates or what to expect from and how you negotiate with a narcissist or frame your requests:

142 Taxes Can Be a Worthwhile Investment in Our Future December 13, 2016 at 5:10 pm

Interesting article. Thanks for the link, Bill. Some people might call you optimistic, if you think Trump is a narcissist rather than a psychopath. Psychopaths are very narcissistic took, but psychopath is the more severe diagnosis.

143 chuck martel December 13, 2016 at 7:03 pm

You haven’t enumerated the measurements on your narcissism yardstick that indicate that Trump is a full-blown egomaniac. Humility, the opposite characteristic, I suppose, is something in very short supply in national politics anywhere. BHO, for instance, suffers from no lack of self-regard. His self-image is so carefully crafted, even to the point of the creases in his trousers, that someone as distracted as David Brooks can make a superior evaluation of him. Maybe Trump needs a better valet.

144 chuck martel December 13, 2016 at 7:13 pm

Actually, the jabber about releasing tax returns, birth certificates, charitable contributions, ad nauseam, is meaningless. What we need to have is a complete psychiatric evaluation of any candidate for office by a panel of qualified psychiatrists. It should be a requirement for being on the ballot. Of course, the voters can disregard the findings if they wish but nonetheless they should be made aware of mental issues that the most powerful person on earth may have. Mrs. Bill Clinton might have set off a few alarms during a shrink session herself, in fact, a significant number of voters probably felt she wasn’t quite normal.

145 Bill December 13, 2016 at 7:26 pm

OK Chuck, fill in the blank of your own observations of Donald Trump against the DSM listing:

DSM-5 criteria for narcissistic personality disorder include these features:

“Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance
Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
Exaggerating your achievements and talents
Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
Believing that you are superior and can only be understood by or associate with equally special people
Requiring constant admiration
Having a sense of entitlement
Expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with your expectations
Taking advantage of others to get what you want
Having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
Being envious of others and believing others envy you
Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner”

146 chuck martel December 13, 2016 at 7:49 pm

Who are you talking about again?

147 Bill December 13, 2016 at 10:16 pm

Chuck, The way you find out is by reading from the top down.

148 Taxes Can Be a Worthwhile Investment in Our Future December 13, 2016 at 6:59 pm

Bill, have you read The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry May 1, 2012 by Jon Ronson? Or Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work May 8, 2007 by Paul Babiak and Robert D. Hare?

149 Bill December 13, 2016 at 7:30 pm

No, but I had a secretary who had a Masters in Psych who did a perfect job in assessing colleagues, including one who really was a narcissist. Once you understood that, it was much easier to understand and anticipate what he would do.

150 Li Zhi December 13, 2016 at 10:17 am

Wow. TC’s wishful thinking is unbounded. It is possible that Trump is actually subtle. It’s also possible that people who have observed him for decades understand what his beliefs are. I doubt it. I’m not sure if he has any, other than self-interest. It SHOULD be clear, based on what he’s said, that you can’t trust anything he’s said to represent what he thinks. Well, now (soon) he’s got the power; the question is what will he do with it? I think he’s less predictable than any other president we’ve had in the last 50 years, so he could do great things, or trip over his own ego. Only time will tell. (added note: glad to see that TC is clear in denying making “absolute predictions”! What a relief!)

151 Li Zhi December 13, 2016 at 10:21 am

Of course, that begs the question: what IS tyler saying? Writing about what Trump will be doing 2 years from now? I mean I can’t think of a more vacuous and masturbatory “intellectual” (in all the negative meanings of that term) exercise.

152 Turkey Vulture December 13, 2016 at 10:27 am

Harsh but pretty fair.

153 msgkings December 13, 2016 at 11:57 am

So basically you guys don’t know what a blog is.

154 Turkey Vulture December 13, 2016 at 12:00 pm

To be fair, this is what Tyler wrote in a Bloomberg column.

155 msgkings December 13, 2016 at 12:03 pm


156 JWatts December 13, 2016 at 2:03 pm

I think all of those points are fair. On the other hand, Tyler has a regular column to write and sometimes it’s going to be just filler.

157 Taxes Can Be a Worthwhile Investment in Our Future December 13, 2016 at 5:04 pm

Well, at least this filler is a pleasant fantasy to cheer us up until we open our eyes and ears.

158 Taxes Can Be a Worthwhile Investment in Our Future December 13, 2016 at 5:07 pm

Li Zhi, LOL. Trump is like an inkblot test. You can see anything you want to see in him. Because he changes his mind constantly and, as you mentioned above, he has no beliefs other than self interest. Tyler chooses to see something quite pleasant in Trump. Is he hoping for a position of some kind in Trump’s administration?

159 Shane M December 13, 2016 at 5:20 pm

Li Zhi, I personally think Trump is a sociopath, and I think is source of so much confusion around what people think he will do. I recently had business dealings with someone I think was a sociopath, and I found they were excellent at telling me what I wanted to hear, to reassure me about my concerns, and were excellent at lying, excuses, and blame as the project lagged for months, and were always stirring up diversionary drama. And no matter what we’d agreed to, after our conversation they’d just go on and do whatever they wanted to do anyway regardless of what they’d told me.

So in that context, given that Trump sets off my sociopath red flags, your assessment of him not having beliefs “other than self-interest” rings true to me.

Here’s another aspect that concerns me from my previous experience:

As I tried to understand this person, I concluded that they derived satisfaction from their ability to deceive and the _power_ it gave them. I do think they enjoyed the process of deception, and the power this behavior generated. Why? I don’t know. Ultimately it ends up isolating them. I think they enjoyed telling me they’d do something and then not do it. Not showing up to work, not returning phone calls. Extension of kindness toward them was taken advantage of and not returned (I prepaid some stuff to try to get things moving). (Yeah, we ended up in court, and despite getting a judgment I still haven’t gotten my money back.) In the end, dealing with a person like this was life-draining. One of the worst experiences of my adult life.

Comments I see in comments about Trump’s uniqueness fall into this line of thought also. He’s a unique figure because he doesn’t relate to people in a normal human-like way. Many comments seem to view this characteristic in a positive light, as providing upside, but having dealt with someone like that, I never want to do it again. I expect that the ugly downsides will reveal themselves to the country over time.

Yeah, I’m probably stretching in trying to relate my personal experiences w/ a sociopath to what I see in Trump. People call me out on, fine. Nice story bro. Yeah. That’s just how I see him and what I expect.

160 Taxes Can Be a Worthwhile Investment in Our Future December 13, 2016 at 6:49 pm

Have you read The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry May 1, 2012
by Jon Ronson? Or Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work May 8, 2007
by Paul Babiak and Robert D. Hare?

I find it hard to believe that anyone reading these books would fail to think about Trump when reading them, in our current political situation.

161 Shane M December 13, 2016 at 8:32 pm

I haven’t read the books you mention. I read quite a bit online trying to understand them and their behaviors. It started with searches about dealing with someone who lies all the time, and most links lead me to discussions for dealing with sociopaths. Most simply advise “don’t.”

162 AL December 13, 2016 at 12:13 pm

Of the many possible future Trumps awaiting us, I think the Horse Trader Trump is by far the most appealing–and the least likely

163 whatsthat December 13, 2016 at 12:35 pm

Lol. Stop with the predictions, they’ve been wrong for a long time. Surely you understand serial correlation.

164 JWatts December 13, 2016 at 2:04 pm

Hey now, don’t mess with the feed back!

165 Anonymous December 13, 2016 at 12:38 pm

…………”lots and lots of policy change under Trump.”

Considering all the Cabinet etc hires so far , consider me skeptical. Any policy changes seem more to be geared to throwing out the baby with the bath water.

166 Sam P December 13, 2016 at 4:20 pm

I’ve thought for months (> 9, I think I’ve posted a few comments about it as well) that if Trump gets elected then I’d expect he would be making deals with conservative/moderate Democrats. He is, or likes to think of himself, as a deal-maker. While he doesn’t control Congressional Republicans, I suspect he’ll keep their support even if the conservative wing is unhappy, so to advance legislation he’ll need to peel off enough Democrats to get his agenda through the Senate.

167 Taxes Can Be a Worthwhile Investment in Our Future December 13, 2016 at 5:01 pm

All of a sudden, people are imagining everything coming up roses for everyone, with Trump as president and making great deals for everyone. Those of you doing this, I hope your fantasies are correct, rather than being just Rose Colored Glasses and delusions of grandeur cooked up to allay quite realistic fears.

Time will tell.

168 msgkings December 13, 2016 at 5:12 pm

Well yeah, we’re all just pixels on the internet, only time will tell what actually happens. The point of all this is that some of us non-Trump voters see some plausibly optimistic outcomes and some can’t get past ‘the country is doomed’. And this is the case every 4 years.

169 Taxes Can Be a Worthwhile Investment in Our Future December 13, 2016 at 5:18 pm

You see nothing out of the ordinary in this election then?

170 msgkings December 13, 2016 at 5:36 pm

Well of course, Trump is obviously really different. But I don’t see much out of the ordinary in the partisan reactions after. Just as Obama was going to destroy America, now Trump is. Let’s wait and see but it is certainly plausible that some good things happen. Just as it’s plausible for some bad ones. With him there’s a larger set of plausible occurrences, because he is such a wild card. And some of those are pretty bad.

I didn’t vote for the guy. But I’m a middle of the road type and I tend to think things don’t go as well or as badly as the extreme partisans predict.

171 Taxes Can Be a Worthwhile Investment in Our Future December 13, 2016 at 5:21 pm

I wonder if Trump will make enough great deals, that benefit all of us enough, that it will make up for us becoming a Russian territory and/or having Russia dictate our policies toward China, the Middle East, and every other country, if that is what is going on. I hope not, but it seems more likely than some of these more optimistic scenarios. Maybe we should all start learning Russian now, as it may come in handy soon.

172 msgkings December 13, 2016 at 5:37 pm

This is what I mean, you sound as stupid as the ‘Obama will destroy our great nation’ idiots.

173 Taxes Can Be a Worthwhile Investment in Our Future December 13, 2016 at 6:44 pm

Time will tell.

174 Cliff December 14, 2016 at 1:40 pm

Yes, time certainly will tell, but I doubt very much you will change your opinions in any way

175 Taxes Can Be a Worthwhile Investment in Our Future December 13, 2016 at 6:53 pm

And if he is only as bad as W was, that would be pretty bad. I think a lot of people wish they could redo that vote and vote for Gore instead.

You sound stupid to me too. When disagreeing with someone on politics, it has become customary now to tell the other person how stupid they sound.

How else could the Powers That Be get a chance to Divide and Conquer all of this, if they couldn’t get us to hate each other and to think each other stupid, immoral, weak etc. Otherwise we might respect each other enough to be capable of cooperating toward common goals. If that happened, then how would the powerful crony capitalist welfare queen Powers That Be survive?

176 Taxes Can Be a Worthwhile Investment in Our Future December 13, 2016 at 6:57 pm

They wouldn’t. But given that so many of us disrespect and bash one another, their future is secure as can be.

177 msgkings December 13, 2016 at 9:35 pm

Around here if you say something stupid, you’re gonna hear about it. It’s not personal, and perhaps you aren’t stupid. But ______ Derangement Syndrome is stupid, with any president in the blank space.

178 chuck martel December 13, 2016 at 6:50 pm

What’s all the mental masochism about? The US is a democratic/republic, the finest form of government evah, the citizens vote for their leaders and that’s what they’ve done in Nov. 2016. A new sachem has been elected, in just the way it’s supposed to happen. Everyone should be real happy, no matter for whom they voted. It’s the institution that counts, not the personalities, right?

179 Taxes Can Be a Worthwhile Investment in Our Future December 13, 2016 at 6:56 pm

Some people are understandably concerned that we get a repeat of G W Bush, or even worse. And there were many issues with how the election took place, from the possibility of electronic voting machine fraud, voter suppression, fake news, Russian influence on the election, and the Republican FBI director’s influence on the election. But yes, none of that matters to you, if your guy got elected, or if you don’t care who got elected or what he is likely to do to the country.

180 chuck martel December 13, 2016 at 7:16 pm

It’s true, elections have consequences. Ask the relatives of the Branch Davidians.

181 Arsalan December 14, 2016 at 1:28 pm

It will be interesting to see what next Trump is going to do, as it will be very interesting to see his movement ahead once he takes over. It is going to have huge impact on the world. I am currently trading with OctaFX broker where I keep my safe side and that’s to do with the conditions which are just awesome having steady spreads starting from 0.1 pips for all major pairs while there is also rebate scheme where I get 50% back, so that further installs confidence.

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