Interventionists


       

Fox News reports that senior Republicans, including Reince Preibus, Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuiiani, are planning an “intervention” to try to talk Donald Trump down from putting his psychopathy quite so visibly on display. The psychopathy itself is presumably intervention-proof.

Which raises the question: Why intervene? Presumably the answer is: To get this man elected as President of the United States, from which venue the psychopathy will have free reign. The very necessity of the intervention implies that if the intervention is successful, it must be disastrous. We intervene with drunkards to begin the slow process of returning them to a normal life. We do not intervene with drunkards to get them to hide their drinking so they can be hired as jet pilots in three months’ time.

I realize that there are still a few scattered people who think (or at least hope) that Trump’s whole idiot-manchild schtick is just some kind of an act, and that there is some substance beneath the lunacy. Presumably those who believe that an intervention is necessary are not among those scattered few. This makes it their responsibility, at a minimum, to stop trying to elect him.

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28 Responses to “Interventionists”


  1. 1 1 Doctor Memory

    Newt presumably flattered himself that he could be the power behind the throne and the “voice of reason” in a Trump administration.

    Rudy’s looking at his last and only post-Kerik chance of becoming USAG dissolve before his eyes.

    Reince is going to go down in history as the man who let his party be taken over by a semi-sentient cantaloupe and then lost at least the Senate for his troubles.

    Hard to blame them for trying to save their own skins… except actually it’s not hard at all.

  2. 2 2 Will A

    Also, those doing an intervention don’t usually try to publicize it.

    “Hey I just saw Susan’s facebook post. It looks like she is going to have an intervention for you tomorrow at 3. Want me to bring some wings?”

  3. 3 3 Jon

    I think there’s a way of looking at this that actually makes some strategic sense: these guys want Trump to lose, but not by a huge landslide. A landslide at the top of the ticket usually means disaster for the down-ballot races. Maybe they want Trump to lose while the GOP maintains control of Congress, and Trump hiding his psychopathy for a few months might help to achieve that.

    But who knows, maybe they’re just idiots who actually think they can control him and imagine that a Trump presidency could be anything other than a complete disaster.

  4. 4 4 Steve Landsburg

    Jon:

    But who knows, maybe they’re just idiots who actually think they can control him and imagine that a Trump presidency could be anything other than a complete disaster.

    I am reminded of the sincerely anti-communist Germans who thought they could install and control Hitler. That one didn’t work out so well.

  5. 5 5 Khodge

    The only thing I believe about Trump is that he loves listening to himself. His business success (or lack thereof) suggests that he is not a doer and does not have the drive to actually make things happen, much less put his psychopathy into action. His psychopathy is, in effect, the inability to control his mouth.

  6. 6 6 Jon

    The idea that a completely out of control megalomaniac will suddenly be controllable once he has all of the power is clearly ridiculous, but wishful thinking is a powerful thing.

  7. 7 7 Advo

    I am reminded of the sincerely anti-communist Germans who thought they could install and control Hitler. That one didn’t work out so well.

    There are important differences between Hitler and Trump (aside from the obvious).

    1. Hitler had a powerful political organisation behind him; he was in control of the NSDAP. Trump isn’t exactly in control of the GOP party. He’d have similar problems with the insane GOP Congress as Boehner and Ryan.

    2. Hitler had a plan. I don’t think Trump has much of an idea of what he’s going to do when he gains office. This suggests that he would be much more open to GOP influence than Hitler was to influence from people outside his party.

    Of course Trump, unlike Hitler, has nuclear weapons, so that raises the stakes a bit.

  8. 8 8 Harold

    Khodge, “His business success (or lack thereof)” However reprehensible Trump is, and whatever massive start he had from his father, is it not the case that he has been reasonable successful in business? I do not kno wthe details of hos business career, so I may have fallen for the Trump flannel. He uses the psychological phenomenon of “anchoring”. If he says he is tremendously successful, and you doubt him, that still leaves moderately successful.

    Out of interest, he does use the word tremendous very often.

    Some of his other techniques are really starting to sound irritating now. The number of times he says he has representatives of the victims of his latest persecution campaign calling him up and saying how wonderful he is. It is starting to sound very tired. Maybe it will to the electorate also.

  9. 9 9 Dave

    I hope someone videotapes that meeting. No matter how the election turns out, the psychological, political (and entertainment) value of that meeting will still be taught in schools 100 years from now. If Trump is completely aware that he is dividing the electorate into warring camps, it means the violence and hatred stirred up by his campaign is not a bug, but a feature.

    If so, Trump has already given up on winning the election, and is simply building an armed militia into his cult of personality. This gives him the flexibility to either be a war lord, a reality show TV star, or dictator of the independent nation of Texas (after it secedes.)

    If that is the case, look for his pronouncements to grow even more spectacular (in the worst sense of the word) in coming weeks. When Trump announces that Los Angeles will be on the “Mexico” side of that wall – for example – Rudy, Reince and Newt will simply smile and wave, before boarding cruise ships headed to Australia.

  10. 10 10 Patrick

    So perhaps a list of potential outcomes. I’ve ranked them from most to least likely, in my perspective.

    1. Probably most likely, Hillary wins in a landslide, and Trump-ism is neutralized. Republicans lose senate but keep house.

    2. Hillary winds a close election. Trump-ism is quasi-validated, and republicans have to deal with that theory going forward. Trump supporters fuss that the lack of establishment support cost election. Very bad case for outcome of the party.

    3. Trump wins and becomes a detached president. He focuses on speaking and “making America great again”, while relegating policy decisions to competent folks in the administration. Probably best case of anything probable.

    4. Trump embraces executive authority and completely screws up, Although he has launch codes, he doesn’t have practical totalitarian control over the military. If he gave the order to nuke Syria, I think there would be at least some pushback from the top brass, and it would become a public issue probably before it happened. I have no doubt that congress would impeach and remove him quickly if he has an epic fail like that. Then, President Pence.

    5. Trump is middling. Nothing really gets done, and we end up with a weird 2020 election cycle.

    6. Trump becomes competent, and my guess if this happens, his marketing skills will make him very effective. We’ll end up with a reality show government status quo, where the masses rule ineffectively.

    My guess is that 1 or 2 above are most likely. His loss will be blamed on his personality and lack of policy, and those three will be well positioned to claim that they tried their best to fix him. I think those three are hoping for a 3 or 4, and viewed as those who tried to do the best with what they have and/or get decent appointments. This also shows that they see 5 or 6 as unlikely.

  11. 11 11 Advo

    @Patrick:

    For me the preferred outcome would be either 1) or 2).
    1) would have the advantage of a Clinton presidency that is actually able to get some policy work done, while 2) would indeed have the advantage of being bad for the GOP.
    The GOP in its pre-Trump form is nothing but a political vending machine for the plutocracy, with zero regard for the economic interests of the bulk of its voters.
    Whatever happens, this iteration of the GOP must end.
    My hope is that Trumpism will force the GOP establishment to address the economic problems of its base through policies more rational than those preferred by Trump (i.e. trade wars).

    If the GOP leadership could at least be persuaded to abandon the idea of financing tax cuts for billionaires with cuts to Medicare and consumption taxes that would already be a big step in the right direction.

  12. 12 12 Will A

    @ Patrick:

    Of course (1) and (2) are the most likely options. The mainstream media is actively working against Trump. They are publishing polls showing Clinton with a huge lead in the polls to try and legitimize a stolen Clinton victory.

    Fortunately, there are sites like Longroom which removes bias from polls and show that Trump is leading in the polls and therefore prove the fix is in.
    (https://www.longroom.com/polls/)

    And believe me, it isn’t just the Democrats and media in on the fix. You can see Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell who aren’t endorsing him whole-hardheartedly. And Elite Republicans being against Trump is even more of a betrayal.

    I’m assuming that Trump supporters are no more or less intelligent than Bernie Sanders supporters and they will be furious when the election is stolen from Trump.

    The Democrats had to appease Sanders by moving their platform to be probably the most liberal ever. And many Sanders supporters still aren’t satisfied.

    So when (1) or (2), it isn’t the case that Trump-ism is going away. Trump-ism will need to placated.

  13. 13 13 Will A

    @ Advo

    “If the GOP leadership could at least be persuaded to abandon the idea of financing tax cuts for billionaires with cuts to Medicare and consumption taxes that would already be a big step in the right direction.”

    How do you propose that the GOP leadership finance tax cuts for billionaires?

  14. 14 14 Harold

    Will A. I m not familiar with longroom and quick look at their website does not inspire much confidence in their poll unbiasing. How do they do this? It does not seem to say.

    The GOP seems in a mess. Rather like the labour party in the UK. The leader (Corbyn) has no support from the parliamentary party (the MP’s) but my well be re-elected by the membership. Similarly Trump has little support from the officials in the party, but has been elected by the membership.

    The general opinion in the UK seems to be that this has made Labour unelectable. Let us hope that it is similar in the US.

    However, Trump and Brexit do reveal a genuine problem with the electorate feeling distanced from control. This is a huge problem. Brexit will not solve anything for many of the people who voted leave. Sunderland was iconic for being the first result in, and was the signal that leave were winning. We now learn that Nissan. who employ 7000 people in Sunderland are delaying choices about investment until the Brexit issue is resolved. Turkeys voting for Christmas.

    Similarly a Trump presidency will not help most of those that vote for Trump.

    The mainstream parties are failing to persuade their constituencies that sensible policies will help them.

    Could this be a first sign of divergence from previously understood economics? So far, from agriculture to industrialisation, each development has increased productivity and simultaneously provided means to distribute the increased wealth. Agriculture needs workers. Industrialisation need workers.

    Could we be seeing the first signs of a development where productivity is increased through intelligent mechanisation, but there is no concomitant method to distribute the proceeds of that productivity?

    This is leaving people cast adrift from the general increase in prosperity, and tempting them to vote for desperate measures such as Trump and Brexit?

  15. 15 15 Martin

    @Will A. (12)

    Longroom is this year’s version of the 2012 “unskewing” poll sites that showed Romney in front by applying statistically unjustifiable adjustments to polling data. What makes you think this version will turn out any better? (Hint: it won’t.)

    If you follow politics long enough, sometimes your candidate loses. This is called life. It does not mean that the other side cheated, particularly if the candidate loses in a landslide, which appears to be at least somewhat probable for Trump at this point.

    It’s rather telling that Trump & co. are already talking about rigged elections and faked polls. They’re laying the groundwork for excuses. I suspect it’s the entitlement mentality that’s overtaken the world in recent years: “If something doesn’t turn out the way I like, somebody must have cheated. It’s just not possible that MY side could lose.”

  16. 16 16 Will A

    @ Harold #14

    “The mainstream parties are failing to persuade their constituencies that sensible policies will help them.”

    From an economic point of view most Americans have views that favor democrats: Tax the rich, increase entitlement spending. I’m not saying this is sensible, but it is the American consensus.

    I think that there are a fair number of republicans that disagree with the economics of movement conservatism. These would be pro-lifers and white nationalist who vote on issues beside economics.

    I think what happened in the Republican party this year was the white nationalists shouting back, “No, Let me tell you what sensible policies are, they are shutting down the boarders, preserving entitlements, and increased infrastructure spending so our type can be put back to work.”

    And they chose Trump who has been pretty vocal about not cutting entitlements and spending on our crumbling third world infrastructure.

    The pro-lifers didn’t push back too hard against Trump because they are not really about economic policies anyway. As long as someone will appoint pro-life judges that is pretty much all they care about.

    This election is the first one that I can remember (I’m only 51), where this is a lot of economic overlap between the 2 presidential candidates.

    No matter what happen, there will be a president who would be in favor of increased entitlement spending and increased infrastructure spending (both probably debt financed). I.e. both will push for an increase in domestic spending.

    So I think a better statement is, “The mainstream parties constituencies believe that expanded entitlement and infrastructure spending are sensible policies.”

    Re:
    “Could we be seeing the first signs of a development where productivity is increased through intelligent mechanisation, but there is no concomitant method to distribute the proceeds of that productivity?”

    In the U.S. there are a couple of mechanisms to distribute proceeds of productivity.

    Tax credits are a good example. Here’s $ 500 off of your taxes because you have a child. You only made $ 12,000 so you don’t owe any taxes and will give you $ 2,000 (EITC).

    It’s the beauty of the 16th amendment. The government could institute a breathing tax credit that where if you breathed in the previous tax year, you get $ 5000 if you made less than $ 50,000.

  17. 17 17 Zazooba

    @Martin, Will A, & Patrick

    Agree that LongRoom looks dodgy in its poll adjustments.

    FWIW, here is a very serious (and very skeptical) statistician saying that both the Republican and Democratic convention bounces are spurious, and indeed, that most such bounces are spurious. Interesting stuff.

    http://andrewgelman.com/2016/08/05/dont-believe-the-bounce/

  18. 18 18 Advo

    @Will A 13:

    I think it might be worth thinking about RAISING taxes on billionaires and cutting taxes on the working and middle class instead.

  19. 19 19 Martin

    @Zazooba

    That’s a very interesting article and a plausible explanation for the behavior, but it’s not the only one. Certainly there is a correlation between party ID and preferred candidate. However, I believe that the cause-and-effect relationship is not so clear. The article’s premise is that if more Democrats respond, that leads to a higher percentage for Clinton. This is completely plausible and is very likely one component of the correlation. But I contend that it’s not the only component. The relationship also works the other way: some people support Trump, and that’s why they identify as Republicans. Some people support Clinton, and that’s why they identify as Democrats.

    This is the key point that was the undoing of the 2012 unskewers: Party ID is *not* a demographic like age, race, or sex; it is an attitude or opinion, and it can be quite fluid. Some people do have a strong identification with one party or the other, but many others do not. In such cases, their party ID is likely to fluctuate with the candidate they support at the moment. For such people, the thought process (conscious or not) goes something like: “They’re asking if I’m a Democrat or a Republican. I support Trump, so I must be a Republican.”

    This is not just conjecture. Consider the number of Republicans in the news who have announced that they’re leaving the party because of Trump. These cases demonstrate that for at least some voters, candidate preference drives party ID, not the other way around.

  20. 20 20 Martin

    A few more observations on political campaigns.

    If you say (as Pence did recently) “the only poll that counts is the one on Election Day”: you’re losing.

    If you have to “adjust” poll data to get a favorable outcome: you’re losing.

    If you start complaining about rigged elections: you’re losing.

    If you do all of these things three months before the election: you’re losing badly.

  21. 21 21 Art Hyland

    I’m still of the opinion that Trump is more desirable than Hillary as president given that he will be much more restrained in office than she would be especially by the mainstream media but also Congress; Hillary, on the other hand, is considerably inclined to be corrupt, secretive and vindictive, is a darling of the media and, like Obama, would be given too much latitude by a quaking Congress, and therefore more dangerous than Trump by a long shot. Plus there’s the Supreme Court considerations where liberty in every direction is at risk with a Hillary-filled court.

  22. 22 22 Khodge

    Harold @8
    The multiple bankruptcies were well known. I’ve seen quite a bit written about metrics and the kind of growth he has actually shown (although most of it is extrapolated). His love of manipulating government and government agents to bend regulations to his needs suggests less business acumen than knowing the insider’s game, which will not translate well to government, where he would only 1/3 of the power in the Federal Government.

  23. 23 23 Ken B

    Khodge 22
    Not so fast. Trump is running partly on “it’s a bad system.” He admits/proclaims he was part of it, and knows its inner workings.Sounds like a qualification for fixing it, no?

  24. 24 24 Harold

    He claims he did very well out of the bankruptcies. He said they were not failures but successes. That suggests a callous disregard for the welfare of others. Bankruptcy as a failure is excusable – everyone makes mistakes. Bankruptcy as a success is not excusable in my book. That is using the system to rip off others.

  25. 25 25 Khodge

    Ken B 23
    Trump was dealing with mayors and local bureaucrats. Mayors have much more power within their world than POTUS has in his, especially without strong Congressional support. Both federal and local bureaucracies have their own agenda but knowing the agenda of one does not mean knowing the agenda of the other. You can see how Trump worked at cowing the Republican party heads but that will not work for deeply entrenched federal bureaucrats.

  26. 26 26 Ken

    Why intervene? Presumably the answer is: To get this man elected as President of the United States, from which venue the psychopathy will have free reign.

    Ha! First, you start by assuming Trump is a psychopath, but HRC isn’t, all with no realy evidence or training to make such a statement, so weirdly view Trump as the bigger threat, thus prove your #NeverTrump bona fides. You claim to be such an admirer of Reagan, but now that there’s a republican nominee you don’t like, you violate one of his basic principles of solidarity.

    Second, why do you presume that’s the answer? None of the people listed above like Trump. I think the far more likely answer is to get Trump to lose. These three people understand that Trump has won so far by being the brash loud mouth he is and they’d rather see him lose because they lost.

    I realize that there are still a few scattered people who think (or at least hope) that Trump’s whole idiot-manchild schtick is just some kind of an act

    No more than yours is.

  27. 27 27 iceman

    3-4: I don’t know much about the structure of pre-war German politics, but I think (hope to god) our system is designed to prevent any one person from taking it too far off the rails, so Nazi/Hitler/fascism analogies usually seem so hyperbolic they tend to forfeit the argument

  28. 28 28 Salem

    Maybe their goal here isn’t to stage a successful intervention. Perhaps their goal is to be seen to have staged an intervention. This signals to the electorate both that they are loyal Republicans, and that they disagree with Trump.

    Or maybe, more prosaically, they are reconciled to him losing, but want to minimise the down-ballot effects.

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