The Lowest Bar

By the standard I set for this presidency it has been successful. Before you fly off the handle please reread the preceding sentence carefully. The only standard for success I set for Donald Trump was that he didn’t get us into a nuclear war. My reasoning was that the country (minus some people who have died or will die in the process) would eventually survive any other harm he brought our way. That is an unbelievably low bar and to date this administration has barely managed to clear it. Let’s explore.   

Trump is certainly the worst American president in my lifetime. While I’ll leave it to the historians to judge, it appears he has dislodged James Buchanan from last place overall. To put that somewhat in perspective Buchanan was the 15th President of the United States and left office in 1861 after having in large part made the Civil War an inevitability. As to my lifetime, I was a young adult when Richard Nixon became the first, and to this date only, President to resign the office.

Trump’s incompetence was abundantly apparent to anyone who paid even cursory attention to the 2016 campaign. To compound matters Trump refuses to learn on the job. His number one goal has always been and remains his personal enrichment. This is a guy who really doesn’t care about America and measures success by how much money he can accumulate with minimal (and often illegal or at least certainly unethical) work.

The president’s number one job is to keep Americans safe. If multiple reports coming out of the White House are to be believed it appears that many on the staff view their number one job as keeping America safe from its President. Keep in mind those are mainly his loyalists.

The other day I speculated that Trump would actually pass a lie detector test. Despite being often debunked he repeats the same talking points/lies. This is a man who believes anything he says is the truth and if it isn’t it should be simply because he said it. If he contradicts himself, often during the same day, that doesn’t matter by the definition of the previous sentence. To Trump the truth is a fluid thing.

Monday he said that for the first time in over one hundred years GDP was higher than the unemployment rate. That is an easily provable or disprovable statement of fact – sort of like the size of the inaugural crowd. As it turns out this has occurred more than sixty times in the last 100 years. Any bets that Trump repeats it and/or his staff “justifies” it? (This article is being written on Tuesday morning.)

America’s reputation abroad is at its lowest in decades. Trump is widely seen as Putin’s poodle and now Kim Jung-un is making him look like the fool he is. It increasingly looks like Trump may owe his presidency to Putin and we have yet to find out what else the Russian President has on him. In recent days it has been revealed that North Korea has actually accelerated the production of nuclear arms since Trump claimed to have solved the problem in Singapore. Now Kim wants a second summit.

On the eve of the seventeenth anniversary of 9/11 the Los Angeles Times reported that Al Qaeda was at its strongest point in seventeen years. While the problem is complex and I can’t blame it all on Trump, he is far from all but obliterating terrorist organization in the Middle East as he likes to claim.

Some of the recent economics numbers have been good. In reality they are basically an extension of the Obama recovery. All Trump has done is not mess things up – yet anyway. While I joined the chorus of the critics of the Obama era of the Obama recovery by saying it was largely a jobless recovery; the Trump portion (with better unemployment numbers) is one where wage growth is basically keeping pace with inflation. In other words the workers are no better off. While the stock market is doing great I largely discount that because most Americans (even taking into consideration 401K’s) are not involved and I feel it is a false measure since it is and has always been a form of legalized gambling for rich boys.

I have two other observations on the economy. The first is provable: the pace of job growth has actually slowed under Trump. The more important one is not currently provable but I fear history will support my prediction: I see a recession coming due in large part due to Trump’s tariff, and to a smaller degree, deregulatory moves. The deregulatory moves will prove costly to future generations. Part of modern Republican orthodoxy is to privatize the profits and socialize the costs.

One last comment about “number one jobs”: In November it is the number one job of the voters to deliver the first dose of medicine by voting out as many Trump enablers as possible. I guess that is enough for today and I should just be thankful World War III hasn’t happened, yet at least.

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