Predictions about the next 4 years, after the first 18 days of Trump

Summary: After 18 days, we can make a tentative evaluation of the Trump Administration. We have seen how and who he appoints to key offices. We have seen how he formulated and implemented 8 Executive Orders, 12 Presidential Memoranda, and 3 Presidential Proclamations. It gives us enough information to draw some tentative conclusions about the competence of Team Trump. They’re disturbing conclusions.

Trump: Make America Great Again

Some powerful observations by Paul Krugman in “Dude, Where’s My Policy?

“…spare a bit of attention to what doesn’t seem to be happening. Has anyone heard anything, anything at all, about domestic policy development? Remember, after the election Wall Street decided that we were going to see a big push on infrastructure, tax cuts, etc.. Some analysts were warning that progressives should be ready for the possibility that Trump would engage in “reactionary Keynesianism.” Worrying parallels were drawn between Trumpism and autobahn construction under you-know-who.

“But if there’s a WH task force preparing an infrastructure plan, it’s very well hidden …Seriously, I’ve been saying for a while that there will be no significant public construction plan. Wall Street economists, at least, are starting to catch on. Meanwhile, that Obamacare replacement is still nowhere to be seen, with GOP Congresspeople literally running away when asked about it.

“Big tax cuts — and savage cuts to social programs — are still very much on the Congressional Republican agenda, and they could put it all together, hand it to Bannon, and have Trump sign it without reading. But I’m starting to wonder: surely they planned to unveil things during the Trump honeymoon, with the public prepared to believe that it was all done with the little guy’s interests in mind. Even pre 9-11 Bush could count on media goodwill and supine Democrats to ram through his tax cuts.

“But now? With massive public distrust, and media fully willing to do real reporting on the distribution of tax cuts, not “Democrats say that the rich are the big winners”? With the media infatuation on Serious, Honest Paul Ryan at least temporarily dented by his avid support for Muslim bans and all that? Maybe they’ll do it anyway, but it seems a lot less certain than it did in November.”

More details in the New York Times: “Trump and Staff Rethink Tactics After Stumbles“. It describes a White House on the edge of chaos, operating with plans or procedures, run by a president obsesses with polls and trivial. The article gets increasingly bizarre as it progresses.

Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

Donald Trump's nuclear threat

“Aides confer in the dark because they cannot figure out how to operate the light switches in the cabinet room. Visitors conclude their meetings and then wander around, testing doorknobs until finding one that leads to an exit. In a darkened, mostly empty West Wing…

“During his first two dizzying weeks in office, Mr. Trump, an outsider president working with a surprisingly small crew of no more than a half-dozen empowered aides with virtually no familiarity with the workings of the White House or federal government, sent shock waves at home and overseas with a succession of executive orders designed to fulfill campaign promises and taunt foreign leaders. ”We are moving big and we are moving fast,’ Mr. Bannon said, when asked about the upheaval of the first two weeks. ‘We didn’t come here to do small things.’ But one thing has become apparent to both his allies and his opponents: When it comes to governing, speed does not always guarantee success.

“The bungled rollout of his executive order barring immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries, a flurry of other miscues and embarrassments, and an approval rating lower than that of any comparable first-term president in the history of polling have Mr. Trump and his top staff rethinking an improvisational approach to governing that mirrors his chaotic presidential campaign, administration officials and Trump insiders said.

“This account of the early days of the Trump White House is based on interviews with dozens of government officials, congressional aides, former staff members and other observers of the new administration, many of whom requested anonymity. At the center of the story, according to these sources, is a president determined to go big but increasingly frustrated by the efforts of his small team to contain the backlash.

“’What are we going to do about this?’ Mr. Trump pointedly asked an aide last week, a period of turmoil briefly interrupted by the successful rollout of his Supreme Court selection, Judge Neil M. Gorsuch. Chris Ruddy, the chief executive of Newsmax Media and an old friend of the president’s, said: ‘I think, in his mind, the success of this is going to be the poll numbers. If they continue to be weak or go lower, then somebody’s going to have to bear some responsibility for that.’

“…One former staff member likened the aggressive approach of the first two weeks to D-Day, but said the president’s team had stormed the beaches without any plan for a longer war. Clashes among staff are common in the opening days of every administration, but they have seldom been so public and so pronounced this early. This is a president who came to Washington vowing to shake up the establishment, and this is what it looks like.

“…Mr. Trump remains intensely focused on his brand, but the demands of the job mean he spends less time monitoring the news media …He often has to wait until the end of the workday before grinding through news clips with Mr. Spicer, marking the ones he does not like with a big arrow in black Sharpie — though he almost always makes time to monitor Mr. Spicer’s performance at the daily briefings, summoning him to offer praise or criticism, a West Wing aide said.

“Visitors to the Oval Office say Mr. Trump is obsessed with the décor — it is both a totem of a victory that validates him as a serious person and an image-burnishing backdrop — so he has told his staff to schedule as many televised events in the room as possible. To pass the time between meetings, Mr. Trump gives quick tours to visitors, highlighting little tweaks he has made after initially expecting he would have to pay for them himself.”

Trump is often delusionally wrong and refuses to learn.

Then there are his repeated statements that “the murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 47 years.”  He blames the news media for not publicizing this. It is not just wrong, but the opposite of the truth. FBI statistics show it is near the lows for that period.

Closing his eyes to unpleasant facts. It’s the fast track to disaster.

About the cohesion of Team Trump

“‘I’ve been in this town for 26 years. I have never seen anything like this.’
— Eliot Cohen, a senior State Department official and a member of the National Security Council for Bush Sr. In the HuffPo.

The leaks coming out of the Trump White House cast the president as a clueless child” writes Chris Cillizza, a columnist at the WaPo. He gives some telling examples.

Summary of Trump administration so far

No well-developed programs, such as the many right-wing think tanks have produced. Making complex policies without consulting the relevant agencies or outside experts, relying on ignorance and arrogance.

Inexperienced staff (e.g., propagandist Bannon as chief strategist). Slow staffing, in part due to inexperienced senior staff.  Incompetence and disorganization, starting at the very top.

Perhaps most serious, Trump is systematically ignorant — relying on sources of misinformation such as Alex Jones’ Inforwars. Trump and America would be better off if he learned from watching Marx Brothers’ films.

Update:  Daniel Engber at Slate shows that Team Trump has announced many bold and often weird initiatives affect Federal science-related agencies, then modified or cancelled them. He concludes with the usual mad leftist fantasizing: “An onslaught of clumsy and abortive strikes against the science establishment might serve as cover for more careful and strategic moves against the status quo.” A rational explanation: incompetence and disorganization.

Donald Trump covering his ears


Largely due to Clinton’s incompetence as a politician, Trump was able to win without building a large national organization. So we were unable to assess his ability as a manager (the six bankruptcies of his corporations do not inspire confidence).

What can we expect from Trump’s clownish behavior, ignorance, and disorganized team of neophytes? Mistakes. Many mistakes. Unworkable policies, disastrous policies, sound policies incompetently implemented. Unless he improves quickly, a loss of confidence by Washington elites and the public seems inevitable. We should prepare for public policies that damage America, and actions which have severe or even catastrophic consequences.

For More Information

See why Trump’s “Reactionary Keynesianism” won’t provide much stimulus to the economy, by Simon Wren-Lewis (prof economics, Oxford).

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about Donald Trump and the new populism, and especially these…

  1. Here’s the news about Team Trump. See the promises fade away.
  2. Trump assembles a Strategic and Policy Forum to better hear the 1%.
  3. As we start a new era, see the similarities between Obama and Trump.
  4. Listen to Trump’s inaugural speech: words that could overthrow the 1%.
  5. Trump writes an obviously good Executive Order. The Left attacks it.


11 thoughts on “Predictions about the next 4 years, after the first 18 days of Trump”

  1. Many of the accusations about Trump are quite daft.

    Only a reality-based community can reform America. The Democrat’s decision to fight Trump with lies — copying the GOP’s tactics against Obama — will neither work for them nor help America.

    “There is the matter of Trump’s briefing materials, for example. The commander in chief doesn’t like to read long memos, a White House aide who asked to remain unnamed told The Huffington Post. So preferably they must be no more than a single page. ”  {Source: HuffPo.}

    That was also Churchill’s policy as Prime Minister in WWII. It worked for him: the allies won.

    A petition circulating calls for Trump’s impeachment because…

    There’s no question about it: Donald Trump is violating the Constitution.

    — He refused to give up ownership of his billion-dollar corporation
    — He BANNED Muslims from entering the country (that’s UNCONSTITUTIONAL!!!)

    The first claim is false. The Constitution does not require presidents to divest assets. George Washington was one of the richest Americans of his time; he divested nothing when elected president.

    The second claim is also false (it is the Democrat’s Big Lie). Trump’s ban on immigration from seven nations is structurally similar to those of Obama and previous presidents. It is not a ban on Muslims.

  2. The thing that’s disturbed me the most – I mean, not like there is a shortage, but above and beyond things that we could have reasonably expected from either “Any Republican” or “what he said he would do” – has been his efforts to pre-emptively blame the judicial branch for any future terrorist attacks. I’m not being a vaporous leftist there either, I’m just taking him at his word.

    Hopefully our systems can endure and survive.

    1. Dana,

      Lots of pearl clutching in the media about Trump’s attacks on the judiciary. Are these people lying or ignorant? It’s difficult to determine.

      Judges have often been unpopular in US history. “Impeach Earl Warren” was a mainstream GOP slogan during the 1960s. The Supremes were condemned as evil after Roe vs. Wade.

      As for disregarding their verdict, that history goes back to Jackson. “John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it!” As usual with quotes, he didn’t saying anything so pithy. But that was Jackson’s response. In fact he wrote “the decision of the Supreme Court has fell still born, and they find that they cannot coerce Georgia to yield to its mandate.”

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  4. Good detached Overview. Thanks. It seems that the quite serious issue is not so much what he is doing, not doing…and that is surely bad enough….or the responses to such internally In the Parties, but what will be the responses in the country as a whole. Chaos is a self perpetuating track. It increases and is difficult to arrest, replace.
    This is becoming quite destructive.
    Oh sure we will just move along but the social fabric takes time to heal in such matters, it seems from a historical view.
    Last paragraph here is the crux.


  5. I suspected starting in the late election campaign that Trump wasn’t really running to win, that he was running to come oh-so-close and then be able to make a fortune and enhancing his brand for the rest of his life blasting Hilary’s policies and playing a game of “if only you had elected me I’d be so much better for the country.” And then that dratted Hillary collapsed at the last second leaving him holding the bag!

    I had no proof of this, just a general feeling that Trump wasn’t preparing for anything beyond the election but the media was so focused on the election that it would have been easy to miss some quiet preparations.

    Do you suppose Trump will resign if he gets unhappy enough with the poll numbers and the pressures of the job? From his perspective, this position is doing major damage to his brand (which is all he really cares about) and isn’t giving him a lot of happiness. I suspect that the odds of him resigning are very low (way below 1%), but, like the thought that Trump didn’t really want to win the election, this keeps surfacing in my mind. I have no evidence to support the thought but I keep wondering.

    I have done my best to make preparations against your last paragraph but I am very uncomfortable. There are so many possibilities as to how this could play out that it would not surprise me to learn that I had missed something big and important.

    About the only positive I can derive from this debacle is that we all knew that Hillary was going to be the fifth term of George W (different style, same substance), which was not a pleasant thought. Now nobody knows what is going to happen. May you live in interesting times…

    1. Pluto,

      IMO that’s a good summary of the situation, with due emphasis on the unknowns. Perhaps Trump’s family or closest associates could accurately predict what Trump might do under various scenarios. It’s delusional for rest of us, watching his TV show and reading his Tweets, to believe we can do so.

      My guess — emphasis on guess — is that Trump’s election is just another step by the American people as they abandon their responsibilities to govern America. It shows the that our politics are hollow, and the ease with which someone — even a clown like Trump — can take over. I’ll bet we will discover that notice has been taken by some strong men.

      “Sooner or later, everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences.”
      — Attributed to Robert Louis Stevenson.

    2. This is all chattering-class fan fiction but I doubt Trump would resign unless he had a major heart attack or similar health crisis, and it was a choice between “President for a couple more months, or spend a few years with your young son in New York.” Even then I’m not sure.

      I could see him losing interest in a lot of the fine details of governance and letting Pence and the Cabinet do most of the work, though. This may have already started. (Maybe Congress can even get involved in running the country!)

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