…from his critics, that is.
I really didn’t expect that in 2017, I would bother commenting on Scott Sumner’s crusade against Donald Trump. But after reading a recent post from Scott, I can’t help myself, and I can only hope that you will see why.
On January 10, Scott opened a post like this: “There is no issue that Trump emphasized more than having Mexico pay for a new border wall. The suggestion always got huge applause from his crowds. Now there are disturbing signs that America’s Congress is about to ignore the will of the voters, and spend $38 billion on a boondoggle that no one seriously expects to work. So sad!!”
Good one, Scott, except I have been blessed (cursed?) with a good memory, so I knew it would be fun to go dig up this post from Scott, from Nov. 22, when he told us: “Of all the issues that Trump campaigned on, none got more emphasis that his promise to persecute, I mean to prosecute Hillary and send her to jail. He was quite passionate on what he would do to that “nasty woman”. But when a con man appears passionate, that really doesn’t tell you anything about whether he actually cares about the issue:” (And then Scott quoted from a news story saying that Trump probably wouldn’t prosecute Clinton.)
Look at the first two sentences. They are identical phrasing, except one is the passive and one is the active voice. Instead of merely saying, “Trump is backing off a campaign pledge,” Scott both times had to assure us that Trump was backing off his most important pledge. And presumably if Trump doesn’t end up erecting a huge tariff against China, Scott would complain, “There was no issue that Trump emphasized more than reducing the trade deficit with China. And yet today we read at Bloomberg…”
But of course, my observations here are silly. For people who really despise Trump, it’s not even necessary to use reason when attacking him. You probably think I’m engaging in hyperbole. Not at all. In the Jan. 10 post, Scott goes on to say:
Trump fans think Obama had nothing to do with the massive rise in the S&P from the lows of roughly 700, but Trump definitely caused the small (roughly 6%) rise since the November election (black dot to yellow dot.)
Here is what I believe:
1. They may well be right.
2. They have not presented any persuasive evidence that they are correct.
In other words, you Trumpistas may be right, but don’t expect any non-Trumpistas to believe it. Just take a look at the graph, and you can see how absurd the claim seems.
Now you might reply that this is a superficial criticism, and that sophisticated analysis shows that Trump helped the stock market but Obama did not. But Trump is all about superficial, and completely rejects sophisticated analysis, of any sort. This is the guy who picked Peter Navarro to advise him on trade. [Bold added.]
When I was originally reading Scott’s post, before I hit the part that I’ve bolded above, I had been toying with the idea of using previous Sumner blog posts to establish that Trump fans are on solid ground for thinking: (a) Obama’s policies aren’t responsible for the rise in the stock market since 2009, and (b) Trump (and his Cabinet picks) are largely responsible for the rise in the market since the election. That would be pretty funny, right? If I used Scott’s own blog posts to show that the Trump fans weren’t being silly for believing the views he seemed to be mocking?
But, when I hit the part that I’ve put in bold above, I knew it would be a waste of time. Scott literally argued that one is not allowed to use sophisticated analysis to refute a superficial critique of Trump.
Last thing: I understand that some people really, utterly, despise Trump–this isn’t a mere issue of having different political views. Fine. And further, if ranting about him relieves stress, and you don’t care whether it does yourself long-term damage, then that’s fine–it’s like taking up smoking to get through these 4 (or 8) years for you. But don’t kid yourself that it’s healthy. Let me reproduce a fantastic passage from Glenn Greenwald’s column about the CNN/BuzzFeed fiasco:
[T]here is no bigger favor that Trump opponents can do for him than attacking him with such lowly, shabby, obvious shams, recruiting large media outlets to lead the way. When it comes time to expose actual Trump corruption and criminality, who is going to believe the people and institutions who have demonstrated they are willing to endorse any assertions no matter how factually baseless, who deploy any journalistic tactic no matter how unreliable and removed from basic means of ensuring accuracy?