18 Feb 2017

Contradictory Trump Criticisms

Trump 36 Comments

Trump could be a bad president even if the vast majority of his critics are often making silly arguments. So my present post should not be construed as me saying, “Why’s everyone so upset?”

However, lately I’ve noticed that a lot of the criticisms of Trump aren’t even internally consistent. What’s even weirder is that I see a lot of truly the same people making these pairs of claims. (Note that some of these aren’t literal contradictions, but I hope you see my point with them.)

1a. The Trump/Pence Carrier deal was bad because it would lead to rent-seeking, with every US firm pretending it was going to outsource to try to get the same treatment.
1b. The Trump/Pence Carrier deal was bad because now businesses would be cowering, afraid to let the president know they were considering outsourcing and thus receiving the scrutiny Carrier got.

2a. Trump is Hitler and we need to stop him now before he becomes too powerful.
2b. Trump is a complete buffoon who doesn’t know where the pantry is in the White House.

3a. Trump is establishing a totalitarian state. Look at how he’s outlawing the press.
3b. Trump is a jerk for picking a Secretary of Education who will get the federal government out of the schools.

4a. Trump is a fascist.
4b. Trump is picking people who will deregulate business.

5a. Trump is a madman who will start a war with his bellicose approach to China.
5b. Trump is selling out American interests by cutting backroom deals with the Chinese in exchange for their concessions on his business interests.

6a. Trump is a monster for supporting Israel over the Palestinians.
6b. Trump is an anti-Semite.

7a. Trump is Putin’s puppet.
7b. Trump will start WW3.

36 Responses to “Contradictory Trump Criticisms”

  1. Darien says:

    My boss is the archetypal low-info leftist, and regurgitates every anti-Trump talking point she hears from anybody, with no thought spared for whether or not the picture she’s painting makes any sense. If anybody picks up on the contradictions and asks “wait, why would he do that?” Her answer is “because he’s evil and wants to destroy the world.” I mean she *literally* says that; I’m not paraphrasing at all, other thsn by eliding the curse words.

    I must confess: this is weird.

  2. Harold says:

    As a general comment we must remember that Trump seems to be capable of believing contradictory things. He appears utterly convinced of lies that are easily demonstrated, and repeats the same lies again and again after they have been falsified. It is therefore quite likely that he would pursue objectives that are contradictory without knowing. There is also an element of the straw man in some of he claims, but we’ll let that go.

    Hitler was a buffoon. No reason why buffoons cannot become powerful. Reconciled No. 2.

    On China, We also know how he views everything from only his own benefit. So when asked about his business failures (bankruptcies) he denied they were failures because he personally did very well out of them. There is no reason why he would not take he same attitude with the presidency. I can envisage an interview with ex-president Trump.

    Interviewer: “Mr. president, your presidency was a failure – that war with China, the collapse of the economy, the riots…”
    Trump: “It was not a failure at all. I did very well out of it”

    He has said it before.

    So on China, it is not inconsistent that he could easily be doing both.

    6. He could easily be both. I am not saying he is, but just as one can oppose Israel without being an anti-Semite, one can support them whilst being an anti-Semite. Israel is not the same as the Jews.

    7. What happens if your puppet refuses to follow orders? What if appeasement leads to policies that de-stabilize the world? WW3 could result even if Trump does do Putin’s bidding.

    Enough for now. But you have a point – we must not just accept everything anti-Trump as truthful and good.

    There is no reason why he would not cut back-room deals for his own benefi

    • Richie says:

      The political glasses are blinding you.

    • Craw says:

      Here is your chance Bob Murphy. Add a third fork to each of these pairs and watch Harold argue Trump has a tripartite mind.

      • Harold says:

        Craw, Richie, What is that you dispute? Do you not think that Trump tells obvious lies which he apparently believes? If so then I think the blinding glasses or not on me.

        Whatever else you think about Trump, it is really very difficult not to accept that he lies about relatively trivial stuff even when he is proved wrong.

        • Craw says:

          I dispute your intellectual fairness and rigor. Here we have Murphy itemizing things other people say. You think slanted speculation about Trump’s mind is a sensible answer.

          And your readings are biased and slanted. Take just the bankruptcy point. I set up a business selling Trump effigies. I make millions for 8 years and then the market dries up. I miss the window, have a losing quarter and I shutter the business. Was it a failure? Come aboard my yacht and tell me. And of course the purpose of the business was for me to do well out of it, that is a good measure of it,s success.

          And bankruptcy is a normal part of entrepreneurship. If I set up 40 companies and 4 fail a few years later, while also having returned more than my investment, I would be pleased.

          As ever you twist yourself into a pretzel for partisan advantage.

          • Harold says:

            Craw “And your readings are biased and slanted. Take just the bankruptcy point.”

            You miss my point on bankruptcies. It is normal and common for successful people have some failures. I do not object in the least or think it makes them any less able or respectable people. They accept failure, learn from it and move on.

            It is Trump’s attitude that is unusual. To brag about making money whilst your creditors go unpaid is unpleasant, and makes me respect them less. It would not be a deal breaker on its own, but it fits into a pattern. I seems plausible that Trump will view the presidency in the same way.

            So look back at what I said. I did not criticize Trump for having businesses that failed. I criticized him for refusing to accept failure, bragging about it and showing no consideration to those people that did not get paid while he made money.

            My speculations are backed up by fact. Trump has lied about many things that are easily proved wrong. I don’t know why he does it. Either he knows he is lying, which makes him bad in one way, or he does not know he is lying, which makes him bad in another way.

            I find it difficult to accept that any reasonable observer could dispute the fact that Trump has lied about lots of things that are easily proved, many fairly trivial. Although other observers may have a different interpretation of what these facts mean, which I would like to hear.

            Yeah, my speculations about his ability to believe them are not proven. That seems a likely explanation and a reasonably charitable interpretation. If he knows he is lying that makes it even worse.

  3. Andrew_FL says:

    1. a. True b. False
    2. a. False b. True
    3. a. False example, legitimate concern b. Unhinged leftist nonsense, would be good not bad if true
    4. a. Arguably True b. Remains to be seen, probably unhinged leftist nonsense
    5. a. Remains to be seen. More likely his trade war escalates to a shooting war. b. Could easily be the case that a failure to get “deals” favorable to his interests makes him inclined toward war.
    6. a. False, unhinged leftist nonsense. b. False, that’s more his supporters’ wheelhouse.
    7. a True. b. Not a contradiction if WWIII is with China.

  4. R. J. Moore II says:

    Hitler was not a buffoon, at least not any more than most government employees. He was also far more honest then most politicians. That said the NSDAP regime was a disaster, but so was FDR.

    • Harold says:

      Was FDR as big a disaster? You seem to be suggesting an equivalence.

      • Craw says:

        If I call Nixon a disaster, is that suggesting an “equivalence” with Hitler? Or might there be lesser disasters?

        • Harold says:

          “If I call Nixon a disaster, is that suggesting an “equivalence” with Hitler? ”

          Craw, of course not, but if you say they were both disasters in the same sentence there is a suggestion if an equivalence. Which is why I asked for clarification. A response such as yours from the author would be sufficient to allay such fears and we could conclude that he apparent equivalence was not intended.

  5. Daniel Kuehn says:

    I don’t understand why 4a and 4b are inconsistent. What exactly are you imagining fascism is that a fascist can’t deregulate?

    • Craw says:

      Fascism is not a generic term of abuse. It has a meaning. That meaning is incompatible with laissez-faire. There is at least a tension here.

      • Daniel Kuehn says:

        I guess I’d agree it’s incompatible with laissez-faire, although I’m not 100% sure that’s the case. But that’s a non-sequitur. A fascist can deregulate.

        • Craw says:

          Broadly, and across the board? Fascists seek control of the economy. It is at least anomalous that a fascist should sign an executive order enforcing the broad reduction of regulation, and not just deregulation in designated areas, isn’t it?

          • Daniel Kuehn says:

            No it’s not. That’s my whole point. Particularly if the regulations stand in the way of the fascist’s objectives. My claim isn’t “fascists will never regulate” it’s that fascists can certainly deregulate, particularly in light of how cozy they frequently are with corporate leaders.

            • Craw says:

              The key words here are cozy and broadly. If Murphy had said, hey look Trump wants to deregulate oil but regulate coal then that would be perfectly consistent with cozy — crony capitlaism. But if he said “I want to broadly deregulate, we’ll reduce regulation for coal, oil, solar, buggy whips, dildo manufacture, coffee shops, just about everyone” then it wouldn’t be a good fit, would it? It would see to cut against the cozy.

              So, which does 4b sound like to you? A complaint that Trump will pick and choose, or a complaint he will deregulate in general? If the latter then that complaint really does conflict with the fascist complaint.

        • Bob Murphy says:

          Daniel I’m trying to pinpoint your exact objection. Do you think a socialist president could consistently privatize government assets?

          I could imagine if Bernie Sanders won the White House, someone on Fox News saying

          (a) “Bernie’s a socialist crackpot!”


          (b) “Bernie that moron is selling off the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, emboldening OPEC.”

          I would say those statements are in tension, if not an outright contradiction. Would you agree with me, or instead would say it was a weird thing for me to observe?

          • Harold says:

            Wikipedia says “Fascists advocate a mixed economy, with the principal goal of achieving autarky through protectionist and interventionist economic policies”

            He might not be a “pure” fascist in this light, but advocating a mixed economy does not preclude some deregulation. However, I agree there is some tension here. The first instinct of a fascist would not be to de-regulate.

            However, some tension is not the same as outright contradiction. Trump certainly displays some of the characteristics of a fascist.

            “Robert Paxton says that fascism is “a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.”

            Trump ticks some of those boxes. Talk of “American carnage”, building a wall, keep out the Muslims, appointing a very wealthy cabinet, criticizing the media and judiciary. These are all compatible with the fascist. So if he doesn’t tick every box there is still plenty of smoke and we should be on our guard.

            • Craw says:

              “Trump ticks some of those boxes. ”
              I agree! So did Obama.

              “Talk of “American carnage”, building a wall, keep out the Muslims, appointing a very wealthy cabinet, criticizing the media and judiciary. These are all compatible with the fascist.”

              Well Trump isn’t “keep[ing] out the Muslims”, but if you mean travel restrictions, Obama had them. In fact Obama had every single thing you list there except the phrase “American carnage”. (The act under which the wall EO was issued was signed by Obama. ) I think he had a phrase about “close Guatanamo”, or maybe it was “keep your doctor” — but my memory might be playing tricks.

              • Harold says:

                Can you indicate which boxes Obama ticked? We can have a comparison with Trump to see who is the more fascist.

                You say Obama had everything I wrote but that is simply not true. Obama did not declare he was going to build a wall. Obama did not say he wanted to keep out Muslims (for any length of time), Obama did not call the media “enemies of the people” Obama did not refer to members of the judiciary as “so called judges” and as you say he did not talk of carnage. Those are just a few examples.

                Obama tried to close Guantanamo but was thwarted. Are you suggesting that trying to close extra-judicial prisons is the mark of a fascist? If there is one thing that does mark out the fascist it is the desire to lock people up without judicial oversight.

                In other words your attempt to draw a parallel with Obama is totally unconvincing.

              • Craw says:

                Thwarted? When he had a majority in the house and a filibuster-proof 60 in the senate?

                Readers may judge your reliability from that absurd claim.

              • Harold says:

                Oh Craw, stop using distraction. I don’t care if we agree Obama failed to close Guantanamo. Forget thwarted, that is simply a distraction from the point that Obama wanted to close Guantanamo and stop torture but Trump wants to expand Guantanamo and is happy with torture. Your absurd comparison has failed and all you have left is distraction by picking up on details to argue about.

              • Richie says:

                Harold: “Obama tried to close Guantanamo but was thwarted.”

                Craw: “He was thwarted when he had his own party in power?”

                Harold: “Craw, stop with the distractions! Don’t argue details!”

                Obama certainly deserved that Nobel Peace Prize. Now, about Obama and drones…

              • Harold says:

                Richie. I have said this before but it is important. You put something in quotes but it was not a quote. I never said those things. This is misrepresentation.

                Details are important, but irrelevant details are not. I never suggested don’t argue the details.

                I conceded that I was not bothered about “thwarted” because it was irrelevant. We could digress into a discussion of whether thwarted was a correct description, but that is another argument.

                It is a useful technique when you have lost an argument to switch to some other irrelevant point to avoid conceding. I am not indulging on this occasion.

              • Craw says:

                Harold, Richie would have quoted your verbatim, but he was thwarted.

              • Harold says:

                That is quite funny, but still is talking about the distraction, not the point.

              • Richie says:

                Ha! Ok, maybe I should not have put quotes around the essence of the conversation, but any sane person could see the point I was trying to get across. Your latest comment only enforces it! Thanks! You’re the best.

              • Harold says:

                You missed the essence of the conversation and focused on a minor point as a distraction.

              • Craw says:

                “Are you suggesting that trying to close extra-judicial prisons is the mark of a fascist?”

                I might suggest that arguing The Leader failed to do what he could easily do because the was THWARTED BY UNKNOWN FORCES is kind of a fascist argument.

                I might also suggest that clinging foolishly to a refuted claim is kind of Trump-like. Well, I might if Harold hadn’t indelibly stamped his name on the practice first.

              • Harold says:

                What refuted claim do you suggest I am clinging to? Certainly not that Obama was thwarted as I have said I am not bothered about that for now.

                Your case is very, very weak if the strongest argument you have is that Obama did no succeed in a signature anti-fascist act. Really? That is your case? If you want to make his the main argument we can discuss it, but I thought it was a distraction because it is such a hopeless argument.

  6. Daniel Kuehn says:

    Same with 7a/7b, 1a/1b, and 3a/3b.

    This is a weird post.

    • Craw says:

      Totalitarian is not a generic term of abuse. It has a meaning. That meaning is incompatible with surrendering control over the education of children.

      At this point I have to ask. This is the second example where you seem to ignore the actual meaning of a word. Do you care about precision, or is any abuse acceptable if aimed at Trump?

      • Daniel Kuehn says:

        Again, the question is what does controlling the press necessarily have to do with DeVos?

        • Craw says:

          The claim is that Trump is a totalitarian. The press thing is an (alleged) illustration. The other complaint is that he is giving up federal control of educating children. Totalitarians usually give up that kind of control?

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