Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Teh Stupid

It's now possible to embed Bluesky posts! I guess it has been for a while, but I haven't given much thought to posting threads here the way I used to do with Twitter threads. Then yesterday everybody was talking about that Trump interview in Time, and I thought I might use some of mine. At least these, which have a more threadish form:

I think Josh is literally incapable of understanding how stupid Trump is. He's probably never met anybody that stupid. On the NATO issue, Trump is unable to comprehend what the issue is. It's like his inability to comprehend that a tariff is an import tax...

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— Yastreblyansky ( Apr 30, 2024 at 5:36 PM

Trump doesn't know that the 2% rule is about the countries' individual defense budgets. He has made up a story for himself that makes sense to him--that all the NATO countries are supposed to pay some kind of fee to the US and they're all deadbeats. And it makes him really mad!

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— Yastreblyansky ( Apr 30, 2024 at 5:41 PM

It's the only way to make sense out of things like this latest version. "You got to pay your bills."

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— Yastreblyansky ( Apr 30, 2024 at 5:44 PM

I'm sure aides like Kelly have tried to explain it to him over and over again, and he just can't get it. Kudlow explained tariffs to him too, but he's still talking like this in the Time interview:

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— Yastreblyansky ( Apr 30, 2024 at 5:49 PM

As Philip Bump has said, what he's doing in the interview is largely refusing to say what he might do in a second term because he hasn't thought about it and doesn't want to, and trying to interpret it as representing Trump's plans, as Eric Cortellessa does in his report of it, is a mug's game: 

a lot of what Trump is reported as planning to do is constructed from murky, noncommittal answers Trump offered to specific questions. The interview is very revealing about Trump’s approach to the position in that it strongly suggests he hasn’t thought much about important issues, and makes clear how relentlessly he relies on rhetoric to derail questions

Beyond that, there was a pretty funny bit where they asked him a question about Israel and I thought for a moment he might have gotten that country confused with Iran—

So as President, would you consider withholding American military assistance to Israel to push it to winding down its war? 

Trump: Okay. So let me, I have to start just as I did inside. [Asks an aide to turn down the air conditioner.] I don't have to go through the whole thing. But as you know, Iran was broke. Iran is the purveyor of—

No, I know that but would you— 

Trump: No, but think of the great job I did. It would have never happened. It would have never happened. You wouldn't have had—Hamas had no money. Do you know that?

I do understand that, sir, I just want to know—

Trump: No, but I hope it can be pointed out. During my term, there were stories that Iran didn't have the money to give to any—there was very little terrorism. We had none. I had four years of—we had no terrorism. We didn't have a World Trade Center knocked down. You know, Bush used to say, “Well, we’ve been a safe country.” I said they knocked down the World Trade Center in the middle of your term. Do you remember that one during the debate? That was a good one. But it was true, very true. But we had no terror during our—and we got rid of ISIS 100%. Now they're starting to come back. 

I want to know—you said you want to get Israel to wind down the war. You said it needs to “get it over with.” How are you going to make that happen? Would you consider withholding aid?

Trump: I think that Israel has done one thing very badly: public relations. I don't think that the Israel Defense Fund or any other group should be sending out pictures every night of buildings falling down and being bombed with possibly people in those buildings every single night, which is what they do.

But I was missing the hidden logic: he's claiming to have eliminated terrorism during his term by his work to impoverish Iran, so that if he had been president there would have been no October 7. And therefore he doesn't have to answer the question.

Which is the real point, I think (beyond the fact that he has no idea what "IDF" stands for, or when he looks at an army he just sees a pile of cash). He doesn't want to answer the question, he's that much of a politician. He doesn't want to say whether he thinks it's OK for Israel to murder 35,000 people and destroy all the buildings; in the end he'll just say they should do it more quietly. 

Simple bullshitting isn't what he's doing as often as you might think, in general—he's evading questions, and hiding his ignorance.

That explains some of the craziness on abortion in the Time interview, as well:

So just to be clear, then: You won't commit to vetoing the bill if there's federal restrictions—federal abortion restrictions?

Trump : I won't have to commit to it because it’ll never—number one, it’ll never happen. Number two, it’s about states’ rights. You don't want to go back into the federal government. This was all about getting out of the federal government. And this was done, Eric, because of—this was done, this issue, has been simplified greatly over the last one week. This is about and was originally about getting out of the federal government. The last thing you want to do is go back into the federal government. And the states are just working their way through it. Look at Ohio. Ohio passed something that people were a little surprised at. Kansas, I mean, places that are conservative and big Trump states, I mean, Ohio and way up Kansas, all these states, but they passed what they want to pass. It's about states rights.

I understand, sir. Your allies in the Republican Study Committee, which makes up about 80% of the GOP caucus, have included the Life of Conception act in their 2025 budget proposal. The measure would grant full legal rights to embryos. Is that your position as well? 

Trump: Say it again. What? 

The Life at Conception Act would grant full legal rights to embryos, included in their 2025 budget proposal. Is that your position?

Trump: I'm leaving everything up to the states. The states are going to be different. Some will say yes. Some will say no. Texas is different than Ohio.

Would you veto that bill? 

Trump: I don't have to do anything about vetoes, because we now have it back in the states... 

Do you think women should be able to get the abortion pill mifepristone? 

Trump: Well, I have an opinion on that, but I'm not going to explain. I'm not gonna say it yet. But I have pretty strong views on that. And I'll be releasing it probably over the next week.

Remember when he was in favor of a federal abortion ban, way back in the [checks notes] about three weeks ago? And thought he could bring everybody together with his decision as to whether it should kick in at 15 weeks or at 16?

Now he's discovered that the Dobbs decision liberates him from having to say anything: it's all up to the states. And if the interviewer starts bringing out some scary technical-sounding language about things he may never have heard of, "legal rights to embryos" and "mifepristone", he doesn't need to answer those. Though he will extend one of those promises, like the Obamacare replacement proposal that was just two weeks away for the entire time of his presidency—he didn't have a clue what that was either, as he didn't have a clue about the law he wanted to repeal. Basically, though, he's clinging to that "up to the states" as to a life raft.

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