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March 10, 2018


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You're right. No matter what he does, there is a historical precedent. And, that historical precedent always demonstrates that he is always wrong. History tells us so. History knows.


And, btw, I know it is the fashion to just make s... up to fit the most derogatory, hyperbolic slander one can possibly imagine about the current president (who to be sure has his faults, but really, scholars posing as MSNBC or CNN hate mongers is just unseemly, IMHO), but I would really be interested to read what you base this whopper of a shady claim on:

"It seems unlikely that President Trump has spent any time studying ... the broader history of American foreign relations."

ANY time? Really, and you know this, how?

Patrick S. O'Donnell

The President’s inordinate fondness for Twitter, television, and the telephone is well known. And his lack of a disposition for reading anything of substantive length, like a book, or an article, is well-attested and not surprising, given his pathological narcissism (Narcissistic Personality Disorder; see my paper discussing this). Trump’s habitual rhetorical reliance in public speeches upon crude, hyperbolic, and often child-like adjectives and metaphors (with corresponding child-like or homologous and associationist thinking: mistaking bigness for greatness; the quantitative valuation of virtually everything; connecting competition, success and size; the attraction of novelty; a thirst for sensationalism; an overweening sense of privilege and superiority rooted in a fascination with sheer power if not megalomania, and so forth and so on), the harm of which is exacerbated by mendacious Manichean propaganda within an overarching framework of narcissistic nationalism.

See too this recent article from The Atlantic:

“Ironically, it was the publication of a book this week that crystallized the reality of just how little Donald Trump reads. While, like many of the tendencies described in Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury, Trump’s indifference to the printed word has been apparent for some time, the depth and implications of Trump’s strong preference for oral communication over the written word demand closer examination. ‘He didn’t process information in any conventional sense,’ Wolff writes. ‘He didn’t read. He didn’t really even skim. Some believed that for all practical purposes he was no more than semi-literate.’

Wolff quotes economic adviser Gary Cohn writing in an email: ‘It’s worse than you can imagine … Trump won’t read anything—not one-page memos, not the brief policy papers, nothing. He gets up halfway through meetings with world leaders because he is bored.’ While Trump and his allies, as well as some mainstream journalists, have attacked the accuracy of Wolff’s book, Trump’s allergy to reading is among the most fully corroborated assertions Fire and Fury makes.

Ahead of the election, the editors of this magazine wrote that the Republican candidate “appears not to read.” Before the inauguration, Trump told Axios, ‘I like bullets or I like as little as possible. I don't need, you know, 200-page reports on something that can be handled on a page. That I can tell you.’ In February, The New York Times reported that National Security Council members had been instructed to keep policy papers to a single page and include lots of graphics and maps. Mother Jones reviewed classified information indicating Trump’s briefings were a quarter as long as Barack Obama’s.

In March, Reuters reported that briefers had strategically placed the president’s name in as many paragraphs of briefing documents as possible so as to attract his fickle attention. In September, the Associated Press reported that top aides had decided the president needed a crash course on America’s role in the world and arranged a 90-minute, map-and-chart heavy lecture at the Pentagon. And amid the hype over Wolff’s book, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough wrote a column Friday saying that in September 2015, he confronted Trump over poor debate performances, saying, ‘Can you read?’ Met with silence, Scarborough pressed again: ‘I’m serious, Donald. Do you read? If someone wrote you a one-page paper on a policy, could you read it?’ Trump replied by brandishing a Bible from his mother and saying he read it all the time—probably a self-aware joke, given Trump’s proud impiety and displayed ignorance of the Bible.

The Scarborough anecdote is the strangest of these. This is not only because Scarborough held on to the story for nearly a year and a half, and continued to hype Trump’s candidacy on air and advise him privately. (As James Fallows notes, the real scandal of the Wolff book is that so many people have such grave misgivings about Trump but have kept their heads down.) It is also unfortunate because Trump is clearly, in strictly literal terms, literate. He displays his basic grasp of the language—if in sloppy, often typo-ridden ways—on Twitter on a roughly daily basis. Such stories, by dint of their hyperbole, offer a bit of a distraction from how serious the problem is.

Meanwhile, Trump’s defenders could fall back on semi-plausible excuses, such as arguing that his information consumption was typical of the business world from which he had come. The AP reported that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis used charts and maps in the briefing on America’s role because that was ‘a way the businessman-turned-politician would appreciate.’ [….]

Unlike Trump, [George W.] Bush also read for pleasure and edification. Late in Bush’s presidency, Karl Rove wrote a notable column in which he detailed the president’s reading habits. At the time, Richard Cohen described Bush’s list as too closed to critical ideas: ‘Bush has always been the captive of fixed ideas. His books just support that.’ Such a critique of Trump is unthinkable, because the idea of him recommending any volume that is not either by him or a hagiography of him is unthinkable. One can deride the reading of Bush and Obama—who last week continued a tradition he began as president, posting his reading list for the year—as performative, but Trump, a consummate performer in so many other respects, cannot even be bothered to perform here.

There’s been plenty of attention paid to Trump’s excessive (and implausibly denied) television watching, but it’s really more of a piece with his broader orientation away from the written word and toward oral culture. The president likes verbal briefings, phone conversations, and television because they’re all conducted aloud, sans reading. [….]

The president’s actions show little such sign of preparation and study, while displaying faulty understandings of many things. After visiting Saudi Arabia and hitting it off with the country’s leaders, he forcefully backed Riyadh in its dispute with Qatar and many other issues, over the objections of some of his staff—even publicly contradicting Tillerson. In December, however, he suddenly became concerned about the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. The minimal thought put into several of Trump’s core views on China became clear when President Xi Jinping was able to change his entire view of the Korean incident in 10 minutes—10 minutes of oral conversation, of course.” [….] – From David A. Graham’s “The President Who Doesn’t Read,” The Atlantic (January 5, 2018)

Deep State Special Legal Counsel

Let him give it a shot. At least while they are talking for a few days, we will have peace. It will buy some time. Maybe a few months of purchased peace... It's like our gig/free lance bullshit Amazon job/Uber/craft beer economy. You lurch from one to another. Yeah, it may not be a life long career at Kodak, but in the end, when you put it all together, you will have had an income and a taste of middle class lifestyle.



YOu seem quite willing to believe ANYthing negative, can't allow for the possibility of a condition otherwise, as you seem to believe the statement above that a person acting as POTUS has not spent "ANY time studying ... the broader history of American foreign relations." That statement is false, almost by definition.

This preposterous statement is not refuted because you can find online and then cut and paste here some person's writing, in the press, who shares your anger, hostility and hyperbolic claims about the current president. As stated above, we can find 24/7, 365 nonstop opprobrium on CNN, MSNBC, etc. Why not quote Lawrence O'Donnell? He's the voice of reason!

The key is to try, just try, to think, and not just post long diatribes as an angry adversary. For instance, above, you cite an argument that praises George W. Bush to ridicule and slander the POTUS.

One suspects you didn't even read what you posted. If any issue involving that man was discussed here, it is likely you would be larding up the comments with law review length essays and reading lists on the subject, excoriating the man for being stupid, and ignorant and evil.

Just once, PTSOD, stop arguing and dial it back.


"Just once, PTSOD, stop arguing and dial it back."

You may wish to take your own advice. I know of no one who defends Trump as knowledgeable about international relations or historical precedents. It is as if he consciously avoided knowing about either of those things his entire life. So I think Gaughan's original statement is not only justified, but potentially too forgiving of the so-called president.

And no, I am not just repeating MSNBC, Lawrence O'Donnell or CNN, but thank you (in advance) for assuming I am so as to denigrate my thoughts on this matter. So I repeat: stop arguing and dial it back


The tell here is the post above, and PTSOD just furthers it. (Can't admit that ANY is an overstatement ...)

Regarding the issue, one would expect if speaking about the risks, to mention the Clinton deal with NOKO. The recent arrangement with another nuclear power comes to mind.

But, no. We are not "studying ... the broader history of American foreign relations," and coming to objective views about the risks/rewards.

Instead, we are asked to search for a MISTAKE, for a blunder, to blame, in advance, on this POTUS, literally suggesting dire ruin and that this effort may be a prelude to WWIII.

In order to drive this suggestion in, the author delivers, at the end of this sort of, well, opinionated piece ("As modern historians have made clear, the actual reparations imposed on Germany by the Treaty of Versailles were not particularly onerous") unsupportable blows against the POTUS personally.

Leave it to someone in the comments to come forward to throw some fuel on the fire in response to even the hint of an objection to this hyperbole about not being cognizant of ANY history in this regard (a risible claim, really). So long as someone is getting skewered who some folks want to see skewered (the "so called president"), these folks will take any low road to get there. And, it is a low road to speak that way, though few these days seem to think so.

So sad. Give peace a chance, haters. Concerns about the risks, sure. Historical precedents, or course (if the most relevant; again, notice how the author avoids this). But, just dumping on the POTUS in this instance is playground politics.

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