Trump isn’t prepared to be president — and that’s a dangerous thing

By Robert Mann

There is an episode in the new Netflix series about Queen Elizabeth II, “The Crown,” in which the new, 27-year-old sovereign frets about her lack of education. “I know almost nothing,” Elizabeth complains to her mother before she retains a tutor to help her with history and world events.

What a quaint notion: one should prepare for one’s job, especially if one is head of state. If only our callow president-elect, Donald Trump, cared half as much about his readiness as the Netflix version of the queen.

It’s one thing if Elizabeth has nothing intelligent to say to President Dwight Eisenhower; it’s quite another if, in real life, Trump phones Taiwan’s president and bumbles into an international incident with China.

Or if, instead of British Prime Minister Theresa May, Trump makes Nigel Farage, the racist former United Kingdom Independent Party (UKIP) head, his first official post-election contact in the UK. Or if he compounds his error by suggesting — in a tweet, no less! — that May should make Farage the UK’s ambassador to the United States. Or if he honors the murderous Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, with a coveted White House invitation.

And he not only lacks diplomatic skills. He’s also at sea in domestic affairs and, even, the basics of running the White House. Remember how Trump bragged about refusing debate prep?

On his first visit to the Oval Office, Trump was reportedly shocked that Obama’s staffers would leave and he must replace them. Days later in an interview, Trump confused climate change with clean air (after having said it was a Chinese hoax). And he labors under the bizarre impression that millions of fraudulent votes were cast in a rigged election — that he won.

Trump apparently does not even grasp the basics of the Constitution he will swear to defend. In a meeting with House Republicans in July, a member asked Trump if he would protect Article I, which vests federal lawmaking authority in Congress. Trump, witnesses reported, responded, “I want to protect Article I, Article II, Article XII.” Trump seemed unaware the Constitution has only seven articles.

This is the ignorant man who, in a few weeks, will have the nuclear codes and unfettered authority to use them. Oh, did I mention that Trump, despite knowing next to nothing about military and foreign affairs, has repeatedly stiffed his national security briefers? Last year, you may recall, he told NBC he gets his national security information from “the shows.”

Continue reading on at this link.

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17 Responses to Trump isn’t prepared to be president — and that’s a dangerous thing

  1. Fredster says:

    Don’t even know what to say because it’s too depressing and scary.


  2. jechoisir says:

    Ho Hum. And yet the man has assembled a team of councilors in record time, has legislation in the tubes, and still has made weekend “thank-you” visits to folks that need uplifting at this season and who were with him from the outset! Unlike his predecessor, who came into the White House without a full staff of councilors, but with all his old cronies who would never dissent. And no he did not call Taiwan: Taiwan called him—and he took the call. And what a way to show a bullying China that an American President could talk to anyone he chose to talk to, just as China changed monetary policies and other major policies that seriously affect the U.S. without telling the U.S! ( Read that official Dem cheat sheet more carefully)

    Can you or your lipsynchers imagine Barack Obama’s inviting the Republican counterpart to Ram Emmanuel for a pre-election visit? Obama wouldn’t even let Democratic legislators and leaders into the White House! Go back and check where Obama was at this stage. Then read what you wrote.

    Still looking for new ideas. Imaginative thinking.


  3. jechoisir says:

    Mr. Winham, by now, my mind is pretty much closed on Barack Obama, though that is not relevant to the subject at hand.

    But I read about Obama from his early days in Chicago. Read those little “position” papers he sent his constituents, perked up my sharp ears when I encountered something about him in sundry periodicals I read in my weekly visits to the periodical room at a university library. I read all Joe Biden’s puff pieces. It didn’t take long for me to recognize his far-left political bent and his inability to get away from the matter of race, but people grow and change, and I hoped he too might when Biden finally got him on the electoral path. In fact, in the first election (hold onto to your prejudices here!), I voted for him. A woman who had worked for me for 25 years and who had in that time become a dear friend died suddenly three weeks before that election. She was black, and she had looked forward to voting for Barack Obama with fierce anticipation. I cast her vote.

    I suspect I knew and know far more about Barack Obama’s politics than you, sir. And I bet that not one of you billy goats three would do what I did in 2008.

    I find Mr. Obama’s politics abhorrent, dangerous to the country. I looked at him on the news recently, that loping gait, the cool distance from the occasion, and I realized how wonderful it would be not to have to see him much longer.Talk about unprepared!

    I’m surprised at you, Mr. Winham, for the Fox News remark. Fox news journalism is of a higher quality than that of any of the networks currently. The company separates its news and its opinion programming, something the NYTimes has stopped doing. It offered by far the most professional reporting on election night. While the sillies at CNN and the networks were weeping and wailing, Bret Baier and Megan Kelly sat calmly at the helm over at Fox. The background information about polling and related matters was iinteresting and nformative, and while most there were surprised as the night wore on, they kept their composure and journalistic standing. Perhaps you should watch Fox occasionally.

    I don’t believe Fox would reinstate a Brian Williams and then keep him after this week, when he held forth on the dangers of “fake news.” (I could scarcely believe it: the man has learned nothing.)

    I’ve told you guys before how widely I read in politics and current events, and I don’t intend to do it again. Because I read German and French newspapers and magazines regularly, I knew before the American press reported it that Ms. Merkel had done an about-face on eastern immigration, for instance. I read her words on the subject, and they were worth reading. I see in what a chaotic state the EU has been for ages and I read about how large groups of serious politicians in European nations fear Mr. Obama’s lackadaisical attitude and his unreliability. Can you folks match that? What matters is not the facts of the day, but the richness of the context and the critical mind the reader brings to those facts. Judgment comes from those.

    However, I feel bound to tell you that when I say, “X=Y,” replying that it could not possibly be so because I watch Fox News is illogical.

    Incidentally, have you been reading about the NYTimes critic’s battles with that lost lady?


    • Stephen Winham says:

      You obviously lay claim to intellectual superiority here, despite the fact you know nothing about what, how much, or the quality of what I might read, nor do you likely know my background at all. I stand for a lot of things, but being talked down to is not among them. Believe as you will. That is your right.


  4. jechoisir says:

    Mr. Winham, you are right: I know nothing about what you read. Nor am I interested in that. The only thing I may reasonably judge is the quality and logic of your statements.

    You are the one who sought to dismiss my remarks by claiming my informational background was limited to a single source, Fox News. My statement responded to that claim: “I suggest you open your mind to venues other than Fox News and its ilk for news and information.”

    You and Mr. Bankstone appear to have missed that.

    I noted the illogic of your argument. It is an example of argumentum ad hominem, and it seeks to draw attention away from the argument, its only proper object, by suggesting the person making the argument is unqualified.

    I wrote, “I feel bound to tell you that when I say, “X=Y,” replying that it could not possibly be so because I watch Fox News is illogical.”

    So my response to your argumentum ad hominem was not arrogant. Your presuming to know my knowledge background and to dismiss my views based on that assumption was arrogant.

    I stand by my original remarks. Mr. Mann’s piece is lazy journalism. It contains a clear factual error (the Taiwan call). It merely recounts the now dead and dated arguments about Mr. Trump’s lack of information (e.g., He said he did not prep for debates; he did not know the new President had to appoint even the folks who cleaned in the West Wing). It blithely and falsely labels Nigel Farage a racist, something even the Guardian has said belies truth, and it blames Trump for “snubbing” Teresa May by calling Farage first (again, Mr. Mann is confused by time order). And it fails to remark the good relationship Dame May and Mr. Trump have developed or the number of conversations they have had. It completely mischaracterizes Mr. Trump’s remarks about climate change and clean air (note the source he cites, too, on that one) In short, it is a rehash of what has appeared in hundreds of disappointed Left-wing opinion pieces.

    Nothing about what is now known—-Trump’s staffing plans that began before the primary was over; the efficiency with which he has staffed and made appointments to cabinet and other key positions (Compare Obama’s calendar); the diversity of opinions he has sought out (e.g. Ram Emmanual); the cleverness with which he had sent signals (No, Mr. Bankston, I am not naive).

    And to call Donald Trump ignorant is ignorant, narrow-minded. No one operates a global business and remains ignorant. I am no fan of Mr. Trump, but he has surprised me on the high side. His team of advisors certainly show more diversity and depth of background than Mr. Obama’s, which was pretty much a circle of sycophants or best-pals. He had the good judgment to dump Christy when Christy started playing New Jersey pol, thereby sending a message we never heard from the current president. But most of all, the man has already acted—-actually done something—more positively than Barack Obama acted in his first year. Or probably, first term. He has sent good messages of strength that will make foreign relations easier, ties with allies stronger—-well, I’ve said that.

    I noted the glaring irony of Brian Williams holding forth on “fake news.” Does anyone recall Governor Blanco’s public relation disaster on the occasion of Hurricane Katrina? Her waffling and asking Mary Landrieu what she should wear when she visited a flooded site? The ignorance and indecisiveness she displayed? The appearance of incompetence, which seemed to reflect the real incompetence, she showed at a time when competence and control was most needed in this state? the cartoons of her and her counterpart in New Orleans? Just saying….


    • martybankson says:

      Pointing out the informal logical fallacy of “appeal to authority” (in this case, your own, self-proclaimed authority, to wit: “I’ve told you guys before how widely I read in politics and current events, and I don’t intend to do it again. Because I read German and French newspapers and magazines regularly, …… What matters is not the facts of the day, but the richness of the context and the critical mind the reader brings to those facts.”) is not —I repeat, not—that OTHER informal logical fallacy “argumentum ad hominem”, or arrogant in itself.
      It’s obvious that you are a qualified debater, but the tone of superiority you frequently use on this blog seems at times to be attempts to overcompensate for the pedestrian criticisms and apologetics you put forth. Failing to comment on the link I posted up there ^ about the Taiwan phone call is an example. Failure to comment on the proposed militarization and corporatization of the cabinet is another example. Neglecting the possibility of an education privatizer, anti-labor fast-food magnate, and climate change denier as heads of education, labor, and EPA were other dodges from my post. All of these are examples of an official-elect that is dependent on opinions and direction from reactionary ideologue first-hires like Bannon. And all the references to Obama are irrelevant: the subject is Trump and his focus, purpose, coherence, and attention span to be a stable commander-n-chief.
      But all is forgiven, for me anyway, if you could make a note of how my name is spelled. I think you have seen it often enough by now; and your aforementioned credentials as lexicographer and editor would be forever recognized and appreciated.


  5. jechoisir says:

    “Bankston.” Got it. I believe that is the first time I’ve spelled it incorrectly, but I apologize for the error and will try hard not to make it again. I know that spelling a person’s name correctly matters.

    Mr. Bankston, I’m no debater, either by trade or inclination. I’m a questioner, both of myself and others, but I am always humbled by the limitation of my own knowledge and the ease with which I can be fooled.

    Yet I am philosophically conservative and independent-minded, I’m reasonably well-educated, and when it comes to politics in all its ramifications, I weary of having the few positions I take publicly being dismissed out of hand with a remark like the one Mr. Winham made about my needing to look beyond Fox News for my information. There is no arrogance greater than merely dismissing a viewpoint or an entire system of thought because it is not one’s own, and that is what Mr. Winham did and what you often do with any observation that does not comport with your own ideas.

    I don’t say either of you recognizes that habit. Clearly Mr. Winham did not recognize it in this exchange. He did not understand why I listed my independent reading habits and told me I should not presume to know his. He saw nothing arrogant in presuming to know mine. I imagine both of you talk mostly with people who agree with you on basic principles and probably on specific issues. That is a dangerous luxury: it is so easy to grow intellectually lazy in such an environment and doubly so, if you converse and don’t have to look at your thoughts in print.

    I’ve rarely had that luxury. Real conservatism finds few cronies in what is called “the mainstream” by those who swim in it. Both professionally and personally, I’ve spent my life being challenged, and I’ve grown in understanding as a result of that challenge. But I see no reason to approve lazy thinking or such intellectual silliness as Mr. Winham used to dismiss my comments on the editorial that was and should be the subject of our discussion. I hope you can understand that.

    I acknowledged your point about who-called-whom re Taiwan, but it is no small matter that Mr. Trump took the call instead of placing it. No adult would inagine the president-elect just picks up his telephone whenever it rings. That it took weeks to set up should have made Mr. Mann stop and think about what he called Mr. Trump’s ignorance and lack of preparation.

    The problem with the post was that it lacked thought. One has no sense of a writer thinking. It was political hack work, a cold repeat of so many Democratic mailouts that I wondered who the writer envisioned as an audience.

    Donald Trump is no conservative, though his campaign appears to have given him a certain new respect for tradition as it expresses itself across the spectrum of American life. He has been a bully, and his fascination with Twitter certainly gives one pause to wonder about his self-discipline. It is easy to parody him as a Queens version of General Bulmoose.

    Yet we should not be surprised that a President would be a bully or undisciplined or even blind to the impression he gives. We’ve had one like that for the past eight years.

    And I think we miss a lot if we do not look beyond the parody. But the planning and transition team he set up in mid-summer speaks to a habit of planning toward a goal well in advance and then acting, of taking care of business plans before that business must be conducted. His taking that call from Taiwan, his jawboning Carrier—both signals—show that he knows how to use his power to do something about manufacturing jobs and about the craven position Mr. Obama has established as America’s general position with China and, indeed, all foreign governments.

    It is in the interest of the nation to have a healthy manufacturing sector and the research and development systems that accompany manufacturing. Our military defense requires it. The world has never seen an unfettered capitalism or, I suspect, trade that is completely free. The English peoples have since 1066 taken theories of all sorts with an exceedingly light regard. Their pragmatism is linked to ideals, but the means toward those ideas have always been open to discussion. I think one of the things that astonished so many about Mr. Obama was that in his case, we had on our hands a true ideologue, someone wed to a theory. (Have you ever read “The Clouds” by Aristophanes?)

    We are going to have to work out a way to bring some industrial development home, and we are going to have to confront the fact that a high minimum wage will be counter-productive: businesses will simply replace workers with automation. So it will not be easy. Any decent solution is going to require convincing everyone to do the right thing for the country, and that will be hard because for eight years all the American people have heard is how bad America is (and all those whom this president has visited abroad have heard this, too, another handicap to overcome). It is going to require some Anglo-American pragmatism, something neither party has been able to bring to bear on this particular problem. Looking at some of the people on his team so far and looking at the actions he has taken so far, it seems Mr. Trump might be exactly the kind of person the U.S. needs right now. Not to have throught beyond that Democratic Party check-list is, in my view, shameful. And I wonder if it is not also ignorant.

    As for folks like Bannon, I would simply encourage you to look a little more carefully at him. He’s no Ellison. In fact, I wish we could pass a short-term law that would penalize anyone’s using “racist,” “homophobe,” and all those other Newspeak perjoratives until we adjust to using the English language again.

    I’ve kept up pretty closely with Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, and if you looked a little more closely, I suspect you would be impressed with her work. Mr. Bankston, I doubt you have any real idea how bad the schools of our nation have become. Or how dangerous. It breaks my heart. And it also angers me (if you think a lazy editorial annoys me, you have no idea how lazy education angers me)Betsy de Vos is one of those rare people who believes in what education can do to elevate lives as well as to afford competency. She is no distant observer/executive. And she is clever and positive. If anyone can accomplish anything in that office besides retire it, she will be the one. Yes, I know first-hand how sorry a lot of private schools are. But if a fifth-grade boy spends 30 minutes illustrating the mechanics of sexual intercourse in an unattended classroom and your child were in that classroom, would you want an alternative? But the alternatives to public schools NEED not be second-rate. In fact, assuring they are not is one of the simplest things in the world to do.

    In fine, I think a writer owes his audience fresh ideas, real thought. I also believe we are in such a mess in the U.S. right now that all of us ought to rise above party and pet theories and encourage what we see as hopeful. Whatever Mr. Trump does, it can scarcely be worse than what landed us in this mess. Independence of thought—-and thought itself—is much needed. I encourage it and will welcome it.


    • martybankson says:

      Actually, you still have it wrong.


    • Stephen Winham says:

      Whether you are a debater, or not, I am done responding to you, except to point out the following:

      You conveniently ignored the clause “and its ilk” in my “Trumpism”. In this case, the Trumpism was that my remark was hyperbole intended to indicate the influence of conservative media on your positions rather than to be literally interpreted. I will offer a weak apology for this, but, under no interpretation of the term do I consider it to have been an ad hominem attack. Some of your postings have risen to that level, including your remarks about our still-President Obama.
      Mr. Bankson’s is not the only name you have misspelled in your posts, including Rahm Emanuel and Chris Christie. I have not attacked you on this because I realize nobody is perfect.

      The End. Call me close-minded or whatever else you choose, your opinion no longer matters to me.


  6. jechoisir says:

    Mr. Winham: see my remarks (“My statement responded to that claim: “I suggest you open your mind to venues other than Fox News and its ilk for news and information.”). If you can call The Manchester Guardian, Le Monde, The Washington Post, or even The Economist “conservative,” then you’re right.

    Thank you for not attacking me on my spelling errors of Christie and Emanuel. Spelling is certainly one of my weaknesses. Yet, given the context and discussion, I can’t bring myself to fret over those. About Mr. Bankson’s name, yes. He was part of the discussion. Ram/Rahm, no.

    Pardon me, sir, if I grin here: “I’m done responding to you EXCEPT…..”

    “Close-minded”? Yes, it seems so. And that is sad.


  7. jechoisir says:

    Mr. Bankston, I suspected so.

    But you might have prefaced your statement with “I think,” “In my opinion,” or “I believe.” Show of intellectual humility, you know. Even if you don’t feel it. Such phrases at least distinguished fact from opinion.

    You and Mr. Winham have made this a pretty personal attack on me, rather than on the questions I raised about Mr. Mann’s post, which, based on other things he’s written, makes me believe it is unworthy of him. Those remain.

    Discussion requires a mind at least willing to consider alternative and even opposite views and viewpoints. So far as I can tell, historically most new ideas grow out of such exchanges. When Mr. Winham questioned the variety of my resources, he never considered the variety of his own resources. It’s all about assent, a bunch of old guys sitting around repeating the party line. Well, I give you Miss Emily Dickinson of Amherst, Massachusetts, on that one:

    Much Madness is divinest Sense-
    To a discerning Eye-
    Much Sense-the starkest Madness-
    ‘Tis the Majority
    In this, as All, prevail-
    Assent- and you are sane-
    Demur- you’re straightway dangerous-
    And handled with a Chain-


    • martybankson says:

      Which statement of mine are you referring to that needs prefacing with a qualification, please?


      • jechoisir says:

        All of them. Every name-calling. Every blithe label made without supporting evidence. Every arrogant “reactionary” you tossed off. Every mischaracterization (e.g. of Ms. de Voss’ work). They are opinions, not facts and need to be stated as opinions.

        You said Barack Obama had no relevance to a discussion of Trump’s actions so far. Yet that is scarcely so, and the election proved it. But you should apply the same principles to all incumbents. If you can look at people with whom Obama staffed and then criticize any other president’s staffing, then you are either hypocritical or unable to detect your own prejudices.

        Were I guessing, I’d guess the latter. So supremely certain are you of the wisdom of those position and of the ideas that grow from it, that you don’t even think anymore.

        Your question says it all.

        I don’t think you care about what happens to this nation. You just want Democrats to run it. For whatever reason—money, connections, old choices—you are wed to a party. You are effectively dead intellectually.

        And so is your party. Merci bon Dieu!


      • martybankson says:

        Your opinion is welcomed, but please don’t make assumptions or jump to conclusions about my “money, connections, or old choices” that have “wed” me to any party, including the Democratic one. In doing so, you demonstrate the same lack of intellectual imagination and binary categorization you have accused others in this blog of.


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