30 Comments

It seems to me that you don't like Trump because he was unable to be Trumpian enough. The theory of Trump was that he would come in like a bull in the china shop and beat the bureaucracy into line. The reality is Trump had much less actual power to do that than imagined and the bureaucracy had much more power to run things than most people thought.

I always think back to the American Civil War. Firing the peacetime generals wasn't easy. Lincoln had to go through McDowell, McClellan (who later ran against him for president), Burnside, Hooker, and Meade before effectively giving command to Grant.

There's no guarantee you can actually find wartime generals.

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Does anyone think that Obama would've rammed through Warp Speed? Maybe, but remember the Obamacare website. And no chance Obama fires Fauci. It was Trump who brought Atlas to the WH in the first place. No way that Obama even listens to Atlas or even knows his name.

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I'll preface this by saying you are well within your rights to not like Trump for whatever reason you chose. I still have to join with the responses that this seems like a slightly more sophisticated version of the "but mean tweets!" justification given by people who generally agree with the thrust of Trump's policies, and GOP policies generally, but don't like him personally. Again, that's fine, just be honest and don't go down the road of additionally claiming that punishing the GOP for nominating him is some sort of jujitsu move that will result in the policies you prefer getting implemented.

As I recall, Trump's personnel picks were generally consider a mixed bag by people at least sympathetic to him. Tillerson and the mad dog Marine looked really good until they weren't any more. Mike Pompeo is generally considered to have been very successful at State. People had various issues with other choices. Mike Flynn is a great case of 'might have been.' I don't see this as being much different than any other administration that I've observed with the usual in-fighting, minor scandals, and people who look good on paper but wind up being unsuited to the positions they took.

Any GOP administration tends to have issues finding people who are actually interested in political appointments as well as having issues with the upper- and mid-level civil service people who have zero interest in implementing GOP policies if not actually doing everything they can to thwart them. Trump was further hampered by the lack of a Rolodex of potential appointees developed over a career in politics, and the evidence early on that anyone taking a spot in his administration was going to run a gauntlet of opposition and media attacks that eventually metastasized into straight-up blacklisting and targeted physical harassment.

I'm not sure I understand your comments about Trump giving outsized roles to Birx and Fauci. It seems to me that like most long-serving bureaucrats they had developed their own power centers that were outside political control, that being the ostensible goal of a supposedly nonpartisan civil service. They were in the logical positions to lead the COVID effort, and as soon as they made their opposition to Trump known to the press, they were immediate media darlings which just further enhanced their clout.

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Aug 12, 2022·edited Aug 12, 2022

Trump owns his political failure of not winning reelection. He listened to Fauci & Birx and gave them moral authority to lockdown the country and schools and justify bogus election procedures.

I saw the trainwreck coming in April. Kling saw it in March. Apparently Trump didn't realize he was hoodwinked until summer. At least he didn't do anything to counter the morons running Covid policy until summer.

I view Trump as a great battering ram. He is good at making noise and breaking down opposition. But his stimulus for action is personal. It has to involve him. Covid lockdowns involved us and our dignity and Trump was far too slow to act. The flattery of saving the country from Covid beguiled him.

Proof of Trump's ego being self destructive is Trump attacking Gov. Kemp (GA) when Kemp took initiative to end lockdowns, before Trump was ready. Kemp was right and Trump was angry that someone went off script. In other words, Trump was for lockdowns before others showed they were unnecessary, and this made Trump mad.

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‘The ultimate blame rests with the man who gave them their outsized roles in the pandemic. That man is Donald Trump.’

This is a very poor remark to make. The ultimate responsibility is with whoever owns and tolerates the situation they took over.

Trump left Office on 06 January, so the ultimate responsibility is Biden’s (and the Adults) who has had 18 months to rectify the situation but instead not only kept them in place but was an avid supporter and enabler of their draconian measures, lies and deceits.

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> I cannot get too worked up about Fauci and Birx. They are who they are. The ultimate blame rests with the man who gave them their outsized roles in the pandemic. That man is Donald Trump.

>

> The pandemic was barely underway when some of us sensed something wrong in the bureaucracy.

But the American health beurocracy was doing the same things as their counterparts around the world, and politicians around the world were going along with it while the media establishment slapped down any who go out of line (until they finally got some spine around December 2021).

You are blaming Trump for not being sufficiently Trumpy. I agree with that assessment. But how does that fit into the bigger picture of your views towards Trump?

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Trump, NOT a DC swamp rat, trusted GOPe folk. They hate him, too - but like winning, and even admire his ability to fight and win. But still don't like him. Trump's people around him were less bad than Biden's people.

You at least note, this time, that Biden also doesn't have quality folk. Compare how many Trump fired, looking for quality, with how many Biden is firing (none?) Many, especially of Kamala's team, are quitting, bailing, not quite the same as being booted.

I'd bet a Pres Trump in 2025 will have learned and have lots more folk around him who support his program, if he runs (90%) and wins (60%).

Trump fought the swamp and,

the swamp won.

First time.

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Yes- Trump deserves blame for not firing Fauci in February 2020 (he should have fired him on January 20th 2017, but that is a debate for another day). Trump was incredibly naïve- by February 2020 he (or anyone for that matter) should have known the people he, Trump, was letting take the lead on the pandemic had ulterior motives for inciting panic and shutting down the economy. However, it is quite probable that even if Trump had acted to fire the peacetime generals and traitors in his executive branch, he couldn't have fired enough of them to make much of a difference, and likely would have gotten impeached inside of a week and Pence would have then followed the advice of the same batch of cretins and crooks. Handle wrote it best in that old thread- you go to war with the bureaucracy you have, not the one you need.

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It's fair to blame Trump for his mistakes, but one shouldn't let the fact that Trump did particularly poorly at this task cause one to overattribute culpability to him and overlook the more serious systemic problem that deserves most of the blame. This is our new normal, and having had a better leader at the helm would not have made a big difference then and it won't in the future.

Almost anyone who accepts a PAS position in any administration these days, regardless of party, has something wrong with them, and there is a defect in their overall 'quality' practically by definition. The least worst defects are being motivated primarily by the post government employment opportunities made available by doing their time, or a kind of common but silly lust for being as close as possible to the inner circle and center of power, factors that tend to compensate for the utter terribleness of the vast majority of these jobs. But that's the problem, the people you get are precisely the ones most sensitive to and motivated by these compensatory factors that are not correlated with job performance. Compare to the kind of person who cares most about being the leader of the HOA despite the unpaid time commitment, because she *enjoys* the petty bullying associated with being a merciless rule-Nazi. At least the HOA-Nazi gets the thrill of actually exercising some power, but these days most decision-making is so centralized in the white house that most officials are allowed to do nothing else than exactly what they're told. More actor and puppet than master and commander.

But it gets a lot worse than those defects above, and the proportion of low talent people with aberrant or nasty personality types seems depressingly high and above the critical mass proportion such that it becomes impossible for such people to build organizational capital and work well together in harmony as an effective team.

While there had always been plenty of internal drama and rivalry, it was nothing compared to the causes of rampant dysfunction today. My impression is that this new phase began about 20 years ago, but since then it's gotten worse and worse and I'm confident it will also plague whoever wins in 2024 because the problem is bigger than any President.

And an even more serious problem (for Republicans much more than Democrats) is that it doesn't matter *even if you could* solve the personnel quality problem, if all it means is that their quality goes to waste because for even more entrenched and insurmountable reasons they can't use it to get anything done.

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I'm going to indulge myself and deliberately score negative 1,0000,0000 FIT points with the following: Fauci is one of those people that puts the wind in the sails of disciplines like kinesics. You can keep yourself busy for weeks carefully and objectively analyzing his performance as a public official since 2020 and arrive at a decidedly unflattering conclusion. Or, you could save yourself valuable time and simply witness the man move about the earth for approximately 17 seconds and realize with certainty that he's a power-drunk, narcissistic, Wendigo who let his 15 minutes of fame take complete possession of his faculties.

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Whoever the President, Wilson's distopian bureaucracy remains in place to manage, reproduce, and grow. Dr. Fauci is the current bureaucratic star, an octogenarian who's shaped his bureaucracy to serve, first, his ambitions and, second, control the media and public--so reminescent of the 20th century J. Edgar Hoover who built and shaped the FBI. And how about that "Inflation Reduction Act"? Who are that Congressional staffers that think inflation gets reduced by adding legions of IRS agents? All those agents will add their talents to the deadweight loss of the public and private tax bureaucracy--raising costs and reducing productivity. A sad devil's bargain--so much talent lost to the creative and productive economy.

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You can never be too cynical when it comes to the government, especially the FBI and the CIA, and you're right about who was ultimately responsible for the mess: the guy in the White House.

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In 2020, the American public was given the choice between a second term of Trump and Biden. Which Administration would have made better, or less bad, staffing choices? Kling endorsed neither suggesting they are about the same. Here, Kling says both Trump and Biden are bad at staff choices, with a tone that neither is better or worse than the other. This is wrong.

Kling names Fauci as an example of a bad staff choice by Trump. Trump elevated Fauci during the final year of his administration and came to regret it as a mistake. Biden, with the full benefit of hindsight into the 2020 pandemic, promoted Fauci further. Trump made a mistake, and you can argue that other candidates would be better, and make fewer mistakes. However, making bad choices on purposes like Biden is doing is much worse than making some bad choices by mistake.

If Kling was serious about advocating for improvement, he would take a transactional approach to political candidates: pick the best, or the least bad choice from the ones available; possibly even scorecard the options. Kling doesn't do that, and seems more interested in making op-ed jabs at whoever is fun for him to make op-ed jabs at.

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Big Pharma - and Trump and Biden and Fauci and Brix and most media have long been anti-ivermectin. The "sixth largest country" (Uttar Pradesh, India), used it and had excellent results - far better than Australia.

https://pierrekory.substack.com/p/the-miracle-not-heard-around-the

Trump was lousy in COVID, tho virtually all US and OECD and WHO politicians and "experts" were as bad or worse. Those who criticize Trump should be intellectually honest and compare him to others, Biden, HR Clinton, Obama, using the same criteria.

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Today Debbie Lerman published her second article on Dr. Birx to argue about her terrible logic. See

https://brownstone.org/articles/dr-birxs-fake-science-revealed-in-her-own-words/

Please read Debbie's conclusion and tell me how logic her conclusion about government policies is.

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I find grotesque to criticize Trump's early decisions on Covid without taking into account (a) the misinformation originated in China, the WHO, and their U.S. accomplices in January 2020, and (b) U.S. politics since 2016, and especially in late 2019 and January 2020.

If someday you are able to write a book along the lines of Tom Sowell's Knowledge and Decision about what happened in Wuhan and Washington well before January 2020 and during 2020, I will take your analysis seriously. Good luck and be ready for a huge investment and effort.

BTW, your March 2020 post provided an ideal framework for taking decisions but no way on how to get reliable and relevant information.

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