I’m an anti-anti-anti-Trumper

Imagine a large rectangle, divided into two portions. On one side is written, “reduce interest rates”. On the other side is written “raise interest rates”. A turtle is placed right on the dividing line. Over time, it wanders into one of the two specified areas. If the turtle wandered into the area that expressed your personal views on monetary policy, would you say that the turtle in question is “right about monetary policy”?

I suppose you could make that claim, but in everyday use the phrase “being right about something” usually implies there’s been actual mental deliberation that led to a correct conclusion.

Trump is sort of like that turtle. He’s never actually considered what view on any issue is correct; rather he always considers which view is most beneficial to him. If you take 100 issues where there are binary choices, Trump may seem correct in about 50 cases. But that’s not really being “right” in any meaningful sense of the term.

Trump opposed low interest rates back in 2015, when we actually needed lower rates. Then he favored low interest rates after becoming President. That might have been correct in some sense (although the case for lower rates was weaker in 2018 than in 2015). But he was no more “right” in 2018 than the turtle that wandered into your preferred square.

Trump opposed more Covid testing because he thought it would make him look bad, and supported an accelerated push for a vaccine because he thought it would help him get re-elected. He was correct about the vaccine and incorrect about the testing. But let’s be honest, terms like ‘correct’ and ‘incorrect’ have no meaning when applied to Trump. Trump lies almost every day, and his statements on which policies he prefers are all about his personal interest. It makes no sense to even talk about whether Trump is “right” about what’s best for society as a whole. Trump’s never given the question any thought.

Here’s Matt Yglesias:

I have no problem with libertarians criticizing Nancy Pelosi on this issue. I have a big problem with libertarians taking an “anti-anti-Trump” stance, that is, libertarians claiming that anti-Trumpers are hysterically overreacting to the man. Hell no! Even anti-Trumpers like me are underreacting to the man.

Trump is so appallingly bad that his awfulness won’t actually be known until after he’s left office and we can start lifting up the rocks to find all the worms underneath. The only reason Trump is not a Nazi is that he doesn’t have enough power to impose Nazism. This is a man who encouraged Xi Jinping to put a million Muslims into concentration camps. He favors torture. He praises war criminals. I could name 100s of other examples. And there are many more that will be revealed once he’s lost power and it’s possible to investigate all his crimes, his abuse of power. (Crimes that he is currently covering up, often in violation of the law.) There’s no possible way any sane person could overdo their anti-Trump hysteria. Descriptions of his behavior by his own aides (off the record) read like something out of The Onion.

Some anti-anti-Trumpers make the fundamental mistake of looking at Trump as follows: “Hmmm, there are 347 issues where there are binary options. On how many of those issues do I agree with Trump?” You don’t agree with Trump on any other those issues, because Trump literally has no views on what’s best for the country.

In 2016 we were told by conservatives to focus on the “issues”, that Washington/Eisenhower-style competence and integrity only matter during a major crisis. Hmmm . . .

I predict that anti-anti-Trumpers will look just as discredited after Trump leaves office as Joe McCarthy supporters looked in the late 1950s. And that’s despite the fact that McCarthy was right that Soviet spies in the US were a problem. Don’t be lulled into thinking that just because Trump is “right” about this or that, he is anything other than the worst president in history.

BTW, just as McCarthy hurt the anti-communist cause, Trump will end up hurting the conservative cause.

PS. I’m not accusing all libertarians of being anti-anti-Trumpers. Many of those I’ve read agree with my overall view of Trump.

PPS. Despite being anti-Joe McCarthy, I’m actually an anti-anti-anti-communist. I’m no fan of anti-anti-communists like Noam Chomsky. The left has its own problems.