Trump’s Character

In two recent posts – Policy Differences and China on the Ballot, I laid out the principal policy reasons that I support Trump over Biden. In a third (all three are linked below), I Just Can’t Restrain Myself, I set forth the reasons I think Biden’s character is low and his intellectual capacity pathetically inadequate for the job. In this post I will astonish – and no doubt infuriate – my progressive friends by explaining why, to my own astonishment, I have come to genuinely admire President Trump’s character.

As longtime readers of this blog know, I did not vote for Trump in 2016. Fearing that there was truth in the constant refrain from his political opponents and their shills in the media that Trump was a raving bigot, presumptively corrupt and a would-be authoritarian – but repulsed by Hillary – I cast my vote for the libertarian ticket. Over the last four years I have seen no evidence for any of those allegations about Trump, and much that contradicts them.

All that remains of the left’s constant refrain of calumnies is that Trump is NOCD – Not Our Class, Dear. There is plenty of truth to this last charge, insofar as in spite of his wealth he doesn’t identify with our self-identified political and cultural elites, but I don’t think that his revulsion for the narrowness of their politically-correct language or the herd-mentality and self-serving nature of their policy preferences is to be held against him. Quite the contrary: I think it’s one of his greatest strengths.

Trump first infuriated our elites by setting aside the wink-and-nod understanding of the Bush II and Obama administrations that our government could simply ignore existing immigration laws by continuing to allow – indeed, encourage – essentially unlimited immigration through the southern border. Over and over, Trump has made it clear that he’s fine with legal immigration, but that our laws must be respected if there’s no political consensus around changing them. He also articulated the politically incorrect – but obviously true – facts that illegal immigration benefits two groups: the rich, who get cheap labor, and the Democratic Party that increases its likely base of support – and that it disadvantages poor and lower middle class Americans who see in such immigrants more competition for jobs and greater demand for already-strained services.

Similarly, Trump has made innumerable enemies among our elites by threatening the China trade that has so enriched them. He upset the we-all-benefit-from-trade-with-China consensus that had been in place since Nixon by pointing out that American manufacturers have been moving production to China on a massive scale – causing job losses here that primarily hurt the lower middle class. For strategic reasons he has also limited the sale of state-of-the-art chips to entities controlled by the Chinese government and taken a much more proactive stance than previous administrations in pushing back against China’s military/territorial encroachments on international waters. And he is cracking down hard on Chinese spying and technology thefts. All of these changes in policy vis-à-vis China run directly counter to the pre-existing consensus, all are wholly justified from my perspective and all required the leadership of a president who doesn’t give a damn about what ‘elite’ opinion dictates. Trump does what he thinks is best for America – period.

Much of Trump’s reputation as a Bad Guy comes from the Russia Collusion farce and his reaction to it. For three years, the media endlessly repeated allegations with absolutely no basis in fact that Trump was in Putin’s pocket. Those false allegations, it’s now clear, were ginned up (and paid for) by his political opponents, initially to swing the 2016 election while providing air-cover for Hillary’s email criminality, then to find a way to remove him from office or hobble his administration.

Trump reacted with understandable fury to these utterly baseless and eventually discredited allegations. He repeatedly denounced the improperly predicated and purely partisan Mueller investigation, calling it out for the witch hunt that it was – and for that, he was widely described as having Obstructed Justice. Think about that for a moment: he knew that was wholly innocent, but being dishonorably investigated and constantly, falsely impugned, and he had the temerity to tell the American people just that. For that (or rather, for wholly partisan reasons, with that as the excuse) the Democrats wanted to remove him from office? I had thought that in this country, the voters got to make such decisions, but apparently his opponents felt otherwise.

It took a backbone of steel for Trump to withstand that baseless three-year assault and the subsequent it-would-be-comical-if-it-weren’t-so-pitiful impeachment trial. He came through these ordeals absolutely unbowed, and I admire him for it.

Trump revels in his political incorrectness. He takes joy in puncturing the often-hypocritical and pretty much always ridiculous pieties of the culturally ascendant left. He is, in short, a guy who calls ‘em as he sees ‘em. And that attitude of his extends to his many detractors – his political opponents and the many ‘journalists’ who pose as unbiased while showing their progressive preferences with every syllable they speak or write and every expression on their puffed-up faces. Trump is not willing to politely let their pretenses go unremarked upon – and for that reason, their hatred for him has made their relationship with him into a cage match.

Over and over and over again, the Trump Administration has gone after previously sacrosanct elements of the elite’s worldview. Who else would be suing Yale and Princeton for racial discrimination in admissions? Who else would be stamping out the teaching of the pernicious and profoundly anti-American Critical Race Theory in (and, implicitly, by) the federal government? Who else would have allowed our country to achieve oil independence from OPEC and Russia for the first time in sixty years by encouraging fracking? Nobody.

Trump’s pugnaciousness is just we needed – and need – to puncture the aura of unchallengability that our elites have been and are trying to construct around the seemingly inexorable leftward drift of American policy.

So for that pugnaciousness I am grateful and of the backbone that sustains it, I am admiring.   

M.H. Johnston  

16 comments to Trump’s Character

  • DP  says:

    Mark, I don’t agree that the sum of all your points equal a sufficient reason to endorse President Trump. It’s your nickel, so unlike the President whose character you claim to admire (really?) I won’t just assert I’m correct. I’ll just debate one of many possible points. You say he is not a racist. I used to say that too…It may be that he judges everyone equally (negatively and according to their use to him). But I consider him a more pernicious kind of racist – the kind that incites actual racists for his own political advantage with winks and nods. For all the good things you came up with, you cannot overcome the deranged bully (not pugnacious) in the debates. Civility and process and fairness matter. I don’t want to participate in a race to the bottom and that’s where more Trump leads us. Respectfully,

  • Anonymous  says:

    I guess, then, that you have no trouble with President Trump’s character when it comes to lying about how the coronavirus is just going to go away and hydroxychloroquine, about how he was going to build a wall that Mexico was going to pay for and then using US funds, about erasing the deficit, about replacing Obamacare and still covering pre-existing conditions, about promising to end the “carnage” destroying America that he mentioned in his inaugural address, etc.

    As for the Mueller investigation, if President Trump “knew” that he was innocent, why did he refuse to testify under oath? If you sympathize with President Trump then you must have been outraged when President Clinton was impeached for lying under oath about an extramarital affair when he was asked to testify about a failed land investment over 10 years before President Clinton took office.

    When it comes to the “absolutely no basis in fact” allegations regarding Russia collusion, what do you call over 100 instances of contact between Russians and the Trump campaign or the “fact” that Trump’s campaign manager shared internal polling data
    with Russians?

    In terms of “character,” can you really admire someone accused of calling American war heroes “suckers” and who said of John McCain that he wasn’t a hero because he got captured? Can you admire someone who promises to drain the swamp while openly flaunting the emoluments clause? Can you admire someone who promises “law and order” and commits a crime by lying in order to avoid paying taxes? Character indeed. Thank you but no thank you.

  • Anonymous  says:

    Trump’s ‘pugnacious-ness” has a first order effect of damaging the social fiber of our country – and even if there are foreign policy positive consequences from his behaviors, it comes with far too heavy a price.

  • Douglas J McCaig  says:

    I would encourage your Anonymous, DP, and other pugnacious anti/never Trumpers to read Blitz by David Horowitz and refute its underlying claims. It chronicles the way that Trump’s opponents began day 5 to thwart Trump’s 100 day agenda (the hallmark of any administration) and to attack him. They have built this attack on simple playground name calling tactics…racist, xenophobic, white nationalist, science denier, misogynist. Any close follower of the attacks on Trump has to admire Trump’s long view and persistence.

    • Ronald Davenport  says:

      How would you compare Trump’s opponents attempts to thwart his agenda with the cooperation and willingness to work across the aisle that Mitch McConnell showed President Obama? Mitch McConnell even went so far as to torpedo Senator Judd Gregg’s appointment as Secretary of Commerce after Senator Gregg had agreed because it would give President Obama bipartisan unity in his cabinet.

      And, of course, let’s not forget citizen Trump’s willingness to help President Obama’s agenda by challenging him to produce his birth certificate and claiming that President Obama couldn’t be president because he wasn’t born in the US.

  • Anonymous  says:

    Why are my comments blocked ?

    • M Johnston  says:

      For some reason the site flags your comments, which means that I have to approve or trash them, which I only do when I see them by checking the site. Since I’m not on the site constantly, that can take a while.

  • Anonymous  says:

    Great post Mark

  • Richard Schaps  says:

    Mark I have known you for many years. We share the importance of two qualities in people, truth and integrity. Is Donald Trump truthful? Does he have integrity?

    Can you please answer this question without referring to Obama or Clinton?

    • M Johnston  says:

      In his distinctive way, yes, he is truthful – at least as regards policy, which is what affects our lives. He has tried to do more or less exactly what in 2016 he said he would do. See http://civilhorizon.com/2020/02/10/two-presidents/. As far as having integrity is concerned, that’s a question I don’t really feel qualified to answer in absolute terms – but I would say that relative to Biden, who is flatly corrupt, I believe that he has immensely more.

  • Anonymous  says:

    I am appalled that any discussion of Trump’s character so blatantly ignores his “Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything” comments. Is that a man you’d welcome at your dinner table, with your wife, daughters, or your granddaughters? Is that the sort of character that is admirable to you? One can be pugnacious with a backbone without being a misogynist, disrespectful, and crude.

  • Geoff Nixon  says:

    Thank you for this blog post.

    You show you bias giving Trump credit for energy independence, which as I am sure you are well aware, was 15+ years in the making.

    But I hear you on prodding the bear, taking on issues in the too hard basket. Yes, he has been quite refreshing in that regard.

    I agree – immigration, China, North Korea – all worthwhile efforts. The problem is he got nothing done on any of these things and if anything has taken us backwards by creating more division and/or instability and lack of trust.

    His approach is too erratic, mean-spirited and lacking in integrity to be effective and so his failures are not surprising. And then of course there is the outright damage he has done – pulling out of the TPP, Paris Accord, Iran deal, WHO, UN Human Rights Council – effectively creating a vacuum in world leadership.

    Do you really want four more years of that?

    • M Johnston  says:

      I do. The items you list as failures I see as successes.

    • Rob A.  says:
  • Rob A  says:

    I like how you overlook the peace deals in the Middle East. John Kerry and the rest the of the arrogant, entrenched swamp said it would be impossible to create any peace without the Palestinians. If the U.S. Embassy moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the Middle East would be in flames.

    Iran deal was a hunk of junk and lies. Remember what Ben Rhodes said in the NYT? The Obama Administration said they lied about dealing with moderates on the deal because the U.S. press was an echo chamber for administration. Obama referred to NATO as “free riders” in The Atlantic. President Trump has been blunter in his critique, but now NATO pays more.

    Do you belong to organizations that charge you money, work against your interests, and deliver little to no results, as effective leadership and wise use of your time and resources?

  • M Johnston  says:

    This https://youtu.be/q_4n_MmNdxA is a terrific explanation of Trump’s character in context.

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