The decline to moral bankruptcy of the GOP


Seems like Yglesias has been reading our stupid argument and wants to join in.

Never-Trump neocons’ essential paradox is that for all Trump’s many sins, he (so far) hasn’t done anything even remotely as pernicious as the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

In its main phase from 2003 to 2011, this war led to the deaths of thousands of American soldiers, plus what appears to be around 400,000 Iraqis. And that was only the beginning. The regional destabilization the invasion touched off led directly to the rise of ISIS and a whole new round of fighting in Iraq in which many thousands of people have died.


It’s funny because someone recently made a tweet showing how Yglesias was an idiot, with a series of stories that he wrote at various points saying “Trump is better than other GOP folks” then “I was wrong” then “I was really wrong, Trump is terrifying” and now has gone back to his original position. I’ll see if I can find it.

Ah, here we go.


I’m not sure that tweet shows what you think it shows. The third story doesn’t contradict the second, and the second is an explicit acknowledgement of a change of view from the first.


Yeah, it’s exactly the same argument… basically, if you are hyper partisan, then the partisanship overrides everything. Any republican is evaluated purely based on his status as a republican, rather than any individual qualities.

Bush saved millions of people in Africa through his efforts to combat AIDS… but still, that’s basically the same as Trump, right? Because Trump would totally do that. Right?

So then the response will inevitably be, “Well maybe he did that, but he did bad thing X!”

What’s the absolutely best thing Trump did thus far? Has he done anything that could be considered good? Literally anything?


You are misunderstanding the argument magnet.

People are not saying that trump and W are the same.

They are very different in the ways the enacted their policies, and luckily for the USA and the world, trump has been pretty bad at it.

Trump is a mob boss. W was a skilled GOP politician. Trump came from the policies, platform, and propaganda that the GOP enacted to stay in power over the last 20 years.

W did more actual damage than trump has so far. Trump doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the country, democracy, political norms, or anything but money and popularity. He is more likely to actually try to deconstruct our country than W, but he hasn’t been allowed to, and likely won’t.

None of that is saying that trump and W are essentially the same.


People are literally saying that Trump is a “bog-standard Republican”.


… uh…

“There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”

He was surrounded by skilled GOP politicians, and let them do their work. He was not particularly skilled at anything, other than maybe amateur painting?


I mostly agree with what you wrote. Trump is uniquely bad, but his effectiveness is reduced by a Congress that is only interested in the usual kind of bad.

However, I am responding to the same people as Timex.


He became president on a platform of good old boy charm. That’s the skilled politician part. He allowed skilled policy makers to run the show for him. I didn’t claim he was skilled at policy.


I get your point. His skill was allowing the “smart” people make decisions, and play his part. But I really just wanted an excuse to use that quote.


All good. It’s such a great quote :)


Prison reform, probably.

I mean, it’s not done yet and it has flaws, but it’s probably a step in the right direction. Gods help us, but the best argument one could make against Trump on this issue is: “Well, it was really Kim Kardashian’s idea.”


Bush was elected governor twice and elected President twice. He was a skilled politician, who knew that his audience did not want him to act as smart as he was.

He made a lot of terrible policy decisions, but unlike Trump not everything he touched died. See his AIDS relief program, above. Honestly, PEPFAR is likely as good or better than anything that Bill Clinton accomplished in office, and I like Clinton.


I can’t say that everything W did was bad, but as president the ratio of bad to good is very heavily tilted to bad in my book. So bad that I fully expected him to be the worst president I’d live to see.

And so far, he still is. Trump is by far the worst person to be president, but W has caused the most harm while president. Does that difference make sense?

Trump has the temperment to do much worse things than W did, if allowed to. I don’t think he will be allowed to.


Come on man, he’s not gonna do any of that crap.
This is Trump’s MO. He says he’s gonna do good stuff, and then doesn’t do it. He says he won’t do bad stuff, and then he does even worse stuff.

At this point, in terms of actual policy, I’m pretty sure that Trump’s record is 100% bad. Which really, is strange. Like, it’s hard to not do something that’s beneficial.


It is typical of anti-Yglesias commentary to say that he’s an idiot because… reasons. He does tend to be forthright about when and where he’s been wrong, which leaves him vulnerable to pithy tweets like those above, but his reasoning is always well laid-out, he’s a clear thinker, and he supports his points with data. I welcome clear, reasoned refutations of his points–I’m always interested in a good counter-perspective and Yglesias kind of specializes in contrarian takes so there should be lots of good ones, but instead we usually get “He’s an idiot.”


Yes. And this is due to years of nurturing, focusing and paying to have that sentiment in their voter base by the GOP. It’s not something that just showed up a couple of years before Trump. The GOP has to own that. And if they won’t even acknowledge it happened, then they can’t. There can be no morality adjustment in the ranks of those who call themselves conservatives if they will not acknowledge their past. It’s not about I Told You So, or hindsight or trying to rewrite history. You cannot correct something that went wrong if you allow yourself and others a chance to just point to yet another boogeyman which is also their approach. This just happens to be Trump today, and yeah two states have a problem, serious problem with the GOP, and it wasn’t Trump that did it.


I agree that Bush did a lot more harm than good. When comparing with Trump, remember that we aren’t even two years into Trump’s term. At this point in the Bush presidency, nobody even heard of yellowcake. So, vigilance…


Two people can be bog-standard Republicans and yet not be the same. E.g. Santorum is a bog-standard Republican, and Romney is a bog-standard Republican, yet they are different people.

Sure Trump is different than Bush. He’s more coarse and — unbelievably — even more ignorant. He’s vulgar in a way Bush never was. He’s vain in a way Bush probably wasn’t. But on policy, he’s the GOP, just as Bush was the GOP.

And to come full circle, the GOP enablers that brought us to this point don’t get to claim that Trump is an aberration when he is in fact the culmination of all their work. And they surely don’t get to claim he’s really a liberal, not a conservative, as a way of blaming and attacking liberals at the same time.


I agree completely. We have the house now to prevent actual laws from being passed though, which feels like breathing room after the last two years of being able to do nothing but shout.

I expect that these are trump’s final 2 years as well. All bets are off if he gets re-elected.