This is what happens with a rotten business person as president

When Trump ran for president in 2016, he touted the fact that he was a businessman and that this background would enable him to run the government more efficiently. The idea that being a businessman is good training for running a government is a dubious proposition at best because there are major differences between the two. With a business, you have to appease just the stockholders if it is a public company or nobody at all if you own a private company. But with government you have to deal with a huge number of different constituencies that have independent sources of power and are not beholden to you and finding ways to get things done takes a different skill set.

But even that assumes that you were a good businessman to begin with. What the Trump experience has shown is that electing a rotten businessman like him as president is a terrible idea. Trump started by getting a huge amount of money from his father to start off his life in business and then had one bankruptcy after another. The skills that he has lie in being a bullshit artist, brazen liar, and grifter, constantly finding ways to wheedle money out of others. This means that he places great value in breezily claiming that everything is fine when they are not, and the latest revelations in Bob Woodward’s book Rage that he knew the coronavirus was very dangerous but publicly pretended that it was not is consistent with the attitude of someone whose experience is with situations in which his business is in dire straits but presents a false picture to creditors in order to buy time and hope that some miracle will occur that will stave off collapse.

Trump’s excuse now of lying because he did not want to induce panic is absurd because he has been trying his best to induce fear and panic over many other things, such as a takeover by antifa and that only he can prevent black people from moving into white neighborhoods. He has even started to hold rallies with people close together not wearing masks even after it was revealed that he knows the danger of airborne transmission.

There have been plenty of justified criticisms of Woodward for not revealing Trump’s lies until now, even though Trump admitted them to him in interviews as far back as February 7. Revealing the deception then might have helped to invigorate more measures to combat the pandemic that has since claimed nearly 200,000 lives. Woodward claims disingenuously that he held back the information because “he needed to provide more complete context” but it seems more plausible that a courtier like Woodward, although he claims to be a journalist and thus had an ethical obligation to reveal important information in a timely manner, just wanted to increase sales of his book by holding back key facts. Woodward’s delay also enables Trump to claim that Woodward not revealing his lies until now shows that the lies were not that important, as if Woodward is the ultimate authority on this question.

Fox News personality Tucker Carlson wondered why Trump agreed to the interviews at all, a sign of how damaging they are seen by white nationalist supporters of Trump like him. Carlson focuses his ire on South Carolina senator, the grovelingly obsequious Lindsey Graham, for persuading Trump that it would be a good idea to do the interviews. Trump had not given Woodward interviews when he was writing his earlier book Fear and had been unhappy with the way he was portrayed in that. Apparently Graham had suggested that giving these interviews would enable Trump to present his side of the story. That strategy only works if you have someone who is disciplined in what they say, which Trump manifestly is not. His skills are race-baiting, fear-mongering, and bullshitting, not playing intellectual and verbal chess. Get him to talk for any length of time and his vanity and ego will trip him up.


  1. flex says

    Not to interrupt your main point about Trump being an inept businessman, there are significant differences between what government is supposed to be doing and what businesses do. A businessman who doesn’t recognize that the government controls the money supply and tries to balance a budget against an imaginary bogie may not be an idiot, but certainly has a poor grasp of economics. But then, you need know nothing about economics to be a good businessman.

    Beyond the different types of knowledge between a businessman and a public servant, there is a fundamental difference which I’ve been unable to get some even fairly liberal acquaintances of mine to recognize. A businessman offers goods/services and provides them to those who pay. A government (should) recognize that certain goods and services are beneficial for all citizens (really all people living in a nation) to have, and either needs to find a way to provide them to all people or heavily regulate businesses so that all people are served. These goods/services include (among lots of other things) roads, schools, clean water, clean air, proper treatment of waste, electricity, communications (mail, phone or internet), and medical care. These goods/services also include impartial justice. Clearly we live in an imperfect world and not everyone will get access to everything thing they need at all times, but we can do a lot better than we are.

    A businessman (or any person) who cannot understand that the business of the government is to ensure equal access to public goods, that they are a servant to the needs (not the desires) of the public, should never be elected to office.

  2. jrkrideau says

    @ 1 flex
    To add to your points, I belive it was Gordon Osbaldeston, a Clerk of the Privy Council in Canada who explained thata major difference between business and government was like too different field sports.

    The businessman plays on a rectangular field with two goal posts. He tries to score in the opposition’s goal and vis versa in terms of making a profit. Essentially he knows his market and his competitors.

    The politician plays on an irregular, blob-like field with a varying number of goal posts that can change at any moment as allies and competitors can join or leave at will. Allies can become competitors and competitors, allies, at any time.

    I do not know if Osbaldeston mentioned it but I think scores in different goals would also have different values and these values would chance as time went by. Ah, for the simple life of a businessman.

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