Friday, May 12, 2017

Bloomberg — Trump’s Know-Nothing Tour de Force

“He told the Economist he invented the use of ‘priming the pump’

“He spoke gibberish about aircraft carriers to Time magazine

“Then he completely contradicted his own explanation on James Comey's firing

“We have known this since the campaign, but every once in a while it's worth stopping and saying it. On issue after issue, Trump sounds like a student who vaguely recognizes a few phrases and is repeating them until the next student is called upon.

“Presidents don't need to know details, although it usually helps. But they certainly should have a pretty good grasp of the broad outlines of multiple policy areas. And they should also have a good sense of what they don't know -- so they're not overly influenced by what one deck officer or one foreign leader or, even, what one cabinet secretary tells them.

“It's absolutely terrifying that the President of the United States may not have that knowledge base. But it's worse if we pretend our way around it,” — Bloomberg news excerpts.

Robert Reich’s opinion:

Trump now says he didn’t rely on recommendations from the Justice Department to fire Comey. He did it on his own.

Just like he invented the economic metaphor “prime the pump.” (Here’s a remarkable exchange from his recent interview with the Economist magazine):

Economist: "Beyond that, it’s OK if the tax plan increases the deficit?"

Trump: "It is OK, because it won’t increase it for long. You may have two years where you’ll . . . you understand the expression ‘‘prime the pump”?"

Economist: "Yes."

Trump: "We have to prime the pump."

Economist: "It’s very Keynesian."

Trump: "Have you heard that expression before, for this type of an event?"

Economist: "Priming the pump?"

Trump: "Yeah, have you heard it?"

Economist: "Yes."

Trump: "Have you heard that expression used before? Because I haven’t heard it. I mean, I just . . . I came up with it a couple of days ago and I thought it was good. It’s what you have to do."

Earth to Trump: The expression "priming the pump" has been used to refer to government spending that stimulates the economy since at least 1933. If you never heard it before your grasp of economics is below that of most Americans. If you think you made it up, your narcissism is fabulous. "Fabulous" is a word that has been used since 1658. You didn't make that up, either.

Trump’s Know-Nothing Tour de Force
The president is winging it, even on an issue that risks his entire presidency.

By Jonathan Bernstein