Liar, con man, statesman

Of all the issues that Trump campaigned on, none got more emphasis that his promise to persecute, I mean to prosecute Hillary and send her to jail.  He was quite passionate on what he would do to that “nasty woman”.  But when a con man appears passionate, that really doesn’t tell you anything about whether he actually cares about the issue:

President-elect Donald Trump conceded Tuesday that he probably won’t make good on his campaign pledge to pursue a new criminal investigation into his political rival, Hillary Clinton.

“It’s just not something that I feel very strongly about,” he said Tuesday afternoon in an on-the-record discussion with reporters from The New York Times.

Nor does he feel strongly about trade, the steel industry, immigration, ending Obamacare, or a host of other issues.  What does he feel strongly about?  Trump. How do his fans feel about this betrayal?

Earlier on Tuesday, Trump’s senior adviser Kellyanne Conway had indicated that the president-elect was likely to renege on his promise to jail Clinton, a sharp departure from the “lock her up!” chants that Trump encouraged at his campaign rallies, immediately drawing the ire of some conservatives.

Breitbart News, the alt-right news organization formerly run by Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, headlined the lead story on its home page “BROKEN PROMISE.”

For once I agree with Breitbart.

And Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog agency that sued to get more of Clinton’s State Department emails released, urged Trump on Tuesday to “commit his administration” to investigating Clinton, while promising to continue its own litigation and investigations to help uncover possible scandals.

For Trump to refuse to do so “would be a betrayal of his promise to the American people to ‘drain the swamp’ of out-of-control corruption in Washington, DC,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton warned in a statement. “President-elect Trump should focus on healing the broken justice system, affirm the rule of law and appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the Clinton scandals.”

These people better get ready for a lot more “betrayals”.  When you hitch your wagon to a skilled con man, don’t expect to avoid being conned.

PS.  What’s my point?  I’m guessing that most of my readers won’t get it, but I’m writing these for the select few out there who do get it.  (Hint: reread the title.)

PPS.  As usual, my macro posts are over at Econlog.

PPPS.  One day earlier:

During the election campaign, Trump repeatedly claimed that the [Trump University] lawsuits were baseless, and vowed that he would never settle. But on Friday, just ten days before one of the cases was due to go to court in San Diego, he agreed to pay twenty-five million dollars in restitution and fines.

Don’t you love the term “vowed”?  Remember when that word meant something? Like a “wedding vow”?  At least the Trump U. students will get restitution for Trump’s education scam.  But where will the American people look for relief?

PPPPS.  Do you think those 13 women are quaking in their boots about Trump’s “vow” to sue them for libel?  I’m sure Trump looks forward to having to appear in court 13 times as President, having one woman after another describe in graphic terms his abuse.  I look forward to Trump to fulfilling that vow:

At a rally in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on Saturday, Trump declared, “all of these liars will be sued after the election is over.”

Yeah, I can’t wait to see that.

PPPPPS.  It’s time to stop bashing Trump for his campaign missteps.  It doesn’t matter whether he is a racist.  From now on I will focus like a laser on what he does today.  Let’s see if he fulfills his campaign promises.  That’s what matters.


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38 Responses to “Liar, con man, statesman”

  1. Gravatar of TA TA
    22. November 2016 at 14:13

    You going to rename this blog the “Trump Review”?

  2. Gravatar of Victor Sletten Victor Sletten
    22. November 2016 at 14:14

    Remember when Candidate Obama promised to close
    Gitmo on day one of his administration?

    Or how about when he declared that, unlike Hillary, he
    would never support an individual mandate?

    Trump is doing to you what W did to Krugman – making
    you so angry that you can’t even punch straight.

  3. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    22. November 2016 at 14:15

    It will be interesting to see how the ‘lesser of two evils’ Trump voters react when they realize their guy is still pretty evil. Or at least, doesn’t care one bit about them.

    I imagine for many Trump voters it’s all just a Team Red thing, just as for many Dems it’s Team Blue. It’s just a sport. Team Red won, so those fans get to rub the other team’s noses in it and do endzone dances. For no other reason than they scored more points on election day. Their team won the Voter Bowl!

  4. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    22. November 2016 at 14:21

    Those people are just stupid when they really thought he was going to do all those things. How would he prosecute Clinton, he’s not the judicative and not the FBI, it’s their job not his. Anybody with half a brain knew that this was just election campaign talk.

    I would very much prefer it if you would start to write about economics again. I learnt so much from your posts about economics. There’s not much content in your Trump posts, it’s a bit like reading the National Review: no content, only lazy opinion. Sometimes you manage to get a bit of content in your Trump posts though, like when you wrote about Rorty and truth. That was really good. So in short: You are at your best when you don’t write about Trump.

    Another side note: When your popular theory is true that Trump is all about Trump, then that’s another good reason to stop writing about him, because a person like this would want one thing the most: attention.

  5. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    22. November 2016 at 14:24

    Victor, I predicted that most people would miss the point. Thanks for confirming my guess. I do agree about Krugman, however.

    Now read it again and see if you can get the meaning.

  6. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    22. November 2016 at 14:26

    Christian, You said:

    “I would very much prefer it if you would start to write about economics again.”

    And I look forward to the day when commenters once again write intelligent comments. I wrote a pure economics post today, as I do almost every single day. Are you blind?

  7. Gravatar of Ted Ted
    22. November 2016 at 14:27

    I don’t mind the political posts, as long as they don’t go too far.

    It’s hard writing a monetary policy blog during times where monetary policy seems ok. Same challenge of writing an index fund blog. It’s hard to keep beating a dead horse without lots of other people arguing that the horse shouldn’t be beaten. If everyone just shrugs, your arm gets tired.

  8. Gravatar of Philo Philo
    22. November 2016 at 14:35

    Where are the comments from the select few out here who do get it (‘it’ being your incredibly subtle implicit message)? What makes you think they exist?

  9. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    22. November 2016 at 14:38


    I wrote a pure economics post today, as I do almost every single day.

    I read it. Like every economics post. It was good. Maybe I should just ignore the Trump posts. But for some reason I can’t. Maybe I try to understand how those different kind of posts go together, this could be it, I’m not sure yet.


    Trump is doing to you what W did to Krugman – making you so angry that you can’t even punch straight.

    Dead on comparison. Very good.

    Scott, stop becoming another Krugman. On the other hand: Maybe that’s the path to the Nobel prize. Paul got his Nobel prize for his dubbya shaming (we all know this was the real reason). Nobel prizes became so worthless. Your idol Dylan seems to see it the same way, won’t even pick up his prize because he “got other plans already”. What could it be? Fishing? The birthday of his aunt Betty? Sorting stamps?

  10. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    22. November 2016 at 15:02

    I like your Trump posts, including this one.

  11. Gravatar of Don Don
    22. November 2016 at 15:08

    And Obama got a Nobel Peace prize despite waging war every day of his presidency. The Nobel family should have stuck with the hard sciences.

    Less than 4 weeks until Electoral College votes!

  12. Gravatar of Scott Freelander Scott Freelander
    22. November 2016 at 15:12

    Good post.

  13. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    22. November 2016 at 15:24

    Thanks Ted.

    Philo, Certainly not Christian!

    Christian, You are just embarrassing yourself. I even warned people in the post not to jump to conclusions. This is not a “angry Krugman post.” You didn’t take my hint. Sometimes it’s better to just keep silent, if you can’t get the joke.

    Krugman said he was sleepless after the election. I slept like a baby. If Hillary had won then I would have had to look forward to 4 years of people telling me how stupid I was to favor her over Trump. Now I have the advantage, and will have the upper hand for the next 4 years. I plan to enjoy it for all it’s worth. :)

  14. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    22. November 2016 at 15:38

    These people better get ready for a lot more “betrayals”. When you hitch your wagon to a skilled con man, don’t expect to avoid being conned.

    Yeah, but Scott, now he’s lying, conning and cheating for them this time so it’ll be totally different! Didn’t you hear how frank/candid/forthright his voice sounded when he was obviously lying? There’s a deeper honesty there that pin-headed global elitists like you totally miss! (How much is Soros paying you anyway? …or do you just do it for the cocktail parties?)

    ???

    Which reminds me of this (seen in a tweet somewhere):

    It’s a lot easier to fool someone than it is to convince someone they’ve been fooled.

  15. Gravatar of Kevin A Kevin A
    22. November 2016 at 16:12

    Campaign promises are merely outlines used to get elected. No one seriously expects the more grandiose parts of Trumps campaign to be enacted.

    Even if he fully renounced his intention to build a wall, the people that love trump, will still love him, as they understood all along that this was never a serious commitment.

    Lets face it scott, you love trump. You don’t have to say it, but we know that the sweet supreme court pick was worth it, along with defanging or possibly eliminating the CFPB.

    We also all got massive lulz by watching the liberal meltdown on November the 9th.

  16. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    22. November 2016 at 16:21

    Okay you conviced me. I take back what I said. Also: Your Trump posts are funny and witty written.

  17. Gravatar of Major.Freedom Major.Freedom
    22. November 2016 at 17:50

    Sumner, if a Trump is a “con man”, then you have no grounds for putting any weight on his most recent claim that he will not prosecute Clinton. He could be conning people into a state of apathy and lowering their guard so that he has even more evidence to prosecute later on. If he lied then, he could be lying now, right?

    And it would be prosecution not persecution, given that Wikileaks (which you obviously do not read) has proved that Clinton repeatedly lied under oath, not just once like Bill Clinton and not just once like Nixon, but repeatedly, and that she had willful intent to break the law. Prosecuting Clinton would not be the leftist talking point of “prosecuting your political opponents”. It would in fact be justice which as of now is sorely lacking.

    Did you even know that the Clinton Foundation is associated with, and I don’t mean as an advocate against, child trafficking and pedophilia? Google “pizzagate”.

    Google Twittergate while you’re at it.

  18. Gravatar of mbka mbka
    22. November 2016 at 18:04

    Scott,

    yea I chuckle every day when I see the Trump news and every day I am thinking of you and what you’ll make of it. Probably chuckling too. I didn’t expect it to be like that, I expected every day a frightening day like when he appointed Bannon. So yes there are still frightening days. But there are plenty chuckle days too when you just want to lean back and watch the metamorphosis. I’m still very concerned about the Bannons in his administration, that’s idea feeders to him like Cheney was to GWB. And the fact that overall it is the B team running this powerful country now.

    But it has to be said: Trump is the purest form of a politician I have seen in my lifetime. Most politicians are high on political skills (convincing voters, forming alliances) and low on policy content. It has to be that way. Content is for the administrators and civil servants, politicking is for those running for office and negotiating deals. But Trump is pure. He has zero content, it’s 100% unadulterated politics. Any content will be filled in later by the experts. He can’t run w/o experts of course since he has no content. The people who were tired of politicians elected the purest of them all. The people who were tired of experts will find Trump simply executing his experts’ judgments without delay. (note this is why Bannon is dangerous, he will be feeding Trump ideas, he’s the one elite intellectual in this administration that’s actually dangerous).

  19. Gravatar of Jpdu Jpdu
    22. November 2016 at 18:24

    I like the Trump posts. Been reading for a while. The trump posts encouraged me to submit a comment. You have a different perspective which admittedly confirms with my biases. But other trump criticism is too focused leftward. I much prefer the center right to moderate conservative perspective.

  20. Gravatar of bill bill
    22. November 2016 at 22:04

    I like the Trump posts too.

  21. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    23. November 2016 at 01:00

    @Kevin A
    There might be a wall though. Mostly because it’s already there. The WaPo agrees:

    “Yes, Trump will build his border wall. Most of it is already built. […] Trump’s plan calls for a wall that covers 1,000 miles of the nearly 2,000-mile-long border — with natural obstacles covering the remainder. Nearly 700 miles of various types of border fencing are already in place, and portions of it very much look like a formidable wall.”

  22. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    23. November 2016 at 01:10

    New liberal theory: Someone hacked the voting machines.

    “A group of prominent computer scientists and election lawyers call for a recount in three swing states won by Donald Trump. The group believes they’ve found persuasive evidence that results in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania may have been manipulated or hacked.

    The academics presented findings showing that in Wisconsin, Clinton received 7 percent fewer votes in counties that relied on electronic-voting machines compared with counties that used optical scanners and paper ballots.”

    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/11/activists-urge-hillary-clinton-to-challenge-election-results.html

    Maybe it was Russia! =)

  23. Gravatar of mbka mbka
    23. November 2016 at 01:51

    Christian List,

    “Maybe it was Russia! =)”

    Maybe it was. But unless there is strong evidence of actual manipulation that also materially mattered for the outcome, challenging elections is generally not a good idea in the big scheme of things. It smacks of sore loserdom and weakens the belief in society. No matter how much I dislike Trump. No system is infallible. We have to live with that and let him live it out now.

    I was against the challenge in Austria for the same reason, not just because it was brought by the unsavoury party.

  24. Gravatar of Jaap Jaap
    23. November 2016 at 05:19

    Yes, isn’t it ironic that the voters of the winner(s) always feel betrayed? Welcome to politics!
    Checks & balances will always make sure nobody can fulfil his wildest campaign promises. And makes the guy making the promises look like a liar. So why not straight out lie?
    It worked for Nixon (secret peace deal), Obama, Bush jr. (deficits, healthcare), Bush sr. (read my lips) just to name a few. The worst offender was Harrison, but at least he didn’t sit out his term.

  25. Gravatar of Scott Freelander Scott Freelander
    23. November 2016 at 07:01

    Scott,

    Here’s another betrayal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QP2rre0xHfc

    Trump is now open to staying in the Paris Climate Treaty. He will have a look at it after taking office.

  26. Gravatar of Massimo Heitor Massimo Heitor
    23. November 2016 at 07:51

    Sumner thinks Trump was right to push legal action against Hillary and was wrong to “flip flop” and back off of this.

    I have two questions:

    1) David Frum, a widely respected Bush 43 official, strongly says the exact opposite:
    https://twitter.com/davidfrum/status/801058459013750784
    “Trump draws back from a thuggish threat of lawless abuse of power.”

    Is David Frum right or is Sumner right?

    2) Obama threatened to prosecute Bush 43 officials for war crimes such as torture and later “flip flopped” and backed off of this. How would you compare the Obama reversal to this Trump reversal?

  27. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    23. November 2016 at 08:11

    Tom, I love that quote about fooling people.

    Kevin, You said:

    “Even if he fully renounced his intention to build a wall, the people that love trump, will still love him, as they understood all along that this was never a serious commitment.”

    The sad truth is that they believed Trump. In interview after interview they told us that they appreciated someone who “told it like it was”. Now he’s already all but admitted that the campaign was build on lies.

    To hear Trumpistas fall back on the “we all knew he was a con man” is just beyond pathetic. I feel sorry for those people.

    mbka, I knew Trump was lying because his promises were so ludicris. When someone says he’s going to pay off the national debt in eight years, you know that the truth has no meaning to him. It’s all just meaningless words.

    Christian, Yes, there are plenty of nuts on both the right and the left.

  28. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    23. November 2016 at 08:13

    Massimo, You said:

    Sumner thinks Trump was right to push legal action against Hillary and was wrong to “flip flop” and back off of this.”

    Congratulations on the most clueless comment of the day. Do you not know the definition of “statesman”?

  29. Gravatar of Massimo Heitor Massimo Heitor
    23. November 2016 at 16:38

    @sumner

    “Congratulations on the most clueless comment of the day. Do you not know the definition of “statesman”?”

    From m-w.com: “one versed in the principles or art of government; especially : one actively engaged in conducting the business of a government or in shaping its policies”

    That definition sounds right. I’m not sure the point that you are trying to make.

    “The sad truth is that they believed Trump. In interview after interview they told us that they appreciated someone who “told it like it was”. Now he’s already all but admitted that the campaign was build on lies.”

    Sumner is biased and committed to showcasing Trump as a flip flopping con-man.

    I propose one semi-objective measure of Trump’s fufilment of his campaign issues or whether he’s a flip flop: Consider immigration. Sumner specifically says Trump will flip flop (or already has) on immigration.

    Look at the numbersusa.com score card. If numbersusa continues to score Trump as an “A” candidate on immigration or even downgrades to a “B”, I will say Trump has kept his promise. If Trump flip flops and gets an “D” or an “F”, I will agree that he was a complete fraud.

    My suspicion is that Trump will keep his general overall promises. He will keep an “A” or “B” rating on serious evaluations like numbersusa.com, but some implementation details may change, and people like Sumner will seize on that as evidence of a con and a flip flop.

    https://www.numbersusa.com/content/elections/races/presidential/2016-presidential-hopefuls.html

    So far I’m pretty happy with Trump.

    My bigger concern beyond flip flops, is that Trump will engage in more serious scandals. David Frum is ringing alarm bells, and he half has me worried and half has me convinced that he has gone beyond basic exaggeration and completely lost his mind like many other sane people have done.

  30. Gravatar of Lawrence D’Anna Lawrence D'Anna
    24. November 2016 at 08:08

    I think it’s fantastic that he’s going back on all his most crazy promises. It confirms he really is just a con man and not “literally Hitler”.

  31. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    24. November 2016 at 08:27

    Massimo, He’s already adopted the Obama policy on immigration. Get rid of the bad guys and let the good guys stay. Glad to hear that you and I agree on immigration.

    Lawrence, Yup, it was always obvious that he was a con man. He’s been that his whole life, and you don’t change at age 70. Hitler was a political extremist his whole life, and didn’t change once he was elected.

  32. Gravatar of dtoh dtoh
    24. November 2016 at 19:55

    Scott,
    Stop being deliberately obtuse and pretending like you can’t parse the rhetoric from the general policy preferences. No one over eight years of age judges a politician by his fidelity to literally everything he or she said during the campaign. It just sounds silly.

  33. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    24. November 2016 at 20:40

    dtoh, That’s a common misconception, held by people on both the left and the right. In the vast majority of cases it is possible to figure out a candidate’s policy preferences from their campaign—not 100%, but like 90%, In Trump’s case it’s maybe 20%—say the Wall, and one or two other points. That’s radically different from anything I’ve seen in my entire life. People that don’t see that are just fooling themselves. I’d say 90% of what Obama did is what he campaigned on, the other 10% (Guantanamo closing, health mandates, etc.) doesn’t change that fact. We have no idea what Trump will do.

    I don’t recall you predicting that he’d change his views on global warming a week after the election. I wish Trump voters had predicted this stuff, they’d have more credibility today.

  34. Gravatar of dtoh dtoh
    24. November 2016 at 23:27

    Scott,
    To quote myself in a comment from August, “I think Trump’s position on illegal immigration, taxes, educational choice, government regulation, AHCA, trade, etc are pretty clear.”

    I did not say anything about global warming. As far as that goes, it’s like kissing babies. Every politician kisses babies even if they hate them. Republicans have to be climate change skeptics, Democrats have to claim it’s the end of the world. Why would you give a statement on that by any politician any credence. If Trump can distract the left by throwing the NYT a verbal bone on climate change, and then focus on getting the important stuff done that’s a good thing IMHO.

    So I’m actually very curious why we have such a different view on this subject. You think Trump’s policies will be unpredictable. I can’t remember a Presidency where the path of policy seemed so certain. I don’t think our views on policy are very different.

    Maybe it’s the difference between academics and business.

  35. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    25. November 2016 at 07:24

    dtoh, I strongly believe he will reverse himself on immigration, trade and Obamacare. These were three of his biggest issues. (He’ll let the illegals stay, he won’t put high tariffs on Chinese or Mexican goods and he won’t abolish ObamaCare.) I have no idea what he’ll do on taxes, regulations, education, etc, other than that he will not enact anything close to the tax cut he campaigned on.

    He also will not default on the national debt. He will not steal Iraq’s oil. He will not institute torture. He will not institute assassination. He will not pay off the national debt in 8 years. He will not prosecute Hillary. He will pay off the 1000s of students he conned into a phony university. He won’t sue those 13 women. He will not ban Muslims. He won’t bring manufacturing jobs back to America. And dozens of other things he said during the campaign are lies.

    Oh, and he won’t suddenly start reporting that the “real unemployment rate” is 20% to 40%, as he claimed it was during the campaign. I could go on for hours.

    Trump’s words are meaningless, he’s a pathological liar.

  36. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    25. November 2016 at 07:43

    This has a few I missed:

    http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/11/trump-flip-flops-president-elect-214478

    There are so many, and they keep coming every single day. Sorry, but this is simply not normal. People who think all politicians are like this don’t know what they are talking about.

  37. Gravatar of Massimo Heitor Massimo Heitor
    29. November 2016 at 08:30

    The politico list of Trump flip flops is legitimately bad.

    Consider public reactions to Fidel Castro’s passing. Trudeau, Pena Nieto, and Obama, all made Trump look like the honest, sane, leader with integrity.

    https://twitter.com/hashtag/trudeaueulogies

  38. Gravatar of Massimo Heitor Massimo Heitor
    29. November 2016 at 08:33

    And Trump’s cabinet picks like Jeff Sessions, Tom Price are being hailed as principled conservative choices. Any Sumner comment on cabinet picks thus far? The National Review folks seem to be pretty happy about them.

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