Break with Trump?

I saw the following headline in the National Review:

What It Took for Republicans to Break with Trump

The article discussed the overwhelming vote to force a TikTok sale, which Trump “opposes”. This is supposedly in contrast to their kowtowing to Trump in voting against a border control bill, which Trump also “opposes”.

Why do I keep using scare quotes for “opposes”? Because with Trump nothing is as it seems. Obviously, Trump supports forcing China to sell TikTok, indeed he tried to do so back in 2020 when he was president. (The courts preventing the forced sale.) And Trump obviously supports the sort of stricter border controls contained in the bill that failed to clear Congress–he enacted similar policies. So what’s going on here?

In the case of the border control bill, Trump “opposed” it because he wants border chaos in the period leading up to the November election. In his “opposition” to forcing the TikTok sale, he wishes to curry favor with younger TikTok users, who would not like to lose their favorite app. Ideally, Biden would succeed in forcing the sale (something Trump secretly wants) and Trump would get votes for loudly defending free speech rights of younger voters.

So it’s a bit disingenuous to suggest the GOP is courageously “breaking with Trump” over TikTok; they are doing precisely what he wants them to do. When Trump makes a public statement, there is only one criterion that determines it’s content—will it win him votes.

This Matt Yglesias tweet caught my eye:

The truth is, almost every single top Republican official privately opposes Trump. We only see these views surface in cases where people are free to speak their minds, as with former GOP presidential candidates, former Trump officials, former vice presidents, Congressmen who are retiring, etc. We also see it in people before they become involved in politics, as with JD Vance. Or in private email conversations, as with Tucker Carlson. The GOP elite virtually all hold Trump in total contempt. (I say virtually all, as there are a few nutcases like Marjorie (Jewish space laser) Greene and Peter (federal prison inmate) Navarro that are true believers.)

DeSantis has “endorsed” Trump. Does anyone seriously think DeSantis will go into the voting both and pull the lever for Trump? Would you, if Trump had accused you of “grooming” teenage girls? People need to use their common sense. Trump has almost no support in the GOP elite. The endorsements are merely a facade, lapped up by people who believe we should take political statements as if they reflect the actual beliefs of the politicians.

PS. People talk a lot about the “deep state”. This is silly. Almost every single person who has the career accomplishments required for a high level DC job privately hates Trump. So why would you expect anything different? It’s not a deep state—there’s no conspiracy. It’s merely that almost all highly qualified people see Trump for what he is.



27 Responses to “Break with Trump?”

  1. Gravatar of Peter Peter
    21. March 2024 at 20:14

    Not at all, they just hate anyone whose entire aspiration in life isn’t solely to join the beltway “elite”. I agree with what you are saying on the self serving stuff concerning Trump’s statements but none of that has to do with why the GOP leadership hate him.

    And DeSantis is a pedophile in how the average American in modern times uses it. He was a teacher attracted to his students, it’s irrelevant if he ever acted on it, the thought is enough. And that should surprise nobody, he keeps great company with Gaetz, Menendez, Clinton, etc. All of them would be registered sex offenders today had their positions not protected them.

  2. Gravatar of Sara Sara
    21. March 2024 at 21:50

    The bill that Trump supported in 2020 was a ban on TikTok, AND, only TikTok.

    The new bill bans TikTok, AND, permits a president the power to ban other companies after declaring them a “national security risk”.

    The two bills are not the same.

    The problem is not Trump. The problem is that you don’t read.

    Furthermore, you talk about “highly qualified people.” What does that mean? Does it mean a Ph.D? Does my J.D. mean that I’m highly qualified? Does a piece of paper, given by some university, constitute high qualification?

    Is AOC ‘highly qualfied’ with a B.A. in Economics, despite not knowing the difference between Friedman and Keynes?

    What about Christopher Michael Langan? Does the CTMU constitute “high qualification” or are erudites prohibited from being so-classified? Is an economist highly qualified when it comes to plumbing, or construction work, or say, I don’t know, evaluating the technological threat of an external actor?


    There are Ph.D.’s who say men can get pregnant, and J.D’s that cannot pass their bar exam. Are they highly qualified?

    We have Ph.D’s who still believe in a Marxist Utopia, despite Carl Menger’s rebuttal in 1871, and despite 100 years of death and destruction. Are those Ph.D’s highly qualified?

    You seem to have a very difficult time understanding the details of the bill. What matters is not your subjective view of “high qualification,” but the information that is in the bill.

    TikTok should be banned AND only TikTok for two reasons.

    1. Its owned by ByteDance. ByteDance must comply with the CCP, which means it must record, collect, and supply all data through an API to the CCP’s intelligence agencies.
    2. The argument that TikTok data centers are in Texas, and that the largest investor is BlackRock (an american company) are not good arguments. (a) Data can be transferred from Texas servers to the holdings company (ByteDance) in Shanghai anytime. (b) BlackRock is a global thug, which is under investigation in about 40 countries. It consistently abuses its power, and uses coercion and force upon other companies and nations states. It’s one of the largest economic entities in the world, with over 10T in assets under management. It has no alliegance to the people of the United States. It could care less about securing data. It’s main objective is to appease the CCP as much as possible, because it’s the worlds biggest market. If that means selling U.S. citizen data to the CCP, then so be it. They don’t care.

  3. Gravatar of Ricardo Ricardo
    21. March 2024 at 22:35

    Aren’t politicians supposed to support their constituents? Politicians do have the right to change their minds do they not?

    I mean, even when Trump does something that Sumner supports, like oppose the recent TikTok ban bill, Sumner’s TDS, and selective outrage kicks in. It’s kind of pathetic.

    It’s just like the conspiracy theory that Trump is ‘secretly’ Adolf Hitler and ‘secretly’ working with the Russians. Sumner never attacks the Biden administration, which supports the bill. He only attacks Trump. It’s that horrible Trump. Everything is Trump’s fault. Even when it’s not his fault it’s his fault, because his last name is Trump. Trumps is orange. Orange man bad. There is nothing he fears more than the name Trump.

    Just say ‘Trump” and he begins to shake in his boots.

    Trump the horrible. Trump the awful.

    Quick, run. Run fast. It’s the Trump. He’s coming for us.

    Oh my goodness. Somebody put this man in an insane Asylum.

    The TDS gangsters must have a ‘sixth sense.’ Lo and behold, god has given them the power to read minds. They’re superior to the rest of us.

  4. Gravatar of viennacapitalist viennacapitalist
    22. March 2024 at 00:32

    “…Trump “opposed” it because he wants border chaos in the period leading up to the November election….

    What border chaos?

  5. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    22. March 2024 at 08:19

    I see the loonies are off their meds.

  6. Gravatar of Carl Carl
    22. March 2024 at 09:22

    If you can’t convince people that Trump is unfit for office by pointing out that almost his entire cabinet have publicly stated that he is unfit for office, I’m not sure what it would take to convince them. If his cabinet members are trustworthy, then Trump is unfit. If they are untrustworthy, then he is unfit for having selected a cabinet filled with untrustworthy people.

  7. Gravatar of Peter Peter
    22. March 2024 at 13:25

    I wouldn’t go that far on the latter. What Trump did was appoint people he’d never worked with but respected with a history of government services as well as needed advice from advisors and senior GOP leadership on this appointments. What he fell victim to was good faith on his part hence not realizing he was replacing the swamp with the swamp so I didn’t really hold that against him, the utter cesspool and corruption of the beltway was just something he didn’t have any previous first hand experience with. It might even still worked out, plenty of president’s appoint incompetent cronies to positions, had they not been a sixth, seventh, or eight column working actively to undermine him. Also the Senate confirmed them hence as much their blame in that same latter scenario.

    I’m giving him a free pass on his first term selections but if he suffers the same the second time, well they’d entirely on him.

    As to the former option, well it’s a hit job. They all hated and colluded to undermined him day one. Hopefully he learned his lesson, even better if he crosses the Rubicon and executes them for treason.

  8. Gravatar of Eharding Eharding
    22. March 2024 at 15:05

    “When Trump makes a public statement, there is only one criterion that determines it’s content—will it win him votes.”

    Isn’t this in direct contradiction to your claim “Trump has almost no support in the GOP elite.”?

    Trump could easily have won 60 or even 70% of the vote in 2020 if he was as politically astute as you suggest.

  9. Gravatar of Bobster Bobster
    22. March 2024 at 17:32

    Pence opposes Trump because he thinks Trump moved too far left on abortion and spending. He’s opposing him from the right.

    Meanwhile, the much safer Biden is getting us into World War 3 and stretching the constitutional limits of the executive branch.

  10. Gravatar of Philo Philo
    22. March 2024 at 19:10

    “When Trump makes a public statement, there is only one criterion that determines its content—-will it win him votes.” Sounds like a winning formula in politics, where private incentives are not nearly so well aligned with the public good as is the case in ordinary commerce.

    (I deleted an apostrophe from the quotation.)

  11. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    22. March 2024 at 20:04


    Pence broke with Trump after it became clear that the latter didn’t care to try to stop the violence that threatened the former’s life on January 6th. Pence himself has said that he doesn’t support Trump, because he tried to subvert the Constitution that day.

    Christie broke with Trump after being exposed to Covid-19 without being told, with Christie ending up in the ICU and being lucky to survive. Trump never even apologized.

  12. Gravatar of Carl Carl
    22. March 2024 at 20:54

    How can you argue that Trump naively trusted the Republican establishment after watching his 2016 campaign?

  13. Gravatar of Peter Peter
    22. March 2024 at 21:29

    No, he naively trusted career bureaucrats and beltway insiders forgetting their real loyalty was to the swamp, not him, not the party. It’s one of his bigger flaws, his unfailing blinders for uniform wearing bureaucrats and their ilk. Even today with all the lawfare being directed at him, he still full throatedly supports them and he needs to wake up and realize they are his enemy.

    I believe he also felt the party would come around AFTER his election especially if he threw them some bones like Pence or some cabinet positions as it’s not rational, from an outsider view, that a person would actively work to undermine their own party out of personal spite post election even at the cost of possibly benefiting the opposition party for the next twelve years. He simply didn’t understand the depths to which the bureaucracy will defend its own to the point it trumps party and ideology.

  14. Gravatar of Jim Glass Jim Glass
    22. March 2024 at 22:15

    A political scientist looks at …

    “The Four Great Ironies of the United States’ TikTok Ban”

    It’s funny because it’s true!
    But the fact that it’s true isn’t funny.

  15. Gravatar of Edward Edward
    23. March 2024 at 02:16

    Trump didn’t change his mind.

    There have been numerous bills on TikTok filed over the last 7 years, and most were rejected for one reason or another. But none of those previous bills gave unilateral power to the executive branch. This bill is very different.

    Re. qualifications for DC positions:

    the only qualification for lobbyist is a connection. The only qualifcation to a be a politician is to 1) be a u.s. citizen, and 2) have enough votes from your constiuency. AOC was a bartender. Pelosi had no qualifications at all. McConnell married a rich Chinese woman.

    The same is true of the framers. Washington married into wealth. Adams was a small town lawyer whose sole claim to fame was his defense of the British soldiers during the so-called Boston Massacre. Jefferson had connections and wealth (before he lost it). Davy Crockett had no education, no business accomplishments, and was in a debt all his life, but he won office because he was pretty good story teller and an honest man.

    Lincoln had no accomplishments other than being a small town lawyer.

    In short, you write a lot of nonsense. I suggest reading the babbling beaver at MIT. There was a recent article, quite funny, that lambasted people like you.

  16. Gravatar of Carl Carl
    23. March 2024 at 06:28

    It wasn’t just his first appointees to positions who came out against him. His second appointees and, in the case of his national security advisor, his third appointee to the position, declared him unfit. How many mulligans does he get before you start to question his judgment?
    Then you have to try to convince people that Pence, who never said a bad thing about Trump until Trump threatened Pence’s career and called him out publicly as a coward simply because Pence refused to violate his oath of office, was disloyal. And you have to do that while excusing Trump for throwing almost everyone he anppointed under the bus.

  17. Gravatar of Peter Peter
    23. March 2024 at 12:19

    The thing is most of them weren’t overt about their “why” until after he left office hence I’d call his entire first term a mulligan when it came to personal selection. He was simply engaging to the normal private sector practice of rapidly hiring and firing people into one sticks. I’ve did it myself, going through a dozen people in six month for the same key position.

    I’m not saying he’ll learn as from what he’s hinted at so far it looks like he plans to call upon the same swamp again if reelected so I’m probably being overly generous here and I’ll admit that. I didn’t vote for him the first time but at least in my book functionality he was the best president in living memory and had the potential to be among the best ever had he not been undermined not even by the opposition but his own nominal allies and employees.

    Pence is just trash period. He was the perfect 1800’s VP, an irrelevant nobody from the opposition party. He was entirely the reason I didn’t vote Trump the first time. Don’t really got to convince the people on Pence as the only people that like him are Democrats, the GOP old guard, and the swamp.

    Regardless no need to belabor, Trump’s not going to win this time either regardless. I’m simply holding onto hope that Trump learned his lesson on personal appointments for next time, sadly I expect to be wrong.

  18. Gravatar of Bobster Bobster
    23. March 2024 at 12:43

    Michael Sandifer, pence explained he’s not endorsing trump due to abortion and spending. Trump is not pushing for a full abortion ban or cuts to entitlements

    It’s classic trump moving to the center again.

    Christie hasn’t endorsed anyone.

  19. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    23. March 2024 at 14:46

    LOL, when Trump’s defenders take the position that we can’t blame him for spending 4 years staffing his administrations with RINOs because he was totally unqualified to be president when he was elected.

    With friends like that . . .

    The stupidity of some Trumpistas is really off the charts.

  20. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    23. March 2024 at 18:10


    January 6th is the first reason Pence mentions not endorsing Trump in this interview:

    Also, if you’re suggesting Christi may endorse Trump at some point, that’s ludicrous. It’s well-reported they had a falling out after Trump exposed him to Covid, as Christi has discussed himself.

  21. Gravatar of Peter Peter
    23. March 2024 at 19:28

    Not at all Scott. The problem is Trump, like anyone else that has never been around the bureaucracy, thinks bureaucrats are working for the behest of the public and in good faith all because some of them played lip service to an oath of office most of them don’t even take*. This noble lie is one of the biggest tragedies in America.

    * And people don’t really get that either. Federal HR folk, regardless of policy, generally don’t even give the oath anymore unless it’s specifically requested as it’s seen as antiquated and embarrassing. I’ve talked to a lot of Federal HR leaders over the years and they generally tell me at the bar “On paper, 100% say it as it’s mandatory in inquired, in practice, less than 5% actually do”

  22. Gravatar of BC BC
    23. March 2024 at 22:14

    “The GOP elite virtually all hold Trump in total contempt”

    Not just elites. Almost all of the normal Republicans, the ones that acknowledge that Biden won fairly in 2020, supported Haley over Trump. About 80-90 pct of Trump’s support came from election deniers. The GOP is really two parties now, normal people and conspiracy types.

  23. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    24. March 2024 at 10:28

    Peter, You said:

    “The problem is Trump, like anyone else that has never been around the bureaucracy, thinks bureaucrats are working for the behest of the public and in good faith”

    LOL, even I don’t think Trump is that dumb, and I view Trump as a complete moron. Trump himself is corrupt, and corrupt people tend to assume everyone else is corrupt. They view people claiming to be honest as “phonies”.

    The real problem is that the “RINOs” were the least corrupt people Trump hired, the true believers were mostly sent to prison.

    Of course by “RINO” I mean true Republicans.

  24. Gravatar of Eharding Eharding
    24. March 2024 at 14:54

    “Of course by “RINO” I mean true Republicans.”

    What is so truthfully Republican about them? I don’t view Trump as a complete moron, though I could see how one could come to that conclusion.

  25. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    25. March 2024 at 04:58

    It’s interesting how large a portion of Republicans see more openly fascist people as “true Republicans”, essentially agreeing with what many liberals said about them for decades.

    For a sizable minority of Republicans though, it seems the Invasion of the Body Snatchers has become real. They are more traditional American conservatives like the Cheneys, McCains, Romneys, and Bushes who are now told they’re not only unwanted, but are more hated than the Democrats.

    I’m really surprised more of the moderates in office haven’t gone independent or just joined the Democratic Party. We need to really reach out to them and any reasonable ex-Republican politicos and see if the Democratic Party tent is big enough.

  26. Gravatar of Bobster34 Bobster34
    25. March 2024 at 07:14

    Michael Sandifer,

    Well he says he forgave trump but Jan 6 but is concerned about spending in that clip

  27. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    25. March 2024 at 08:21


    You’re ignoring the statement immediately after the one you mention. Also, I saw Pence in the “debates”. This isn’t the first or only time he’s cited January 6th as a reason not to support Trump.

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