He’s also not doing his job

With all the controversy over Trump’s recent phone call with the Ukrainian president, people have tended to overlook an important point. In addition to being corrupt, Trump doesn’t do his job. He seems unqualified and also disinterested.

People focus a lot on the paragraph where Trump asks the Ukrainian leader to go after Biden. But take that paragraph out and the rest of the phone call is still pretty appalling.

There are actually two problems. First, some of Trump’s comments are rambling and incoherent, like those of senile old man. More importantly, at no time in the entire call does Trump actually do his job, which is to represent the interests of the US government in its dealings with the Ukraine. A normal president would have his staff provide him with some talking points, areas where Ukrainian/US relations need to be discussed. Maybe they’d talk about what we’d like the Ukraine to do that would further our interests. Or maybe we’d talk about how we think the Ukrainian government could improve the Ukraine. Or maybe we’d ask how we could help the Ukraine be more successful. But surely we’d have some public policy goal, which reflected the foreign policy position of the administration.

But the actual phone call has none of that; it’s all weird conspiracy theories, gossip about others, and requests for personal favors. At no time does Trump do his job. Trump has always viewed the presidency as serving him rather than the country.  He sees no difference between the Justice Department and his personal attorney.

Conservatives overlook Trump’s laziness and incompetence because his administration has not been all that unsuccessful. He got two conservatives on the Supreme Court. He got a tax bill through Congress. But these facts tell us nothing about Trump’s personal “value added”. He just picks Supreme Court people from a list presented by outsiders. Congress wrote the tax bill, and Trump merely signed it. A drug-addled homeless man could have done those two things. And a drug-addled homeless man could have had a conversation with the Ukrainian president that rambled on in much the same way that Trump did:

I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike… I guess you have one of your wealthy people… The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation. I think you’re surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it. As you saw yesterday, that whole nonsense ended with a very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller, an incompetent performance, but they say a lot of it started with Ukraine. Whatever you can do, it’s very important that you do it if that’s possible.


Apparently Trump was making some vague references to conspiracy theories in nutty right-wing corners of the internet.

When Trump himself must actually do something, he’s extraordinarily incompetent. Behind the scenes, Trump’s advisors often tell press people that he’s like a kindergartener that must be managed all the time. Some of his supporters claimed that’s fake news, as the comments are often made anonymously. Now we know it’s true.

Even more evidence comes from the fact that his advisors were so horrified by the call that they put it in a highly secret server, which would not normally be done for this sort of phone call. That’s called “consciousness of guilt”, but not in the usual sense.  It’s his advisors being conscious of Trump’s guilt.

He’ll probably be re-elected (the Dems are stupid enough to walk away from Biden and pick a left-wing loser.)  In his second term Trump will be even more senile, and now he’ll be totally unconstrained by public opinion polls. Rudi unleashed!!  But at least it should be entertaining.  It’ll help my blog.

If you want to claim that the Trump administration has been successful, I’ll mildly disagree (Iran, China, and Korea are all policy failures).  But the claim is at least plausible.  Even if the administration has been successful, however, Trump himself remains the worst president in US history.

PS.  Some of my commenters are comical.  These are people who when watching The Godfather would interpret, “Nice family you have there, shame if something were to happen to them” as a sincere expression of goodwill.

PPS.  Here’s the NYT:

All of this was taking place at a time of flux among key national security officials. Fiona Hill, the senior director for Europe at the National Security Council, was stepping down and had turned over her duties in July before the call. Three days after the call, Mr. Trump announced that Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, would be resigning.

And of course Bolton recently resigned.  Conventional foreign policy types won’t put up with this garbage, and thus Trump is forced to dump them and stock his administration with corrupt political hacks.



29 Responses to “He’s also not doing his job”

  1. Gravatar of Acebojangles Acebojangles
    27. September 2019 at 10:49

    None of this should be surprising. Trump hasn’t bothered to do any of his job since he got elected. Any time he has to speak about any topic in depth he either descends into gobbledygook or transparent bullshit. It’s like listening to a 4th grader try to bullshit his way through a book report when he hasn’t read the book.

    If you want to be scared, read the transcript of Trump’s interview with The Economist on May 11, 2017.

    If you want to laugh, watch the video of Trump talking about his favorite book of the Bible:


    Trump doesn’t bother to do his job because he knows that his followers don’t care and he’s deeply contemptuous of them. They’ll support him no matter how obvious his bullshit is.

  2. Gravatar of Acebojangles Acebojangles
    27. September 2019 at 11:07

    Also, I don’t get your faith in Biden, Scott. He’s run for president several times in the past and never got far. There’s a reason.

  3. Gravatar of bob bob
    27. September 2019 at 11:36

    I also think you place too much faith in Biden. His track record in presidential races is bad because he ran bad campaigns, and he is showing no signs of improvement so far. It’s unfortunate that he has completely staked out the “moderate lane”. That space would be much better served by Booker or Mayor Pete. I have serious reservations about some of Warren’s policy ideas, but there is no question that she is compelling when she speaks. And none of her plans will ever get through congress. I’ll step aside and let all the trumpees on your site explain that Obama had really bad phone calls too, and Hillary! Hillary! Or “imagine if Obama called the president of Ukraine and rambles on like a moron. Would you impeach him”. That’s actually hard to imagine, because like him or not Obama was not a moron.

  4. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    27. September 2019 at 12:00

    Warren is a moderate who lied on the identity checkbox in her Presidential job application in order to benefit from the lower standards of Bernie’s leftist lane.

    She has already backed away from her anti-corruption prohibition on a Vice President’s kid getting paid $3 million to serve as a director of a foreign company.

  5. Gravatar of Effem Effem
    27. September 2019 at 12:11

    I’d probably wait until the Durham findings until i went calling everything a conspiracy.

  6. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    27. September 2019 at 12:20

    Everyone, Biden’s a buffoon, but he’s more electable that some of the socialists who are more likely to be nominated. Obviously there are other Dems who would make better presidents, but they won’t get the nomination.

  7. Gravatar of Acebojangles Acebojangles
    27. September 2019 at 12:28


    So your theory is that maybe Trump has some super secret info about a server in Ukraine, and we’ll find out what it is when Durham releases his findings?

  8. Gravatar of Acebojangles Acebojangles
    27. September 2019 at 12:29


    I’m surprised to see you repeat the “socialist” nonsense about Democratic candidates. Who’s a socialist? Are they proposing abolishing capitalism?

  9. Gravatar of Justin Justin
    27. September 2019 at 13:02

    Scott is right to call certain democrats socialist. Bernie and AOC are self-described “democratic socialists”, and Warren’s public policy positions are very similar to Bernie’s.

    And yes, they basically are proposing abolishing capitalism.

    Bernie has a proposed capital gains tax of 64.2% (unadjusted for inflation I suspect) and on top of that, a wealth tax of 5-8% on billionaires! My guess is he’ll raise the corporate income tax rate from it’s current 21% too. In practice, the government will be claiming the vast majority of the income of capital – particularly from those who we would recognize in the capitalist class – making it the de facto owner of that capital.

    Honestly, I’d vote for the drug-addled homeless man over Sanders. And most certainly Trump. I would hope that Scott, if he had to choose between the two rather than stay home, would likewise choose Trump. As much as he might not like Trump, Trump isn’t breaking the system.

  10. Gravatar of sty.silver sty.silver
    27. September 2019 at 13:27


    I want to push back against your insistence that Biden is overwhelmingly more likely to beat Trump than Warren. The largest prediction market we have consistently shows that Biden is more electable, but only by a few percentage points (https://primary.guide/). Maybe about 5 on average. That is a 1/20 chance. Significant? Definitely. But slam-dunk Warren loses Biden wins? No. Actually, Warren usually hovers right around the 50% mark.

    I’ve brought this up once and you said the markets are pretty small. But they still have 1,9 and 6,8 million USD bet on them for the primary and general election, respectively (https://electionbettingodds.com/). You usually always advocate for the power of markets. Are these really small enough to be ignorable? (Even though they have an excellent track record: https://electionbettingodds.com/TrackRecord.html). It feels wrong. As does your general confidence in Trump’s re-election, who’s consistently below 50%.

  11. Gravatar of Randomize Randomize
    27. September 2019 at 15:33

    Don’t forget Cuba. There a shining example of his so-called political vandalism.

  12. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    27. September 2019 at 15:47

    “He’ll probably be re-elected (the Dems are stupid enough to walk away from Biden and pick a left-wing loser.)”

    No; Sumner. Trump is not popular. Any potato could win against Trump. Chillax, bro, and see the light.

    “More importantly, at no time in the entire call does Trump actually do his job, which is to represent the interests of the US government in its dealings with the Ukraine.”

    What, Sumner? You did not read this paragraph:

    “Well it’s very nice of you to say that. I will say that we do a lot for Ukraine. We spend a lot of effort and a lot of time. Much more than the European countries are doing and they should be helping you more than they are. Germany
    does almost nothing for you. All they do is talk and I think
    it’s something that you should really ask them about. When I was speaking to Angela Merkel she talks Ukraine, but she doesn’t do anything. A lot of the European countries are the same way so I think it’s something you want to look at but the United States has been very very good to Ukraine. I wouldn’t say that it’s reciprocal necessarily because things are happening that are not good but the United States has been very very good to Ukraine.”

    The only thing I will agree with you on is that Trump has not been a successful president.

  13. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    27. September 2019 at 16:24

    Acebojangles. I’d vote for Sanders of Warren over Trump. But why nominate someone who promises to socialize medicine, which is 18% of the economy? Trump will find it easy to demonize them.

    Justin, You said:

    “Trump isn’t breaking the system.”

    The only reason Trump hasn’t turned us into Russia is because he’s too weak. And Warren’s too weak to get socialism through the Senate. So your argument cuts both ways.

    Silver, Yes, I’m relying on a hunch. But as you say, my preference for Biden is justified by betting markets, albeit not the strength of my confidence, as you say.

    Randomize, Yes, another Trump failure.

    Harding, That paragraph is mindless anti-Merkel drivel. It has nothing to do with any US policy goals. He just doesn’t like Merkel, and probably doesn’t even know how much Germany supports Ukraine. (I don’t either).

    Biden is like a potato. So the Dems should pick him, not a polarizing leftist.

  14. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    27. September 2019 at 16:27

    “He is not doing his job”

    If President George Bush Jr. was doing his job, when he got the US into two fantastically expensive yet counterproductive wars, with oceans of human carnage and misery to boot, then I am glad that Trump is not doing his job.

    Let us hope that Trump falls down on the job for the rest of his term, or his next term, should that happen.

  15. Gravatar of Market Fiscalist Market Fiscalist
    27. September 2019 at 16:34

    ‘Biden is like a potato. So the Dems should pick him, not a polarizing leftist.’


    But it begs the question : If Trump was successfully impeached what are the chances we would get a non root-vegetable Republican ?

  16. Gravatar of P Burgos P Burgos
    27. September 2019 at 16:58

    Would Warren, if she wins the primary, run on unpopular policies? Sanders would, but it seems to me like Warren would run only on the “socialist” policies that have consistently polled well. And if Trump calls her a socialist as a campaign tactic, so long as what she is running on are popular left policies, that benefits Democrats. Or to put it another way, Democrats would be thrilled if the 2020 campaign were all about healthcare and the minimum wage and worker representatives on corporate boards. Those are all winning issues for Democrats. Immigration and Trump’s corruption probably aren’t winning issues for them, although an investigation into Trump during the campaign probably does hurt him at the polls with many conservative voters, who are reminded that he isn’t fit for office.

  17. Gravatar of Lorenzo from Oz Lorenzo from Oz
    27. September 2019 at 17:16

    A one term Hillary President may be looking like it would have been a better outcome. Except that I happen to think any Republican would have beaten her, which looks controversial only because the actual Republican candidate was so electorally weak, he got 3%pts less votes than the Republicans got in the House (which was about 1%pt more than Hillary got).

    Biden almost certainly won’t be the nominee. The Ukraine stuff seems to be even more fatal to his chances than it might be damaging to The Donald. (And if not, it should be.)

    Some version of the famous anti-David Duke bumper sticker (“vote for the crook, it’s important”) is not a great one to go with in this case. Voting for the crook over the fascist may be OK in Louisiana and France (they are, after all, both Code Napoleon jurisdictions) but The Donald is not remotely a fascist and it is part of the corruption of the public space that that word is thrown around far too much.

    If there is no recession between now and November 2020, The Donald is going to be hard to beat by anyone.

    I am not sure why the Impeach! Impeach! Find Something to Impeach! folks think that President Pence would be easier to beat (if they do). A more conventional Republican strikes me as being a safer re-election bet in 2020 (with the normal no-recession caveat).

    Beneath the sound and fury about The Donald, there are a lot of angry, frustrated and alienated people, a problem that is not going to go away any time soon. Indeed, there are some distinct similarities with the 1850s, including a Party based on Greater New England and the West Coast finessing mass migration by demonising a Party based on the South (and with most of the Midwest and West on the demonised side this time). For patently much less cause, though they are sure giving the slavery taint a thorough re-flogging. (Fogel’s “Without Consent or Contract” is the book to read on this.)

    There is The Donald as a remarkably poor President and the there is what The Donald and the Bernie surges represented. Along with the Democrats becoming narrower and more extreme than the Republicans. The deeper pressures will keep throwing up more than a little local difficulties after The Donald is a WTF? past thing.

  18. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    27. September 2019 at 19:05


    Whether a president does his job or not is subjective. In a democracy, the evaluation of whether a president is doing his job or not should be decided at the ballot box. That’s another reason against an impeachment procedure, the election is only a year away.

    The Democrats and the media seem to panic and fear they would lose without these tricks, which is understandable when you look at their weak candidates. Trump is really not that strong, but the Democrats still manage to put up candidates that Trump can beat. Even with impeachment.

    @P Burgos

    Yesterday you tried to explain what a genius Pelosi was, today you correctly give a few reasons why impeachment is not a good idea.

    I’ve never understood why someone like Pelosi is sold in the media and by people like you as a political genius anyway. In the case of Trump, of course, you like to refer to his approval rating, which is somewhat understandable. Interestingly, the approval rating for politicians like Pelosi doesn’t matter at all. I wonder why that is? Does it have something to do with the fact that her approval rating is even worse than Trump’s? I strongly assume her approval rating is another hard proof of her political ingenuity.

    From the outside, it seems to me that she is not a political genius. So why has she started the impeachment procedure? I think she simply couldn’t withstand the immense pressure of her democratic colleagues any longer. That is understandable. But don’t confuse that with political genius.


    I’m surprised to see you repeat the “socialist” nonsense about Democratic candidates. Who’s a socialist?

    I don’t know, maybe the guy who is ranking after Biden and calls himself a socialist?

    Warren seems to be more of a Trump type who will tell and promise you anything if the day lasts long enough. When she debates Sanders, she seems to copy his plans, but with the annotation that his plans are not though enough. If she goes against Trump, she will likely try to copy parts of his nationalism. In both cases the question arises why one should choose the Warren copy if the original is also available. At least Sanders stands for something. What does Warren stand for?

  19. Gravatar of Todd Kreider Todd Kreider
    28. September 2019 at 02:52

    “Everyone, Biden’s a buffoon,….”
    “Biden is like a potato.”


    It now looks like the odds of a Biden/Sumner ticket are vanishingly small.

  20. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    28. September 2019 at 03:54


    Referring to Biden as a “buffoon” is unfair. I was concerned he might be too old to run until I saw this video with him interviewed at the Council on Foreign Relations. He may have slowed down some, but he’s a genius compared to Trump. He’s not performed well in debates, which requires more reliance on his consciousness and short-term memory (prefrontal cortex and hippocampi, for examples). So, I still have concerns, because those latter mentioned faculties might be problems, while his long-term memory ( general cortex and separate pathways, largely) seem fine.

    Either way, “baffoon”, certainly isn’t the word I’d apply.

    I’ve said Trump has seemed senile for years. If you compare Trump today to Trump of decades past, his views on trade haven’t really changed, for example, but he didn’t used to ramble incoherently as he currently does. I suspect he has problems with all the areas of the brain and their related pathways mentioned above, including his long-term memory (general cortex). And he never had the deeper foreign policy knowledge in his long-term memory that Biden relies upon.

    And while it isn’t possible to make an official diagnosis of a patient who hasn’t been examined by a specialist, the idea that there can’t be reasonable speculation about senility is silly.

    Also, you underestimate Elizabeth Warren. I think she would likely beat Trump. The poll data is increasingly consistent with that perspective.

    That said, while she seems like a good, sincere person and far better than Trump, I don’t think she’s qualified to be President and I can’t think of a single big idea she has, and she has many, that isn’t profoundly bad and dumb. She’s very intelligent, but too ignorant about economics and perhaps also foreign policy for my taste. If she’s elected, I’m hoping she’s not too successful in getting her agenda passed.

  21. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    28. September 2019 at 03:55

    Here’s the link to the Biden video:


  22. Gravatar of Todd Kreider Todd Kreider
    28. September 2019 at 05:13

    “And while it isn’t possible to make an official diagnosis of a patient who hasn’t been examined by a specialist…”

    In Trump’s case, that’s like saying you need a mortician to know if someone is dead.

    I’ll give you an official diagnosis: Trump has mild dementia.

  23. Gravatar of Michael McCarthy Michael McCarthy
    28. September 2019 at 10:38

    Scott, you need to get help for your Trump Derangement Syndrome.

  24. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    28. September 2019 at 16:24

    Lorenzo, You said:

    “Biden almost certainly won’t be the nominee. The Ukraine stuff seems to be even more fatal to his chances than it might be damaging to The Donald. (And if not, it should be.)”

    There is no evidence that Biden did anything wrong in the Ukraine. His son looks sleazy, but even in that case we don’t really know if he fulfilled the Ukrainian expectations that he’d be corrupt.

    If you don’t see that Trump is profoundly corrupt, then you need to change the media outlets that you rely upon. He withheld $100s of millions in aid to pressure the Ukrainians to dig up dirt on his rival. If that’s not impeachable, then literally nothing is.

    Nonetheless, I agree that this will hurt Biden more than Trump. The press treats Trump far better than it treats the Democrats, even though it criticizes Trump much more. For any given scandal, the Dems get more heat than Trump. If the opposite seems to be true, it’s because there are so many Trump scandals.

    Everyone, When I said Biden was a buffoon, I did not mean at the level of Trump, who’s just off the charts. I meant more like Gerald Ford, or someone like that. It doesn’t matter all that much that he says goofy things from time to time.

  25. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    28. September 2019 at 17:25

    @sty.silver: the betting markets had Clinton over Trump, didn’t they?

    @Market Fiscalist: no it doesn’t beg that question, because the chance of Trump being impeached and then convicted in the Senate is zero point zero.

  26. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    28. September 2019 at 17:28

    @Todd Kreider: chances of a Biden/Sumner ticket are the same as a Trump/Sumner ticket.

  27. Gravatar of Bob OBrien Bob OBrien
    29. September 2019 at 15:47

    “There is no evidence that Biden did anything wrong in the Ukraine.”

    You will not find evidence if you do not look for it. Did Biden threat to withhold aid in order to force Ukraine to fire someone investigating the company where his son worked? Did his son have any real qualifications for his position except that his father was our VP?

  28. Gravatar of Lorenzo from Oz Lorenzo from Oz
    30. September 2019 at 17:02

    We have Biden on tape saying he threatened to withhold $1bn in aid unless Ukraine sacked the prosecutor in question. With his son on the board of a company being investigated by said prosecutor. It looks awful, particularly as Hunter Biden also seems to have benefited in business in China because his Dad was VP.

    Now, whether there was anything more than Hunter getting good gigs because his Dad was VP, I have no idea. But what we have is bad enough.

  29. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    30. September 2019 at 19:26


    It does look kind of sleazy for Hunter Biden, and possibly for Joe. But that doesn’t have anything to do with whether Trump’s actions on this were impeachable. They were, bigly.

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