May 16, 2016

3 reasons why Donald Trump's "everything is a suggestion" sounds right to me.

He said:
"Look, anything I say right now — I'm not the president — everything is a suggestion, no matter what you say, it's a suggestion. I feel strongly that we have to do something about — when you look at radical Islamic terrorism, we have a president, as you folks know very well, we have a president who won't even use the term for the World Trade Center, he won't use the term. And we have to do something, and you're not going to do something until you know what the problem is."
Why I like that "suggestions" business:

1. Even if he were already the President (other than in the area of foreign affairs and his duties as Commander in  Chief), it is what a President is supposed to do. Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution says: "He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient...." That sounds like making suggestions to me. It looks like the opposite of those dictatorial tendencies Trump's antagonists purport to see.

2. It is a complete distortion to characterize the vote for the candidate as a referendum on all the policies he or she has talked about during the election season. In the end, we're forced to vote for someone, but the vote only means that we think this person is better than the other one, and it's unfair to interpret the vote to mean we want all of those policies. For example, I voted for Obama over McCain in 2008 mainly because I thought he was better suited to handle the financial crisis. I did not enjoy seeing his victory portrayed as a mandate for health insurance reform.

3. Presidents do — and should — adjust their thinking as the context changes and new information becomes available. You don't want the President wedded to a bunch of policy pledges that were based on how things looked when he was running for office (including the now-irrelevant pressure to get elected).

61 comments:

Chuck said...

Baloney. It turned into a "suggestion" after the full array of national and international leaders in law, diplomacy, business and the military almost unanimously ridiculed Trump for the "Muslim ban" statement.

If Trump really only suggested a temporary halt until "our representatives can figure out what the hell is going on," he never once suggested what he, as a candidate for the presidency, thinks is "going on." Which just might be his job in 2017.

Sebastian said...

"it's unfair to interpret the vote to mean we want all of those policies. For example, I voted for Obama over McCain in 2008 mainly because I thought he was better suited to handle the financial crisis. I did not enjoy seeing his victory portrayed" Yeah, it's so unfair, and we all regret your lack of enjoyment. But sorry, ma'am. This is America. By voting for the man you get the plan, and the party, and whatever plans they push. With O, his leanings were entirely obvious. Nothing to feel unfair about.

"Presidents do — and should — adjust their thinking" Indeed. That's why their character and philosophy matter. Which were obvious in the case of O. They are obvious in the case of Hill. With Trump, character is quite obvious, but philosophy less so, as indicated by the talk of suggestions. And with him picking the man doesn't mean picking the party, since there is some disconnect. The plan is to have no plan.

But the good thing about the Donald's suggestion rhetoric is that it gives "moderates" who like to vote for "what seems best" a chance to rationalize a GOP vote and feel good about themselves and give them the illusion that they'll avoid the "unfairness' of having "all those policies" attributed to them. Trump is subtle that way.

David Begley said...

Tell Obama about number 3. His idiotic idea about making Iran great again worked out for him and the mullahs. Not so well for Israel and the 70 bankrupt American oil and gas companies.

Gusty Winds said...

In Star Wars Episode III (Revenge of the Sith), Obi Wan Kenobi finally realizing Anakin has turned to the dark side says, "Only a Sith deals in absolutes".

Trump is a Jedi.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Certainly more honest and forthright than the usual presumption that everything a politician says whilst campaigning is a lie.

traditionalguy said...

Elementary my dear Professor.

When DJT first made his bold proclamation "calling for" a freeze on Obama's special forces emigration waves, a friend said to me, "He can't just do that without Congress agreeing to it."

Elementary. That is why he said,... until Congress figures it out.

But the CNN, ABC, CBS and friends are proclaiming Trump changed by involving Congress. Do they think as a candidate that he should just sign Congress's name to it like Mullah Obama does to his illegal pro-Muslim treaties?

Tank said...

Chuck said...

Baloney. It turned into a "suggestion" after the full array of national and international leaders in law, diplomacy, business and the military almost unanimously ridiculed Trump for the "Muslim ban" statement.


Baloney. This is the most popular thing Trump has said. And everyone who isn't bound by SJW/PC knows that adding substantial numbers of Muslims to your first world country is all bugs and no features, particularly at a time when ISIS and AQ are announcing they are out to kill us. EXACTLY what Trump would do is less important than the fact that he understands this is important. Looking out for USA first. A good thing.

tim in vermont said...

Who cares what Congress thinks? Doesn't the job come with a pen and a phone?

damikesc said...

For example, I voted for Obama over McCain in 2008 mainly because I thought he was better suited to handle the financial crisis. I did not enjoy seeing his victory portrayed as a mandate for health insurance reform.

I assume doubly so since he screwed up the aftermath of the financial crisis so badly. A stimulus that accomplished nothing. Cash for clunkers that only served to increase the cost of used cars, a real boon to folks who don't have a ton of money. His giveaways to green tech that failed spectacularly.

If Trump really only suggested a temporary halt until "our representatives can figure out what the hell is going on,"

You could eliminate "if". He did say that. And, technically, we can say "NOBODY is allowed to enter our borders period" and not violate any laws. We could say "non citizens must leave immediately" and the same would be true. Immigration is a courtesy...and one that has, honestly, hurt Mexico.

He's a terrible candidate, but not for this reason.

MikeR said...

Point 3 sounds good to me. No way does someone running for president have enough information to make promises.
Trump has always been an entertainer, and most of his statements were always up for discussion. I'm glad he's making that clearer.

The alternative is people with a lot of experience, like Clinton. I know what she's going to do, and all of it is bad from my point of view. I don't see why experience is a plus without success as well.

tim in vermont said...

Chuck, we get why the GOP augered in. You don't have to keep demonstrating it. You don't care about security or immigration. Are you sure you are not named Jeb. He does have time on his hands

tim in vermont said...

Chuck, I quoted his Web page to you yesterday. Those were his words. Funny that you are not strong on your facts but your opinions. ..

It's almost as if you get your news from left wing media, Naah!

Laslo Spatula said...

Donald Dice Trump says:

Sweet Babies, don't you cry

Hillary will sing you a lullabye

And if the lullabye don't work

Hillary will show you the Dead Mouse in her Vagina.

It's okay, Sweet Babies: think of the Dead Mouse as just being asleep.

Woah!


I am Laslo.

Chuck said...

You don't need to care about my policy preferences. Or Althouse's. I
We need not fight over policy details.

No; the real problem was aptly described by George Will yesterday on Fox News Sunday; if Trump is way ahead of the game in understanding that the Pesident's power is limited to "suggestions" in most cases, then Trump also ought to know that most of the things he is promising and pledging in speech after speech after unhinged speech, are things he cannot produce on his own.

Laslo Spatula said...

Donald Dice Trump says:

I got three suggestions for ya.

One: vote for me, we'll make America great!

Two: nude pictures of Megyn Kelly -- if ya got 'em, send 'em my way. I'd like to know if the carpet matches the drapes. Or if there even is a carpet, if you know what I mean.

Three: if you gotta fuck Hillary, fuck her in the ass. Because there is a Dead Mouse in her Vagina.

Woah!

Lighten up: they're just suggestions, people.

I am Laslo.

buwaya puti said...

The biggest question about Trump is whom are you getting with Trump. And by that I don't just mean his appointees, which are important of course, but also what external interests will have contacts in the administration and will be influential.
This is a broad and mostly culturally defined group in the Obama administration, but everyone could see them coming in 2008, and subsequent adminstration policy could easily be predicted from that.
It's not clear at all who will come in with Trump. Maybe that will become clearer.

Limited blogger said...

President-in-waiting Trump already upholding the constitution before he has even sworn to do so.

jacksonjay said...

Law lecturing, state senatoring, community organizing, Jeremiah Wright hoping, Alinsky worshiping, rabble rousing, exotically named Barack Hussein Obama was better suited to handle the financial crisis in 2008? Well, OK then! Really? Well he does have a very sexy smile.

On the other hand, Johnny Mac actually said that he didn't know anything about economics, so there is that!

Probably some of that famous Althouse sarcasm.

bagoh20 said...

You know how they say Eskimos have a whole bunch of words for "snow"? We're now like that with the concept of lies.

Imagine if you hired a plumber because he said he could fix your toilet and then after you hired him he says it was just a suggestion, and takes a crap in it instead.

Limited blogger said...

Oh yeah, that you voted for Obama because he was better suited to handle the economy, that was funny.

Pookie Number 2 said...

For example, I voted for Obama over McCain in 2008 mainly because I thought he was better suited to handle the financial crisis.

All snark aside, what aspect of Obama's background suggested to you that he had any knowledge at all on the causes and appropriate responses to the financial crisis?

Tank said...

Limited blogger said...

Oh yeah, that you voted for Obama because he was better suited to handle the economy, that was funny.


Funnier than McCain? Or a toss up? Two financial morons.

bagoh20 said...

Swallowing this excuse requires that you believe that Trump wouldn't simply do whatever he comes up with once he has the power to do it, and that he would accept the deliberation and power of the other branches of government, as well as his own Constitutional limits. I don't believe that. Of course, if he promised he would respect the Constitution, then that would be rock solid. I've already bought the frame for my Trump University diploma.

buwaya puti said...

McCain had a better posse than Obama, not perfect, but way more realistic. And way less in love with the regulatory state, though even there compromised.
Which is why it's important to know who comes in with Trump.

Static Ping said...

In general, I cannot disagree with your assessment. Everything is as you say. The problem is it is unclear if Trump has governing principles and, if so, what they are. When Trump says that such and such policy is a "suggestion" this may mean he actually will try to accomplish that goal but will settle for what he can get (perfectly reasonable), or this may mean he holds a position but it is not the one he is publicly espousing (troubling). Of course, this is normal for any politician. Trump adds another wrinkle in that it is not clear that Trump has any governing principles at all, so the fact that all his positions are "suggestions" may mean he is making it up as he goes along or, for that matter, simply does not care. It is not even clear that he wants to be President and this may have been a vanity project/publicity stunt that took a life of its own. He has no political record to fall back upon and his career can probably be best described as a high risk business pragmatist. Any wavering from his camp is going to be a lot more meaningful than the usual political duplicity.

bagoh20 said...

"Kinda Make America Great Again, or Something, Maybe" didn't fit on the hats, I guess.

buwaya puti said...

Some here I think need to step back a bit and consider the actual person. Trump doesn't seem to have a reputation for North Korean whimsy. He lets structural engineers do their jobs.
I can think of failure modes for Trump but that sort of thing isn't one of them.

tim in vermont said...

Once again Chuckles messes up the facts in Democrats' favor, but he's not a Hillary troll.

We have two chalices, one we think might be poisoned and one we know is. That would be the one with the H.

bagoh20 said...

What did GOPe Republicans do when elected that people resent so much that they now want Trump?

I understand that politicians say one thing and do the other. I don't understand why people keep falling for it. The second is what gets us the first. Of course, if you find that to be a good thing, like Althouse, then we are all good here no matter who we vote for.

Hillary should come out and say straight up "I'm a lying deceptive little bitch, but I'll be YOUR lying deceptive little bitch."

Maybe she is saying that.

bagoh20 said...

"We have two chalices, one we think might be poisoned and one we know is."

That's about how I see it too, except both have poison, but one is definitely enough to be fatal while the other one has some unknown amount.

Guildofcannonballs said...

Watching midgets trying to derail the Trump train with their little fingers and toes is not funny anymore.

All politicians claim they will accomplish x, y, z if elected. Every single one, with any chance of winning at least.

No politician has ever accomplished everything they claimed they would while campaigning, at least in the modern era with regards to state or national elections. If they did, people like Colin Powell would say the goals set were way too low and unworthy of America.

But if you see Trump as a bad person, you only see Trump as being a lying conman conning people who you thought knew better and not all the other politicians being the same, namely a politician.

Well, we 'conned' do know better and assumed you people weren't so willing to forget John McCain nearly running as a Democrat for POTUS, or Mitt Romney flip-flopping on every position he could when running against Teddy Kennedy in 1994 vs. Rick Perry in 2008. This means to anyone paying attention claims of Trump flip-flopping while not mentioning everyone else flip-flopping lacks staunching substance. If you hate Trump because he won't wash your feet on his helicopter while supplying you with pork chitlins that hate is enough to blind you from noticing no other candidate is your personal, all-encompassing savior either. The hate allows for focus only on what grows it, not the absurdity of it.

Is there a homeless guy in L.A. somewhere? Not if Clinton or Obama is POTUS, but when a Bush or Reagan is in office, why it is they who put the homeless on the streets themselves after defeating the good folks who only want to help everyone in the Leftist party.

Just remember: whether it is Ted Cruz or Reagan, they all have Jon Grubers ready to lie to everyone to advance their agenda. That is D.C. It is law too. The theory is there is no "truth" so anything goes as well as the State is powerful so defendants should have a lot of leeway. I wish I had a better system but people being people I don't.

These comments about Trump that seem to think D.C. has been or is something other than what people fear Trump is idiosyncratically showcase why the "elites" are correct to despise the unrealpolitik of common folk outside the system with certain knowledge of how to run it best.

buwaya puti said...

What the Republicans did that people (well, Republican voters) resent - they failed, they lost.
Policies, ideology don't matter if you haven't got power. Or the will and skill to assert power.
The party was grossly incompetent just in the purely political matter of getting elected in 2012. Just the GOTV fiasco should have been enough for a massive purge. But no purge.
Their inability to protect the people while controlling two houses of Congress is another. You can say that the Constitution ties their hands, the people don't see it that way.

Dan Hossley said...

I find Trump's approach refreshingly honest. It's funny how that sets off alarms among the chattering class.

I watched Chuck Todd interview him on Meet the Press and he totally deflated that self important gas bag. Todd was asserting that Trump had changed his "policy" on taxes because Trump recognized that he may have to "increase" the tax rate on the wealthy in his tax proposal (that means he would accept a lower decrease than originally proposed) in the course of negotiations with Congress.

Like a dog with a bone, Chuck Todd wouldn't let go of his small point. He kept insisting it was a flip flop. Finally, Trump looked at him and said, "you know what it is? It's life. You don't always get what you want".

jr565 said...

This is why republicans shouldn't be anti Trump at this point. THe fact that he says things are suggestions shows he is malleable and not bound as much by ideology. Sure, you want an ideological president who matches your ideology, but if he's flexible you can still get him to work for you.
As such, Trump can end up pushing the republican agenda, since his other ideas were mere suggestions.

jr565 said...

"In Star Wars Episode III (Revenge of the Sith), Obi Wan Kenobi finally realizing Anakin has turned to the dark side says, "Only a Sith deals in absolutes". "

What a load of crap that line was. As if the Jedi don't ALSO deal in absolutes. They only work on the LIGHT side of the force. The Sith are the enemy. THats pretty absolute.

traditionalguy said...

Do People really think Trump is no longer running the USA by changing over to. agreeing he proposes things to Congress and negotiates with them???

When did he start running it. Super Tuesday in South Carolina when the Scots Irish vote automatically sided with a great leader in Trump over the religious fake in Cruz?

jr565 said...

"Swallowing this excuse requires that you believe that Trump wouldn't simply do whatever he comes up with once he has the power to do it, and that he would accept the deliberation and power of the other branches of government, as well as his own Constitutional limits."

Like Obama has done? Look, I dont think Republicans would let him get away with it. Especialy if he does so in ways that are not even Republican. Republicans need to get used to the idea that they can be in opposition to their own leader.

eric said...

The way I've seen Trump since the beginning:

There is a Facebook/YouTube video of two white guys, hillbillies some of your commenters may call them, having a beer and speaking to each other using Trumps voice from things Trump has said.

The point is to make fun of Trump.

But my view is, this is Trump. He is, surprisingly, a lot like us and very little like a politician.

A politician filters everything that they say. Trump says what he feels. What he believes. He is your buddy you're drinking a beer with.

Imagine you're watching a football game and drinking beer with a buddy. And the program is interrupted to announce a terror attack somewhere. Very heinous. You may look at your buddy and say, "We should just nuke the entire middle East" and your buddy would nod and say, yep. Kill them all and let God sort them out.

But if either of you were put into a position of power, you'd never actually do that. That's just your instinct. But you know better.

Trump shares out instinct. He doesn't do a good job of filtering it.

This is why so many like and appreciate him. He gives voice to our instinct.

We know when the hard work of governing starts, it's not going to go that way. Nukes won't be dropped on the middle East. But, his instinct is right.

readering said...

Althouse says she picked Obama over McCain because of the financial crisis. Indeed, McCain quickly showed he was out of his depth when he suspended his campaign, called for a pow-wow in Washington, but then froze. Trump has done so much more to show he is out of his depth on many issues.

Howard said...

This is the Pivot

Jesus, you people are so full of your idiot-logical views, you can't see the simple shit.

...and your welcome. I voted Bernie yesterday in the California Primary.

Rance Fasoldt said...

When Trump (or any candidate) says he's going to build a wall (or do something), it doesn't mean that he is going to issue a fatwa, and it doesn't mean that he's going to grab some bricks and mortar: it means that he is going to see that it gets done. Bernie doesn't say, "I'll suggest that Wall Street pay more in taxes!" George Will knows this - he's just humiliated that he has been so wrong about Trump succeeding..

n.n said...

Life is chaotic with indefinite periods of semi-stable conditions. Adapt.

jr565 said...

Rance wrote:
When Trump (or any candidate) says he's going to build a wall (or do something), it doesn't mean that he is going to issue a fatwa, and it doesn't mean that he's going to grab some bricks and mortar: it means that he is going to see that it gets done.

Well he has to work with congress. In the case of the wall it turns out that Republicans in general are not opposed to the idea that much. That was part of George Bush's push for comprehensive immigration reform after all. So, he will have ready support from Republicans in Congress. In other cases, less so. For example, if he proposes that all illegals get deported, will repubs sign off on that? Will dems? And then the issue is will Trump bend or will congress bend.
more often than not it will be Trump that bends.

jr565 said...

""We have two chalices, one we think might be poisoned and one we know is."

Which chalise do the never trumpers think has the poison?

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...You don't want the President wedded to a bunch of policy pledges that were based on how things looked when he was running for office (included the now-irrelevant pressure to get elected).

Obama to Russian Prez: After I'm [re]elected I'll have more flexibility.

Rick said...

Chuck said...
If Trump really only suggested a temporary halt until "our representatives can figure out what the hell is going on," he never once suggested what he, as a candidate for the presidency, thinks is "going on." Which just might be his job in 2017.


Apparently Chuck has taken it upon himself to portray Trump as the reasonable person in the argument between himself and his critics. Aim high!

In fact from the beginning Trump positioned the "Muslim ban" as a temporary response to the absurd claim we could vet refugees from areas fighting a civil war, some of which we are also effectively at war with.

[Trump] never once suggested what he, as a candidate for the presidency, thinks is "going on."

Most people are comfortable with the investigation occurring before the claims 'to know what is going on'.

Molehill hysteria might work in a normal election, it certainly did against Romney. But I'm not sure it's going to work in this one.

tim in vermont said...

Thanks Howard! I so wish we could be arguing ideas.

n.n said...

Public statements are revelations of a bias, but they do not guarantee an outcome.

Jonathan Graehl said...

Chuck is annoyed that he won't get everything Daddy Trump has promised him, after all? Smells like a mouse, amirite Laslo?

Potent stuff, man. Think of the Dead Mouse as just being asleep.

Jonathan Graehl said...

buwaya, great point: "What the Republicans did that people (well, Republican voters) resent - they failed, they lost.
Policies, ideology don't matter if you haven't got power. Or the will and skill to assert power.
The party was grossly incompetent just in the purely political matter of getting elected in 2012. Just the GOTV fiasco should have been enough for a massive purge. But no purge.
Their inability to protect the people while controlling two houses of Congress is another. You can say that the Constitution ties their hands, the people don't see it that way."

(and Trump delegates to structural engineers, is not actually crazy, and most everything you write)

William Chadwick said...

Hillary Clinton responded with, "Well, everything I say is a suggestion, too!"--adroitly hiding the bludgeon in her fist in the voluminous folds of her pantsuit.

Unknown said...

Crikey! If they are all suggestions then Muslims may or may not be banned; the Trump wall may or may not be built; trade protection with China may or may not happen; US corporations who move manufacturing outside of the US may or may not face import tariffs and on and on and on.

The "suggestions" talk has appeared after the meeting of minds between Trump and Paul Ryan to effectively find a middle way.

If only Trump's working-class and middle-class fans would see through this and realize that again, they will be voting against their economic interests. There is zero chance that anything that Trump has "suggested" is going to come true because it does not fit in with the Republican idealogy.

The Republican donor class will only release funds to the tune of $1 to 2bn if their interests are preserved which is in the opposite direction to what Trump has promised his fans.

Trump's fans are going to get screwed again.

jr565 said...

"The Republican donor class will only release funds to the tune of $1 to 2bn if their interests are preserved which is in the opposite direction to what Trump has promised his fans."

Why would Trump fans be shocked by this. He has said he isnt going to self fund anymore. THat means he needs to raise money from republicans. Who don't like him. Who REALLY don't like him. So, why shouldn't they just let him get trounced and not bother getting his back.
I think many might cave and support him. But they are going to demand that he in turn support THEM.

Michael K said...

EXACTLY what Trump would do is less important than the fact that he understands this is important. Looking out for USA first. A good thing.

Bingo !

"No; the real problem was aptly described by George Will yesterday on Fox News Sunday;"


GEORGE WILL !!!!!!


George has lost his mind. I'm not sure why. He and Bill Kristol used to seem pretty smart guys to me.

I have no idea what happened to them. But is is a serious case of it.

tim in vermont said...

Trump vs Sanders and you might see public financing. Once that happens, it will be hard to roll back.

tim in vermont said...

Trump should offer Hillary that he will stick to public financing. She can't possibly take it and Bernie would jump on that like a hen on a junebug.

buwaya said...

I always thought William Kristol wasn't ever up to the standard of his father Irving.

As for Will, he has his POV. I think he is stuck in a box though. It would do all of us a lot of good to get out more.

Fabi said...

Adelson has already offered up a hundred million. The donors know a good horse when they see one. Trump might actually win -- which would be nice for them for a change!

tim in vermont said...

Republicans have won all but one of the national elections since Obamacare was passed, that would be Obama's second term. And if you include state level elections, it's been a wipe out of Democrats in the aggregate since then.

I don't know where you get the idea that Republicans can't win elections. Well, I do, you are repeating a talking point.

damikesc said...

Adelson has already offered up a hundred million. The donors know a good horse when they see one. Trump might actually win -- which would be nice for them for a change!

As Instapundit has said (paraphrased), they could just light that money on fire, given how it will be used and how ineffective it will be. Buy women's magazines. Buy pop culture magazines. Change the culture.

Running ads generally means shit.

Trump's fans are going to get screwed again.

That is a large concern. IF Trump wins and IF he does not deliver, his supporters are going to become ugly. If they feel they cannot trust any politician, what outlets remain?

tim in vermont said...

Trump's fans will get screwed by Hillary, or "might" get screwed by Donald, in the extremely strong opinion of many people who hold Trump's fans in contempt anyway. It's an easy choice, you could make it with math.