SIO66: North Korea and the REAL Trump

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With the leak of some phone call transcripts we discover that the REAL Trump is…… the same Trump we’ve seen this entire time. There’s no real Trump, there’s just Trump. I go over some of the absolutely horrific details of these phones calls, then I talk about how Tillerson has gutted the State Department at the worst possible time, and all that is just as we face a nuclear North Korea! Fun times!


The Call Transcripts; Understanding Trade Deficits; Australia-US Refugee Deal; Gutted State Department Source 1, 2, 3

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3 Replies to “SIO66: North Korea and the REAL Trump”

  1. I think as far as the leaks are concerned, they signal a worrying shift in norms that should be addressed and corrected, but in so far as they are happening in response to a presidential administration that is both unintentionally and deliberately undermining, exploiting, and ignoring norms, with far more substantial ramifications, the leaks are a necessary response.

    While I think you’re right to ask whether we’d accept these leaks coming from a Democratic president’s administration, for that question to yield relevant answers, we’d have to assume the Democratic president were doing as much to erode the public’s ability to trust information that comes from the White House. If we had elected a pathological liar who was this unfit for office, I think the left would welcome these leaks. Maybe that’s me being hopeful, or just failing to imagine an equivalent (e.g., President Stein scuttling an EPA report that Climate Change is just a Chinese hoax).

    Also, while I could be mistaken, I believe the newspapers publishing these stories have all cleared them with the White House and intelligence agencies, and in some cases, have withheld information at their request. In fact, there has been some reporting that the Wall Street Journal (owned by Rupert Murdoch’s Newscorp) refused to publish a considerable amount of the leaked information, which was later published by Politico, despite it containing multiple instances of Trump lying, on the grounds that it was not newsworthy. It’s not ideal, but to the extent that journalists are still doing their jobs responsibly, some risk is still being mitigated.

    And, just because it needs to be said as much as possible, Trump is still using an outdated Android phone that can not be secured, according to computer scientists and intelligence officials. I’m not sure how that fits in, but it’s happening, and it’s infuriating.

    As to the left citing Trump’s “the wall’s the least important thing” comment, I think I’m less cynical about it. Everyone I’ve seen has used it to discuss Trump’s negotiating and/or campaigning style, his willingness to say one thing and then the opposite, and his seeming lack of any underlying political stance apart from self-aggrandizement. These points have been brought up along with past behavior and statements, so to whatever extent they’ve asserted that Trump is admitting “his true feelings” in private, they’ve at least attempted to substantiate that with examples (e.g., Republicans in Congress reportedly being frustrated with Trump’s lack of interest or knowledge of the details in their healthcare plan). While I think it’s possible Trump downplaying the wall was a Steve Castle-esque negotiation tactic, I see no reason to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    I’m not sure I have much to add to the second half of the episode. I guess my only thought on expecting Kim Jong Un to act in his country’s best interest is that it feels kind of like expecting David Koresh or Jim Jones to surrender for the sake of their congregations.

    I also heard someone on CNN mention that there’s reason to doubt that General McMaster would execute a lawful order given by Trump if it were stupid enough. It’s not something I have any insight about, but it’s a thing to consider.

  2. Having listened with great interest to Sam Harris’s conversations with Anne Applebaum and Juliette Kayyem, I really thought it was about a 50/50 proposition between Trump being a “coked up toddler with Tourettes” and him being an evil genius. I never actually believed Trump was the evil genius, but rather that Putin and others from the “Eastern Bloc” (like Manafort) were manipulating and coaching him in a technique that had worked for them where you just fill the airwaves with so much idiocy, bombast and half-truth that no one has the time or resources to track down each shred of chaff and verify or debunk it. I still think this possibility has some merit.

    But starting with Harris’s interview with Mark Bowden, who spent a long weekend with Trump in 1996 for a Playboy Profile, it has started to become obvious to me that Trump’s deep, deep ignorance and lack of self control is native. Like you so aptly put it at the front of this episode, that is the real Trump; he’s NPD and ineptitude all the way down. I don’t think Putin has anymore control over him than he has over himself on a day-to-day minute-by-minute basis. Putin might still have wee-wee tapes and some potentially debilitating debt to hold over Trump, but it’s impossible to predict what effect that will have even if it exists.

    Like Snowden, the leaks may be illegal and unpatriotic, but damn! We need to know.

  3. Eh, the real Trump was easy to see long before now. I got it in my head to at least give him some consideration once because he was able to get good people to work with him enough to pull together decent books. Then I remembered that he couldn’t even pull together a team that could stop him from tweeting inane bullshit.

    I mean, I’ve been surprised by Trump, don’t get me wrong. But that’s because when I think I’ve finally seen the depths of human stupidity, another layer falls away and I get to witness something as dumb as Trump keeping reporters out of a meeting with the Russians where he then proceeds to give them classified information.

    Once you know he’s always been a spoiled rich racist who only got where he is now because people have been willing to prop him up from time to time, it all suddenly makes sense.

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