Smart Ideas: Trump’s Management, Trump’s Mental State

A security drill at the Deodoro Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in March 2016.
AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo
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Feb. 16, 2017, 8 p.m.

Conservatives, liberals have different categories of fears

Vir­gin­ia Postrel, writ­ing for Bloomberg

Among the many psy­cho­lo­gic­al and so­cial dif­fer­ences between lib­er­als and con­ser­vat­ives, we can add an­oth­er: They fear dif­fer­ent things. “Red Amer­ica wor­ries about de­lib­er­ate hu­man ac­tion. Blue Amer­ica dreads un­in­ten­ded, usu­ally in­an­im­ate, threats,” such as dis­ease and cli­mate change. Thus, con­ser­vat­ives look to­ward po­lice and the mil­it­ary for pro­tec­tion, while lib­er­als prefer “sci­ent­ists and tech­no­crats. Each des­pises cri­ti­cism of its pro­tect­ors, wheth­er from Black Lives Mat­ter or reg­u­lat­ory skep­tics. Each equates the end with the means. In­tens­ive poli­cing and pun­it­ive sen­ten­cing may fight crime, but they also sweep up minor of­fend­ers, sow fear of law en­force­ment, and shat­ter com­munit­ies. Chal­lenge the trade-off and you’ll have few friends on the right. High­er en­ergy prices may fight cli­mate change but they also stifle eco­nom­ic growth and ham­mer Rust Belt res­id­ents. Ques­tion the toll and lib­er­als will dis­miss you as anti-sci­ence.”

Trump's troubles are fundamentally a management problem

Geoff Colv­in, writ­ing for For­tune

“With uni­fied gov­ern­ment in Wash­ing­ton, Trump should be driv­ing policy for­ward with speed and con­fid­ence. In­stead … the most blus­ter­ous pres­id­ent in memory is get­ting pushed around” and is los­ing power by the day. At bot­tom, it’s a man­age­ment fail­ure. He’s un­dis­cip­lined, he’s tak­ing bad ad­vice, and his staff is dither­ing rather than ad­van­cing le­gis­la­tion and policy pri­or­it­ies. Look at the evid­ence: Labor nom­in­ee An­drew Puzder “was late with his pa­per­work, giv­ing op­pon­ents time to build a case that ali­en­ated no few­er than sev­en Re­pub­lic­an sen­at­ors.” Army sec­ret­ary nom­in­ee Vin­cent Vi­ola “with­drew after dis­cov­er­ing that he couldn’t sat­is­fact­or­ily dis­en­gage from his busi­nesses, which might have been poin­ted out to him be­fore he agreed to be nom­in­ated.” Trump’s ex­ec­ut­ive or­ders on im­mig­ra­tion were so poorly draf­ted that they’ve been in leg­al limbo ever since. “The man who has been handed the most power­ful po­s­i­tion on earth is, for bet­ter or worse, squan­der­ing it.”

Donald Trump speaks during a roundtable meeting with energy executives in Denver in October 2016. AP Photo/ Evan Vucci

Trump's narcissism doesn't rise to mental illness

Al­len Frances, in a let­ter to The New York Times

Men­tal health pro­fes­sion­als and am­a­teurs alike have rushed to la­bel Pres­id­ent Trump “men­tally ill,” of­ten ow­ing to his fre­quent shows of nar­ciss­ism. “I wrote the cri­ter­ia that define” nar­ciss­ist­ic per­son­al­ity dis­order, “and Mr. Trump doesn’t meet them.” His nar­ciss­ism neither im­pairs him, nor causes him dis­tress. In fact, he “causes severe dis­tress rather than ex­per­i­en­cing it and has been richly re­war­ded, rather than pun­ished, for his gran­di­os­ity, self-ab­sorp­tion and lack of em­pathy. … The an­ti­dote to a dystop­ic Trumpean dark age is polit­ic­al, not psy­cho­lo­gic­al.”

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