It has been four-hundred and eighteen days since Donald Trump has been sworn into office as President. Since that time, Americans have been treated to what is aptly described as a reality-show presidency with all of the trappings. Each day brings new revelations about Trump’s campaign and its possible and likely involvement with Russia in order to secure the highest office in the land. Each morning Americans are treated to a host of Tweets, now considered part of the Presidential record, sent out to whomever it is Trump is targeting on that particular day.
And, just like every other reality show, there exists a certain amount of ambiguity with each passing day with nearly fifty-four or more administration officials exiting out the newly erected metaphorical revolving door, installed since Trump became President. Americans do not know day to day who will or who will not go home, a hallmark of the shows; American Idol, Top Chef, The Voice, Project Runway, or even Trump’s prior show; Celebrity Apprentice.
While the reality show has become a staple of pop culture in our country, I highly doubt the Founders of our country intended our nation to be run in this dramatic fashion. And despite this; it is. The question is whether this is sustainable.
On March 6, 2018, White House Chief Economic Advisor Gary Cohn resigned from Trump’s administration in reaction to what many political analysts believed to be Cohn’s disagreement with Trump’s plan imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum, an act which arguably serves as a catalyst for a potential trade war. Historically speaking, tariffs are not considered wise, nor do they lead to better relations with other global partners, and many speculated this was too much for the former Goldman Sachs President to accept; a bridge too far if you will.
But there were other reasons for Cohn’s departure, specifically, the manner in which Trump handled the tragic events which led to the killing of an innocent woman, Heather Heyer, in Charlottesville, Virginia. Trump vacillated in his position leading to his proclamation that there “were fine people” on both sides of the White Nationalist spawned event. According to the Financial Times, Cohn shared that he “faced enormous pressure to both remain and leave” the White House. Cohn further stated:
“Citizens standing up for equality and freedom can never be equated with white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the KKK. I believe this administration can and must do better in consistently and unequivocally condemning these groups and do everything we can to heal the deep divisions that exist in our communities.”
Despite this harsh rebuke from what many analysts considered to be one of the few “adults in the room” in the Trump administration, the divisiveness continues, the adults continue leaving the administration, and the reality show continues.
It is against this backdrop then, that Trump’s apparent decision to fill Cohn’s vacancy with Larry Kudlow leaves the American people with not much hope in escaping this reality nightmare. For whatever misgivings Cohn brought to the table, he was the adult in the room and he had a wealth of economic experience. Kudlow? Not so much. In fact, while many of Trump’s supporters will readily embrace Kudlow, either out of their loyalty to Trump, or their apparent disdain for academia and experience, he is problematic for our nation in more than a few ways.
First, Kudlow lacks any degree in economics, and has not written one scholarly paper on the subject. His only experience in the field is his experience on television. As with the majority of Trump’s cabinet, it appears Kudlow, while fitting the bill of being unorthodox, may very well play an economist on television, but it appears that is his primary qualification. Worse? That qualification is sufficient for Trump. As David Dayen explains from The Nation:
“The overriding quality necessary for landing a position in Donald Trump’s administration is that Trump has to know you from TV. Most of his cabinet selections have logged plenty of time in cable-news green rooms.”
Second, a conservative, Kudlow is a strong proponent of trickle-down economics and has an “established track record of being “wrong and frequently absurd.” His absurd predictions could very well hurt the economy and security of every hard-working American. However, this sadly is what makes him a perfect choice for Trump.
Third, despite the Great Economic Recession beginning in December of 2007, Kudlow was blogging such titles as “The Recession Debate Is Over,” “There Ain’t No Recession,” “Bush Boom Continues,” and continued to argue that no economic recession or housing crisis was taking place as late as July of 2008. In other words, he missed The Great Recession.
Fourth, Kudlow , as is the case with most conservative ideologues, shames the poor. At a March, 2016 panel discussion at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Kudlow blamed single households as “the primary contributor to poverty in this nation,” a myth circulated by conservatives, despite his tacit admission that “he had no experience in matters of the family.” He further justified his commentary stating:
“‘There’s enough documentation for ignorant people” to talk effectively about the supposed cause-effect relationship between poverty and single parents.”
Adding insult to injury, Kudlow also argued that “welfare is not a substitute for child-rearing,” yet another conservative talking point which has its etiology in the Reagan era.
Finally, Kudlow actually believed the stock market would improve once the economy began tanking under former President, George W. Bush, and that an invasion into Iraq would serve as a “shock therapy” of sorts while “reviving the American spirit” due to that invasion. Apparently, might makes right with Kudlow as does with Trump.
About the only area Kudlow departs from Trump is on tariffs. Despite the apparent disagreement, Trump hinted yesterday the following about his “pick” replacing Cohn:
“We don’t agree on everything, but in this case, I think that’s good. I want to have a divergent opinion. We agree on most.”
Sure! Tell that to Rex Tillerson, Mr. Trump.
America: The show must go on.
A social psychologist by day, political analyst and journalist by night, Dr. Mark Bear has built an established audience by printing facts, without click-bait, sensationalism, or hyperbole. He is married to his wife of 34 years, and both he and his wife, Susan, have a Schnauzer named Shadow. Follow along by connecting with Doc on Facebook or Twitter under the handle Dr. Progressive!