Dangers from Hating Government

Since Ronald Reagan declared “government is the problem,” the hostility to public solutions has snowballed, leading to the Republican Party’s selection of Donald Trump, someone who’s never served in public office, notes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

By Paul R. Pillar

The determination beyond reasonable doubt of the presidential nominees of each of the two major political parties has invited much analysis of what a Clinton-vs.-Trump contest means in terms of larger political fault lines. Robert Merry’s view of the election in terms of globalism and nationalism is an example. But the contest also is part of a larger pattern not only in terms of issue preferences that these two candidates represent but also in terms of the qualities that these individuals would bring to the presidency.

Much of what any president does in office cannot be programmed in advance and cannot be derived from positions on issues enumerated in a campaign or party platform or expressed in a campaign speech. Much of the important things a president does derive instead from the experience, intellect, instincts, and values that he or she brings into the job and that in turn are based on that individual’s background.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

In that respect one of the most glaring attributes of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is that, were he to become president, he would be the only president in the history of the United States to have entered that office with no prior public service. Every U.S. president to date, from Washington through Obama, has either held elective office at the level of at least the U.S. Congress or governor of a state, or been appointed to public office at the level of the federal cabinet, or been a senior military officer at the level of a general who has commanded major campaigns.

Many U.S. presidents have combined two or more of these qualifications. Not only has Trump been none of these things; he doesn’t even have any junior-level experience, civilian or military, that has anything to do with public service.

Even within the private sector, Trump’s background does not extend to the sorts of decision-making situations that would confront, say, the chief executive officer of a large, well-established corporation.

Instead, Trump’s career, apart from his flings at presidential campaigning, has almost exclusively been about deal-making aimed at personal enrichment and enhancing recognition of the Trump brand name. Against the backdrop of U.S. history and past U.S. presidents, Trump’s personal qualifications are breathtakingly narrow and shallow, and his endeavors inwardly oriented.

Differences in Jobs

High public office entails demands that are different in several important respects from even the most difficult and remunerative endeavors in the private sector. One difference involves not being able to pick the business lines one will pursue or the problems one will solve. The problems tend to impose themselves, especially though not exclusively in foreign affairs.

When making deals about building resorts or naming golf courses, the deal-maker works with a particular situation because he thinks there is profit to be made there; if there isn’t profit to be made, he just looks somewhere else to do business instead. The occupant of the Oval Office has nothing like that sort of freedom to choose what problems to handle.

Another major difference involves having to deal with multiple and conflicting constituencies and interests — which is intrinsic to the art and skill of politics. The CEO of a major corporation gets into this somewhat, in the sense of having to deal with labor and customers as well as shareholders, but even there a bottom line of shareholder value (or executive suite value) predominates.

Juggling commercial balls is not like juggling political balls, given the fundamentally different sorts of claims for consideration from would-be stakeholders. And for a wheeler-dealer financial engineer, multiple constituencies need not be involved at all.

We also should consider the basic dimension of the public interest versus self-interest, and where the values of an individual really lie as indicated by past life choices. Of course, public office as well as private sector pursuits can be used as a vehicle for pursuing blind personal ambition — for a good portrait of a current example, see Frank Bruni’s take on Ted Cruz. But complete absence of any public service is itself a strong statement about this dimension.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

As with other aspects of the Trump phenomenon — such as the xenophobia, the misogyny, and the wall-building nationalism — Trump’s success in this election campaign reflects larger attitudes, be they those of angry white men or something else. As many commentators have observed, some of the most prominent themes that Trump has ridden to the nomination had already been nurtured and ridden, sometimes in slightly different and less crude form, by others — especially within the Republican Party, and in that sense the party deserves to get Trump as its nominee.

The same is true of the rejection, also represented by Trump, of public service and of selfless dedication to a greater public good. Government service and government programs are not the only way to serve the public good in general, but for many specific public needs they are the only way to serve them.

We hear the rejection incessantly in the form of the “government bad, private sector good” mantra that takes innumerable forms every day on Capitol Hill, from bureaucrat-bashing to ignoring crying needs that can only be answered by a larger government program — such as repairing debilitated transportation infrastructure, of which anyone who rides Washington’s maintenance-deferred, and frequently breaking down, Metro system to work is acutely aware.

Disdain for Government

We have seen other manifestations of the same set of attitudes from other candidates in this year’s Republican race. There is Cruz, who even before his inane call to abolish the IRS (so then who collects taxes?) had devoted his tenure in the Senate to trying to shut down government rather than trying to make it work better. There is Marco Rubio, who even before his presidential campaign got rolling, had lost interest in doing his senatorial job and in working at it full time for six full years on behalf of the constituents who had elected him to do so.

And speaking of senators doing or not doing their jobs, there is of course the willful crippling of the Supreme Court for at least a year by the majority party in the Senate refusing to consider President Barack Obama’s nomination to fill a vacancy.

Aspects of these attitudes, voiced as they are so incessantly from one side of the political spectrum, have cultivated corresponding attitudes in the larger American population. Heroes to the American public do not tend to be, as they once were, those who made exceptional sacrifices or performed exceptional deeds on behalf of the public good. Today they are at least as likely to be successful entrepreneurs — someone such as, say, Steve Jobs — who are admired for some combination of their financial success and the way they have satisfied us not as citizens but as consumers.

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. (Photo credit: mittromney.com)

Republican 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney. (Photo credit: mittromney.com)

We have seen a slight foreshadowing of the Trump phenomenon in the presidential nominations in the most recent years. Consider the two Republican opponents who ran against Barack Obama. In 2008 it was John McCain, a senior senator and a war hero. In 2012 it was Mitt Romney, who — although his single term as governor of Massachusetts would have kept alive the unbroken string of public service experience among U.S. presidents — has devoted the rest of his career to being a private equity artist. i.e., a financial engineer, making deals to turn profits without a public interest being served, very much in the manner of Trump’s dealings. Trump brought this mini-trend full circle last year with his disgraceful comments in which he said McCain was not a war hero but a loser.

The rejection of a sense of public spirit, and with that rejection the associated attitude that government is always a problem and never part of the solution, inflicts immense damage on the public good, even though much of that damage is less apparent than the condition of Washington’s Metro.

President Ronald Reagan, delivering his Inaugural Address on Jan. 20, 1981.

President Ronald Reagan, delivering his Inaugural Address on Jan. 20, 1981, in which he declared, “government is the problem.”

Or sometimes it only becomes apparent when the damage becomes great enough to cause a crisis, as it has recently with the contamination of the public water supply in Flint, Michigan. Efforts of Republicans in Congress to deflect blame away from the Republican governor whose administration had taken control of the city and aim it instead at part of the despised federal bureaucracy, the Environmental Protection Agency, ignored how Congress had intentionally legislated away the power of EPA to do much in such situations.

President Obama, who visited Flint this week, spoke accurately about the “corrosive attitude” that opposes government investments in public infrastructure. “It’s a mind-set that says that environmental rules designed to keep your water clean or your air clean are optional or not that important,” Mr. Obama said. “That attitude is as corrosive to our democracy as the stuff that results in lead in your water.”

People focused on making fortunes in the private sector should reflect on the lesson provided by Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson in the most recent Foreign Affairs, in which they explain, “It was the emergence in the first half of the twentieth century of a robust U.S. government willing and able to act boldly on behalf of the country as a whole that led to spectacular advances in national well-being over many decades.”

Steve Jobs was a terrific innovator, but look inside that iPhone that helped make him a hero, note Hacker and Pierson, and “you’ll find that most of its major components (GPS, lithium-ion batteries, cellular technology, touch-screen and LCD displays, Internet connectivity) rest on research that was publicly funded or even directly carried out by government agencies.”

The authors sadly note that “it has been the withering of government capabilities, ambitions, and independence in the last generation or two that has been a major cause of the drying up of the good times” that had prevailed in particular during the first three decades after World War II.

The dominant public philosophy in the United States about individual citizens’ relationship with their nation and their government has experienced a big turn for the worse in the half century since John Kennedy was urging citizens to ask what they can do for their country rather than what their country can do for them. The nomination by a major party of someone who has done nothing for his country and instead boasts of an ability to make money-making deals is a culmination of this terrible trend.

Donald Trump has exploited that trend, but there are many others who share responsibility for the trend and continue to exert their malign influence on American attitudes today.

Paul R. Pillar, in his 28 years at the Central Intelligence Agency, rose to be one of the agency’s top analysts. He is now a visiting professor at Georgetown University for security studies. (This article first appeared as a blog post at The National Interest’s Web site. Reprinted with author’s permission.)

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34 comments for “Dangers from Hating Government

  1. May 8, 2016 at 4:24 am

    The is a one sided attack on Republicans. The article is correct about the effects of government hating, or in the case of Trump, a lack of previous governing experience, as a qualification for government service, but it fails in that it does not address the use of government service by politicians to enrich themselves, or a particular constituency that agrees to fund their success in securing and maintaining their role and power in and outside of government, as some politicians on both sides of the political spectrum have done for many decades. This is typical of what the Clintons have done over the years. Such negative experience and entrenchment by public officials can be every bit as bad, or even worse, than a lack of previous experience in government service.?

    • Peter Loeb
      May 8, 2016 at 8:09 am

      THE PERSISTENT MYTHS OF “DEMOCRATIC’ GOVERNMENT

      Elwood Anderson is correct is his characterization of Paul Pillar’s
      article as a one-sided attack on Republicans. We can all expect
      many more. Our society is as accustomed to these attacks, tactics.
      strategies as a diet as regular as their morning corn flakes and
      coffee for breakfast.

      For a more profound analysis of the response of critics of the status
      quo, two sources are required:

      1. “REASON AND RADICALISM” by Gabriel Kolko, an essay appearing
      as “epilogue” to his brief book THE ROOTS OF AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY…

      2, MAIN CURRENTS OF CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN HISTORY, by
      Gabriel Kolko.

      The basic points are that what is conventional wisdom for liberals and
      “progressives” never held up to close scrutiny.

      Among these are:

      *FDR and the New Deal saved America from the Great Depression.
      World War Two did as unpalatable as that may be. There was work
      for everyone as well as death for many. Weapons manufacturers
      received perks (factories, cost plus guarantees etc) and profits.

      * American Labor rescued workers.

      Kolko’s analyses of these problems and more did not enhance
      his popularity with liberal/progressive pundits and commentators.

      There are many other questions .

      In regard to these liberal myths, the worn- out faiths in these and
      other governmental solutions have lost luster for the thousands
      who are evicted, who are homeless, who are murdered on
      our streets and so forth. Many wonder (to use a now-defunct
      TV ad): “:Where’s the beef?”

      For the old Democrats still hanging around on old resumes the
      issue is: How long can this keep going on?”

      Incidentally, Kolko in “Reason and Radicalism” deals with the
      issues of academic solutions. One might put the so-called
      Bernie Sanders “revolution” which never was a revolution
      at all. As expected, his proposals never received strong
      support from groups who were intended to benefit (minority
      groups etc.)

      I urge Paul Pillar and his colleagues at Consortium to
      be sourceS of analysis for us in the years that are to come.

      —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

      • Chuck
        May 8, 2016 at 11:28 am

        Thank you for another fallacious Republican word salad proving you possess poor writing skills enabled by your equally poor critical thinking skills. Your comment is a combo plate appeal to authority with a side of appeal to emotion logical fallacies. No evidence is presented within your commentary which might provide support to even one shred of your narrowly focused polemic analysis. If your intent was to convince others of the sophomoric level your insights have reached, well done sir!

        • Brad Owen
          May 9, 2016 at 6:56 am

          He can’t help it, Chuck. He’s in the firm and powerful grip of a “Big Idea”. I suffered the same fate for awhile, when I was firmly gripped by big “L” “Libertarianism”. It takes a few personal collisions with reality, before the “Big Idea” is knocked loose from one’s mind. I finally saw, first hand, the shitty results of “Privatization & DE-Regulation”. I finally saw that the “Government=BAD” themes of libertarianism was simply meant to RE-Empower the parasitical Rentier Class, and to ruin the mechanism (ie. government-as-a-democratic Republic) for promoting/providing for, the General Welfare, or Common Good, turning such duties over to privateers & pirates (ie. the Rentier Class). Of all the inventions of humankind, government is the greatest of them all. The REAL issue is WHO gets to control this mechanism. Many feints & deceptions & ploys are used by some faction or another to gain “ownership” of this marvelous mechanism, because it can obviously do what it is set up to do: either Promote the General Welfare, Establish Justice, Provide for the Common DEFENSE; or enrich and empower Imperial Rentiers & Privateers at the expense of the Public & IT’S General Welfare.

          • Gud
            May 9, 2016 at 11:26 am

            Spot on. It never ceases to amaze me, how easily the relatively intelgent people get caught up in simplistic ideologies. Reality is much too complicated for any simple set of rules to ever work.

            Even libertarians agree goverment is required to provide basic security to enable volantary transactions. Why stop there? The tauted model market of econ 101 requires infinitely knowledgable actors operating under perfect rational utility-maximizing function. Even then there are inherent failure modes of such markets in form of natural monopolies and oligopolistic collusion.

            What it means in practice is fraud and prevalence of information asymmetry to the benefit of market insiders. Not everybody can be expert at everything. No practical substitute for governance, even if that can still come from the private entities. The key is how to make such governence perform efficiently and still to the general welfare.

            Nonetheless, the rentier class and other such things are yet another massive oversimplification. There is as much diversity of moral and other qualties at the top as anywhere. Keep in mind that the skill, knowledge, tallent, and experience are still generally overrepresented towards the higher social layers. When class warfare gets nasty, it is probably not to the long-term benefit of either side. Naturally, it is always “them” and never “us” who start it.

          • May 11, 2016 at 9:47 am

            Brad, you have it exactly right! I understand precisely what you said and the rentier class are at the root of the problem. Jack. ps. Michael Hudsons book, Killing the host, spells it out perfectly!

    • Wm. Boyce
      May 12, 2016 at 9:55 pm

      The article is about Trump’s lack of public service and its unprecedented nature. I’m sure the author could write about the Clinton’s past if he so chose.

  2. Erik
    May 8, 2016 at 8:34 am

    The “dominant public philosophy” is that of those who have only “ability to make money-making deals” because they own the mass media. They celebrate only themselves, and knowing that their income is essentially stolen and contrary to the public interest, make money=virtue their philosophy and seek to suppress dissent by the abuse of economic power. That sums up the Repub worldview at the top level, and they should be credited only with admitting it, unlike most Dems.

    The Dems once worked for “a robust U.S. government willing and able to act boldly on behalf of the country as a whole” and many showed “selfless dedication to a greater public good.” On occasion they have even advocated real foreign aid beyond military aid or money to buy overpriced US goods. A few have resisted insane wars. Now they mostly go along with money=virtue and represent the oligarchy. Presumably they know that a true “public spirit” doesn’t sell, because the people themselves are corrupted by the mass media ideology of sales, and the excuses for selfishness of its oligarchy owners.

    As the career of Berrigan and other activists shows, the source of a true “public spirit” in the US is not the mass media. It requires a university, activist group, church, or other means to share and learn the valuing of action in the interest of all humanity. All politicians should have that spirit, and no one should vote for anyone who does not. It is rare and endangered despite being the only legitimate measure of human worth to humanity.

  3. R Davis
    May 8, 2016 at 9:19 am

    At the last election the Republican Party ran with Mitt Romney.
    American voters were never going to put Mitt Romney into the White House.
    Mitt Romney is a religious leader, equal to a Roman Catholic Pope.
    Never are the American people going to vote a religious leader as President of the USA.
    The Lavishly paid spin doctors working for the REpublican Party knew this … so what happened ?
    Mitt Romney lost the unlosable election for the Republican party / the Republican Party deliberately threw the election ?

    Donald Trump.
    Is he supposed to win the election & become President of the USA.
    Are the Republican Party truely expecting him to win the Presidency for them.
    Or –
    Have the Republican Party’s Power Brokers – not game enough to try & pull a fast one again – crossed their fingers real tight & hoping with all their might that poor old Donald Trump will not be seen as the desirable element & lose the election.

  4. SBayer
    May 8, 2016 at 9:52 am

    No, Trump’s campaign is not “anti-government”. Rather, his critique is that the government is doing very poorly the things it ought to be doing. Trade agreements are a splendid example, in that they are negotiated not to serve the national interest, but rather the interests of corporations whose trade associations, lobbyists and public relations firms have shaped them.

    There are certainly problems with an amateur politician seeking the presidency. Foremost among them is that he has no conception of the pressure that the interest groups will bring to bear on him, first as the nominee, and then, if he is elected, as the President. For even an experienced politician who has successfully managed interest group pressures to the point of securing the nomination is likely to be surprised by how dramatically those pressures escalate, and if elected will be shocked at how totally dependent the management of the executive branch is on the cooperation of the Senate Majority Leader. (Recall that when Harry Reid promoted a health care bill that Obama had vigorously opposed during the 2008 primary campaign, Reid withheld confirmation of 180 Obama appointees to the senior executive positions, citing “secret holds”, until Obama finally endorsed what is now called, ironically, “Obamacare”.)

    The immediate unknown we face with Trump is this: how will he handle the escalating pressure as the presumptive party nominee? How many concessions will he make to secure “party unity”.

    For example, has he already backed off his “neutrality” position on the Israel/Palestine conflict to secure Adelson’s support?

    Also: John Kerry this week announced a deadline of August 8 for the departure of Assad from the Syrian government, or “Plan B” will be implemented. How will Trump respond?

  5. SBayer
    May 8, 2016 at 9:53 am

    No, Trump’s campaign is not “anti-government”. Rather, his critique is that the government is doing very poorly the things it ought to be doing. Trade agreements are a splendid example, in that they are negotiated not to serve the national interest, but rather the interests of corporations whose trade associations, lobbyists and public relations firms have shaped them.

    There are certainly problems with an amateur politician seeking the presidency. Foremost among them is that he has no conception of the pressure that the interest groups will bring to bear on him, first as the nominee, and then, if he is elected, as the President. For even an experienced politician who has successfully managed interest group pressures to the point of securing the nomination is likely to be surprised by how dramatically those pressures escalate, and if elected will be shocked at how totally dependent the management of the executive branch is on the cooperation of the Senate Majority Leader. (Recall that when Harry Reid promoted a health care bill that Obama had vigorously opposed during the 2008 primary campaign, Reid withheld confirmation of 180 Obama appointees to the senior executive positions, citing “secret holds”, until Obama finally endorsed what is now called, ironically, “Obamacare”.)

    The immediate unknown we face with Trump is this: how will he handle the escalating pressure as the presumptive party nominee? How many concessions will he make to secure “party unity”.

    For example, has he already backed off his “neutrality” position on the Israel/Palestine conflict to secure Adelson’s support?

    Also: John Kerry this week announced a deadline of August 8 for the departure of Assad from the Syrian government, or “Plan B” will be implemented. How will Trump respond?

    • Gud
      May 9, 2016 at 4:51 am

      Thanks for your insightful comment.

      If you may recall, when FDR got elected, there was a serious talk about disbanding congress. It proved to be unnecessary in the end, as the opposition got the message and fell in line.

      Mr. Trump has the backing of pitchforks behind him, knows how to play hardball, and is importantly not dependant on the special intersts funding in the elections or after leaving the government. Betwen him and Sanders supporters ther is the “silent” majority – the people who did not bother to vote in the last midterm elections. While sucess is certainly not guaranteed, he has as good of a chance as anyone. Look at the ingenious way he got where he is already, with rather little money spent.

      Obama, while perhaps with a good heart, had none of the ingenuity, independence of funding, or the pitckforks behind. He is also only human and president’s salary is hardly enough to provide for his family’s wellfare after, by the level appropriate to that position.

      I would not look too deeply into Trumps AIPAC speach. Like any poltician, he is at will to change his words as is expedient to immediate job at hand. The problem for Adelaon is precisely that he still doesn’t give the funding or gain control over further actions.

      As for Syria, how is this even something Trump can do anything about yet? What is plan B exactly? MANPADs? Mr. Putin is obviously a skilled operator – they already announced the pullout. If they so choose by August 8, it might be all done in Syria. Just as how one provides MANPADs, without those then being promptly used to shut down Western planes as well? How would that look? Will surely seal Trump victory. And if somehow they do not reach the “right” folks, I am sure Russian intelligence can fix that. Never mind Saudi Arabia being insane enough to threaten US itself about pulling out of petrodallar. So, all in all seems like more bluffing from the proven mediocrity.

      • Brad Owen
        May 10, 2016 at 7:25 am

        To GUD; I liked your reply above. Point well taken. Don’t want to fall into another “paint-by-numbers” simplification of reality. I happen to believe it is possible for a true “Aristocracy” (moral, intelligent, wise, with a strong sense of noblesse oblige) of wealthy statesmen to exist. FDR happens to be a fairly good example of such (I don’t think Trump makes the grade; pure Plutocrat that one). In fact, if more of our debased Plutocrats had been actual Aristocrats, there would be no threat of Revolution.

        • Gud
          May 11, 2016 at 9:25 am

          Ironically just had an opportunity to refer to FDR in another discussion. When he got elected there were machine gun nests at the corners of govt buildings. There were serious discussions whether he should disband congress. Historians often say he saved capitalism from itself. There was revolution in the air diring that election cycle. If he unlike Trump was a true aristocrat, then howcome there was more of a threat of Revolution than it is now.

          History and historical heroes are airbrushed over time. Nice things to teach kids and self-serving to those same aristocarcies who have influence on that among other things. Dig a bit into FDR and you will find more not so nice things, especially by the standards of his time. See womanizing for instance and planning to divorce his wife.

          So, Trump can end up being judged much better by history than now appears. Thinking about it, FDR and Trump do actually have more in common. They even both come from NY. Trump might be smarter and business savvy, but FDR did way more public service and had eloquence in speaches and radio. Ah the mass media, anti-elitism, and internet that destroyed those nice (but still superficial) eloquence of the past.

          Oh and I don’t think aristocratic clans can last for too many generations without doing real damage… But that’s a separate matter.

          • Brad Owen
            May 11, 2016 at 11:58 am

            I think it all rests in the “Noblesse Oblige” thing, and walking it like one talks it. The suffering was greater then, than now (due, in large extent, to the continuing existence of some left-over New Deal, and New Deal-inspired Policies to mitigate today’s suffering). I was watching an FDR documentary some months back, wherein FDR said he had no ideology; that he was a Christian and a democrat and that was all. Also, he apparently took-to-heart the injunction to “Promote The General Welfare” which is just a modern, secular way of saying Jesus’s 2nd Commandment to love one another (the Christian thing to do, concerning one’s fellow man). He demonstrated that in his New Deal policies. Also, an Aristocrat isn’t a Saint or one of the 12 Disciples re-incarnate. He or she would basically be more good than evil, in character, and have a real, working concern for the General Welfare, DESPITE personal character flaws. IF we had one of our modern, post-Reagan-era Presidents back during the Great Depression, we would have fallen into Fascism back then, like so many other European Countries did, and a “white trash-talking” billionaire-for-Prez won’t pull the bacon outta the fire, like FDR did, while ALSO managing to assist (to the detriment of his civil New Deal Policies), in a major way, to put down the threat of World-wide Fascism (a.k.a. WWII). Yeah, I agree an Aristocratic character isn’t an inherited thing; it ends with the particular Aristocrat and remains to be seen-and-demonstrated in any progeny. I use the term in the literal sense: people of good and Noble character, the best & brightest of any society (who will generally be financially well off, BECAUSE of these character traits)

          • Gud
            May 12, 2016 at 1:53 am

            I do agree, intrinsic motivation (a generalisation of “Noblesse Oblie”) is important and much underappreciated by modern economics. Even better when such is also combined with proper extrinsic motivation (money, fame, etc). So, to me the best model is one of a limited, small but strong government standing above olygarchy, big biz, and special interests. That means comparable levels of compensation and career paths among other things.

            “Promoting general welfare” is actually a phrase in the US constitution.

            I agree about the factors alleviating current situation versus back then. I would also add quantitative easing and zero interest rates by federal reserve. All add up to ER “life support,” but not the actual cure. However, do not underestimate psychological factors of people who lost all hope. In terms of absolute economic level, they can well be better than the median in third world country or a society of 100 years ago. But they would not feel it, especially when the myth of the American dream and the corresponding “if you are poor, it’s all your fault” line is up in the air.

            Back to FDR. You know the Roosevelt clan made it in part on China opium trade! They are still around invested in China among other things. This is another quality over-represented at the top. Tendency to push rules, at times, to the point of crossing basic moral boundaries. None of us are perfect regardless of wealth, and the degree varies, but especially super-wealth is rarely made by being nice throughout.

            The New Deal was not just one program. There were a few rounds. They kept on trying and trying, until something stuck. Didn’t have a plan for all of it at the beginning. Historians are not even 100% sure it was the New Deal and not the military buildup towards entering WWII that did the final trick.

            Yet, here are some less pleasant things FDR did. The military-industrial complex gets going under him, so is the overall massive sprawling goverment. He did save America from fascism (or communism – whicheve way the wind would have blown), but it is also well documented that he tricked America into WWII despite the will of isolationist congress. He manipulated Japan into the corner with a full oil blockade. Everyone in the White House was expecting war to start in the month leading to Perl Harbor. Some even speculate that it was no accident the aircraft carriers were not there. He did intern the Japanese Americans and they never got much of their confiscated property back. As for saving the world from fascism, there were radio commentators at the time discussing who to support the Nazi Germany or Communist USSR, concluding to support the losing side to help them wipe each other out. They entered the war rather late, well after many decisive battles have been fought. Land & Lease, while significant, is generally concluded by historians to be not decisive. They entered the war exactly at thee right time to, with relatively minor casualties, prevent anyone from dominating all of continental Europe. Smart, but hardly noble. Oh, and don’t forget those pseudo-scientific racial ideas do not originate in Germany, but rather in UK and US (see eugenics and eugenics-based immigration quotas).

            Last but not least is the rich were also scared of revolution and losing it all (machine guns!!!). So he saved his own class as well.

            See, it never was just nice and noble? In many ways it’s better now than then.

            Back to Trump. I actually read parts of his art of the deal right before this whole media circus got going. He does not come across anything like the persona in today’s media. Sizeable ego, but not clearly overblown, plenty of self-scepticism and independent thinking. He also outlines the “any publicity, even bad, can be used to ones advantage” strategy he is clearly using to get the most media coverage for a very little expense to his campaign. In plain English, that “white trash-talking persona” is something clearly conciously created to win Republican nomination. All the carefully setup opportunities for misquoting are also no accident. “Rapists” and a few sentences down the road “I have lots of good latino friends, most are decent people…” That’s why he is smarter then FDR. The situation is not as clearly dire, and the mass-media propaganda gauntlet is way more sophisticated… he’d not have a chance with high-brow speeches. Why would a guy like him run and expose himself, his family, and his biz interests to deep scrutiny and attacks, possibly even assassination. He could have just continued to buy the puppets to do his bidding. I would guess there is a real intrinsic component to his motivation similar to FDR.

            Oh and this is all predictable. See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strauss%E2%80%93Howe_generational_theory

  6. dahoit
    May 8, 2016 at 11:52 am

    Wow,I guess the CIA wants no part of Trump!Heehee.Close the place down,please!
    The only people who hate the govt are libertarian ideologues.We want good govt,one that responds to the needs of its people,and Trump says he will deliver.
    know a man by his enemies,and DTs are the Zionists,the worst humans in the history of the planet,bar none.

  7. Zachary Smith
    May 8, 2016 at 4:13 pm

    In that respect one of the most glaring attributes of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is that, were he to become president, he would be the only president in the history of the United States to have entered that office with no prior public service. Every U.S. president to date, from Washington through Obama, has either held elective office at the level of at least the U.S. Congress or governor of a state, or been appointed to public office at the level of the federal cabinet, or been a senior military officer at the level of a general who has commanded major campaigns.

    Elevating Big Generals – as a group – to being qualified for the Presidency bothers me. Jackson, Grant, and Eisenhower are among that group. Successfully commanding large groups of men hardly qualifies somebody for being President – at least in my opinion. Eisenhower is held up as a paragon among that bunch, but the man could have hardly failed, given the situation of the US and the world at that time. Even so, he managed to start several messes which plague us to this day.

    Herbert Hoover and William Howard Taft were members of Presidential Cabinets and were never elected to any office. IMO neither did very well in higher office.

    Finally, the Democrat Wendell Willkie came straight from Big Business, got a quickie sprinkling of Republican Angel Dust, and became the 1940 candidate.

    Trump has many problems, but these days inexperience in Government is not necessarily one of them.

    As for the rest of it, I suggest Mr. Pillar take a look at why both Trump and Sanders have done so well this year. Consider that trade treaty which both national parties want to cram down out throats. Both of them say they’re against it. Both of them say they don’t want to cut Social Security.

    I’m going to catch hell for this, but ousting illegal aliens is NOT a bad idea. (and some of the “legal” aliens allowed to come to the US to eject current workers from their jobs and save The Company money on wages) Trump, in his loudmouth and blowhard fashion, manages to muck up the issue, but coddling Big and Little Business with cheap and terrified workers needs to be ended. I would specify that any ejections ought to be done in a sober and legal and even leisurely fashion, with the aliens being permitted to sell all property and take the proceeds with them back home – wherever home is.

    Both Sanders and Trump say Rich People don’t pay enough taxes. They may both be lying for election purposes, but it sure sounds good from here.

    Finally, some reading for Mr. Pillar.

    http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/279067-10-issues-dividing-donald-trump-and-paul-ryan

    I don’t want Trump to be President, but if it comes down to him or Hillary, the man looks pretty darned good by comparison. And even better if the Powers That Be pull Mitt Romney or some similar twit out of the woodwork.

  8. Chuck
    May 8, 2016 at 4:36 pm

    Nonsense, Trump is a patriot who vows to make America great again!

    • May 11, 2016 at 12:32 pm

      Hitler and Mussolini also vowed to make their respective countries great again.

  9. inooc biriina
    May 8, 2016 at 4:37 pm

    I total succum to ur views, dear clever elwood anderson.

  10. inooc biriina
    May 8, 2016 at 5:52 pm

    Dear,zachary smith.the earlier u wholly accept the fact that donald trump succeds obama,the better 4 u and ur likes. however some says trump is an outsider and inexperience in the public service.these are the attributes that ,the long expected and awaited ‘black-president’ of the united state must possess.

  11. Mcbart
    May 8, 2016 at 6:55 pm

    Government achieves its ends by means of theft, violence and coercion. The free market is based upon voluntary association with respect for property rights. Perhaps this is the reason why people prefer the private sector. I don’t know… Were you also under the illusion that the government actually has any money? There is no such thing as “public funding” All wealth is generated by the free market.

    The CIA, for example, is in the business of destroying humanity. That’s not a very good business model. You don’t get such atrocities in the private sector.

    I would expect nothing less from a statist parasite. Most people who work for the government are stupid. This article makes the case clearly.

    • Kiza
      May 8, 2016 at 9:55 pm

      BRAVO!

  12. Phucc You
    May 8, 2016 at 9:36 pm

    God I hope you roast in hell Paul. I could go on a tirade about the kunt juice you queffed all through this article about the rubbish of people being anti-government and whose to blame besides the acts of the malcontents in government like yourself. The EPA killed the Animas River not because they lacked power to do something different, but because they are incompetent. The military failed in Afghanistan, failed in Iraq (on CIA info I might add, remember… yellow cake and aluminum tubes, oh my!) The list is so long of atrocities, fraud, theft, and murder by you miscreants that are government that it could make a toilet paper ladder to the moon.

    You don’t get it. None of you lying, tax dollar stealing, phucc wits get it. Most of us would rather have 500 billion annually spent on infrastructure like water pipes, roads, bridges and parks than on a non-flying F 35. Clean water in Flint failed because the manufacturing jobs of Michigan are gone with the NAFTA winds and the corporate tax dollars and individual tax dollars have fled; which rhymes with lead and Richard Noggin. Government hasn’t built caca. They have overseen private companies do all the building. You a$$hats don’t build airplanes Boeing does, you queffes don’t build high pressure valves Baker Hughes does and so on and so on. You were supposed to be the public’s hardworking and trust worthy middle man and you have failed. Now you want to blame Joe Smith, Alejandra Rodriguez, Tyrone Johnson, Jung Kim, Mohammad Al Kasir and every other dissatisfied American for wanting you all fired and someone and something better.

    You act like the Repukes and Demontraps use different madams for hookers and different CIA planes for their coke, you lying phucc. People don’t necessarily hate government, we hate corruption and the Apocalypse is here to shed the light on all of you demons. The government of Uncle Samael has made the earth a living hell for 90% of all life on this planet not the average citizen fed up with fraud and government malfeasance. Do see how short the truth can be jotted down compared to the subterfuge you unleashed to obfuscate the lack of honesty pigs at the trough like you have to oink out to keep hearing, “Suuueeeey, suey, suey, suey!” I hope everyone understands now why The Christ cast demons into pigs.

    Your father is the original liar and murderer. I pray everyday that there will be a meteor or earthquake that hits D C on the day when all of you are in town! Phucc him and everyone like you that will lie and murder to keep the status quo! You better confess and repent. Time is short, demon.

  13. Kiza
    May 8, 2016 at 9:53 pm

    Well, well, now we know that if an article is by Paul R. Pillar it will be an apologetia of Hitlary Clinton and the pivotal argument of her election campaign. I guess, it is only fitting that the regime’s status quo with Hitlary is defended here by someone when Ray McGovern is attacking it. “Trump has no public service experience”, ha, ha, ha, only the most stupid ‘muricans can swallow such pro-Hitlary tosh. As someone who worked in the private domain for most of my life, I lived to read the mythologization of “public service”, which most people from my environment considered a lazy bunch, 5 pm dash home, no-good bureaucrats, the leeches of the society.

    I vote for this article to be declared the most stupid article on Consortiumnews ever (BTW, I consider Trump just a lesser evil than Hitlary, he will never make a good President).

    • Joe Tedesky
      May 9, 2016 at 1:14 am

      Hillary’s experience gave her that gut feeling, like, to use a private server….now, that’s exceptional experience that’s hard to come by!

      • Kiza
        May 9, 2016 at 3:50 am

        Hello Joe, hope you are well. Is this the end of the Presidential nightmare candidate: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/article37968711.html ? It appears that not a single email from her private server will be lost. One of the things the Clintons are famous for are the disappearing emails (wiped off), but the technology got the better of them this time – her private server email went to a cloud back up without her knowledge – touché! No customary obstruction of justice possible this time.

        It only remains to be seen what the definition of “email” is, like the definition of “is” was. But maybe we will end up with your favorite candidate in this race after all: Sanders/Trump race would be absolutely the most interesting show on Earth. Fingers crossed.

  14. Nancy
    May 8, 2016 at 11:07 pm

    Thank you for your words. Speechless when imagining our current plight.

  15. H. E. Parmer
    May 9, 2016 at 3:23 am

    Wow! Leaving aside the Randroids whose notion of an ideal society is Somalia, here I thought the Trump brigade was a bunch of ignorant yahoos, cryptofascists, white nationalists and gun fondlers with a rich fantasy life. Then I read this comment thread — and found absolutely no reason to alter my opinion.

    Some of you people seem to be laboring under the delusion you’re electing a God King, not a President. I’ll bet not a one has the slightest idea of this clown’s history as a “businessman”. This touching faith that the guy responsible for Trump University has any sympathy for you willing marks would be grimly hilarious, if the stakes weren’t so high.

    Just for a little thought experiment while you watch the big donors and the GOP elites fall in line behind The Donald,
    consider this: If they really considered him some kind of existential threat to the status quo, why are they now going along with him? What are he or his representatives telling them behind closed doors? What kind of assurances is he giving? Who’s being conned, them, or you?

    And believe me, I am no fan of the Clintons, but seriously: Hitlery? That one passed its sell-by date twenty years ago. C’mon now, can’t you be a bit more creative? And it may just be me, but which candidate here has a thing for huge rallies where he rambles incoherently, peddling bigotry and xenophobia to wildly enthusiastic crowds whose collective albedo for some odd reason rivals the Polar ice cap? Let’s just say it makes your moldy play on words a tad ironic …

    • Kiza
      May 9, 2016 at 4:09 am

      Of course, no one from the Hitlary-only brigade belongs to the brigade. FYI, the name is Hitlary because she has a knack to call foreign statesmen Hitler. This shows well her “public service” background, because imagine if the private business CEO called a competing CEO “Hitler” and then had to negotiate an important deal with him tomorrow – what would he/she gain for his/her company after such an opening? Since the creature (Cankles) called Putin a Hitler (and some members of Putin’s family were killed by the Hitler’s troops in Russia in WW2), this is a wonderful basis to negotiate for US interests with Russia tomorrow. Or do you, as another proponent of “public service”, consider that you just blast away the competition with nuclear weapons? If so, then you are the dangerous nut case and one of “ignorant yahoos, cryptofascists, white nationalists and gun fondlers with a rich fantasy life” that you describe. The President is a chief diplomat of a country, just like a company CEO is the chief salesman/saleswoman, not a blood thirsty, name-calling war harpy.

      Yes, it is anyone-but-Hitlary: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-05-06/americans-admit-top-reason-vote-trump-stop-clinton

  16. Bill Bodden
    May 9, 2016 at 11:03 am

    Mr. Pillar: Lacking the benefit of an education at Trump University and a stimulating association with its alumni I am unable to compete with the elegant eloquence of your critics, but perhaps a simple “thank you” for this and your many other contributions to Consortium News will suffice.

  17. May 10, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    Americans are caught between a rock and a hardpiece as the saying goes.
    Killery as the name implies has nothing to offer the American people or the country outside of one disaster after the other. There isn’t a single “monument” any American can point to with PRIDE that is of her creation, the landscape is thrown with her disasters.
    As for The Donald, I do not want to start the list of “monuments” of his creation and making but as example I will just take one, the best known worldwide TRUMP TOWERS. Everything n the US that has the name TRUMP is making money (maintaining itself by means of conducting business being i.e. hotel or Casino NOT stock FLIPPING in Wall Street.) The Donald put working people to work in his businesses, who does Killery and “I did not have sex with that woman” put to work? NOBODY. As a matter of fact they’re stealing jobs from the poor in the Caribbean.
    Wake up American you do not have much of a choice with a one (1) party with two (2) wings flappen. Sanders already said if he loses he will give the whole kid and caboodle to Killery so the ONLY chance left is The Donald. If you think you have a problem never forget the problem is of your own making by only having this criminal political so called two Party System ever since them religious fanatics called Pelgrim fathers (outcast from Great Britain also told to “keep trucking” by the Dutch citizens who had just completed 80-year RC War with Spain stepped ashore at Plymouth Rock.
    You haven’t got much choice Americans. The only choice you have is The Donald, like it or not. At least he is a businessman with successful Large businesses all of which he never let his creditors – many of them people with these Special Noses, you know the ones – take away from him by fighting them to a standstill in the courts.

  18. RPDC
    May 11, 2016 at 8:25 pm

    This is an odd critique given Trump’s actual positions. Compared to the recent Republican candidates, Trump might as well be the reincarnation of FDR. He is well to the left of Clinton on Social Security and Medicare, and took a ballsy position on universal health care “paid for by the government.” He’s not pushing the insipid Libertarian nihilism that the right has used for cover since Reagan.

    The government programs he has pilloried have been the same ones rightfully attacked by this site, namely the Empire and sovereignty-defeating trade deals like the TPP and TTIP.

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