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What in the World?

Trump and Obama bottom 10% of presidents in US history

Nov 02, 2022


Though former President Donald Trump has been impeached twice and entangled in multiple scandals, there’s a decent chance he will run again in the 2024 presidential election. He’s been stepping up his support of GOP candidates in the midterms, some say, to build momentum for his own campaign. Before him was Barack Obama, a president some believe helped turn the country towards Trump. Straight Arrow News contributor Peter Zeihan argues both Obama and Trump have more similarities than what people might think, and both rank in his bottom 10% of presidents in U.S. history.

Excerpted from Peter’s Nov. 2 “Zeihan on Geopolitics” newsletter:

The best way to understand Donald Trump is to compare him to his immediate predecessor, President Obama. Both were outside candidates who came with their own political support and ran on charisma, rather than policy. When President Trump came into office, unlike Obama, he embraced his party; taking it over by systematically kicking out factions he found problematic and recreating the party in his own image.

President Obama really understood what was going on in the world, but had no interest in meeting with the people who could create policy, resulting in 8 years of nothing. Donald Trump was similarly disinterested in what others had to say, but he loved the limelight. He released policy via tweet and hoped the government would take it and run. There was no shortage of loud, brash and bold policies, but they were never implemented because the president was already moving onto the next thing. Trump’s ever-present government by speech and tweet was the same across domestic and foreign policy.

Hi, everyone, Peter Zion here coming to you from DC once again with the next installment of our leadership series on world leaders of the present and recent past, obviously have the capital here behind me, which is, I’ve been coming in and out of DC for 25 years now, it’s always under construction, which I think says something was government. And the food trucks in front of it are more reliable for food service than anything that’s inside, which I think is equally good for a backdrop for the president we’re gonna talk about now, which is Donald Trump. I think the best way to understand Trump is to compare him to his immediate present predecessor, who is by far the most similar American president to Trump, in all the ways that matter, they were identical and all the ways that matter, they were absolutely opposite. And that kind of shaped who he is. So for example, Barack Obama didn’t run really as a Democrat, he was an outside candidate who came with his own political support and ran on charisma rather than policy. Sound familiar? But where as Obama then shunned the party, when he got into the President won’t talk to anyone. Donald Trump embraced the party and took it over and systematically kicked out factions that he found problematic, like, say national security, fiscal and business conservatives, he remade the party in his own image. As to policy, Donald Trump was almost identical in many ways, but also the inverse. So Obama was super brainy. And he felt he needed to understand the ins and outs of everything that was happening in the world. And he really did understand. But since he didn’t like meeting with people, policy never came out of it. We basically eight years of nothing, Donald Trump was going to have a policy. And he loved the limelight. He loved being with people, but a little bit like Obama, he didn’t really care what they had to say. So most meetings were about him talking about him. And policy would come out as a tweet. And he just assumed that the government would take it and run. And you know, that’s not how management works. So we had policies, they were allowed, they were brash, they were bold, and they were never implemented, because the President was moving on to the next thing. It didn’t matter if this was domestic or foreign policy. So government by speech, government by tweet, again, inverse of Obama, there was no follow up whatsoever, but it was loud and it was ever present. Now, I attempt in my work to be apolitical, because nobody hires me to find out what I think about domestic politics or where I think the world should go. They they care about where it is going, regardless of whether I like it or not, whether it regardless of whether they like it or not. And so I tend to give politicians a lot of rope to hang themselves before I make a judgement with W. Bush, I didn’t really give up hope until you’re seven when the surge happened in Iraq. And it became apparent that the national security community had been so locked into the war for so long. And the administration was so tired and just lost all creativity that was apparent that nothing good was going to happen with the remainder of the term. With Barack Obama, I lost faith immediately after the re election, when it became apparent that this hands off non management style wasn’t just until he was beyond the next election, that this really was the president and we were never going to get any policy ever. Donald Trump and I probably started to part ways a little earlier. And the second year, he started actively campaigning publicly against institutions in the US government that were designed to do nothing but support the president and treating groups like the CIA as your enemy, when all they’re trying to do is inform you and help you get things done, seemed a little self destructive to me. And then, of course, about three and a half years, and he started actively agitating against his own government against his own cabinet even. And then, of course, with the elections. His appointed election comptroller declared the elections, the cleanest ones that have ever happened in the United States. But of course, Donald Trump had already made another decision. So in my opinion, that condemns Donald Trump to being right down there with Barack Obama is one of the bottom 10% of presidents in American history. I’m gonna get a lot of hate mail from that from everyone. All right. Next up, the guy in charge right now. Joe Biden.

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