What can we appreciate about Trump?

Now that Donald Trump appears to be definitively headed for retirement from politics, maybe it is worth revisiting a question that a negotiation expert asked a group of Harvard alumni: What can we appreciate about Donald Trump? (the guy was trying to teach these folks that you will be a more effective negotiator if you can find some common ground)

The assembled righteous, of course, answered that there was absolutely not a shred of goodness in the Bad Orange Man and certainly he had never done anything that they could possibly appreciate.

Readers: What about you? (no need to highlight or dissect the failures; every U.S. president has been limited by Congress, the states, and/or the American people)

(My personal list:

  1. started no wars
  2. aligned corporate tax rates with Europe so that it no longer made obvious sense for corporations to flee
  3. limited the unfair subsidization of inefficient states by residents of efficient states (SALT deduction limit; note that this increased my personal tax payments)
  4. motivated the FAA to be a little less inefficient and a little less unresponsive
  5. a couple of peace/trade deals between Israel and the Arabs
  6. appointed a fellow Honda minivan driver to the Supreme Court



  • https://www.whitehouse.gov/trump-administration-accomplishments/ (does not seem to have been updated in a couple of years, as Kavanaugh is listed as a nominee only)

Serving suggestion if you’re hosting a Trump Appreciation party (Goya-brand olive oil):

69 thoughts on “What can we appreciate about Trump?

  1. – Confronted and pushed back on China on their economic and IP policies
    – Tried to stem the flow of illegal immigration
    – Shot the lowest rounds of golf in the history of our Presidents (I think).

    • Paul: Thanks for these. On immigration, though, Trump was mostly stymied by Congress and Americans who are the $500 billion/year beneficiaries of low-skill migration (see https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/09/trump-clinton-immigration-economy-unemployment-jobs-214216 ). So Trump’s personal opposition to this attack on the American working class didn’t change that much. I am looking more for things that Trump was actually able to carry out.

      (Applying this to Obama, for example, those of us who love Obamacare could say that we appreciated his achievement in getting it through. But we would give less weight to Obama’s expressed concerns about climate change since nothing was actually accomplished.)

    • @Phil. He took a small amount of money from DoD to start construction of The Wall. I am not sure how many miles got completed though.

    • “– Tried to stem the flow of illegal immigration”

      Did he really though? Illegal immigration is central to rally his xenophobic base. He encouraged ICE to inhumanely punish asylum seekers and legal immigrants. He illegally funneled funds to unqualified developers of a “wall” that is not effective at stopping any significant amount of entry.

      What policies did he enact that actually had an impact on illegal entry rates?

    • @baz – I did not see in that link any comparisons on actual scores (minus handicaps) between Trump and Obama.

    • If Trump had become President in the 1990s, then he would have been better suited to protect our industrial base from China. However, by waging the trade war today, his trade war damaged the reputation of American companies in China and elsewhere and it’s too late to bring back our jobs. At this point, our best bet is to manage a national decline as smoothly as possible. Perhaps, under Joe Biden, we can sell off American companies to China in the semiconductor sector in exchange for debt forgiveness.

  2. I think his efforts to curb illegal immigration were great, but he had huge problems implementing them. He also inspired a lot of people to take a much greater interest in politics than would have ever have happened otherwise – and that’s a good thing, even though some people would disagree. For a long time, the Deplorables really – I don’t think – were very interested to learn how the government really works, and now they are much more aware. He showed people what the stakes are, and how important it is to be involved in politics even if you don’t write for the New Yorker or have a degree from Harvard.

    He made a token effort, at least, to change the public’s awareness of how badly they had been sold out by previous Administrations and the Chamber of Commerce to China. But his leverage was compromised in a lot of ways.

    He kept a Clinton from being President ever again!

    • Alex: Thanks for that. I will give you the last one. But “raising awareness”? That’s like me saying that I almost qualified for the U.S. Olympic team (just didn’t win enough athletic events).

    • @Philg: I may be wrong about the “raising awareness” part, but in 2014 or 2015 I knew a lot of people who had a very limited understanding of the government at all levels. Fast forward to today, and I know from talking with them that they’ve learned a lot in the past four years. The media likes to highlight the worst examples, but I know I’ve had better conversations about the role of the various branches of the Government with people I could never have previously had them with, because they weren’t interested. We had a big turnout among people who care a lot more than they used to.

    • How is it that folks like you blame the government(which can do no right) for the failings of capitalist, free-market companies for selling out to China in exchange for short term profits?

      No more Clinton’s? Yeah, thank god we weren’t subject to another round of phenomenal success! Clinton demonstrated and proved once and for all that republican economic principals were hollow garbage and nonsense that never delivered. Raised taxes, balanced the budget, and created one of the most prosperous economies in US history.

    • @Senorpablo: What did Bill Clinton know about the Internet except to ride the bubble until the crash?

  3. I think also that his Crown Jewels are the Federal Judiciary and the Supreme Court. I do not believe that Amy Coney Barrett is the incarnation of Satan, and I don’t think Brett Kavanaugh is a rapist, or anything resembling one. Those decisions were probably the best ones he made, and now we really have to work hard to make sure they last a long time, or at least as long as they can.

    • Alex: Appointing a human who is not “the incarnation of Satan” is a pretty weak achievement!

    • @Philg: I’m being a little tongue-in-cheek here. 🙂 I think his Supreme Court choices, in a different and less polarized time, would have been very easy confirmations on the merits.

  4. Bolton was right also: we got out of the Iran nuclear deal, we got out of the Paris Accord, and we changed the way we fight cyberwarfare, which prior to this was with both hands tied behind our backs. But as he explained, it took way too long in a lot of cases to convince Trump to act.

    • More than half of the American legal voters said clearly President Trump won re-election.

      Only the Bolsheviks are trying their sinister deed again, 103 years to date, after they usurped power in Russia, the same type of people are trying to do the same in America.

  5. Respecting foreign policy, an ability to think outside the box:

    – respecting the southern border, it had occurred to no one previously that twisting the Mexican government’s arm with the threat of a tariff war would compel the Mexicans to close their border with Guatemala (the main source of illegal immigration being Central America).

    – and respecting the Middle East, decades had been wasted seeking peace through the Palestinians, and Trump and Kushner out-flanked the Palestinians by negotiating deals with the United Arab Emirates, and Sudan, and perhaps Saudi Arabia to follow.

    A willingness to expose the corruption and partisan bias in the Fourth Estate. The term “fake news” is now part of our language; and although this has by no means brought about a restoration of integrity in journalism, one can hope that a problem identified may become a problem that is one day addressed.

    Re-casting the culture wars – at least in part – as the patriots versus the internationalists, as opposed to the religious versus the secular (there being a larger following for patriotism than for faith-based self-denial).

    Standing up firmly for law and order, which may explain, at least in part, the tremendous swing to the Republicans among Spanish-surnamed voters in this election, and African-Americans as well.

    And speaking of the ethnic realities of the 2020 vote, by claiming an increased share of the African-American vote and the Spanish-surnamed vote, he may have begun an evolution in American politics in which appeals to tribal category become a diminished feature of American public life. It is reckoned that he brought in 12% of the African-American vote, and the swing on the Texas border was stunning. Perhaps the formerly incessant (and counter-productive) screams of “racist” will diminish, now that so many voters who might have considered themselves victims of racism have migrated to the Republican column. Laredo, Texas, for example, voted 22% for Trump in 2016 and 38% in 2020 – not a small swing, by any reckoning.

    • “Standing up firmly for law and order,” – Do you have any concrete examples of his accomplishments here?

      Certainly an unprecedented number of the President’s inner circle are now felons, but I’m not sure that’s what you meant.

      re: “fake news” – flat out denying reality is something to celebrate?

    • I don’t see how the endorsement of unionized government workers (in this case the police) is easy to interpret. For example, it might be that the union thinks that they will get more money (now or via future pension payments) if the endorsed politician wins.

    • @Philg: They felt very strongly about it and still do. When you have intellectuals and major figures in the opposing party calling for a nationwide Defund the Police initiative that even moderate Democrats don’t agree with, I think their choice was very clear. They couldn’t sit on the sidelines and just say nothing. Of course, they have their own interests to protect, that’s what a union does. It is supposed to look out for the interests of its members.

      Abigail Spanberger agreed (D-7-VA):

      “We lost members who shouldn’t have lost,” Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a moderate who narrowly won her race in Virginia, said in a heated speech, confirmed a source on the call. “We need to not ever use the words ‘socialist’ or ‘socialism’ ever again because while people think it doesn’t matter, it does matter. And we lost good members because of that.”

      “She specifically pointed to the defund the police movement and said it hurt her and other moderates who were in tight races.

      Spanberger raised her voice, telling fellow Democrats they needed to learn a lesson from this cycle or “we will be f—ing torn apart in 2022.”

      Anecdotally, I know of a lot of other people in solidly blue states who do not want to see the police defunded and are **absolutely not** Republicans. They are Democrats, but they don’t talk about it too much. So the FOP was really expressing their wishes, too. Maybe not easy to interpret, but the signal is there. Trust me on this one.

    • @Philg: The Volvo-Driving-Soccer-Moms like having the police around, now that they’ve learned their right way from their wrong.

    • Abigail had an Ecuadorian “babysitter” who sparked her interest in languages:

      “Listening to her Ecuadorian babysitter speak Spanish sparked her interest in languages.”

      She was also a CIA Operations Officer.

      “She worked overseas on classified matters of national security that included intelligence gathering on terrorism and nuclear proliferation.[8]”

      And she doesn’t want any more Socialism or defunding the police. So people should think about how to interpret that.


    • @alex Police organisations don’t want to be held accountable and neither does Trump. That’s a self-aligned interest – but what did he _do_ that’s actually promoting “law and order”.

      Widespread dissent about the funding of police militarization and lack of accountability surely isn’t addressed by a President tweeting about “antifa terrorists”.

      He has certainly not upheld “law and order” or support of federal law enforcement, with his constant disparaging of the FBI.

    • It seems reasonable to say that this time around, the American peoples voted against law and order.

    • I just saw in another tab that Biden supporters and BLM are clashing in Madison, WI. Well, that’s what the American peoples voted for too.

  6. He made “Just Grab ‘Em By The Pussy!” simultaneously the best and worst pickup advice in history.

  7. Since it’s impossible to figure out anything with modern media: is he done for? No chance of winning anymore?

    Biden’s corruptions scandal successfully buried in plain sight? Or will it pop out of the hat couple years later for impeachment?

    • It will go to the courts, and who knows what they’ll do. As for Biden’s corruption scandal, if Trump does win in the court we can expect that the House will find something in it to impeach Trump for again.

    • @SK: Biden has dementia. He won’t remember anything in two years. He’s in worse cognitive shape than Reagan was when he was carried out “gaga” at the end of his second term, but Biden hasn’t taken office yet. Some time in the next 90 days is going to be a great time for major shit to hit the fan internationally because of that. And I expect it to.

    • Is Biden more brain damaged than a guy who mused on national TV about injecting disinfectant to kill a virus? Please.

  8. + Eliminating the forced “critical race theory” training in Federal Gov’t.

    + Blowing up that Iranian “general”

    + Withdrawing from Iran deal

    + Putting embassy in Jerusalem. What’s the point of winning a war if you don’t act like it?

    • By withdrawing from the Iranian non-proliferation treaty, we open the door to their unfettered development of nuclear weapons.

      Why is this move seen as a positive by Trump supporters?

      > + Putting embassy in Jerusalem. What’s the point of winning a war if you don’t act like it?

      Which war did we win here?

  9. Raised NASA space budget and wanted to raise it $25 billion for 2021.
    Created the Space Force

    I doubt Harris/Biden will raise NASA budget. The chance that the NASA manned moon landing will happen is now lower, unless SpaceX decides to go for it by themselves.

    • Note to readers Pavel is a foreigner who has admitted in interfering in our election this may be a crime!

    • Senorpablo, correct, I should have said “The chance that NASA return to the moon will happen by 2024 is now lower, unless SpaceX decides to go for it by themselves.”

      Boots on the moon, by 2024!

      Toucan Sam, my dastardly plan worked and Harris is now president. We, Canadians, have managed to put a Canadian educated women into the White House! Just as I predicted!

    • Pavel I agree! You have out maneuvered us. This is me laying down my king and resigning. The menace from the north is victorious again! We only need to know what will become of Calgary Ted.

  10. 1) Trump vodka, oh that’s gone, never mind Trump is a teetotaler so it probably was rot gut booze
    2) Trump steaks, hmm, bye bye they are no more, he eats steak well done so they probably were frozen and low qual shoe leather
    3) Trump hotel – nice bathroom when I need to take a wee wee downtown
    4) Trump presidency – early termination like steak and vodka, soon policies will be reverted, so no vote there

    So thanks Donald for the nice crapper!

  11. -Allowing states to determine their own responses to COVID
    – tying into #2, not just rates but the code itself was simplified (inc. ease of doing business)
    -Virtual elimination of unemployment (pre-covid)
    -energy independence
    – Moving decisively to address dangerous disadvantages in some trading relationships (NAFTA, Germany, China, Mexico, among others)
    – Rolling back regulations and appointing outsiders to the administrations/agencies (“cutting two regulations for every regulation added”)
    – Shining a light on China’s increasingly nefarious influence in the US and around the world
    – Reshaping the Western alliance from an association of freeloading beneficiaries of an American military guaranty (i.e., making NATO countries pay the agreed upon 2% of gdp)
    – scraping the bogus climate policies and regulations
    – Supporting local law enforcement
    – Taking a stand against affirmative action

    Most importantly showing a substantial chunk of the US populations that the media and other traditionally accepted arbiters of truth/information organs are effectively the propaganda wings of the DNC (although power probably flows the other way)

    P.S., I would hold back on the “definitively” – Donnie’s a fighter 😉

  12. From last week’s Economist:

    In 2016 [Trump] told voters he would keep the economy growing; until the epidemic hit it had done just that. Growth never quite reached the lustrous annual rate of 4% he promised, but it did do better than many had forecast, and his tax cut in 2017 turned out to be a well-timed fiscal stimulus. At the end of last year unemployment was at its lowest level for half a century. The wages of the less well paid were rising swiftly.

    One of the most interesting results of the election is that Trump did somewhat better in 2020 with non-white men than he did in 2016 (he did worse with white voters in the suburbs). A Gallup poll in September 2020 found that 56% of people thought they were better off economically than four years ago. Matthew Yglesias.

    Of course where Trump failed most obviously was on Covid. Dylan Matthews: How reality caught up with the reality TV president. Politico has a long article recounting the inside story of the Trump and Biden 2020 campaigns.

    Thinking about Trump, what comes to mind is Joseph Heath’s comments from 2014 on a completely different demagogue, Rob Ford, the crack-smoking mayor of Toronto:

    While it is impossible to eliminate demagogues completely, the institution that controls them most effectively is one that is somewhat undertheorized in the literature on democracy – the political party. It is important to recognize that the candidates put forward by political parties for election are not a random cross-section of the population. They have been pre-screened, both explicitly and implicitly. This is particularly true of party leaders. The mere fact that you have to organize a campaign for leadership, convincing other politicians to support you, is extremely demanding.

    … [Voters] look at the ballot and assume that all the major candidates are more-or-less capable of doing the job, and that the differences between them are minor ones of political ideology.

    The thought that one of the major candidates might be a total fuck-up just doesn’t cross most people’s minds.

    Why do people support demagogues like Ford and Trump so whole-heartedly? One factor is that paralysis in political institutions leads to impatience, frustration, and the desire for a strong-man leader. The fact that the Republican Party couldn’t stop Trump from becoming the 2016 nominee, and surrendered to him after he won the 2016 election, suggests that the US is likely to see more demagogues in the future.

  13. besides your list, i also liked his EO against some forms of obnoxious ‘diversity’ training

  14. Fought against Critical Race Theory, at least in the Federal Government:

    “… will not use Federal funds to promote the concepts that (a) one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex; (b) an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously; (c) an individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of his or her race or sex; (d) members of one race or sex cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race or sex; (e) an individual’s moral character is necessarily determined by his or her race or sex; (f) an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex; (g) any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex; or (h) meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist, or were created by a particular race to oppress another race.”

    (Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping)


  15. To weight the proposition that Trump (narrowly) won the election and must now pursue, in court, remedies to efforts to steal it, one must holistically consider a telling coincidence and a sad possibility.

    The telling coincidence is that Biden had no coattails, and winning presidential campaigns typically have had. Biden swept no new congressmen into office, saw no improvement in the gubernatorial roster, ditto the state legislatures, and as for the senate: one win, and three in doubt, including two that are subject to further vote stealing (if indeed vote stealing has occurred) in Fulton County, GA.

    The sad possibility is that Democratic Party operatives in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Fulton County (inner city Atlanta) etc. may have engaged in illegal conduct, and cognizant observers of these matters must concede that illegal conduct was entirely possible, given what is known (or reasonably surmised) about patterns of conduct in these jurisdictions in the past.

  16. What will all the resentful,aggressive victims do with their anger now that the Victimizer-in-Chief is gone? It’s too much too expect that their anger will dissipate. Like the Great Eye, the baleful gaze will fall upon some other enemy.

  17. I want Trump shambling around disrupting the minority party as long as they can keep him medicated enough to shamble. The Democrats are a hot mess but they are not deliberately ignorant or malignant. The present administration is the clumsiest and most criminal in my long life. Their legal presser at the parking lot between a sex shop and a crematorium is a perfect example of their competence.
    I’m not thrilled that the winning party relies too heavily on inner-city operatives, but I admire their ability to organize. Stacy Abrams in Georgia, after being logrolled by Republican officials, singlehandedly registered 800,000 new Democrats and turned the state around. She may very well do the same to the US Senate. Watch for a $billion to be spent on these two elections. Remains to be seen if the organizers can assemble a functioning government. I wish them well, they have rid us of the orange infant and they deserve a chance.

  18. He’ll be remembered as the creator of the space force & little else. He freed the unemployed from having to buy health insurance, but the the rest is all going to be forgotten. Enough people work for the government or collect entitlements that the economy & taxes aren’t an issue anymore.

  19. As I am writing this, there are 57 comments (varieties? states?), soon to be 58!

    I am thankful to Trump, that not all of them are Alex’s comments.

    Other than that, I hope Trump on his way out declassifies a bunch of stuff that is classified because it demonstrates the rot in the swamp, and not for national security.

  20. Not that I like Trump or want to socialize with him — who likes politician anyway? They all are very much off the same breed that will do anything to keep their job feeding off others — the one thing I appreciate about him is for being a straight shooter when confronting issues.

    Trump didn’t hold back and he spoke about issues the way they are. He never tried to dance around them or smooth talk about the issues. Yes, he always wanted to take credit for all good things, be it he archived them or not, but that’s how all politician are — others hide it and say “I will fight for you” but in reality, they are fighting for their own well being, not yours.

    • The man told over 25,000 documented lies. And he’s telling a few of his biggest ones right now.

  21. “He never tried to dance around them” – Shouting ‘fake news’ about so many easily verifiable facts isn’t dancing around?

    • @Anon, if you mean to say that those in office don’t shout “fake news” on things they disagree with than you are so wrong. They all do it but yes not in Trump’s style. This is why I said he is a “straight shooter” be it he is right on the topic or not.

      And the media — those with him, against him, right, left, up, down, you name it — “loved” him for this because it generated topics for them to cover the airwaves with. Once they saw this, they gave him more baits and he took it and the cycle continues and now he is out of the office.

      Btw, did you not watch the Democratic debates? Did you not see how Biden and Harris kept on clashing against each other and calling the opponent’s comment a lie but yet Biden picked Harris as his VP.

      Thus, if Trump was a smooth talker, like those before him, he would still be in office.

  22. Hello gutless, limp wristed (wrists among young American men are actually shrinking, Phil you should write about that, I wont be able to see it because I am never come back here, not even to gloat) American Never Trumper/ GOPers and Biden lovers:

    Trump will prevail, that means he will win.

    See ya at the Trump inauguration in 2021.

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