If the campaign started yesterday

After reading dozens of takes on the debate today, I still think my favorite is from Matt Yglesias wrote last night.  First, he points out that on Trump’s co-signature issue of trade, he literally has no idea what he’s talking about:

What’s particularly odd about this is that while Trump doesn’t know anything about trade policy and isn’t in possession of any relevant facts about American manufacturing, he seems to see trade policy as the only economic issue worth discussing. You would never know from Trump’s discourse that the vast majority of Americans work in jobs related to domestic service provision — they work in hospitals and restaurants and schools and stores working with nearby customers, not internationally traded manufacturing.

A particularly vexing aspect of this is that the GOP nominee’s core business expertise is in real estate development. Under the circumstances, you might think he would have something useful and insightful to say about house building or some other adjacent sector of the economy. But he no more talked about construction than he talked about health care.

But, my favorite part is the conclusion, because it puts this all in a broader context and reminds us just how crazy this candidacy is.  We’re all so used to Trump now, but it is not remotely normal to have a candidate so utterly clueless and incurious on issues of national policy:

On one level, “Donald Trump doesn’t know what he’s talking about” is the ultimate dog-bites-man story of the 2016 election.

But that’s why I think it’s useful to try to purge yourself of your existing knowledge of the campaign. If you just tuned in Monday night expecting to see two well-qualified and broadly competent candidates discussing the issues in some kind of recognizable shape, you would find yourself sorely disappointed.

The conceit of the Trump campaign is that he’s a smart, business-savvy outsider who can fix things. But he clearly has no idea how to fix things. He doesn’t even seem to have a grasp of what the problems are.

If you were just tuning in to this campaign, you would find yourself hung up on a pretty obvious question — why did the Republican Party nominate a guy who clearly doesn’t know what he’s talking about? It’s a good question.

Actually, I think it’s a question we had some good whacks at back during the primaries as the Republican party has, sadly, become post-policy in many ways.  But, again, seriously, ask yourself if you had been on a deserted island for a year and dropped in on this campaign, you would be literally shocked about what a poor candidate Trump is.  But here we are.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

One Response to If the campaign started yesterday

  1. R. Jenrette says:

    Vicente Fox, a past President of Mexico, appeared via Skype on MSNBC last night. He stated that Trump was wrong about Mexico taxing American goods as they come into the country. He said the only tax is an ordinary sales tax on purchase, just as in the U.S.
    He probably talks about trade because he glanced at his talking points on the subject, he thought it is an issue appealing to his base, so he remembered a little of what he saw.
    If only the moderator had asked him what specific part of TPP was most objectionable. He would have answered that all of it is terrible. A third question would have been in order. No chance he would answer but maybe voters would notice.

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