Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Anti Head of State

Gerard N. Magliocca

One fascinating aspect of the Trump Administration is that the President is functioning as the antithesis of a traditional head of state.  Think about a country where the head of state and head of government roles are divided (for example, Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister May). What does the head of state do there?  Basically, he or she acts as a unifying figure who is not partisan. The head of government is responsible for making policy, and the head of state performs ceremonial tasks and offers soothing rhetoric about values that are widely shared. American Presidents act like a head of state some of the time (and some, especially George Washington, did this more often) even though they are both the head of state and the head of government.

How is the current President breaking with this model?  First, thus far he rarely acts like a head of state.  In other words, almost everything he says or does is partisan (even on ceremonial occasions like wishing Americans a Happy New Year).  Obviously all presidents are partisan some of the time, but Trump is taking this further than his predecessors. Second, there is the strange phenomenon whereby members of the Cabinet or the President's staff are constantly telling people here and abroad that many of the President's statements are not, in fact, administration policy. This is kind of hard to understand--isn't he in charge of administration policy?

Maybe many of his tweets or off-the-cuff remarks are better understood as him acting as head of state (at least as he understands that role). In other words, if the Queen says something that contradicts government policy, nobody would treat that as changing government policy. They would ignore the contradiction or explain it away somehow.  The same thing is going on with many of the President's statements. What, then, is the point of these statements? Some of the time the answer is just that the President doesn't know what government policy is and doesn't bother to check before commenting. But some of the time he clearly does know what the policy is and does not like it or thinks that his supporters do not. Rhetoric serves as a symbolic endorsement of the values of his supporters.

In other words, instead of unifying the nation through symbols, the anti head of state represents only one part of the nation through symbols. Nevertheless, both are types of heads of state because their rhetoric in that role do not establish government policy.      


There is no such model.

The government sets foreign and domestic policy, the head of state executes foreign policy.

Article II makes the President both part of the government and the head of state, so Trump can and is both setting and executing foreign policy.

To the extent the political parties differ on foreign policy, both the policy and the head of state's execution of that policy will be partisan. Our government is fundamentally divided on foreign policy, both along partisan lines and within the parties, and has been since Vietnam. The parties differ in the use of hard and soft power and immigration. Under these circumstances, the best Trump will be able to do is convince a plurality or majority of voters his foreign policy views are correct or at least not harmful.

In execution of foreign policy, the head of state can be both forceful and soothing depending on the circumstances. Trump has been forceful with Mexico and soothing with Japan and Israel.

Your point that Trump's extemporaneous and often contradictory statements followed by "clarifications" by his foreign policy team confuse Americans and other nations is well taken. If this continues, people will stop taking Trump seriously and will instead wait for statements from his team. Hopefully, Trump learns this lesson before he loses all credibility.

No, he is acting like the head of state, as leader of a nation. It's called patriotism. He is an American President serving American Interests.

You want him to be Head of the world. That is globalism and imperialism.
You want him to serve globalist elites and masses of invaders who want to freeload off America.

Don't conflate patriotism with partisanship.

Is these posts being crossposted somewhere and/or is the Balkanization tweets inviting newcomers?

I don't know why we'd expect a President elected without even a plurality of the vote to unify anything. It's the system.

You can't unify people who are only willing to be unified by you moving over to their side. The only thing that would make Democrats happy is if Trump repudiates everything he runs on, and finds some way to resign in favor of Hillary.

Why should he even try to attempt the impossible?

Trump demonstrated during the campaign that he makes early mistakes, but has a very steep learning curve. I anticipate that being the case during his administration, too; Messy early on, but getting better fast.

Brett describes Trump as skiing backwards downhill on that steep learning curve trying to dodge the messiness he has created. I can agree with that. But will Trump get better fast? He formally announced on his inauguration his reelection campaign for 2020. That was fast. But how is it better? Brett sets up a straw man with his first paragraph followed by a stupid question under our Constitution. Trump appointed several generals after stating in his campaign that he is smarter than the generals. During his campaign he lashed out at Wall Street and then appointed several from that address. Is it possible that Trump is not smarter than the generals and that his promise to build a wall was to protect Wall Street? Trump hasn't tried to unify people with his deeds. I'm beginning to suspect that Trump's "mandate" was with Milo.

"The only thing that would make Democrats happy is if Trump repudiates everything he runs on, and finds some way to resign in favor of Hillary."

When BP in the first comment is concerned about Trump not being able to handle some bare minimum here, this statement is just risible even beyond the author of the piece being a self-expressed conservative or the range of people (down to FOX News) not overly impressed with his "very steep learning curve" where he is still doing [as one would expect] the things that made candidate Trump so troubling.

The various aspects of the executive especially in today's partisan age is a hard mixture but we have reason to expect some minimum regarding the head of state role. You know, like not getting in tiffs with leaders of Australia or the like.

[Dorf on Law post today from their man in Australia.]

"Is it possible that Trump is not smarter than the generals and that his promise to build a wall was to protect Wall Street?"

As a successful businessman, (Yes, I know, Democrats are committed to insisting that Trump is an utter failure. Among other delusions.) Trump's primary skill has to be delegation and staffing.

Obama notoriously said, “I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.

Anybody who approaches business with that attitude is going to be an utter failure. So I'm pretty confident Trump doesn't have that attitude. He knows how to delegate.

I'm going to stand by my prediction: A messy start, but a very steep learning curve. This time next year the White house will be a well oiled machine.

Who was it that said, "I alone can fix it"?

Brett obviously doesn't pay attention to what Trump actually has said. Brett renews his earlier prediction by adding:

"This time next year the White house will be a well oiled machine."

It's been only a few days since Trump said at a presser that his administration was running like a well oiled machine." Brett has long swalled the leader and continues to chew on the line. Trump talks in the present and Brett predicts in a year. Frankly, Brett's business ken belongs in a kennel.

OOPS! "swalled" should be "swallowed."

By the Bybee (expletives deleted), did Stephen Miller disappear after his pit bull appearances on Sunday political shows a couple of weeks ago? Is Priebus politically interfering with the FBI?

What's your complaint, that I don't take everything Trump says as the unvarnished truth?

What administration is going to say, "Yeah, it's a real mess right now, but give us some time, it's only been a month."?

"Yes, I know, Democrats are committed to insisting that Trump is an utter failure. Among other delusions."

Decoder ring time.

"Yes, I know."

Sign that something is being said that isn't actually true, though someone "knows" it is true.


Various critics.

"are committed to insisting"

argue in the face of the facts

"that Trump"

my guy, right enemies, selective rules/overly slanting to his favor

"an utter failure."

"Utter" is the biggest tell. It is the usual hyperbole. The critics note he isn't as much of a success as some say (mixed bag, helped by starting off rich) etc.

"Among other delusions."

Lack of self-awareness.

Brett, I am not complaining about your inconsistencies and trust that you will so continue. And I'll continue to point out your absurdities. Maybe the Trump/Bannon Administration will provide subsidies under Trumpcare to Hair Club for Men with funding available from defunding Planned Parenthood.

And Brett's:

"What administration is going to say, 'Yeah, it's a real mess right now, but give us some time, it's only been a month.'?"

seems like an admission by Brett at least.


Brett is honest about the failings of the president for which he voted. I have not observed the same from those of you who voted for Obama.

The President for whom I would have voted. A close, out of state, relative had the discourtesy to die the Friday evening before the election, when it was too late for me to get an absentee ballot. I spent election day in a funeral parlor 800 miles from home.

Brett is honest about the failings of the president for which he voted. I have not observed the same from those of you who voted for Obama.
# posted by Blogger Bart DePalma : 10:34 AM

Says the fuckwit who still thinks that invading Iraq was a good idea.



You have no clue.

My biggest regret as a soldier was not finishing off the Iraqi mass murderer in 1991 when we had him on the ropes. We were resupplying and preparing to drive on Baghdad when Bush 41 lost his nerve and ended the operation.

When we occupied southern Iraq while the diplomats negotiated the ceasefire agreement Hussein repeatedly violated over the next decade, the Iraqi Republican Guard to the north of us were slaughtering those they suspected of favoring an American liberation. We treated a mother who was gang raped and then given an AK-47 abortion.

The worst time of my war service were not the firefights, but when we pulled out of the Iraqi village we occupied with the terrified locals begging us to take them with us to Saudi. I often wonder how many of those people were among the 600,000+ Saddam slaughtered after the ceasefire.

There are evils which no human being should be prepared to accept.


SPAM I AM! tries to paint himself as some sort of military hero. Heroes generally do not herald their service. I can thank SPAM for his service, and he can thank me for mine, if he wishes, when I served to keep peace after Korea and before Vietnam.

I recommend Andrew Bacevich's essay at TomDispatch on neocon David Brooks that addresses the errors and hazards of wars over the years following WW II under both Democrat and Republican administrations.

Looking back over the years at SPAM's vile spewing, he is sort of a mini-Trump in his self-centered mentality. So far SPAM has not mellowed with the intro in CO of recreational Ganja.


You have no clue.

# posted by Blogger Bart DePalma : 1:10 PM

Blankshot, go fuck yourself. You have no fucking idea what you're talking about. We helped keep that murderer in power. His murdering didn't become a problem for you until he decided that he wanted Kuwait to help pay for his war against Iran. So spare me the crocodile tears over people you don't give a crap about.



I never claimed to be a hero and I do need your thanks for doing my job.


No clue and no humanity.


No clue and no humanity.
# posted by Blogger Bart DePalma : 6:16 PM

Be sure to let us know when we find that WMD, you ignorant piece of crap.

In the meantime, maybe the survivors of Hussein's terror could come to the US now? Oh, right, you're opposed to that. Go fuck yourself.


I assume SPAM I AM!'s 1:10 PM was expressed by him contemporaneously at the time of his service in Iraq I perhaps in some place where his thoughts were recorded rather than for purposed of informing viewers of this Blog of his views after the fact. There is a sense of jingoism by SPAM who was quite young at the time. Like the Neocons that George W had in the Bush/Cheney Administration, who were so gung-ho to finish the job. Is SPAM suggesting that if George H. W. did what the young SPAM felt should have been done, then Iraq II would not have been necessary? It is possible that in the manner of Trump SPAM had shared his views with Sean Insanity. SPAM also seems to be claiming special skills in warfare other than as a young grunt. We don't have the benefit of his Army dossier to know of his experiences in Iraq I or evidence of his warfare expertise. SPAM is now a self admitted middle aged criminal defense attorney claiming to be the top dog in DUI practice in a small CO community. He has established a blog that gets less traffic than a Route 66 mall such that his blog posts there are not challenged. SPAM has been a roll at this Blog to get some attention for his views that include the late 19th century The Gilded Age as America's best days. During the Bush/Cheney Administration SPAM was in lockstep with it until near the end at a time when even the rats abandoned that ship of state with its 2007-8 Great Recession. SPAM from time to time has claimed expertise in areas outside of the law and has been repeatedly challenged vigorously . For his vileness, just check the archives of this Blog.

This NYTimes obit caught my eye this morning: "Jerome Tuccille, Libertarian and Trump Biographer, Dies, at 79." It was an interesting read, especially the titles of his books on libertarianism. Jerome seems to have been a rare libertarian as he had a sense of humor in a Rand-y sort of way. There is also the suggestion of an anarcho libertarian. It is not clear from the obit that Jerome was a supporter of Trump in the recent election.

BD: Is SPAM suggesting that if George H. W. did what the young SPAM felt should have been done, then Iraq II would not have been necessary?


By granting Saddam a ceasefire for a decade, we allowed him to form a terrorist army made up of Iraqi militias and foreign terrorist groups (including al Qaeda affiliates) to launch a guerrilla campaign if the US and its allies decided to militarily enforce the ceasefire agreement.

In 1991, we had already destroyed most of Saddam's army and decimated the Republican Guard. An invasion of seven US divisions up the Euphrates (far more than the Iraq War) would have wrapped up the war in 2-3 weeks without a subsequent guerrilla war.

I would have gladly put my life at risk to save over half a million Iraqis and the thousands of US troops we lost in the second war. This is not because I am a hero. Rather, I saw the terrified faces of the Iraqis Saddam was butchering.

SPAM I AM! answers my "what if" question but fails to disclose some confirmation that he held certain views back in the timeframe of 1991. It is facile in 2017, some 25+ years later, for SPAM to so pontificate. Dis SPAM back in 1991 as a young grunt register his concerns through the available chain of command or by other means fairly contemporaneously, such as a Trumpian Sean Insanity?

But SPAM's response to the "what if" is speculative. Of course SPAM has the benefit of hindsight regarding events in the Greater Middle East since 1991. I assume SPAM has not bothered to link to Andrew Bacevich's essay by means of Google. It might educate SPAM on America's wars following WW II. Keep in mind that George H. W. was a Republican. Of course the Neocons, some of whom did not put time in militarily, were crusaders at heartlessness. Would the issues of so many decades regarding the Greater Middle East have been resolved if George H. W. had proceeded further in Iraq? I don't know, but I doubt it as America lacked an understanding of the underlying issues, which continues to this day. So perhaps SPAM might identify scholars credentialed in the Greater Middle East and Islam who might agree with SPAM. But keep in mind SPAM was a young grunt back in 1991 and in the intervening years as demonstrated at this Blog, SPAM has problems with history and woeful knowledge of foreign policy. Shoemaker, stick to thy last.

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