Blogs: Paul Pillar

Building on the Iran Nuclear Agreement

Mr. Trump, Make Yourself a Successful One-Term President

Paul Pillar

Granted, those are Republicans, and while you are president the official opposition will consist of Democrats.  The Democrats have not indulged in nearly as much of that kind of scorched-earth obstruction, and their own outgoing president is setting a good example with his reminder that the success of the nation is bound up with the success of whoever is the incumbent president.  But with Republicans having set a much different example, and with fears and emotions running especially high in the wake of this year’s election, we should not be surprised to see postures similar to that of Leon Wieseltier, who writes that when he heard Hillary Clinton in her concession statement ask people to give you a chance to succeed, “I confess that I felt no such graciousness. This made me as small as Mitch McConnell, I know. But if Trump succeeds, America may fail.”  Other voices on the liberal side have been making similar noises.  Declaring yourself to be a one-term president would take much wind out of the sails of any McConnell-like Democrats.  To the extent they otherwise would have wanted you to fail to preclude a second Trump term, that reason for opposing you would vanish.

It’s not just the Democrats you will have to worry about, and it’s not just the Clintons that Congressional Republicans are inclined to impeach. Rumor has it that some Republican members would be happy to see you ousted through impeachment because they prefer to have as president Mike Pence, whom they regard as a reliable party-line conservative in contrast to you being something of a loose cannon.  Don’t dismiss this possibility as just rumor.  Political scientist Allan Lichtman, who extended an impressive record as a presidential election prognosticator by predicting your victory, is now predicting that you will be impeached.  Part of his reasoning involves the Republican preference to put Pence in the White House, along with Lichtman being “quite certain” that you will do something that will give grounds for impeachment, “either by doing something that endangers national security or because it helps his pocketbook.”  Given the conflict of interest issues that your business holdings raise, that pocketbook matter is worth thinking about.

Making yourself a one-term president would disarm would-be Brutuses in the Republican caucus as least as readily as any Democrats.  They could still look forward to having Pence as their candidate in 2020, but without all the blood on the floor from an impeachment proceeding.

Among other things you ought to think about in considering this proposal is your ability to present yourself as an outsider, which is a large part of what gave you the election victory.  You are more outside than any other self-styled outsider, in that you are the first U.S. president to enter the White House with no previous public service experience.  Each day you are in the White House, you are that much less of an outsider, with your outsider appeal that much less, and you won’t be an outsider at all after four years there.  Better for you to play the role of Cincinnatus, remaining in power just long enough to drain the swamp, or whatever is your favorite metaphor, before returning to private pursuits.  And it is hard to identify anything in a program of yours for which four years would not be sufficient but an additional four would be.

Additional uncertainties would make your re-election in 2020 problematic.  This year you won with the votes of many people who are discontented with their lot in life and saw you as somehow on their side even without more specific reasons to believe that you have a program that will improve their lot.  Yours was an election victory built largely on ignorance and uninformed voters.  Four years from now that vague faith placed in you will not be enough to eke out another victory.  Those same voters who put their trust in you will want to see results.  You, being much smarter than those poorly educated voters who supported you, realize that you do not have a magic potion to improve their lot.  And bear in mind that the Democrats are likely to put up someone to oppose you who does not have as much baggage and as many negatives as Hillary Clinton.

If there is validity in what I just said, and if you ran in 2020, you would go out of political life as a loser.  You would not have a chance to erase that big blot on the Trump name and your own prestige and self-esteem.  Grover Cleveland (who, by the way, won the popular vote in all three of his presidential races, including the one in which he lost the electoral vote) is the only U.S. president who ever came back from defeat to reclaim the White House.  He was much younger than you (you would be in your eighties before completing a second, nonconsecutive term) and did not have the same kind of issues with the mainstream of his own party that you do.

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Foreign Policy in an Ignorant Democracy

Paul Pillar

Granted, those are Republicans, and while you are president the official opposition will consist of Democrats.  The Democrats have not indulged in nearly as much of that kind of scorched-earth obstruction, and their own outgoing president is setting a good example with his reminder that the success of the nation is bound up with the success of whoever is the incumbent president.  But with Republicans having set a much different example, and with fears and emotions running especially high in the wake of this year’s election, we should not be surprised to see postures similar to that of Leon Wieseltier, who writes that when he heard Hillary Clinton in her concession statement ask people to give you a chance to succeed, “I confess that I felt no such graciousness. This made me as small as Mitch McConnell, I know. But if Trump succeeds, America may fail.”  Other voices on the liberal side have been making similar noises.  Declaring yourself to be a one-term president would take much wind out of the sails of any McConnell-like Democrats.  To the extent they otherwise would have wanted you to fail to preclude a second Trump term, that reason for opposing you would vanish.

It’s not just the Democrats you will have to worry about, and it’s not just the Clintons that Congressional Republicans are inclined to impeach. Rumor has it that some Republican members would be happy to see you ousted through impeachment because they prefer to have as president Mike Pence, whom they regard as a reliable party-line conservative in contrast to you being something of a loose cannon.  Don’t dismiss this possibility as just rumor.  Political scientist Allan Lichtman, who extended an impressive record as a presidential election prognosticator by predicting your victory, is now predicting that you will be impeached.  Part of his reasoning involves the Republican preference to put Pence in the White House, along with Lichtman being “quite certain” that you will do something that will give grounds for impeachment, “either by doing something that endangers national security or because it helps his pocketbook.”  Given the conflict of interest issues that your business holdings raise, that pocketbook matter is worth thinking about.

Making yourself a one-term president would disarm would-be Brutuses in the Republican caucus as least as readily as any Democrats.  They could still look forward to having Pence as their candidate in 2020, but without all the blood on the floor from an impeachment proceeding.

Among other things you ought to think about in considering this proposal is your ability to present yourself as an outsider, which is a large part of what gave you the election victory.  You are more outside than any other self-styled outsider, in that you are the first U.S. president to enter the White House with no previous public service experience.  Each day you are in the White House, you are that much less of an outsider, with your outsider appeal that much less, and you won’t be an outsider at all after four years there.  Better for you to play the role of Cincinnatus, remaining in power just long enough to drain the swamp, or whatever is your favorite metaphor, before returning to private pursuits.  And it is hard to identify anything in a program of yours for which four years would not be sufficient but an additional four would be.

Additional uncertainties would make your re-election in 2020 problematic.  This year you won with the votes of many people who are discontented with their lot in life and saw you as somehow on their side even without more specific reasons to believe that you have a program that will improve their lot.  Yours was an election victory built largely on ignorance and uninformed voters.  Four years from now that vague faith placed in you will not be enough to eke out another victory.  Those same voters who put their trust in you will want to see results.  You, being much smarter than those poorly educated voters who supported you, realize that you do not have a magic potion to improve their lot.  And bear in mind that the Democrats are likely to put up someone to oppose you who does not have as much baggage and as many negatives as Hillary Clinton.

If there is validity in what I just said, and if you ran in 2020, you would go out of political life as a loser.  You would not have a chance to erase that big blot on the Trump name and your own prestige and self-esteem.  Grover Cleveland (who, by the way, won the popular vote in all three of his presidential races, including the one in which he lost the electoral vote) is the only U.S. president who ever came back from defeat to reclaim the White House.  He was much younger than you (you would be in your eighties before completing a second, nonconsecutive term) and did not have the same kind of issues with the mainstream of his own party that you do.

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The Newest Hit to America's Image

Paul Pillar

Granted, those are Republicans, and while you are president the official opposition will consist of Democrats.  The Democrats have not indulged in nearly as much of that kind of scorched-earth obstruction, and their own outgoing president is setting a good example with his reminder that the success of the nation is bound up with the success of whoever is the incumbent president.  But with Republicans having set a much different example, and with fears and emotions running especially high in the wake of this year’s election, we should not be surprised to see postures similar to that of Leon Wieseltier, who writes that when he heard Hillary Clinton in her concession statement ask people to give you a chance to succeed, “I confess that I felt no such graciousness. This made me as small as Mitch McConnell, I know. But if Trump succeeds, America may fail.”  Other voices on the liberal side have been making similar noises.  Declaring yourself to be a one-term president would take much wind out of the sails of any McConnell-like Democrats.  To the extent they otherwise would have wanted you to fail to preclude a second Trump term, that reason for opposing you would vanish.

It’s not just the Democrats you will have to worry about, and it’s not just the Clintons that Congressional Republicans are inclined to impeach. Rumor has it that some Republican members would be happy to see you ousted through impeachment because they prefer to have as president Mike Pence, whom they regard as a reliable party-line conservative in contrast to you being something of a loose cannon.  Don’t dismiss this possibility as just rumor.  Political scientist Allan Lichtman, who extended an impressive record as a presidential election prognosticator by predicting your victory, is now predicting that you will be impeached.  Part of his reasoning involves the Republican preference to put Pence in the White House, along with Lichtman being “quite certain” that you will do something that will give grounds for impeachment, “either by doing something that endangers national security or because it helps his pocketbook.”  Given the conflict of interest issues that your business holdings raise, that pocketbook matter is worth thinking about.

Making yourself a one-term president would disarm would-be Brutuses in the Republican caucus as least as readily as any Democrats.  They could still look forward to having Pence as their candidate in 2020, but without all the blood on the floor from an impeachment proceeding.

Among other things you ought to think about in considering this proposal is your ability to present yourself as an outsider, which is a large part of what gave you the election victory.  You are more outside than any other self-styled outsider, in that you are the first U.S. president to enter the White House with no previous public service experience.  Each day you are in the White House, you are that much less of an outsider, with your outsider appeal that much less, and you won’t be an outsider at all after four years there.  Better for you to play the role of Cincinnatus, remaining in power just long enough to drain the swamp, or whatever is your favorite metaphor, before returning to private pursuits.  And it is hard to identify anything in a program of yours for which four years would not be sufficient but an additional four would be.

Additional uncertainties would make your re-election in 2020 problematic.  This year you won with the votes of many people who are discontented with their lot in life and saw you as somehow on their side even without more specific reasons to believe that you have a program that will improve their lot.  Yours was an election victory built largely on ignorance and uninformed voters.  Four years from now that vague faith placed in you will not be enough to eke out another victory.  Those same voters who put their trust in you will want to see results.  You, being much smarter than those poorly educated voters who supported you, realize that you do not have a magic potion to improve their lot.  And bear in mind that the Democrats are likely to put up someone to oppose you who does not have as much baggage and as many negatives as Hillary Clinton.

If there is validity in what I just said, and if you ran in 2020, you would go out of political life as a loser.  You would not have a chance to erase that big blot on the Trump name and your own prestige and self-esteem.  Grover Cleveland (who, by the way, won the popular vote in all three of his presidential races, including the one in which he lost the electoral vote) is the only U.S. president who ever came back from defeat to reclaim the White House.  He was much younger than you (you would be in your eighties before completing a second, nonconsecutive term) and did not have the same kind of issues with the mainstream of his own party that you do.

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Getting to Negotiations on Syria

Paul Pillar

Granted, those are Republicans, and while you are president the official opposition will consist of Democrats.  The Democrats have not indulged in nearly as much of that kind of scorched-earth obstruction, and their own outgoing president is setting a good example with his reminder that the success of the nation is bound up with the success of whoever is the incumbent president.  But with Republicans having set a much different example, and with fears and emotions running especially high in the wake of this year’s election, we should not be surprised to see postures similar to that of Leon Wieseltier, who writes that when he heard Hillary Clinton in her concession statement ask people to give you a chance to succeed, “I confess that I felt no such graciousness. This made me as small as Mitch McConnell, I know. But if Trump succeeds, America may fail.”  Other voices on the liberal side have been making similar noises.  Declaring yourself to be a one-term president would take much wind out of the sails of any McConnell-like Democrats.  To the extent they otherwise would have wanted you to fail to preclude a second Trump term, that reason for opposing you would vanish.

It’s not just the Democrats you will have to worry about, and it’s not just the Clintons that Congressional Republicans are inclined to impeach. Rumor has it that some Republican members would be happy to see you ousted through impeachment because they prefer to have as president Mike Pence, whom they regard as a reliable party-line conservative in contrast to you being something of a loose cannon.  Don’t dismiss this possibility as just rumor.  Political scientist Allan Lichtman, who extended an impressive record as a presidential election prognosticator by predicting your victory, is now predicting that you will be impeached.  Part of his reasoning involves the Republican preference to put Pence in the White House, along with Lichtman being “quite certain” that you will do something that will give grounds for impeachment, “either by doing something that endangers national security or because it helps his pocketbook.”  Given the conflict of interest issues that your business holdings raise, that pocketbook matter is worth thinking about.

Making yourself a one-term president would disarm would-be Brutuses in the Republican caucus as least as readily as any Democrats.  They could still look forward to having Pence as their candidate in 2020, but without all the blood on the floor from an impeachment proceeding.

Among other things you ought to think about in considering this proposal is your ability to present yourself as an outsider, which is a large part of what gave you the election victory.  You are more outside than any other self-styled outsider, in that you are the first U.S. president to enter the White House with no previous public service experience.  Each day you are in the White House, you are that much less of an outsider, with your outsider appeal that much less, and you won’t be an outsider at all after four years there.  Better for you to play the role of Cincinnatus, remaining in power just long enough to drain the swamp, or whatever is your favorite metaphor, before returning to private pursuits.  And it is hard to identify anything in a program of yours for which four years would not be sufficient but an additional four would be.

Additional uncertainties would make your re-election in 2020 problematic.  This year you won with the votes of many people who are discontented with their lot in life and saw you as somehow on their side even without more specific reasons to believe that you have a program that will improve their lot.  Yours was an election victory built largely on ignorance and uninformed voters.  Four years from now that vague faith placed in you will not be enough to eke out another victory.  Those same voters who put their trust in you will want to see results.  You, being much smarter than those poorly educated voters who supported you, realize that you do not have a magic potion to improve their lot.  And bear in mind that the Democrats are likely to put up someone to oppose you who does not have as much baggage and as many negatives as Hillary Clinton.

If there is validity in what I just said, and if you ran in 2020, you would go out of political life as a loser.  You would not have a chance to erase that big blot on the Trump name and your own prestige and self-esteem.  Grover Cleveland (who, by the way, won the popular vote in all three of his presidential races, including the one in which he lost the electoral vote) is the only U.S. president who ever came back from defeat to reclaim the White House.  He was much younger than you (you would be in your eighties before completing a second, nonconsecutive term) and did not have the same kind of issues with the mainstream of his own party that you do.

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