the most revealing thing in the interview may be Mr. Trump’s defense of Bill O’Reilly, accused of sexual predation and abuse of power: “He’s a good person.” This, I’d argue, tells us more about both the man from Mar-a-Lago and the motivations of his base than his ramblings about infrastructure and trade.
.. How much difference has it made, really, that Donald Trump rather than a conventional Republican sits in the White House?
.. the ignominious collapse of the effort to kill Obamacare — owed almost nothing to executive dysfunction. Repeal-and-replace didn’t face-plant because of poor tactics; it failed because Republicans have been lying about health care for eight years. So when the time came to propose something real, all they could offer were various ways to package mass loss of coverage.
.. Tax reform looks like a bust .. because nobody in the G.O.P. ever put in the hard work of figuring out what should change and how to sell those changes.
.. it’s clear that the administration has no actual infrastructure plan, and probably never will.
.. there are some places where Mr. Trump does seem likely to have a big impact — most notably, in crippling environmental policy. But that’s what any Republican would have done
.. Trumpist governance in practice so far is turning out to be just Republican governance with (much) worse management
.. Trumpism has brought is a new sense of empowerment to the ugliest aspects of American politics.
.. one thing the interviewees often say is that Mr. Trump is honest, that he tells it like is, which may seem odd given how much he lies about almost everything, policy and personal. But what they probably mean is that Mr. Trump gives outright, unapologetic voice to racism, sexism, contempt for “losers” and so on
.. Mr. Trump isn’t an honest man or a stand-up guy, but he is, arguably, less hypocritical about the darker motives underlying his worldview than conventional politicians are.
.. they provide a safe space for people who want an affirmation that their uglier impulses are, in fact, justified and perfectly O.K.
whether unapologetic ugliness is a winning political strategy.