.. the halo effect is a well-documented psychological bias, where a person has one trait that you like, and your positive feelings about this spill over to encompass the person as a whole. For example, if you find someone attractive, you’re also more likely to think of them as smart, considerate, approachable, and so on.
Research even shows that we tend to vote for the more attractive candidate in political elections. Something to keep in mind the next time you head to the polls!
Get the blinks for Influence, by Robert Cialdini.
the real problem here is that media organizations are looking for unicorns: serious, honest, conservative intellectuals with real influence. Forty or fifty years ago, such people did exist. But now they don’t.
.. First, while there are many conservative economists with appointments at top universities, publications in top journals, and so on, they have no influence on conservative policymaking.
.. What the right wants are charlatans and cranks, in (conservative) Greg Mankiw’s famous phrase. If they use actual economists, they use them the way a drunkard uses a lamppost: for support, not illumination.
.. under Obama the director was always someone who was interested in real policy research, listened to what experts had to say, and was willing to change views in the face of evidence.
.. Obviously none of this is true in Kudlow’s case. He’s basically a TV personality, whose shtick is preaching the magic of tax cuts, and nothing – not the Kansas debacle, not the Clinton boom, not the strong job creation that followed Obama’s 2013 tax hike – will change his mind. And it’s not just that he’s incurious and inflexible: selling snake oil is his business model, and he can’t change without losing everything. And that’s the kind of guy Republicans want.
All this means that if you get a conservative economist who isn’t a charlatan and crank, you are more or less by definition getting someone with no influence on policymakers. But that’s not the only problem.
.. even aside from its complete lack of policy influence, it’s in an advanced state of both intellectual and moral decadence – something that has been obvious for a while, but became utterly clear after the 2008 crisis.
I’ve written a lot about the intellectual decadence. In macroeconomics, what began in the 60s and 70s as a usefully challenging critique of Keynesian views went all wrong in the 80s, because the anti-Keynesians refused to reconsider their views when their own models failed the reality test while Keynesian models, with some modification, performed pretty well. By the time the Great Recession struck, the right-leaning side of the profession had entered a Dark Age, having retrogressed to the point where famous economists trotted out 30s-era fallacies as deep insights... What accounts for this moral decline? I suspect that it’s about a desperate attempt to retain some influence on a party that prefers the likes of Kudlow or Stephen Moore. People like John Taylor just keep hoping that if they toe the party line enough, they can still get on the inside... we’re looking at asymmetric polarization... Am I saying that there are no conservative economists who have maintained their principles? Not at all. But they have no influence, zero, on GOP thinking.
.. News organizations don’t seem to have figured out how to deal with this reality, except by pretending that it doesn’t exist. And that’s why we keep having these Williamson-like debacles.
a Trump administration staffer who reviewed a draft of the document—and shared key excerpts with me—describes it as “divorced from the reality” of Trump’s presidency.
.. A few classically Trumpian themes are there—the wall, concern over trade imbalances—but much of the document reflects the values and priorities of the president’s predecessors.
.. These discrepancies render the document practically meaningless—enough so that it’s likely to be “widely ignored,”
.. In the end, Trump’s actions will matter far more than his words. And no matter how much fanfare this strategy document gets, foreign governments will likely continue to take their cues from the president himself... broken into four pillars:
- defending the homeland,
- American prosperity,
- advancing American influence, and
- peace through strength.
.. It was spearheaded by Nadia Schadlow, senior director for strategy on the National Security Council (NSC). Schadlow is regarded as a conservative foreign-policy expert based on her experience in the establishment think-tank world, including stints at the Council on Foreign Relations and the Smith Richardson Foundation. She joined the NSC at Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster’s request
.. a section on promoting the rule of law is undermined by Trump’s own persistent attacks on the U.S. judicial system.
.. Trump’s NSS, like Obama’s, identifies the security of the U.S. homeland, particularly against terrorist threats and weapons of mass destruction, as a priority;
- both recognize that promoting economic prosperity is core to sustained U.S. global leadership;
- both highlight the value of preserving an open and liberal international order that has often times benefited the United States; and
- both underscore the importance of preserving core American principles and values.
.. The draft NSS also highlights “enhanced intelligence sharing domestically and with foreign partners” as a priority for disrupting terror plots. But Trump, through his own words and actions, has done much to undermine these relationships.
.. once accused the British intelligence agency, GCHQ, of helping the Obama administration wiretap Trump when he was running for president
.. He has undermined the rule of law repeatedly, personally attacking specific judges, the federal judiciary more broadly, as well as the FBI, the Justice Department and their leaders, some of whom he picked.
.. there’s been too much in the past year designed to stoke fear and sow schisms to make credible language of unity, however much I do crave such unity.”
.. Another classically ‘Trumpian’ theme is the idea that, while the liberal international order has helped advance U.S. interests in some cases, it has also hurt the United States.
it is important to recall the three pillars of the Bannonite “America First” philosophy.
.. As The Washington Post reported at the end of August, Trump continued to defy the wishes of his Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, including by reaching out to Bannon: “The president continues to call business friends and outside advisers, including former chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, from his personal phone when Kelly is not around, said people with knowledge of the calls.”
On Sept. 12, The Wall Street Journal reported that Bannon told a private group in Hong Kong that he “speaks with President Donald Trump every two to three days.”