Andrew Sullivan’s latest column, and the Harvard affirmative-action decision

I’m greatly enjoying Andrew Sullivan’s Friday’s columns in New York Magazine—a refreshing online contrast to the cringe-making wokeness that pervades the paper magazine (I got a subscription with frequent-flyer miles in a program I never use, and I’m not going to renew). The latest column, as always, takes up three topics. This week’s include (as you can tell by the title), an epic damnation of Trump, a criticism of the judge’s decision in the Harvard affirmative-action case, and a religiously-tinged piece praising Brandt Jean, whose brother Botham was killed by Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, just convicted for the murder.

Sullivan is lacrymose about the displays of “grace” when Brandt hugged Amber after she was sentenced, and when the judge herself came down from behind the bench to join in the mass hugging and give Guyger the judge’s Bible. While I agree that Brandt Jean was remarkably and admirably forgiving, the judge should have stayed out of it. And I don’t think you need to drag religion into the issue, but Sullivan’s Catholicism bubbles to the surface as he pronounces, “Christ’s demands of us are extreme.” When will this otherwise sensible man let go of his superstitions?

 

But I want to concentrate on the Harvard decision, since I went there and because it’s a bellwether case about affirmative action in American colleges. First, though a few words from Sullivan on Trump.

I’m starting to come around to the view that it’s a no-brainer not only to impeach him in the House, but also to convict him in the Senate. Trump’s violations of the Constitution and of the law are not only obvious, but Trump even seems proud of them, and continues to engage in even more politicization of the election by calling on China for aid. And now we have a second whistleblower in the Ukraine/Biden mess. Re Trump’s admission that he leaned on foreign governments to smear his opponent, Sullivan says this:

Far from faithfully executing the laws, this president is openly breaking them — in full view of the world, and in flagrant violation of his oath of office.

It is as if Nixon held a press conference and began it by saying, “Yes, I’m a crook. And the American people deserve to know it. But McGovern would have been a terrible president and so it was entirely worthwhile. Sure, I committed a high crime in tampering with the last election. But sometimes high crimes are necessary to save the country from the Democrats.” Nixon, for all his profound flaws, would never have said such a thing. His cover-up was, in a way, a tribute to the rule of law the way hypocrisy is often a tribute to virtue. He had some reverence for the Constitution, even as he betrayed it. He had some sense of responsibility for the wider system of government, and for his own political party, even as he struggled to save himself. Nixon committed high crimes — but, unlike Trump, he didn’t celebrate or publicize them or declare them legal and simply dare the body politic to take him down.

Why is Trump doing himself in this way? Sullivan’s theory, which is his, is this:

Why would a president say such things? And in public? My view, for what it’s worth, is that Trump’s pathological narcissism overrides reality on a minute-by-minute basis, and that because of this, the very idea of the rule of law, which makes no distinction between the really stable geniuses and everybody else, is impossible for Trump to understand. It’s designed as a neutral check on any individual’s desire to do whatever he wants — and a “neutral check” is, quite simply, beyond Trump’s comprehension. Looking at his long and abysmal business career, the rule of law was always, always an object of scorn, something only suckers cared about and lawyers were paid to circumvent. For Trump, the law is something to break, avoid or pay off. And as president, he clearly believes he is above it.

Well, that’s as good a theory as any. But regardless of Trump’s motivations (the man is an unstable moron), it’s time to impeach him, and quickly. Any Republicans who think he didn’t do anything wrong deserve to be voted out of office themselves, and held accountable for defending the indefensible. And I no longer worry that impeachment proceedings will help Trump get re-elected. His bad deeds, which are becoming more public and numerous, have almost guaranteed (in my view) that he won’t be re-elected no matter what happens.

*********

As you know about the Harvard case, as I wrote recently, judge Allison Burroughs ruled almost completely in Harvard’s favor, saying that although the school may have discriminated against Asian-Americans to beef up the number of Hispanic and African-American students, it was not malicious discrimination. (I disagreed, since Harvard admitted that the Asian-American students had lower “personality scores”.) But in the main I think that we still need affirmative action because diversity in college—diversity of ethnicity, national background, socioeconomic status, ideology, and so on—is an inherent good. And with respect to Hispanics and blacks, this is a way to compensate for systematic (but not systemic) racism.

When affirmative action began when I was younger, it was always labeled as a temporary measure: a procedure to put in place until there were enough role models that we no longer needed to give advantage to people in college admissions based on their skin color.  Sullivan argues—and he has a point—that it’s no longer temporary: identity politics and cries of systemic discrimination (see the NYT’s “1619 Project”) have all but ensured that it will be permanent:

. . . . to combat racial discrimination, you need to practice racial discrimination — but as a temporary measure, you can justify it if the goal is eventual color-blindness in admissions. That’s the point of the judge’s terms — “at least for now,” “one day,” “we are not there yet.” And as law professor Melissa Murray notes, that’s just an update on Sandra Day O’Connor’s 2003 view that the policy is only constitutional if it is temporary: “25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary.” So in nine years we can get rid of this bias?

Except, if Harvard has its way, we won’t. Increasingly, the popular rationale for the discrimination is as Murray described it in the New York Times this week, “an appropriate remedy for longtime systemic, state-sanctioned oppression.” Harvard has long since stopped pretending — at least when it doesn’t have to defend its practices in court — that it believes in bringing about a society “beyond race.” In the last decade, the emphasis is on racial oppression as a permanent structural force built into America’s DNA. Affirmative action is thereby a form of open-ended resistance to “white supremacy.” All students, far from getting beyond race, are required to be constantly conscious of it even in a casual conversation. Diversity programs are increasingly not about getting past race; they are about insisting on its eternal centrality to everything in America.

And Sullivan decries Harvard’s solution of “punishing” Asians to foster diversity:

Perhaps the discrimination could still be justified by the legacy of an overwhelmingly white student body for a very long time, an attempt to level the playing field retroactively so that non-white minorities can do better. Fine. So why go after Asian-Americans — a non-white minority — who have nothing whatsoever to do with that? Why punish one minority group in order to protect others? Many Asian-American students are children of immigrants, without inherited wealth or privilege, and, as an ethnic group, were subject to brutal discrimination in this country for centuries. Japanese-Americans were actually locked up in internment camps in living memory. And they’re the ones you’re discriminating against for the purpose of racial justice?

Here Sullivan considers Asian-Americans to be “people of color” (POC), which many people think they are (they are, for instance, considered POCs at Williams College, and preferentially hired). This baffles me. Yes, Asian-Americans were oppressed at one time, but I cannot buy into the idea that they still are, despite many claims to the contrary (there may be some discrimination in the entertainment industry). They achieve and score higher than many other groups—to the extent that Harvard has to enact policies to keep their numbers down.  Maybe their skins aren’t “white”, but “People of Color” long ago stopped referring to pigmentation and has instead become a euphemism for “past discrimination”.  People can’t on say on one hand (as they often do in HuffPost) that Asian-Americans are ubiquitously oppressed minorities, and on the other hand favor policies to deny them college entrance because their scores are higher than those of other groups.

The whole notion of “people of color” confuses me now. Does it mean pigmentation, or oppression? Is Linda Sarsour a person of color? She’s whiter than I am. Maybe she’s a POC because she’s of Palestinian descent, but in that case why are Jews not people of color, since they are the subject of many more hate crimes, per capita, than Muslims?  Are Hispanics people of color, or only the ones from Latin America? (Remember, people from Spain are considered Hispanics too.) There are many South Americans, of largely or wholly Spanish descent, who experience favoritism during the hiring or admissions process. It would help if some college would be explicit about whom they consider to be “people of color”, and explain why. But it’ll be a cold day in July when we see that.

But I digress.

If semi-permanent affirmative action is what’s in store, and it looks increasingly likely, then proponents of affirmative action need to specify at what point we no longer need to rely on race-based admissions. Or they must offer other solutions (I have no idea what they might be) for rectifying racial imbalance in colleges. Sullivan offers a solution, but I don’t think it’s a good one:

An alternative option for expanding racial diversity is sitting in plain sight though. It wouldn’t rest on a neo-Marxist view of America; nor be a paradoxical liberal attempt to create a temporary exception for color-blindness in order to get to color-blindness in the future. That option is simply to end policies that rig the admissions process to benefit the super-rich and super-privileged. I’m talking about legacy admissions.

Yes, almost all of these students are white, but the criterion for choosing not to admit them is not their race, but simple fairness. No one should get an unearned advantage, by race or by class and connections and heredity. And one of the benefits of subjecting Harvard to discovery in this trial was the revelation that a whopping 43 percent of white students at Harvard are legacy and special admissions, i.e. there because they’re athletes, legacies, Dean’s List, or children of faculty. Of those, 70 percent would not be there on merit alone.

If you ended this affirmative action for the super-rich and connected, you’d free up almost a full third of admissions. It’s win-win! More fairness and more racial balance. And there are no constitutional issues involved in Harvard actually using academic merit as the core criterion for admission. What better way to attack “white supremacy” than ending a program that gives extra advantages to the already privileged and not-so-smart?

What about it, Harvard? Time to check your own privilege, methinks, before you tell anyone else to check theirs.

I agree that legacy admissions are unwise, as are athletic admissions, but colleges, hungry for donors and sports dollars (Harvard doesn’t make much money from athletics) are unlikely to follow Sullivan’s advice. Still, it’s good advice—except for one thing. If you eliminate both race-based admissions and legacy admissions, and go to a straight meritocracy, how are you going to ensure diversity? You can’t—not if you rely on test scores alone and don’t take ethnicity into account. And eliminating the 43% of white students who are “special admissions” means that you have to ask, “Okay, what do we fill that lacuna with?” If you say “merit-based admissions”, then you’re back to a less diverse college. If you say “race-based admissions,” then you’re practicing the affirmative action that Sullivan dislikes.

So I don’t see that as a solution to the diversity issue, though I think it’s a solution to some brands of unfairness. But maybe I’m not understanding what Sullivan is saying. In that case, enlighten me.

59 Comments

  1. Posted October 6, 2019 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    “Yes, Asian-Americans were oppressed at one time, but I cannot buy into the idea that they still are, …”

    Another question is whether Blacks and Hispanics are still being oppressed?

    By which I mean, is a black kid systematically disfavored compared to a white kid who goes to the same school and whose parents have the same income?

    I don’t claim to know the answer. The woke would regard the answer as so-obviously “yes” that they would be aghast that anyone would ask it. But, is there an evidence-based answer?

    • darrelle
      Posted October 6, 2019 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      Based only on my personal observations and experiences, the answer is yes. Of course not all Black and Hispanic kids are disfavored compared to all the white kids in the same school whose parents have the same income. As it seems you would agree based on the conditions you describe, it’s complicated. Social status, economic status and race are all divisions for which there are biases. Not so much in our systems but in the people who work within those systems. How to isolate the signal for each of the forcings at play? How to decide how big of a signal warrants being considered a problem or how to rank the severity of the problem compared the other’s?

      But even with all of this complexity it seems clear to me, based on what I’ve seen personally, that yes, prejudice and discrimination based on race still exists in the US’s education systems. Also based on socio-economic status and sex. Considerably less so than when I was in school, but still at levels that I think warrant doing something constructive about.

      Like Jerry, I’m not sure exactly how. You can make changes to the system and that will have some effect. Maybe not the effect that was hoped for. The real issue is the individuals working the system. A fair and equitable system can not always protect individuals from discrimination by prejudiced individuals working within the system. The individuals’ attitudes have to change. Attitudes have and are changing but we’ve still a ways to go.

  2. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 6, 2019 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    “… Trump’s pathological narcissism overrides reality on a minute-by-minute basis …”

    There’s a very good piece by George Conway (husband of the infamous Kellyanne) on this precise topic posted a couple days ago in The Atlantic.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted October 6, 2019 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

      “husband of the infamous Kellyanne”

      I can only suppose that their love life is amazing, with daily make-up sex. Otherwise I cannot see how they are still married.

      And how did they meet? Did mutual friends fix them up? Did he see her scurrying across the ceiling in some dingy bar?

      Forget Ukraine, I want an investigation into how these two human beings are still together.

      • Mike
        Posted October 6, 2019 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

        Of several hypotheses I’ve read that propose an answer to your question, my favourite is that the Conways’ public personas are positioning themselves for post-Trump media careers, and in their private lives they are looking forward to counting a lot of money so derived. My second-favourite is based on the make-up sex, er, proposition. But of course IDK what’s really going on.

        • chrism
          Posted October 7, 2019 at 6:33 am | Permalink

          I’m guessing the make-up sex would be the “I’ve been a naughty boy, mistress” kind.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted October 6, 2019 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

        I’ve heard some of the same theories as Mike, but, I gotta admit, this pairing is a complete freakin’ mystery to me.

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted October 6, 2019 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    I must agree with you on the Harvard issue but also it would be good if they could eliminate the legacy business and all the favoritism that applies to all schools. The athletic part should just be left out because it has nothing to do with real education for most of them. Also, how many Asians are going to make the team? Racism is not going away any time soon that I am aware of so how does anyone put an expiration date on affirmative action unless they just don’t like it. Very likely in this country the only solution to the growing inequality of our society will be some redistribution of wealth and a much fairer tax system. Expecting to get it done with schools is a delusion.

    • max blancke
      Posted October 6, 2019 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

      My experience has led me to the conclusion that putting an underqualified student into a university environment helps no one.

      Intervention should have happened for that student at least a decade earlier. But that solution is more complicated, as it requires one to confront deeper cultural and parenting issues.

      A child that is taught by their parents to show up, work hard, and keep out of trouble is almost certainly going to succeed in school and in life. A kid who refuses to participate in their own education or be disruptive is likely to fail.

      I don’t have experience with “legacy” admissions, but the subject makes me wonder if students admitted that way are able on average to do the work required of them, and if they tend to major in more difficult subjects, or the ***studies programs. If there were a lot of “legacy” folks in the universities I attended, I was unaware of them. My siblings and I went to good schools, but we got in the normal way.

  4. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 6, 2019 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    If semi-permanent affirmative action is what’s in store, and it looks increasingly likely …

    I doubt that. I think the votes are there for SCOTUS to put the kibosh on the entire affirmative-action concept tout de suite.

    And I think Sullivan’s idea of ending legacy (and similar admissions for the already privileged and well-heeled), while right-minded and noble, hasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding. It puts at risk something much dearer to the hearts of administrators than anything relating to fairness or equity or racial-and-ethnic balance — the Almighty Endowment, which is fed by well-timed donations from the parents of students who would not otherwise qualify on their own academic merit.

  5. Mark R.
    Posted October 6, 2019 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Amber Guyger’s case is beyond odd. I still can’t grok how a “trained” police officer can go into another person’s apartment, see someone eating ice cream on a strange couch in a living room that’s not hers and then, not noticing any of these discrepancies, pulls out her firearm and shoots the stranger twice with no forewarning. WTF? Did his blackness completely blind this woman to her surroundings…did she imagine the bowl of ice-cream was a gun, pointed at her head? I call bullshit. And 10 years is a very light sentence, plus she’ll appeal. She may get only a couple years.

    I’m sort of ok with the brother’s forgiveness-speech, but it made me cringe; so much delusion was on display. And the judge’s actions were beyond the pale- no separation of church and state in that courtroom. If Amber was black and the victim white, you think things would be different?

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 6, 2019 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      Under Texas law, Guyger will do five of the ten before she’s eligible for parole. She may well take an appeal on the issue of guilt, but she has no colorable legal claim that her sentence is too harsh.

      • Mark R.
        Posted October 6, 2019 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for clarifying Ken.

    • darrelle
      Posted October 6, 2019 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      This crime has always seemed very odd to me too. But regarding “trained police officers,” I’ve got little problem believing a trained police officer could perform this poorly in such circumstances. I know there are still plenty of good police officers out there, but there are many that shouldn’t be let anywhere near such a job. Many are precisely the wrong type of people for the job and sought the job for precisely the wrong reasons. Somebody who want to play tactical and sought the job so that they could play tactical shouldn’t be a police officer.

      Hand in hand with this problem is the change in attitude among law enforcement leadership from “we are public servants” to “civilians must respect our authority without question in all circumstances or we can abuse, shoot or even kill them.”

      • Posted October 6, 2019 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

        Here in Germany, police officers do three or four years training. In the US it’s a few months in some states.

        In Germany 500 have people shot by the police since 1950. I think the US manages about that many every 6 months!

    • Charles Sawicki
      Posted October 6, 2019 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

      I don’t remember hearing that she was tested for drugs and alcohol (possibly because she was a cop). A possible reason for her unjustifiable actions?

      • Mark R.
        Posted October 6, 2019 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

        She just got off from her shift. She was still in uniform, so I doubt she had time to get inebriated.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted October 6, 2019 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

          She’d been sexting with her fuck-buddy all day before finishing her shift, so maybe she has a horniness-as-temporary-insanity equivalent of Dan White’s “Twinkie” defense to raise on appeal.

          • Mark R.
            Posted October 7, 2019 at 12:26 am | Permalink

            Twinkie won’t work for a woman. Sexting? Perhaps so. hmpf. As I said, this is an ugly quagmire. cops.

          • Mark R.
            Posted October 7, 2019 at 12:36 am | Permalink

            sexting…still don’t understand the concept. Like spare change. 😉

  6. Historian
    Posted October 6, 2019 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Trump will be impeached in the House, but the ever more loathsome Mitch McConnell will prevent conviction in the Senate. USA Today reports “in a new campaign ad on Facebook, the Kentucky Republican claims that any impeachment attempt will fail as long as he remains in charge of the Senate.” Without evidence, there are some wimpy liberals and anti-Trump moderates who fear that the failure to convict Trump will increase his stature among voters. They have been snookered by the “friendly” advice of right wingers. It is just as plausible to say that the failure of the Senate to convict due to Republican opposition will, in fact, decrease both the stature of Trump and the Republican Senators as knowledge Trump’s crimes become well known , thereby increasing the odds that the Republicans will lose control of the Senate. No one knows for sure what the political ramifications of impeachment in the House will be, but if I had to bet it will be bad news for Republicans. I don’t expect a rerun of the Bill Clinton impeachment experience when he gained support after being impeached but acquitted in the Senate.

    I think that a significant number of voters who opposed impeachment at one time are now coming around to support it. I am very gratified.

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2019/10/05/mitch-mcconnell-campaign-ad-says-trump-impeachment-fail/3881997002/

    • Mark R.
      Posted October 6, 2019 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

      Yes, as Trump continues his bluster and melt downs, and as the hearings proceed and the evidence builds, public support for impeachment will continue to grow. Even some FOX pundits are no longer in denial of the man’s corruption.

      I thought it telling that Moscow Mitch said he’d bring up an impeachment hearing in the Senate if the House impeached because it was “the rules”. Yeah, when have rules ever stopped him before? This tells me that he’s distancing himself and his caucus from the increasingly toxic man-baby.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 6, 2019 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

      I think the case for not rushing too quickly to an impeachment vote before the full House of Representatives is that there’s still congressional testimony to be adduced (testimony that will make it even more uncomfortable for congressional Republicans to keep up the facade of their support for Trump).

      Former US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was recalled for complaining about Rudy Giuliani’s Ukraine shenanigans (and who is scheduled to testify this week), for one. Career diplomat William Taylor, who saw right through the bullshit to Trump’s quid pro quo deal with Ukraine in his recently released text messages with special envoy Kurt Volker and EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland, for another. Plus, an additional whistleblower, one with firsthand knowledge of the underlying events, has just come forward, and others are doubtless to follow.

      Also, I think there’s a feeling that, if the Senate vote on whether to remove Trump is put off until the Republican senators up for reelection in 2020 (especially those in purple states like Susan Collins and Cory Gardner) are more comfortable that they won’t draw a primary opponent as retaliation for crossing Trump, they may be more likely actually to vote their conscience — or, that is, to vote the poor, etiolated thing that passes nowadays for a Republican’s conscience.

      • Mark R.
        Posted October 6, 2019 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

        And late last week news broke that another whistle blower, this person from the IRS, said Trump officials were meddling (or trying to meddle) with Trump and Pence’s annual mandatory tax audit.

  7. Jon Gallant
    Posted October 6, 2019 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Even I, in whom cynicism is not infrequent, was shocked by how high (43%!) the proportion of legacy-and-special admissions was. Harvard gives new meaning to the term “limousine liberal”: i.e., “legacy liberal”.

    By now, the problems of affirmative action are entangled with a classic example of clientelism. In this case, the patronage includes not only students who benefit (or think they benefit) from affirmative action, but also the entire bureaucracy that administers it. And, on top of the career self-interest of the professional diversicrats, there is the way affirmative action has been elevated to a sanctified, unquestionable holy writ in many corridors of the ivory tower. This makes it hard to have pragmatic discussion of the policy’s pluses and minuses, and difficulties in execution.

  8. FB
    Posted October 6, 2019 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    What Harvard is doing is clearly malicious discrimination against Asian-Americans, because it’s obvious that their success is due to hard work, and in no way can be attributed to their oppression of other groups.

  9. Posted October 6, 2019 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Good article from Sullivan, though I suspect the rest of the US media is getting all excited about nothing again. “The walls are closing on Trump” has been said repeatedly for the last 3 and a half years, and they’re saying it again.

    And they’ll be wrong again. The US media always thinks that when Trump is acting paranoid it’s because he knows “the walls are closing in” (a phrase I see popping up yet again for the billionth time).

    But in fact he’s paranoid because for the same reason he thought the transcript of the call would exonerate him — it’s because he’s completely and utterly ignorant of everything concerning his job. He knows less about what’s normal, legal, or possible in politics than even the idiots who vote for him know.

    Anyone looking at Trump’s behaviour for clues as to what’s going on in the background hasn’t been paying attention. He doesn’t know what’s going on. He doesn’t know what he did wrong, and he doesn’t know what he needs to fix, so he can’t fix it.

    His protestations of innocence aren’t faked — he really thinks he is, because he doesn’t know what the law is, or where it comes from, or how it’s supposed to work.

    The half of the population who support him are perceiving it correctly: he isn’t faking it. He really does believe he’s doing a great job and only losers hate him.

    • Mark R.
      Posted October 6, 2019 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      The half of the population who support him are perceiving it correctly…

      I understand many of the points you make, but where do you get half the population? That’s not even close.

      • Posted October 6, 2019 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

        Ok, 42.3%, unless it has “plummeted” again down to 42.1%.

    • Randy Bessinger
      Posted October 6, 2019 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      I think Conway’s article Ken referenced above goes a long way to “explain” Trump. The reason he keeps escaping is those supporters who actually are the ones with “Trump derangement syndrome” and the enablers and supporters in the White House, Senate and House that are using him to get what they want.

      • Rand Bessinger
        Posted October 6, 2019 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

        How can anyone read that article and all the examples and not come away with the conclusion that he suffers from a severe narcissist disorder? Is it me that is crazy?

        • Posted October 6, 2019 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

          He’s actually a law of attraction/power of positive thinking scammer. He really does believe he can create his own reality, as well as create his own expertise and all the skills he needs. He really does believe that. It’s like a mental illness from the outside, but he’s really just acting like all the other law of attraction scammers.

    • BJ
      Posted October 6, 2019 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

      I plus this up to a one.

    • Historian
      Posted October 6, 2019 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

      Your comment touches upon one of the many controversies revolving around Trump and his behavior: is he mentally ill, in cognitive decline, a total ignoramus who genuinely thinks he can do anything he wants, or a “stable genius”, brilliantly manipulating the media and voters? His behavior may very well be a combination of the first three possibilities. We probably will never know for sure. But, whatever the source of his behavior, he is a danger to the country, indeed the world, and democracy.

      • Posted October 6, 2019 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

        I suspect that the set of beliefs he holds about the nature of reality are so completely at odds with reality that it makes him mentally ill — functionally mentally ill, at the very least.

        I don’t think anyone can really conceive of what kind of a mental world it is that he lives in. He really does have a mental age of about 5, but everyone has to act as if his fantasies are real which of course they can be, given that Americans decided to make him the most powerful person ever. Luckily he is also the most ignorant person ever to have held high office, anywhere, ever.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted October 6, 2019 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

        The $400 million he inherited from his daddy, and his gift for spinning an almost impermeable cocoon of bullshit, has kept Donald Trump from having to face serious consequences of his lifelong misdeeds. But that string has just about run its course.

        He mocks the handicapped and picks fights with Gold Star families. He is the most paradigmatic case of malignant narcissistic personality disorder I’ve ever encountered, publicly or privately. He has the mentality of a malevolent, dangerous juvenile delinquent.

    • Posted October 7, 2019 at 11:04 am | Permalink

      As happened last time I posted something about trump not being mentally ill so much as living in a fantasy world, I just saw his latest tweet; and again, yeh, maybe he is just completely nuts.

  10. Simon Hayward
    Posted October 6, 2019 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    “His bad deeds, which are becoming more public and numerous, have almost guaranteed (in my view) that he won’t be re-elected no matter what happens.” I hope you are right, but I seem to remember that you were accepting cash bets that he’d never get elected in the first place. I’m going to worry for another 13 months (at least)

  11. Randall Schenck
    Posted October 6, 2019 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    What puzzles me about the Trump business now is why Pelosi is dragging her feet on doing the vote to officially declare the impeachment herrings or inquiry is on. She has come to this dance kicking a screaming and finally announces but no vote. The White house is even saying, we won’t comply with any requests until you vote. Take the damn vote and move on. Maybe hire someone competent to run this thing. So far I just don’t see the talent in the democrats to do this.

    • FB
      Posted October 6, 2019 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

      Now I have to try both, impeach mints and impeachment herrings.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted October 6, 2019 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

        Yes, sounds kind of fishy.

    • Posted October 6, 2019 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

      “Impeachment herrings” is brilliant!

    • Steve Gerrard
      Posted October 6, 2019 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      The initial house vote is not required. There aren’t really any solid rules about how you do an impeachment.

      In the case of Nixon, there was such a vote: the house voted overwhelmingly to start an official inquiry and authorize the Judiciary committee to conduct it. Months later, the committee voted out articles, and Nixon resigned before the full house acted on them.

      In the case of Clinton, there was no such vote. The Government Reform and Oversight committee voted to send four articles of impeachment to the floor of the house. The house had a three day long debate and discussion, then voted to pass two of the four articles.

      • tomh
        Posted October 6, 2019 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

        @ Steve Gerrard

        “In the case of Clinton, there was no such vote. ”

        Actually there was. The resolution, H.Res. 581, went to the House floor on Oct. 8 and passed 258-176. Thirty-one Democrats joined Republicans to authorize the Judiciary Committee “to investigate fully and completely whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to exercise its constitutional power to impeach William Jefferson Clinton, President of the United States of America.”

        • Steve Gerrard
          Posted October 6, 2019 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

          I stand corrected. What led me astray was that between then and the action on impeachment in the house, there was the matter of a new election. The documents I was seeing were all after the election, during the lame duck session. That vote was before the election.

          It was a relatively short time before the actual impeachment vote, with the whole Ken Starr business having preceded it. The Nixon case was different, in that the authorization vote came before the inquiry spectacle, rather than after it.

          • tomh
            Posted October 6, 2019 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

            I always thought there should be a vote, mainly to prevent the Republicans from using the lack of one as a talking point in public, and an argument in court. Judges are more likely to enforce requests and such if there is a formal inquiry. I think Pelosi resisted a vote originally to protect Dem representatives in purple districts, but that protection is no longer needed as almost all of them are on record in favor of the inquiry. I still think there should be a vote, although now Pelosi may not want to look like she’s caving in to Trump’s demand.

    • Posted October 6, 2019 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

      Don’t you do the investigations first and then have the impeachment vote, after which, if it passes, you move to a hearing in the Senate?

      I suspect Pelosi has to think about the timing. She probably wants to avoid anything major happening while the Democratic Primaries are in progress. On the other hand, if there are daily breaking stories about Trump’s criminality during the presidential race, it might be beneficial to the Democratic nominee.

      • Posted October 6, 2019 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

        I see my question has already been answers by Stevie G. I still think timing is a consideration though.

  12. Posted October 6, 2019 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Why is Trump doing himself in this way? Sullivan’s theory, which is his, is this

    My theory, which is mine, is this:

    Trump is gaslighting. He knows he won’t get convicted by the Senate (well, he thinks he won’t, I’m getting slightly less sure), so he’s pretending that asking a foreign government to investigate Joe Biden et al is completely OK. The more he makes out like he has done nothing wrong and it’s completely OK to ask foreign governments to investigate people who happen to be political opponents of Trump, the more people will think he’s done nothing wrong.

    • Harrison
      Posted October 6, 2019 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      What’s clear is that Team Trump wanted a redux of 2016 and the Clinton investigation. There purpose is not to discover a crime, but for voters to go to the polls knowing one of the candidates is under active investigation. There’s a lot of problems with this strategy, not least of which being that Trump is ALSO under active investigation, and past investigations actually turned up indictable offenses that sent people to jail. But people do seem to hold Trump to a much lower standard.

      • Harrison
        Posted October 6, 2019 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

        That should say “the purpose.”

      • Posted October 6, 2019 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

        The other problem is that Joe Biden is looking less likely to be the Democratic candidate.

    • Mark R.
      Posted October 6, 2019 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

      Except the majority of Americans understand that it is not OK to ask a foreign country to aid someone in our elections. Sure, Cult45 doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with a dictator doing what they will to win, but ALL Democrats and I’m sure a majority of Independents and even some Republicans know this activity shows serious malfeasance.

      • Posted October 6, 2019 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

        But that is not how the Trump team is spinning it. They are claiming it’s just POTUS starting an investigation into corruption. They think the more they say it, the more likely people are to believe it.

        And it’s working to an extent, at least with Republicans. I’ve interacted on forums with Republicans who have bought the narrative that Biden asked for a prosecutor to be removed because he was investigating corruption, even though it is a fact that he asked for the prosecutor to be removed because he wasn’t investigating corruption.

        I’ve seen Republicans ague that it’s right for the POTUS to investigate corruption whilst ignoring the fact that the proper way to do it is to ask the FBI and not a foreign country to do it.

        I think you’re probably right that the majority of Americans will not be taken in this time, but that doesn’t mean that Trump isn’t trying it.

  13. Charles Sawicki
    Posted October 6, 2019 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Sullivan’s comment on Nixon: “His cover-up was, in a way, a tribute to the rule of law the way hypocrisy is often a tribute to virtue.”
    Before Trump I would have felt this to be a sign of Sullivan’s dementia. Now it seems entirely reasonable and fitting. Another sigh of how far we have fallen…

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 6, 2019 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

      I think Sullivan is spot-on with this. Nixon tried to subvert many of them, but as a former congressman, senator, and two-term Eisenhower Veep, he had an inherent understanding of, and at least superficial respect for, our American institutions.

      Even near the end of his run of lawlessness, Nixon felt the need to say in public that “people have to know whether or not their president is a crook.” I can’t imagine it ever occurring to Donald Trump to say anything of the sort.

  14. jhs
    Posted October 7, 2019 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    How can a subjective and culturally biased personality score capture who a young adult really is and will be? It is crap! (Do I get a high personality score for this energy-filled statement?)
    Just a way to knock down Asian Americans in my opinion.

    I know how hard Asian American children work. I understand it can be frustrating when they believe they are more deserving than other classmates accepted by Harvard or MIT. However, based on what I have observed, lives still turn out great after they attended University of Michigan or Chicago.


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