Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

When the President Is Ignorant of His Own Ignorance

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President Trump is the embodiment of the Dunning-Kruger effect. (“Who know that healthcare legislation was complicated?” he asked in all seriousness.) Thomas Edsall writes in the NY Times:

How prepared is our president for the next great foreign, economic or terrorist crisis?

After a little more than two months in office, President Trump has raised doubts about his ability to deal with what the former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld famously described as the “known unknowns” and the “unknown unknowns.”

“President Trump seems to have no awareness whatsoever of what he does and does not know,” Steven Nadler, a professor of philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, wrote me. “He is ignorant of his own ignorance.”

During his first 63 days in office, Trump made 317 “false or misleading claims,” according to The Washington Post.

The FBI, the Treasury Department and two congressional committees are probing whether Trump’s campaign aides and advisers — including Paul Manafort, Carter Page, Roger Stone and Michael Flynnwere complicit in alleged Russian interference.

Without an obvious mandate (as the world knows, he lost the popular vote by 2.87 million), Trump has proposed a profound retrenchment of domestic policy.

His 2018 budget, the potential impact of which he does not seem to grasp, calls for cutting $54 billion from programs that pay for education, housing and child care assistance for low- and moderate-income families, protection against infectious diseases, enforcement of environmental, worker and consumer protection regulation, national parks and a host of other social programs. See the accompanying chart, which illustrates the depth of these changes. It shows, to give a few examples, Trump’s proposal to cut the Environmental Protection Agency budget by 31 percent; the Labor Department by 21 percent; and the Health and Human Services budget by 16 percent.

Trump proposed these cuts in spite of what Richard N. Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, described in an essay titled “The World Without America” as threats to “the domestic foundations of American Power,” including “crumbling infrastructure, second-rate primary and secondary schools, outdated immigration system, and slow economic growth.”

In addition, Trump has antagonized the leaders of allied countries like Mexico, Australia and Germany, and he has repeatedly demonstrated an extraordinary lack of knowledge about foreign affairs.

This is the president who faces what Warren Christopher, President Clinton’s first secretary of state, called problems from hell. A partial list, compiled by Project Syndicate, includes: intensifying conflicts and dissent within the European Union; the rise of illiberal forces, including welfare chauvinism and exclusionary nationalism; the danger to the continued independence of the buffer states surrounding Russia; a frayed consensus in support of western liberal democratic principles; aggression from a nuclear-armed North Korea and counter threats from the Trump administration of a pre-emptive strike; a foreign policy that The Economist reports has left America’s allies “aghast” — a policy that “seems determined to destroy many of the institutions and alliances created in the past half century.”

How dangerous is the situation that the United States faces?

I asked a range of foreign policy analysts and other scholars to assess the ability of President Trump and his administration to effectively manage the developments listed above.

Steve Nadler of the University of Wisconsin had more to say: . . .

Continue reading.

Do read the whole thing. The outlook is grim.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 April 2017 at 12:05 pm

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