Poor impulse control or bigoted

Nate Silver tries to work out what drives Trump.

More from Twitter:

It’s not some clever calculation to rally his base. Or to distract the media. He can’t help/control himself. He does it every single time.

…or other explanations that rationalize his behavior (“actually, this is a clever ploy to rally his base!” 🤔) when simpler ones will do.

The simple explanation for Trump’s outbursts is that he has poor impulse control and/or is bigoted. Usually the simple explanation is right.

It’s obvious that Trump doesn’t tolerate criticism, and his usual defence is attack. This might be good for ‘reality TV’ ratings. but it’s a poor way to conduct a presidency.

From FiveThirtyEight:  The Media Needs To Stop Rationalizing President Trump’s Behavior

Whenever President Trump lashes out against someone or something in a way that defies traditional expectations for presidential behavior — for instance, his decision to criticize the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Saturday morning after her town was just devastated by Hurricane Maria — it yields a debate about what was behind it. After Trump’s series of attacks on the NFL and its players earlier this month, for example, there were two major theories about what motivated his conduct.

The first theory is that it was a deliberate political tactic — or as a New York Times headline put it, “a calculated attempt to shore up his base.” We often hear theories like this after Trump does or says something controversial or outrageous. His response to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August was sometimes explained in this way, for example. “Mr. Trump has always appreciated the emotional pull of questioning bias and fairness, especially with his white working-class base,” the Times wrote, portraying Charlottesville as an issue that drove a wedge between the Trumpian and the Republican establishment.

It’s also often claimed that Trump leans into controversies such as the NFL protests as a way to distract the media from other, more serious issues, such as the repeated Republican failures to repeal Obamacare, or the various investigations into Trump’s dealings with Russia. These claims also assume that Trump’s actions are calculated and deliberate — that he’s a clever media manipulator, always staying one step ahead of editors in Washington and New York.

The second theory is that the response was impulsive and primarily emotional. Trump initially began criticizing the NFL and NFL players at a rally last Friday in Huntsville, Alabama, including referring (although not by name) to former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick as a “son of a bitch” for protesting during the national anthem. Perhaps encouraged by the raucous response he received from the crowd, Trump went on a tweetstorm about the NFL, its owners and its players that lasted intermittently over the next several days. Somewhere along the way, he also disinvited former NBA MVP Stephen Curry from attending the White House ceremony scheduled to honor the NBA Champion Golden State Warriors. (Curry had already said that he didn’t like what Trump stood for and didn’t plan to attend.)

Just the latest of many examples.

I’m happy to acknowledge that Trump’s responses to the news are sometimes thought-out and deliberate. His criticisms of the media often seem to fall into this category, for example, since they’re sure to get widespread coverage and Republican voters have overwhelmingly lost faith in the media.

But at many other times, journalists come up with overly convoluted explanations for Trump’s behavior (“this seemingly self-destructive emotional outburst is actually a clever political strategy!”) when simpler ones will suffice (“this is a self-destructive emotional outburst.”).

In doing so, they violate both Ockham’s razor1 and Hanlon’s razor — the latter of which can be stated as “never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

One can understand why journalists who rely on having close access to Trump avoid explanations that portray Trump as being irrational, incompetent or bigoted. But sometimes they’re the only explanations that make sense.

It seems clear that some of what Trump has done and does but is carefully calculated, but much of his day to day behaviour is reactionary and reveals what he his like as a person.

21 Comments

  1. David

     /  October 1, 2017

    Trump is not a politician so why supposedly smart people keep expecting him to change into one should actually prompt some introspection, thicko commentators in the US are a bit bloody slow.
    His reason for electoral success is pretty clear so he keeps being himself because it works, much to the consternation of liberal graduates.

    • But he is now a politician, arguably the most influential politician in the world.

      And while it worked to win the election it is not always working very well now. Trump is repeatedly making things hard for his administration and for the US.

      • David

         /  October 1, 2017

        Trumps biggest problem is the Senate where there are 298 bills waiting and lord knows how many appointments confirmations and despite 7 years of promising repeal and replace they cant get anything done.
        Trump could become the saintly Obama and still nothing will get done, the Americans are pissed off and angry and Trump gets that. The Mayor of San Juan is now being adulated on twitter and in the Trump hating media while 90% of Americans will think her an idiot. The players in the NFL taking a knee are now all standing, parents are shunning sending their kids to gone mad lefty universities, Antifa are finally being arrested for wanton destruction, illegal border crossings down 70%, economy put on 3.1% growth…sooner or later the commentariat will have to acknowledge that Trump is quite effective if somewhat unorthadox.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  October 1, 2017

          How do you know that 90% of Americns think that the mayorof San Juan is an idiot ?

          • George

             /  October 1, 2017

            Perhaps it was the palettes of aid behind when the ‘We’re not getting helped”
            Or it could be their truckies are on strike and no aid is moving

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  October 1, 2017

              That doesn’t answer my question about the 90%.

              Palettes are what artists use for mixing their paints.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  October 1, 2017

              What are they supposed to use for fuel when there’s no petrol ? The pallets were water bottles-perhaps they could fill the trucks with that.

              I have heard that Puerto Ricans are US citizens.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  October 2, 2017

              The pallets were certainly moved a little while later, as video footage shows,

              The truckies are not on strike. They were at that time caring for their own families in their ruined homes and as virtually all the petrol stations were out of action, there would be little point in turning up.

  2. David

     /  October 1, 2017

    There have been 3 major natural disasters 2 of which are being managed exceptionally well and then Puerto Rico not so much and there is a reason for that, the place was terribly managed and flirting with bankruptcy prior, its an island, its got rubbish infrastructure and it was nearly completely flattened and there has been a mass exodus of people. The Mayor was a big critic of Trump prior but in unreported contrast the Governor of Puerto Rico has done nothing but praise the federal response and his open line to Trump.
    If the lefty Mayor had run her city properly and actually had say a building code or infrastructure fit for purpose she would probably have her city better prepared to recover.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  October 1, 2017

      It’s a bit rough to blame her for buildings that were built long before she was mayor-or even born.

      • David

         /  October 1, 2017

        So why blame Trump then, she hates him we got that from her tweets from the last 12 months but she needs to work with him, she is out of step with pretty much everyone in authority on the federal response from both sides of the aisle. When your city is underwater why not park the politics and work together like the other Democratic office holders.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  October 1, 2017

          Trump needs to stop sending himself and his family on luxury jaunts; it may be his own money, but it doesn’t look good at the moment.

  3. Corky

     /  October 1, 2017

    Poor impulse control or bigoted?

    Probably both to varying degrees depending on the topic and situation. I’m more interested in the emotional make-up of people who go after Trump with a vengeance.

    Such people are bristling with racial, social and economic angst. There’s a well know restaurant in Auckland, frequented by famous personalities and the well to do in New Zealand. It’s also frequented by has beens, wannabe losers and those who have tried and failed. These chunks of debris are hoping by being in the right place, complaining loudly about how life ain’t fair and taking a crack at the famous should their ire be pricked, will somehow result in them being resurrected as a success story. They will be free to dump their emotional baggage. Ah-ha, that won’t happen. The emotional pressure keeps building.

    And so we get back to Trump and his detractors. Different sides of the same coin. The one difference is Trump called heads and won.

    • Gezza

       /  October 1, 2017

      Middle paragraph looks like a total load of dribbling nonsense. What’s the name od this Restaurant.

  4. Kitty Catkin

     /  October 1, 2017

    Which of the people who frequent this restaurant are you ?

    And I hope that you know that if frequent is a verb, it’s pronounced ‘fre-quent‘ not ‘freequent.’

  5. unitedtribes2

     /  October 1, 2017

    Trump can’t rely on the media to accurately report his message to the people as they should. He is a master of twitter and uses it to bypass the media and talk direct to his followers. Works great for a president who can’t even rely on his own party for support. Watch this space. A movement is afoot to take over the old Republican set. If that dosnt find enough traction watch Trump go independent next election and win.

    • Gezza

       /  October 1, 2017

      Yes, but the point is – people who just like rich, bombastic jingoistic egotistical, narcissists with the temperamentbof a spoilt brat would HAVE to say that, wouldn’t they?

      • Gezza

         /  October 1, 2017

        Just pretend that b after temperament isn’t there, & that there are a few more commas in there than there actually are. 👍🏼

  6. Joe Bloggs

     /  October 2, 2017

    Given trump’s $30+ million contribution to the Puerto Rican national debt through the bankrupcy of his Coco Beach resort, it’s a little tasteless/hypocritical for him to be pointing the bone at the Puerto Ricans for economic mismanagement.

    And perhaps a little more sensitivity to the pilght of this US territory might be appropriate, rather than tweeting verbal diahorrea about the Mayor of San Juan and talking down to hurricane victims while he plays golf.

    The citizens of Texas/Florida are real heros, working hard with that undeniable TEXAS/FLORIDIAN SPIRIT. The Puerto Ricans (no mention of their citizenship) are behind on their vig to the US, and want everything handed to them. No mention of deaths, hardship, nothing that humanizes the suffering. Yep, the presidency has revealed the true Trump.

    God, right wingers are heartless.