Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Expect a Trump Presidency to Function Pretty Well. Why? Incentives.

Despite all the hyperventilating and caterwauling, life has to go on and it might be helpful to start to understand what a Trump presidency might look like.  In broad terms, there are two models that are likeliest to emerge.

The first is that President Trump will be every bit the person that candidate Trump was, with policy goals and leadership efforts all over the spectrum pursued incoherently and articulated to the nation poorly, even offensively.  Call this the "Reality TV" model.

The second model is, now having secured office and slayed the metaphorical beast, gathering to his administration all manner of experts and advisors that can fashion reasonable and promising policies and help Trump articulate them to the country and steward them through Congress and into law.  This is what most Presidents do or seek to do.  I'm not sure why Trump would be any different, but it appears that many expect him to be an outlier in this respect.  Anyway, call this the "Peter Thiel" model.

I think the Reality TV model is actually unlikely.  Not impossible, just unlikely.  The Peter Thiel model is the most natural outcome, generally and particularly for a person like Trump.  Trump will want to be a success and he's smart enough to know that he needs the best team.  Here is a small example.  And, cynically, the GOP will attempt to bear hug him in order to get their own way as well as contain Trump's potential for recklessness. Finally, there are many people who having staked their reputations on Trump, now have a big incentive to make the Trump administration successful - their reputations are on the line a second time.

Look to see familiar, even reputable, people start to fill up Trump's administration, i.e. Giuliani, Sessions, maybe even Thiel.  There will the hacks and stooges, but all administrations have those (and the left needs to be honest with themselves here too, Obama had legions of hacks serving him), but Trump will benefit from the overarching incentive structure that he and his surrogates will operate under.

In addition, of course, you can be sure that media scrutiny of the Trump administration will be at its maximum and those self-styled guardians of our democracy will be ready to pounce viciously.  As Glenn Reynolds has been fond of saying, if you want a media that ruthlessly holds our leaders accountable, elect a Republican.  You can be absolutely sure that no perfidy or slip-ups get by them if that's the case, and now it's the case.


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