It's the Economy, Comrade!
Let us here stipulate that our current president, Donald J. Trump, can justifiably be described, at one time or another, as childish, petulant, quarrelsome, puerile, insipid, callow, crude, jejune, vapid, brusk, chafing, impetuous... for more, consult your local thesaurus. Let us further stipulate that he is a narcissist with an inferiority complex.
Currently our economy, by any metric, is as strong as it has ever been. Argue if you please—as some have—that the economy was just about to take off before Trump got elected, and that the economic vigor we are currently enjoying is all due to the masterfully adroit ministrations of Trump’s predecessor Captain Cool—who, betraying an astonishing spirit of generosity and scant regard for his own tarnished legacy could have let economic abundance bloom any time he liked, but instead held back the floodgates of prosperity just long enough for Trump to get the credit.
That’s—pardon me for saying so—a stupid argument; but it answers a question the like of which is being asked in some quarters: how is this buffoon and chowderhead Trump orchestrating such a primo economy?
To paraphrase Obama (channeling, as he was at the time, Elizabeth Warren): Trump didn’t build that.
As it happens, a president has very little direct effect on the economy (even though he gets the credit—or the blame—for how the economy fares on his watch). He can tell the Federal Reserve what he thinks they ought to do (see ‘Roosevelt, Great Depression exacerbated by’), and the Federal Reserve can tell him to stuff it. He can steer public opinion to favor one or another of his pet notions (see ‘Solyndra, Obama screws the pooch by funding’), but such presidential tampering is a nonce, a jot, a piffle in the grand scheme of things.
It is a president’s orientation toward the whole of economic activity that helps set the national table for feast or famine.
Consider the crop of candidates vying for President Trump’s job.
Just as Rousseau believed that man is born free yet everywhere is in chains, the current menagerie of Democrat hopefuls apparently believe that man is born rich but some greedy bastards grabbed all the goodies and left the rest of us holding an empty sack. The candidates differ in some particulars, but they have in common a hostility toward financial success bordering on fanaticism.
(Other people’s financial success, that is. Not their own. They're untroubled by their own.)
Comrade Muppet, who many years ago honeymooned in the former Soviet Union but evidently failed to learn anything, has recently come to sport a net worth in the millions, due to his sales of books excoriating millionaires and billionaires (note that Senator Feel the Bern has left off berating millionaires; he just picks on billionaires now). Elizabeth Warren and spouse can count themselves millionaires twelve times over.
Good for them; and good for the fortunes of all the others as well, however grand or modest those fortunes are. One might think this bunch would have learned a few things by now, particularly those among them who have reached the shady side of threescore and ten, and therefore ought to have had at least a sprinkling of wisdom adhere. One might expect they would stop asking where poverty comes from, and instead ask the more pertinent question of where wealth comes from, and how we create more of it.
Alas, questions of that kind never seems to occur to them. They’re much too busy conjuring schemes about how best to cut up and distribute slices of the national cake to consider how the cake ever gets baked to begin with.
Presidents don’t have to be right on everything in order to help goose the economy. They don’t even have to be right on everything pertaining to economics. They can, for example, start stupid trade skirmishes with other countries that cause a fair amount of trepidation but thankfully don’t amount to much. They can bust up treaties that were perfectly serviceable, and replace them with others that aren’t any better. And they can act the court jester into the bargain.
But if a president has the right orientation toward economic fundamentals, however well-formed that orientation may or may not be in his consciousness, and however articulate or inarticulate he may be in expressing it—an orientation that takes as a given that people ought to be free to engage in the exchange of goods, services and whatnot, and that such free exchange is the engine that powers prosperity not just in this country but around the world, that just might be a president worth keeping around for a bit longer, be he simpleton or sage.