This note is not specifically about climate change. It is about Trump’s decision to abandon the Paris Accords and his speech to defend it. Even after all that had come before it, the Paris Accords decision was a watershed. The picture is stark.
- Trump feels no responsibility for the ultimate consequences of his decisions.
As we noted before, Trump’s speech never even raises questions about the significance of climate change. He doesn’t bother to dispute it. Instead everything in that speech is about deliveries to his targeted constituencies. This is the Mafia Don who has eliminated the opposition and is out to provide spoils to his supporters. (It is relevant that Trump’s supporters have caught that message—a NY Times reporter quotes them asking when the “winning” will start.) There is no other layer of concerns.
This is not just a matter for climate change, important as that is. It is equally relevant for economic policy, where he is proposing huge deficit-supported stimulus to an economy near full employment while removing the safeguards added to prevent another 2008 crash. And—with the constant discussion of military buildup but no specified objective—it is also relevant for the very real threat of war.
- Trump ignores all demonstrations or other inputs outside of his immediate circle.
The enormous outpouring of opinion on the subject of climate change and the Paris Accords is unacknowledged in Trump’s speech. The speech didn’t even address the substance of the issues raised. All we got was blatantly falsified economic statistics, a personal commitment to the coal industry, and a secret world-wide conspiracy again US competitiveness.
Trump’s belief in his own genius is such that other expertise or expressions of concern simply don’t exist. Other Presidents of course have had advisors and inner circles, but most have recognized they are Presidents of the United States and have at least had an interest in what gets said. With Trump we have the closed world of a dictator. We on the outside have no way in.
- There is no check on Trump’s impulsiveness and self confidence
That is perhaps the most concerning of all. It doesn’t bother Trump to go at cross purposes with the vast majority of reasoned opinion. From his point of view that is courage, but there is a difference between courage and foolhardiness. Courage is doing everything possible to understand the situation and taking a decision that may be unpopular.
Here we’re talking about “I’m a genius, everyone else is an idiot, so fuck them.” That is what produced six major bankruptcies including the spectacular ones at Atlantic City. There Trump built three big casinos as prevailing opinion was deciding the party was over—and they were right. Trump is perfectly capable of leading this country and the world into predictable disaster without a second thought. He has done it before—six times. That is of course what is behind the whole Russian story—banks in the US wouldn’t deal with him anymore.
Trump himself has always moved on to the next project, leaving the investors and contractors to suffer. But we have only one world and nowhere to hide.