Now that there are a lot of major decisions by Trump that are compressed into a brief time period, his decision-making ability is a hot topic again, and again too many in the Trump movement have the same response as before -- every big decision he makes is a 50-dimensional chess move whose brilliance may not be apparent to us mere mortals, but will become visible through Trump's instruction by example.
In this worldview, Trump is a guru who reveals esoteric wisdom to the cloudy-minded masses, the better to lift them up into a higher state of enlightenment -- not into the nature of the world, but into the nature of (organizational) leadership. His book The Art of the Deal is a sacred text in this tradition, a reverence that Trump does everything to encourage among his fans. "My second-favorite book, after the Bible."
The basic idea behind the worldview is that what appear to be trade-offs that require Trump to do something good and something bad in order to get things done, hopefully more good than bad, aren't really trade-offs after all. When your consciousness ascends to a higher dimension and looks down on the situation, there really is no trade-off at all, and Trump pulls off the job with (nearly) optimal outcomes on all relevant domains. He is the supreme squarer of circles.
The trouble with these Panglossian analyses is that they are always made after the fact, and have the quality of just-so stories. Why couldn't they have predicted what Trump would do? Because only he possesses the higher awareness to see through the 50-D moves, and we mere mortals are only able to describe its brilliance after he has carried it out. It reeks of excessive flattery.
And these describers will describe it as 50-D chess genius whether Trump does X or whether Trump does Not-X. Pick Romney as Secretary of State? Here's the 50-D chess brilliance behind that decision. Instead, pick Anyone But Romney? Here's the 50-D chess brilliance behind that decision. There's no independent way to evaluate how brilliant of a move it was, if it's always necessarily a masterstroke.
Moreover, if Trump's big decisions are win-win-win-win-win... he could never make a major misstep, and would never need any major course correction. A little wobble here, and little counter-balancing there, but nothing substantially different from what he intended to do.
Trump is undoubtedly better at this stuff than any of us are, but was it a 50-D chess move to skip the GOP debate before the Iowa caucus? He lost that race to Cruz, and saying that he would have lost by even larger margins had he participated in the debate, is just more post hoc rationalization. Was it a 50-D chess move to say that a pro-life stance leads toward punishing the seeker rather than the provider of abortion? Or to camp out in Wisconsin during the primary? He lost that primary by double digits. And was it a 50-D chess move to not only double down on the La Raza judge feud, but to instruct his surrogates to jump into the brawl as well? That was a time of dropping in the polls.
The point here is not to blackpill Trump supporters by desanctifying the image of Trump-as-guru. It is to keep us realistic: not every choice he makes is going to be optimal in all important respects. Sometimes he'll be able to correct the mistake (sidelining culture war questions after the abortion brou-ha-ha), and sometimes he -- and we -- are just going to suffer a blow and try to do as well as we can with that wound (the attempted coup by the GOPe that disrupted party unity just weeks before the election).
It is more accurate to say that Trump is good at surviving, or "winning," despite the blows that have been landed against him. And I don't just mean the antifragile strength that comes from, say, the media attacking him for not having served as a politician before -- that's a good thing in today's climate! I mean even the true blows like that "grab the pussy" tape. He is robust.
No matter what the context is, we'll always know that he's the least likely President to even consider selling out. He took money from no one and is a billionaire himself already. He's not from the political system, so they can't try shame / blackmail / etc. to police a member of their own network. And he's stated his goals boldly, publicly, and repeatedly, so that there won't be any double-talking wiggle room when it comes to trying to implement them. And he's fortunate to belong to the party that also controls both houses of Congress, along with most state and local government functions. And with his Supreme Court picks, he'll have that body's backing as well.
But that doesn't mean he won't ever have to compromise.
Some of it to heal the deeply divided nation, which he has always spoken out against. His most heartfelt indictment of Obama was that he thought at least Obama would be a bringer-together and a cheerleader for the nation, and then Obama turned out to stoke the divisions to polarize the population even further.
And some of it we may have no clue about because only the inner circles know about it. How do we know he hasn't been threatened by the Deep State already -- wanting certain boundaries to be respected, no matter if he was elected through a populist revolt. Trump is not an ideologue: in some such cases, he may decide it's worth the fight against the system (e.g., exposing and shutting down the elite pedophile rings), while in others he may decide it's more trouble than it's worth (cases we may never know about).
We would be foolish to believe that he, or we, have a mandate to do whatever the hell we see fit about cleaning up our government, economy, population, and culture. His theme song has been "You Can't Always Get What You Want" by the Rolling Stones -- not "Invincible" by Pat Benatar. He is a courageous warrior, not a teenager who has unlocked god mode on a video game.
The danger in spinning all these just-so stories is that we'll turn into a cult of the guru Trump, unable to recognize when the movement is heading in the wrong direction on some issue at some time. His is shaping up to be the greatest presidency that any of us has ever experienced, and there's nothing wrong with that representing an 80-90% compromise from what we truly have our hearts set on.
Let's be thankful for that.