Did you know in 2016 how bad Trump really is?

I thought he was a flaming asshole from the start of his campaign; if he were my boss, I’d have quit, and if he were a relative I’d have told him just what I thought of him and never speak to him again. Nevertheless, it’s clear that I entirely lacked the imagination to realize just what a circus clown he would turn out to be as President.

I knew how bad he was, but I wasn’t prepared for how bad his presidency has been. Like many others here, I figured the GOP would say Holy shit, our guy won! Let’s surround him with the usual suspects and try to keep him quiet while we run the country.

I never imagined they would have let him so thoroughly enfeeble the executive branch so that, if we truly faced a crisis, we’d be utterly unable to deal with it. But guess what?

OTOH, I did imagine he’d bluster himself into a ruinous war, but he’s still got three months so I’m not exhaling just yet.

I thought it was possible he’d be as terrible as he turned out to be, but I never thought we’d see four years of it. I thought that either he wouldn’t behave as badly as he has, or that he’d be removed from office within a year or two for his blatant incompetence, lying, and corruption. The fact that his fellow Republicans never took a united stand against him was shocking to me at first.

Let’s not soft-pedal this. They took a united stand with him.

This is the part I really did not anticipate.

A narcissist as president? OK, then he’ll really want to be seen to be successful, so maybe he’ll appoint some folks and then take credit for their successes.

An incompetent as president? OK, then some competent people will be able to manuever him into doing the right thing.

A hateful racist as president? OK, then he’s going to be unliked and punted out.

An incompetent hateful racist narcissist? Oh dear. NOT good.

He’s so far up the narcissistic scale that he thinks he only has to declare success and it will be a success by force of his own magnificence. He’s unable to comprehend failure.

I knew it in 2011 after watching Obama humiliate Trump at the White House Correspondence dinner. If he ran for president, Trump’s arrogance and hate would stem from this dinner.

Trump is in office until January 20, 2021. If Trump loses in a massive Blue Vote and/or SCOTUS can’t/won’t save him, I fully expect Trump to implement a Saddam Hussein scorched earth policy within the government. (The NY Times is already reporting his administration is readying carte blanche deregulation mayhem across the board.)


I thought his incompetence would mingle with his disinterest and manifest differently. I remember hearing the story about Kasich being offered the VP position (where he was told that the VP would be handling the internal and foreign agendas) and thinking that one of the “adult” GOP people in the room (like Reince Priebus - remember him? he seemed awful, but awful “within normal parameters”) would actually be doing stuff to make the country function. I expected a high level or corruption, of course. I did not anticipate that he’d end up tied so very closely to so many people who are incompetent, fascist, or both.

I knew it was going to be a shit show. In 2016, however, I was incapable of imagining how much shit could be produced.

During the 2016 campaign period, I read an interview with Spy magazine’s editors about their interactions with Trump over time. Famously they used to call Trump a “short-fingered vulgarian,” and Trump didn’t like it. Graydon Carter said:

(The article contains the ‘Trump as baby’ cover referred to in one of the other posts in this thread, by the way.)

I was shocked by that. I knew Trump had a reputation as an asshole. But I hadn’t realized until that moment that he was actually mentally ill.

So I did assume from the beginning that things would get pretty bad if Trump became President.

Where my crystal ball failed:

  • I believed that Trump would be so appallingly incompetent that the very rich people who bankroll the GOP would decide he had to go, within a year or so. (I assumed they would dictate to the party that Trump must be pressured to resign, or that the 25th Amendment must be invoked.)

  • I believed that Trump would move fairly quickly to secure and maintain dictatorial powers–I believed he’d stage false-flag attacks (blaming Hillary et al) and use them as an excuse to declare martial law. Of course that’s still a possibility in coming weeks, but now I am a bit more hopeful than I was in 2016 that the military will NOT play along, so that any such efforts by the Trumps to hold power may fail.

I think running_coach’s point, made up-thread, that

is correct.

I’d add that another reason Trump has made no effort to win the adulation (or at least admiration) of all Americans, by pursuing policies that would strengthen the economy and/or the national security, is that he is metaphorically allergic to effort.

As a bull-shitter and con man, he prides himself on getting what he wants without effort. People do what he wants when he says things! So all he has to do is say things! He doesn’t need to put forward any effort because he is so awesome!

‘Putting forth an effort and failing’ is the fires of hell to Trump. If he never tries, he can’t fail. He magically avoids being A Loser.

So there was never any chance that Trump would try to become a President that a majority of Americans would admire–that would have required work, and work implies a risk that the effort can fail.

Such a risk is intolerable to Trump.

He showed us everything we’ve seen from him after 2016 in the lead up to 2016. There was nothing hidden, his flaws were wide open there for display, often proudly. My projection of what his presidency would be like was basically dead on, except that I thought he might be more prone to stir up threats and war as a distraction tactic.

I may have underestimated the degree to which the Republican party universally became a cult to support him. Hierarchy and picking the tribe above all else is a key part of what it means to be a Republican in the US these days, so I knew they’d stand by him no matter what he did, but I did expect more principled, decent people to leave the Republican party than they actually did. I thought there’d be a larger group of Republicans who’d be represented by people like the Lincoln Project. Not a majority, certainly, but a sizable minority, rather than a token amount. 91% Republican approval despite being basically exactly the disaster we all predicted is insane and shows an even greater level of cult-like thinking than I had predicted.

So, Trump I nailed dead on. Trump’s cult I actually underestimated a bit, which means that Republicans as a whole - both the politicians and the people who vote for them - are worse than I had anticipated.

I was expecting an ineffective, unproductive, but ultimately not-too-harmful administration. A wasted 4 years, if anything.

What ultimately transpired was much worse than I anticipated.

Another vote for “I knew he was terrible but he has far exceeded even those expectations”. Also, I too expected the “adults in the room” to keep him from doing too much damage. That’s the bit that shocks me most.

Here’s the thing: it turns out that Trump didn’t “corrupt” his party, he merely showed them that there was no longer any downside to being openly corrupt. They no longer had to put a thin veneer of respectability and plausible deniability over their actions - they could do pretty much anything they want without losing supporters, and since they controlled the official mechanisms of accountability, who was going to stop them?

Trump is not the cause of the current condition of America. He is merely the avatar of it.

In 2016 I painted him too benevolently: just as a loony:

A corrupt loony, but a loony.
Next year I already knew who to put him with:


And after the Brexit referendum, I knew he was a possibility.
But in the end, you never know what you got until you open the box of chocolates, do you?

This one has ended worse than I imagined, if it has ended at all. Good luck in November!

I think he performed about how I expected, maybe a little better. He’s certainly as corrupt as I expected, but that was obvious before the election.

So well put! This really is the nub.
It’s like Kareem’s sky hook — there really is no way to counteract this.

He showed his true colors during the campaign but, always hopeful, I attributed the worst of it as political posturing for sake of votes. I mean, no one could possibly be that bad, could he? Yes; in fact, he has shown himself to be far worse.

I also judge his voters in the same light. I am willing to give them a pass for 2016 because the waters were murky compared to what they are now. But, after 4 years of Trump showing exactly what he is by everything he has said and done, I am not going to be forgiving at all. Anyone voting for him now IS him as far as I’m concerned.

This. I knew Trump would be a horrible president, but I actually expected the GOP Senate (and House at the time) to keep him in check. But every time he leap-frogged over whatever line they had drawn in the sand, they’d just draw another one. And another. And another. (Or as someone around here said about halfway through his term, “the goalposts must be on rails by now.”) Once we got a Democratic House who actually started trying to do their job of oversight and got nothing but pushback from the GOP, I knew we were screwed.


I knew that Trump would be awful, although I think he exceeded my expectations.

i honestly felt that the GOP, knowing how bad he was and how incompetent, would soon find an excuse to dump him in exchange for the more placid and tractable Pence. I’m still astonished that they didn’t. You could tell from the pre-election buzz that they not only loathed the man but also abhorred his lack of philosophy or policy or integrity. You could say that they were held in check by fear of his base, but leaving him in office resulted in the abysmal coronavirus mess. And now they’re all tarred with that brush.

I agree with @CalMeacham. I knew that Trump would be bad, but he far exceeded my expectations. I had expected the GOP to rein in his excesses.

Trump’s biggest problem is that he’s a narcissist who has never had to bear the responsibility of his own actions. All through his life, someone else has always had to pick up the bill for him. He’s never had a bad job. He’s never had to do anything he didn’t want to do. And the GOP has continued that trend- no matter what he does, they will continue to support him as long as he’s able to give them what they want.

I’m very nervous about the next few months, when Trump’s bill finally comes due.