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Paul Waldman

In the Trump Administration, Everyone Becomes a Liar

(Sipa via AP Images/Oliver Contreras)
(Sipa via AP Images/Oliver Contreras) White House Chief of Staff John Kelly speaks during the daily press briefing on October 19, 2017, at the White House. O f all President Trump's multitudinous character flaws, it's the relentless dishonesty that does the most damage to anyone who works for him in the effort they must make to retain some shred of dignity as they labor in his service. You might to be able to spin or rationalize some of what Trump does—Sure, the Twitter stuff is nuts, but he's just speaking directly to the voters! Sure, he knows nothing about policy, but that's OK because his instincts are so sound! But you can't explain away all the lying, day after day after day—especially when you may eventually be called upon to step before the cameras and explain it, echo it, or even add lies of your own to the ever-growing pile. There's a cycle that repeats itself in some variation again and again: Trump lies about something, then when it gets pointed out he doubles down,...

Harvey Weinstein, Donald Trump, and the (Sometimes) Beneficial Politics of Reaction

Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File
Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File Producer Harvey Weinstein participates in the War and Peace panel at the A&E 2016 Winter TCA in Pasadena, California. L et's take a moment to thank Donald Trump for opening so many eyes—OK, so many men's eyes—to the reality of sexual harassment and assault that women continue to live with. That may sound strange, but it's entirely possible that had Trump not been elected, particularly after being caught on tape bragging about his ability to assault women with impunity, Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein wouldn't have had his long history of repellent behavior revealed. And that's after Roger Ailes was exposed last year for doing similar things, as was Bill O'Reilly. We're at a moment where awareness of the reality of sexual coercion in the workplace is reaching levels we haven't seen before, and it's partly because we're living not only in the age of Trump, but in the age of reaction to Trump. The spectacle of this man being president changes...

The Personal Presidency

(Shawn Thew/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)
(Shawn Thew/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images) Trump walks to board Marine One on the South Lawn ofthe White House on October 7, 2017. P olitical scientists will tell you that we spend too much time worrying about personality in politics. All those stories in every presidential campaign —about the advice one candidate's grandpappy gave him down at the fishin' hole or what the other candidate's taste in music says about her—they're mostly irrelevant. What matters much more, not just for how elections turn out but for what happens between them, is larger, broader forces and institutions: the state of the economy, durable electoral and policy coalitions, the nature of partisanship, and so on. The personal stuff might be interesting, but its effects are only seen at the margins. In some ways, those buzzkilling political scientists doing their best to render politics dry and uninteresting are unquestionably correct. Impersonal forces have enormous effects, and the further back you set your...