Hey everybody, Peter Zeihan here coming to you from Washington DC at the Watergate. And I thought today might be a great time to talk about leadership. Now, I’m gonna do a whole series of these while I’m in town, and you’ll be seeing them over the next couple of weeks. But I wanted to start with the issue of the day. And that is chairman of the CCP, Xi Jinping in China is currently in the middle of his party congress that happens every five years. And the debate in the China watching world is whether he’s going to make himself president for a third term or just dictator for life.
Xi Jinping, what he does is kind of beside the point here, he is a dictator for life. So the trappings of how he decides to justify or advertise that are really kind of irrelevant. And it’s more important to look at the structure of China at this moment how he fits into that. China is a tough place to govern. It’s a huge country with a massive amount of geographic diversity. And even though the Han super majorities over 90% of the population, the regions are so distinct, that there’s a lot of identities even within the ethnicity. North on the Yellow River, you’ve got the North China Plain, which is where about half the Chinese population lives. And it has always been tight in the grip of Beijing.
And the South, you’ve got the cities from Shanghai going down to Hong Kong, which have always been a little secessionist, and more integrated with foreign zones, especially when it comes to their food supply. So they’ve always had their own identity. And then in the middle, you’ve got to the Yangtze River from Shanghai to session one, that has always been the most sophisticated and value added and functional part of the Chinese economic system, and has usually resisted Beijing’s rule. But there’s still quintessentially Chinese ruling, this is difficult because it means each region, Each city has its own identity, its own idea of what should happen to not happen, and how to put it all together. And then invasion, you’ve got the emperor who has to manage all of this.
And it means that China tends to oscillate wildly between two conflicting visions. On the one hand, there’s local autonomy. You’ve got the locals who are determining what happens, they have a saint in China, the emperor is far away. And so the Chinese system tends to spin apart dozens of competing systems. On the other hand, you’ve got the emperor who tries to hold it all together and tends to over centralize as a result. And combining those two themes means that China has the most war torn and enticing conflicting history of all of the major cultures of all the world. Now, in the leadership years before Jean, you know, this is not Mao, but his successor, Deng Xiaoping. And moving on from them, there was this idea that there had to be a degree of balance. So leadership involved with South Central sections on the north, although the North was very clearly in charge, and the senator was very clearly in the second position.
But by the time we got to Xi, the decision was made that it’s time for somebody who can represent all the regions, and he was brought in as kind of a compromise candidate. And then he took over, in his first five-year terms, it was a massive what he called anti corruption campaign. But it was really a purge of all the competing power centers throughout the party and throughout the system. And whether you had a different view of what China should be or how to get there, you were kicked out. And if you were a local regional power boss, you were brought to heel in the second five year term, because you went after everyone who agreed with him to make sure that no one was capable of independent thought in his area. And that has made him the most isolated world leader on the stage right now, arguably the most isolated in Chinese history.
And he’s now more shut off from everything and all sources of information than even the Kim dynasty of North Korea. And so we are seeing catastrophic policy decisions being made and economics and trade with COVID insecurity. And for the bureaucracy, you kind of got one of two ways. Option number one is you are a true believer, and you think that she is the second coming and so when you see him say something you snap to and do your interpretation of it and the most intelligent way you can come up with this is one of the reasons why the lockdowns in places like Hong Kong have gotten so extreme and why you’ve got some idiots out there who are sanitizing airport runways, because I think that’s what she wants him to do to fight COVID.
But the vast majority of the bureaucracy knowing that if they get brought to Xi’s attention, good or bad, it could be a disaster. They just don’t do anything unless they’re specifically told.
So we’re seeing a seizing up through the entire system because we have a leader that is so disconnected from everything. He’s making decisions without any information whatsoever because nobody wants to bring it to him. And that means that the Chinese system now, its greatest threat, or sorry, the greatest threat to the Chinese system, the greatest reason to expect the Chinese system to collapse in the foreseeable future is the Xi worship.
You know, we think we have a problem in the United States going back and forth from W., Obama, to Trump to Biden and all the issues and inconsistencies…it’s nothing compared to the complete information locked down that now exists at the very top in the Chinese system. Okay. Next time, I’m sure we’re gonna have to talk about Putin because, wow. All right, everyone, take care. See you soon.
Hey everyone, Peter Zeihan here still in DC coming to you from the Kennedy Center. We’re talking about leadership. And the next person I want to talk about is Vladimir Putin. Now ruling the Soviet system slash Russian system isn’t nearly as much of a challenge as you might think, yes, you’ve got billions of rest of minorities. Yes, your national security strategy rests upon, basically enslaving them and turning them into cannon fodder. But you do so via a very simple method, you use an intelligence service that infiltrates everything within your country.
And whenever there is a hint of dissent, you stamp it out, lethally and quickly. And when you have a system like that, you basically base your government on information control. And as long as a security apparatus is functioning, you can then press gang, the entire population to do whatever you want. It’s not particularly efficient from an economic point of view. But Russia has existed for nearly four centuries in its current form, more or less, and it does it put into position it kind of strategic stability within the country that is fairly durable. Now, the Putin government is the successor of a coup that happened in the Soviet Union in 1982.
At that point, in 1982, the KGB basically overthrew the other factions within the Soviet ruling coalition within the Communist Party, and so on drop off tear mirrored in Gorbachev, We’re all ears to that legacy. And Putin is the inheritor of that legacy. Now, you combine that concentration of power with the collapse of the educational system in the Soviet system around 1986, with the country’s demographic collapse, and it means that the total elite throughout the entire Russian system is only about 130 people.
And Putin has had 23 years to basically purge it down to the people that he feels he can trust. So if Putin were to slip in the shower and form some duct tape and sit in a chair and throw himself into a pool, we probably wouldn’t have any serious policy changes, because everybody who’s left is more or less on the same page. Okay. So with an elite that is that concentrated in that small, the capacity to manage the entire system is limited.
Now, this isn’t quite as bad as in China. I mean, China is a one man show now. And even if you Jing ping were the smartest person on the planet, he still wouldn’t be able to micromanage everything in the system. And that’s why we’re seeing the policy, ossification and cracks forming throughout the entire Chinese system. That’s not that bad in Russia. But Putin has had to reach out to manage the system by aligning with other factions at one point or a bunch of technocrats, like the former Prime Minister of Finance Minister accouter in, but more reliably, he’s partnered with organized crime.
This is one of the reasons why the Russians have proven to be so troubling in cyberspace until very recently. So you’ve got this combination, concentration of power, which urges corruption that is partnered with organized crime, which loves corruption. And as a result, the whole system is cracking apart. Putin himself, in part because he doesn’t. And I don’t know how people live here. Putin himself, because of the concentration has sharply limited who has access to him simply because there aren’t a lot of people to choose from.
So he has an inner circle of about six people, three of whom are absolutely incompetent like the defense minister, Choi Gu, who’s one of his old buddies back from East Berlin. Excuse me, in terms of the people that are competent, one of them is the chair of the KGB, whose name Primakov no crap, Patricia. Wow. Sorry. It’s been a long month…who is providing him with information andl internal security, but is of less use on the battlefield. And his chief propagandist is one of the six people who’s in the inner circle. So imagine if one of your six sources of information that used to manage everything in your life was either Rachel Maddow or Tucker Carlson. He’s just not getting information. That’s great.
And it doesn’t help that he kind of insists that everybody lie to him about everything. So we get this brittle system that’s very top heavy, but not top competent. And in that sort of environment in dynamic situations, like I don’t know, a war, you are flirting with state collapse. On the security front now, the Russians launched the assault in Ukraine, not because they were mad, or because Putin has an ego or wants to rebuild an empire now. The Russian demographic is in collapse. The Russian ethnicity is going to cease to exist this century, it’s just a question of how long the state can hold on. Ukraine is on the way to two of the big invasion access points into the Russian space. And with a demographic that’s in collapse, Putin, rightly feels that unless they can control those gateways, the next time there’s a major war, the Russian system will dissolve, because there won’t be anyone to defend it. So you have to concentrate forces in the access points to make a block. That’s what this is all about.
This is what it’s always been about. That strategic desperation is why this war is happening. But the only thing that would be worse from the Russian point of view of not launching it, and probably seeing the Russian system disintegrate between 2014 and 2070, would be launching it and failing, because that would leave Russia completely open to all those invasion avenues. At the same time, it has paid all the costs for the war. At the same time, it is now under the degree of sanction from pretty much everyone as long as this government is in power.
So we are looking if the Russians lose this war, at a complete disintegration of the system on the timeframe of like 10 years. Remember, with the recent mobilization, we’re pulling about a half a million Russian men in their 20s out and throwing them into the meat grinder, they might be able to make a difference, you throw half a million men at anything, it’s going to make a difference. But it’s going to come at the cost of the depletion of the last generation that the Russians have to even generate kids in the first place. There are less than 8 million Russian men in their 20s. And we’re now looking at about 10% of them being involved directly in the war. This isn’t going to be the last mobilization either, because the Russians don’t have the tech. All they have are bodies.
And in half of the wars that Russia has been in where they’ve won, they’ve won on numbers. But this time around, those numbers are all they have. And when they’re gone, they’re depleted and they’re never coming back. There is no next generation. So Putin is likely to preside over the end of his country. All right. That’s it for me. Next time we’re talking about the Saudis, Mohammed bin Salman, whoo, take care.
Everyone, Peter Zeihan here coming to you from the reflecting pool in DC, which is opposite the Jefferson Memorial, which is probably my favorite of the memorials, and Jefferson, my favorite president. So I thought it would be a good drop back to talk about perhaps the world’s most under Jeffersonian leader, and one of my least favorite people, Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. Now, Mohammed bin Salman is the best way to put this, he’s the quintessential millennial. He’s entitled, he is gets very disappointed and a little pouty when he doesn’t get his way. But he also was very good at managing people.
And that means that even though he’s every bit as much of a dictatorship, as Xi Jinping in China, or Vladimir Putin in Russia, he’s much more successful, he’s able to actually run people effectively, have conversations with them, manage some of the details. And the job that he has to do is a lot easier than either those two mega states. Saudi Arabia is a mid-sized population, you’re really only talking a little more than 30 million people. And it’s a one-horse show, when it comes to the economy. It’s really just oil. And especially if you’re bringing in people to work the oil fields for you, you get to decide policy and foreign policy and strategic policy in general direction, but the details are handled by competent people.
So a dictatorship can work in a place like Saudi Arabia, where it’d be far more difficult to place like China or Russia. So a little bit of background about how he got there. Over a century ago, the tribe of Sayud, which ultimately MBS is descended from cut a series of deals with the merchants who control the cities on the West Coast. Now, at the time, we’re talking pre industrial here, so the tribe of Sayud was basically a bunch of desert Raiders, whereas the folks on the coast saw themselves as more sophisticated, and that’s pretty much accurate. And the deal that was cut was that social policy and political policy would be set by the tribe, whereas the folks on the coast would handle all the trade and all the economics it was a good deal for both and to be perfectly blunt.
The folks on the East Coast got the better part of the deal. But then after the 1920s oil was found in the interior, and all of a sudden the tribes had more money than they knew what to do with and they took over completely isolated the coast. And in essence, the tribe of Sayud became the house of Sayud. So you got these people descended from Desert raiders who are hyper violent, who all of a sudden had more money than God and could impose whatever whim they had upon the world.
For a long time, the leadership of Saudi Arabia were a series of Kings princes elevated to King called the Sidari Seven, seven brothers all born from the same wife of the king of Saudi Arabia. But they ruled until they died. And they were all more or less the same age. And so they were getting older and older and older and more and more decrepit. So it became very clear in Saudi Arabia that they needed to skip a generation and they eventually settled on Mohammed bin Salman as the crown prince, and he’s basically the king now.
Now he is a millennial, he is young, which means assuming he’s not assassinated, always a risk, he is likely to be the king of Saudi Arabia for the next 50 years. So Saudi Arabia has something that the Russians and the Chinese will never have – continuity of government, while controlling a resource that no one can do without. Because it’s not an issue of relocating the manufacturing base. You either have the oil you don’t. So this is a country that is long for this world.
And as such, the ambitions of Mohammed bin Salman and the goals of Saudi Arabia are not simply fused, they matter on a global scale. And by far, the country that has the most to be concerned about because of this is Iran, who the Saudis have always seen as their primary rival. Now, the Iranians, for their part, have a culture that stretches back over 1000 years. They say over 3000, and it’s not a ridiculous claim. Now, this, the Iranians have all kinds of problems, but I think their biggest one is that cultural history gives them a degree of arrogance. And so they will just look down on the Arabs. But then here you have Saudi Arabia with a significantly larger economy, who has better relations with the United States, with Japan, with China, with the United Kingdom, with France, with Turkey with all of the world’s powers, because ultimately, the Saudis have something that they all need.
Which means in a post-American Middle East, the question isn’t, will the Saudis tried to take out the Iranians, it’s how many allies will they be able to rally to do it for them. And as we get into a bigger and bigger energy crisis globally, MBS has goal of completely destroying the Iranian state, all of a sudden looks a lot more feasible. It is easy for the Iranians to close the Strait of Hormuz and restrict energy flows to the rest of the world. But it would be a snap for the Saudis to do it. And unlike the Iranians, the Saudis actually have other outlets, they can get over half their crude out via pipe to the Red Sea, and ignore anything that happens in our lives. So a war is shaping up in the Middle East that is going to be globally consequential, and with the United States no longer on scene.
It all comes down to the ambitions and the foibles of a guy who thinks it’s okay to take a hacksaw to journalists who write things about you that are not sufficiently flattering. Fun times ahead. All right. See you soon.
Hey, everybody, Peter Zeihan here coming to you from the Washington Monument. We’re going to continue our leadership series today. And with that, in the background, I thought it’d be a great time to talk about Bill Clinton just seemed appropriate. If you were to describe Clinton in one word, it would probably be manic. He was probably the most intelligent leader the United States had had since Jefferson. But he was relatively easy to distract, he was easily distracted. And he would have ideas that like one in the morning, he would call on all the staff from wherever they were to like bounce and bounce ideas around. That led to a lot of intellectual dynamism. But it didn’t necessarily translate into policy. Because the second big quality was that he was kind of like Angela Merkel, and he led from behind. Now with Merkel, when something controversial would pop up. She’d allow someone else to kind of take point, even if they were a political rival, especially if they were a political rival. And they’d have their moment in the sun. And then if something went sideways, it was their fault. And she would just step back and the public fewer would close it around them, they’d be removed from the scene. She did this over and over and over in her decade plus time, and it meant that German policy wasn’t particularly dynamic, but it came more and more cohesive as time went on. And for Merkel’s terms, they were basically living in a golden age, but they avoided dealing with the really big problems. And that’s led to the problems Germany has today. With Bill Clinton, it was somewhat similar, but instead of letting rivals take lead, he basically followed the opinion polls. And since the United States was in an era in the 1990s, where we didn’t really care about foreign policy, that means foreign policy was almost non existent. He was smart. So he would kind of cram for the test. Whenever we have had a summit. And he was a great and working of room great in small group settings. He could connect with anyone even enemies. But there wasn’t a lot of follow up because the American people really weren’t interested. And so for eight years, our foreign policy was static to calm and that eventually contributed to the world that we are in today. All right, that’s it on Bill. Next up, W
Hello, Peter Zeihan here coming to you from the National Art Museum, which I thought was a great day drops talk about the brainiest cabinet we’ve ever had, which was that of George W. Bush.
Now W was a very atypical president by really any standards, he came from Texas and the Texas Constitution prevents the the Texas Legislature, from medium from hearth and a month, every other year. And it’s constitutionally prohibited from considering legislation for the first half of that time. So the governor isn’t so much a governor, as an off our security guard who is responsible for making a few things happen that the local legislature says and then making sure that not so much the trains run on time, because there aren’t trains, because there’s really no functional government. But just making sure that things don’t fall apart and bringing things to offer up to the next legislature when they meet. Texas has the weakest government of any of the American states. And that is both a blessing or curse based on what you’re after. It has no funding really, there, there is a state or a state sales tax. But most taxes are raised at the local level in the form of property taxes and are then decided upon and spent at the local level, there is no state income tax. So often the governor is restricted to going for indirect supports of revenue. And so they basically shop around or no tax status to other states that are in financial duress and track companies, Texas, to very successful economic model in the post world war two era, but I wouldn’t call it a governing model. And so when w came in, he was probably the best president we’ve ever had at bringing people together from all over the place to exchange views. But he didn’t have a lot of experience and actually saying this is what needs to happen, we need to use the tools of government to do it. So he relied on his people to do that for him. And if you look at the cabinet, especially on the Foreign Affairs side, Condoleezza Rice, Bill Gates, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, you might not like them personally, you might not like their politics, but you got to admit that they were some of the brightest people in the United States at the time when it came to being aware of the world. And a little bit like Reagan, who let them loose discussions were free ranging and a little wild, and very tech savvy. And then they were given authority to go out and use the tools of government, as they largely saw fit to push this or that policy. And when they all came in, they were all convinced that it was time to recover from the Clinton era of non engagement with the world and reshape the world for the post cold war era, to overhaul the American defense institutions so that by the time they were done eight years later, we would have jumped a technological generation and been 3040 5060 years technologically ahead of any potential competitor, and to reshape global institutions to serve American interests and enshrined democracy, individual rights, free market economics on a global scale for the next generation to come. They were making a lot of progress on that in the first year. It remember this was started in 2001. So Vladimir Putin had not descended into this narcissistic, genocidal dictator that he’s become now. And he was actually at the time fairly pro Western was open to the idea of an American led world of which Russia would be a constructive part. China, it was under a guy by the name of James Newman, who understood fully how the Chinese system was dependent on American Overwatch and trade access. So there were some tussles with both but they had not really reached the level where there was a point of no return. And then, of course, 9/11 happened and any plan that the W administration may have had for reshaping the world changed, and the occupation with and by the Middle East, began.
And all of a sudden, W’s management style went from one that encouraged creativity and initiative, to one that generated stasis, deadlock and bad decisions, because W personally did not have the experience to make big decisions on a lot of the issues of the day. He relied on his people to do that. And once they were given their orders, they would go out and use the tools of government, and were gonna make it happen.
But since we didn’t have a strong leader with a unified vision, each individual subordinate would carry out the orders how they saw fit, and the orders ultimately originated with them, which meant we got conflicting claims and conflicting policy for pretty much the last six years of the W
And W didn’t really take the initiative to shift it because that’s not how he ruled. Now, when he did have an idea, he was perfectly capable of assigning it to someone and a lot of our policies on global health and Africa are to Bush’s credit. But when it came to the big national security issues, he just didn’t have the ability to ride herd, and that ultimately, it was what contributed to the failure of the Iraq mission and the extension of the Iraq mission and the complete destruction of the W Administration because of the Iraq mission. Okay, that’s it for W. Next up, Barack Obama.
Hi everyone, Peter Zeihan here coming to you from the Smithsonian Castle in Washington DC, which I thought would be a great backdrop for the next of this leadership series on American presidents and world leaders. topic today is Barack Obama, who in my opinion, is the third smartest President United States has ever had after Jefferson and Clinton. That doesn’t mean he was successful.
Barack Obama was the first leader in the post-World War II era to really not come from a party. He campaigned on his personal charisma, he had never had what we would consider a grown up job. He was the junior senator from Illinois. And aside from being a constitutional law professor, really hadn’t had a big boy job until that point. And it shows in his management skills, before becoming president, the biggest thing he’d ever done is manage his own campaign, which had a staff of like 16, when he was running for Senate the first time, in that sort of environment, when you suddenly inherit the American government apparatus with a staff of several million, he was wildly out of his depth, and more important, he wasn’t interested in the job once he got it. Being president means managing, and that means communicating with people. And while he was wildly intelligent, he didn’t really care to be around others. So when he absorbed his briefs, he would read them, he rarely asked questions, he might submit questions to an agency for a written brief, but he really didn’t interact with the people who put it together. So he built up his raw intelligence and his understanding of a situation in a way, almost unparalleled in American history. But then nothing ever came of it.
For eight years, the United States effectively didn’t have a foreign policy, because he didn’t want to speak with foreign leaders. He didn’t want to speak with his congressional allies. He didn’t want to speak with other people in the Democratic Party. He didn’t want to speak with his own cabinet. And so for eight years, we had one law that was basically passed in his tenure. Tha’ts Obamacare and it wasn’t even written by the White House; Congress put that together.
The disconnect between Obama and the government is directly responsible for the disenchantment that a lot of Americans feel with government in general. And that led directly to the rise of the next guy. So if you’re looking for someone to blame for the rise of Donald Trump, you don’t have to look any further than Barack Obama. Because that disconnect is ultimately what broke trust in government, the fact that we didn’t engage for eight years. And so of course, now we have to turn to the guy who came in next.
Hi everyone Peter Zeihan here coming to you from DC, once again. With the next installment of our leadership series on world leaders of the present and recent past. Obviously have the Capitol here behind me, which is, I’ve been coming in and out of DC for 25 years now. It’s always under construction, which I think says something was government. And the food trucks in front of it are more reliable for food service than anything that’s inside, which I think is equally good for a backdrop for the president we’re gonna talk about now, which is Donald Trump. I think the best way to understand Trump is to compare him to his immediate present predecessor, who is by far the most similar American president to Trump, in all the ways that matter, they were identical and all the ways that matter. They were absolutely the opposite. And that kind of shaped who he is. So for example, Barack Obama didn’t run really as a Democrat. He was an outside candidate who came with his own political support and ran on charisma rather than policy. Sound familiar? But whereas Obama then shunned the party, when he got into the President wouldn’t talk to anyone, Donald Trump embraced the party and took it over and systematically kicked out factions that he found problematic, like, say national security, fiscal and business conservatives.
He remade the party in his own image. As to policy, Donald Trump was almost identical in many ways, but also the inverse. So Obama was super brainy. And he felt he needed to understand the ins and outs of everything that was happening in the world. And he really did understand. But since he didn’t like meeting with people, policy never came out of it. We had basically eight years of nothing. Donald Trump was going to have a policy. And he loved the limelight. He loved being with people, but a little bit like Obama, he didn’t really care what they had to say. So most meetings were about him talking about him. And policy would come out as a tweet, and he just assumed that the government would take it and run. And you know, that’s not how management works. So we had policies, they were loud, they were brash, they were bold, and they were never implemented, because the President was moving on to the next thing.
It didn’t matter if this was domestic or foreign policy. So government by speech, government by tweet, again, inverse of Obama, there was no follow-up whatsoever, but it was loud and it was ever present. Now I attempt in my work to be apolitical because nobody hires me to find out what I think about domestic politics and where I think the world should go. They care about where it is going, regardless of whether I like it or not, regardless of whether they like it or not. And so I tend to give politicians a lot of rope to hang themselves before I make a judgement.
With W. Bush, I didn’t really give up hope until year seven when the surge happened in Iraq, and it became apparent that the national security community had been so locked into the war for so long. And the administration was so tired and just lost all creativity that was apparent that nothing good was going to happen with remainder of the term. With Barack Obama, I lost faith immediately after the re-election, when it became apparent that this hands-off non management style wasn’t just until he was beyond the next election, that this really was the president and we were never going to get any policy ever.
Donald Trump and I probably started to part ways a little earlier. And the second year, he started actively campaigning publicly against institutions in the US government that were designed to do nothing but support the president and treating groups like the CIA as your enemy, when all they’re trying to do is inform you and help you get things done, seemed a little self-destructive to me. And then, of course, about three and a half years, and he started actively agitating against his own government, against his own cabinet even.
And then, of course, with the elections, his appointed election comptroller declared the elections, the cleanest ones that have ever happened in the United States. But of course, Donald Trump had already made another decision. So in my opinion, that condemns Donald Trump to being right down there with Barack Obama as one of the bottom 10% of presidents in American history. You’re gonna get a lot of hate mail from that from everyone. All right, next up, the guy in charge right now, Joe Biden.
Hi everybody, Peter Zeihan, here coming to you, for one final video from Washington, DC got the White House behind me. So guess who we’re gonna talk about the guy who actually lives there.
Joe Biden. Now, commenting on a sitting president is always dangerous, because no matter what I say, I’m gonna piss everybody off. So let’s just get to it knowing that that is where this is going to go. In terms of previous experience, the only president that we have ever had that is kind of in the same league as Biden for actually having a real grown-up job is Barack Obama, Sometime around the fall of Rome, Biden was a legal clerk for about a year and a half. And he hasn’t had a real job since.
He has been in the Senate since about the time of the Crusades. And so he’s seen a lot, but he hasn’t really done much of anything except for sit on meetings. Now, the negatives of this are obvious, he’s guided more by ideology than most presidents because he really doesn’t have a lot of real world experience. On the flip side, dude knows how to run a meeting. And when you bring that attitude, that sort of, for lack of a better word, wisdom into a room, it means you realize that you’re not going to know everything.
And so you’re okay with asking questions. You’re okay with showing your belly a little bit. And that means unlike Donald Trump, or Barack Obama,
Biden is the most engaged president we’ve had in, you know, 13-14 years.
You can even make the argument that when it comes to shaping a policies even better than Clinton or W. He’s only two years in. I’m not willing to say that he’s better or worse than W. Clinton, I think the jury’s still out.
But he’s clearly better than Obama or Trump, simply because he’s willing to use the information that’s provided, and the tools of state. Now, that doesn’t mean that I or anyone have to agree with him. I’m simply talking about managerial competence at this point. And in fact, in economic policy, whew, say what you will about Trump, he had a number of people on his cabinet, especially in the first year, that really knew their way around. And say what you will about W, he had some serious leading lights and intellectual heavyweights, Clinton was able to pick people and throw them at problems fairly effectively. And even Obama, while his cabinet was highly ideological, had very little real world experience, they’re all clever people who understand that if you wanted to get something done, you have to use actually, the tools of state.
Biden’s superior to all of them in that regard, and that he understands and trust in the power of government. But his cabinet is not all that. He really doesn’t have anyone on the Cabinet who I would consider a leading light in the space that they’re supposed to be regulating. But that is not just a negative. There is a positive to that because there is an understanding throughout his cabinet taking cues from a boss who doesn’t claim to know everything and for the first time, since at least the W administration, cabinet ministers are actually reaching out to industry to ask questions. And that degree of humility is something that I think will bode well for what comes for the next two years.
That said, I can’t say I’m overly impressed with economic policy. I’d probably give that a solid D. Biden is setting us up for a lot of problems, problems that we’re going to pay for over the course of the next 50 years. That’s a different topic. But on security policy, specifically the fact that Biden was there when the pyramids were built means that he understands what’s going on in the world and the broader context of it. So when he sees the Russians carrying out policies that we have not seen for a very long time, he understands exactly where that leads. And so security policy vis-a vis the Russians in Ukraine and NATO, you know, I kind of give them a B for most of that. Now, security policy is a narrow subset of foreign policy where I’m less impressed, which is a narrow subset of all the policies that the President is ultimately responsible for.
So I do see some hope and not really to write off Biden, like I have the last four at this point. There are reasons to be optimistic, but I think the single biggest one is having a president that doesn’t think that he knows everything, and so asks, and tries to learn from everybody. I’m going to call that a win. All right, that’s it for me. Until next time.