I'm going to let you in on a secret.

Character - in the sense that Mitt Romney and Jonah Goldberg mean it - is actually a contrary indicator for predicting the success of a presidency.
Jonah thinks that Trump's presidency will fail because "character is destiny.

He uses James Q. Wilson's definition: "decency, politeness, commitment, honesty, cooperativeness, and the ability to think of others' welfare."

Let's put that metric to the test.
The two most decent, polite, cooperative, and empathetic Presidents I can think of (from the last fifty years) are George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter.

They were also arguably the worst two presidents of that time period.
No - who were the Presidents with the worst "character" of that time period?

I'd say - Kennedy, LBJ, Clinton.

All three were adulterers, liars, narcissists. Kennedy and Clinton were more well-liked, while LBJ was just a raging narcissistic asshole.
Did that translate into making their presidencies "failures"? Hardly.

Kennedy and Clinton are both lauded - and LBJ is a Dem hero for his legislative accomplishments. They all had relatively successful presidencies compared to Carter and Bush.
At a minimum, it's pretty clear that "character," in the "are you a polite, decent, empathetic human" sense is just not that useful a way to predict the success of.a President.

What is, then?
A few years back Jack Donovan wrote a fascinating book - The Way of Men.

In it, he outlined what he called the "tactical virtues" - strength, courage, mastery, and honor. He argued that these virtues made one "good at being a man."

He theorized that men judge other men - and find their places in masculine hierarchies - based on their possession of these virtues.

These are amoral - what makes one "good at being a man" is distinguished from being a "good man."
A parallel can be drawn to successful politicians.

What makes politicians successful is not their decency or politeness - but their courage, mastery, and honor.

Trump does pretty well on all three.
Courage is what you think it is - boldness in the face of adversity, the willingness to brawl. "Game-ness," in fight speak.

Trump is a brawler. He demonstrated his courage in this respect in the GOP primary debates, which is why he smashed people.
Mastery - it's not enough to have courage, you actually have to be good enough at your craft to BEAT people.

Trump's mastery of the cut-and-thrust of presidential debates, persuasion, branding, marketing - those made him appealing too.
Donovan used honor in a narrower sense than you might anticipate - it loosely translates to "in-group loyalty," as the context for all these virtues is the ethos of the gang.

Trump had an advantage on every GOP politician by aligning himself HARD with the base.
Now, that's not to say he's been great on these metrics over the past year.

He lacks mastery of staffing and running a large organization. And the Presidency has been punishing that failure.

At times, he's waffled on key promises to the base, but he's generally done ok.
But let's look at those earlier Presidents again - using the tactical virtues.

Bush lacked courage. He was no brawler. He let the left run over him.

He lacked mastery. He was a mediocre communicator and ran a terrible foreign policy.
He lacked honor - his signature legislative accomplishment was what, Medicare part D?

Same with Carter. Clearly a weak man, supplicated in the face of our enemies, not an effective leader.
Now - LBJ. HIGH on these metrics. Reading Robert Caro's biography, it's clear the guy was the hardest campaigner in the world. Courage.

Mastery of the legislative process.

As a result - Democrats are willing to overlook a lot.
We could go on.

The basic point is this - the "character" that is "destiny" for Presidents has a lot more to do with the amoral tactical virtues of strength, courage, mastery, and honor than it does with politeness and decency.
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