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1. A couple of quick notes -- addenda, if you will -- on @ezraklein's excellent "pathetic autocrat" piece today: vox.com/policy-and-pol…

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2. It's got lots of good examples, but it left this one out, which is one of my faves. "But now it's me." axios.com/trumps-governm…

3. Anyway, I agree w/ E's two central points: a) Trump has made it unmistakably clear that he is a wannabe-autocrat w/ no respect ...

4. ... for rule of law, & b) he has proven wildly incompetent at everything he's tried, including transforming the US into an autocracy.

5. So yes, we are "lucky" (sigh) that Trump is such a goon. A smart, savvy autocrat could have done much worse, easily. However!

6. Trump's incompetence is only half the story. The other half is the strength & resilience (or lack thereof) of US democratic institutions.

7. Congress has failed utterly, of course, but the courts, journalism, & civil society have shown some life, limiting how far Trump can go.

8. To me, this is the biggest source of fear/vulnerability: Trump will never not be incompetent, but his admin can (& is trying to) ...

9. ... weaken US institutions & norms. Even an incompetent admin can do lots of damage to them, as we're seeing in real time.

10. My big worry is that institutions have done far MORE to restrain Trump than his own incompetence -- & the way we'll discover that ...

11. ... is by witnessing how, w/ weak enough institutional resistance, even a grossly incompetent autocrat can destroy a democracy.

12. My worry is that we romanticize the deviousness & savvy of other autocrats, when in fact MOST of them are/were dumb thugs.

13. If institutions are weakened & corrupted enough, even a dumb & incompetent thug can destroy a democracy. That's what keeps me up nights.

14. We'll get to watch this tested in real time, as Trump (and the entire right) works to weaken all institutional restraints.

15. Is Trump's outer limit defined by his own idiocy or by the tattered restraints built into US gov't? Stay tuned! 😬 </fin>

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