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The Charm of Anti-Competence
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The Charm of Anti-Competence

What pundits are missing about Trump's resilience, with Sam Adler-Bell.
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Why is Trump such a formidable candidate, despite everything? How can someone who lies so readily be seen as authentic? With the Republican presidential campaign heating up,

—co-host of “Know Your Enemy” and one of the most fascinating leftist writers around today—returns to the podcast to argue that Trump has something special that Ron DeSantis doesn’t have and likely never will.

Pundits often argue that DeSantis represents a stable and “competent” version of Trump that can win the presidency for the GOP. Sam disagrees. DeSantis, he argues, is reflective of a well-educated elite bumbling to co-opt Trump’s style without understanding the former president’s essence. Not only that, DeSantis may even be a “technocrat,” that dreaded word. Sam makes the case that Trump’s conning authenticity, charm—but especially his “anti-competence” and distinct resentment of elitism and expertise—help explain his staying power.

In the full episode (for paying subscribers only), the three discuss the rampant apocalypticism of the current moment and how Republicans and Democrats leverage the premise that the end is near. Damir posits that the doomerism may be justified whereas Shadi is more cautiously optimistic. Also, Sam discusses the discipline required—as someone on the political left—to not define one’s politics around the most annoying features of one’s opponents.

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Required Reading:

  • Sam Adler Bell’s must-listen podcast “Know Your Enemy” with

    on the intellectual origins of the American Right.

  • Sam’s epic first appearance on Wisdom of Crowds, discussing the New Right.

  • The classic “Know Your Enemy” episode on Nixon’s resentments and obsessions.

  • “The One Thing Trump Has That DeSantis Never Will,” by Sam Adler-Bell (The New York Times).

  • “The Jeffrey Epstein case is why people believe in Pizzagate,” by Matthew Walther. (The Week).

  • Dave Chappelle monologue on Trump’s appealing hypocrisy (Saturday Night Live).

  • The Confidence Man, by Herman Melville (Amazon).

  • Chris Christie takes down Marco Rubio in 2016 (CBS News).

  • Trump Inaugural Address, “American Carnage” (ABC News).

  • “The Humiliation Factor,” by Thomas Friedman (The New York Times).

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Appears in episode
Damir Marusic
Shadi Hamid