In an era when American politics is dominated by obnoxious loud mouths, it’s not surprising that Mark Cuban thinks he should have a big role. Cuban deems himself presidential timber, and has not ruled out running for president in 2024.
Last night Cuban went on Sean Hannity’s program to question President Trump’s leadership. Cuban told Hannity:
He can’t be blaming the victim all the — you know, Sean, this is what really bothers me about the president. He’s the most powerful man in the world and he always plays the victim card. ‘The Dems are out to get me, the media is out to get me.’ You’ve got to be the leader, you’ve got to be the strongest man in the game and he just hasn’t shown that strength.
He’s the most powerful man in the world. Be powerful, be a leader, set an example… He’s supposed to be the world’s best counterpunch, he hasn’t been able to knock anybody out, he just plays the victim.
Who, “in the game,” is stronger than President Trump? Cuban didn’t say.
The answer is: no one. Trump has transformed American foreign policy. He has transformed the federal judiciary. He has hacked away at the administrative state.
If Cuban wants to attack Trump, he should attack these transformations. But that would require Cuban to discuss policy. This doesn’t seem to be his thing.
As for Trump not “knocking anybody out,” what would “knocking out” Trump’s adversaries — the mainstream media and the Democratic party — entail? It would entail an assault on democracy. Is that what Cuban is calling for?
Trump is doing battle with the media and the Democrats within the limits of a democracy. He was winning pretty handily until the Wuhan coronavirus hit. If he loses to this pandemic, it won’t be because he “blames the victim,” whatever Cuban means by “victim” in this context.
A president who faces an all-out assault from the media and the opposing party has two choices in the framework of a democracy. He can take it on the chin or he can fight back with words and whatever lawful actions are available. Trump fought back, as I’m pretty sure Cuban would do. This doesn’t mean Trump isn’t a leader.
Cuban went on to level a second criticism against Trump. He said:
I think that Donald doesn’t put the best people in place any longer. He did at the beginning and I was proud of him at the beginning, but now he just wants people who are loyal to him that’s a problem and it’s created more problems in this pandemic.
This line of attack is also mindless. Jeff Sessions, Trump’s first attorney general, was a member of the president’s campaign team. The current attorney general, William Barr, was not part of Trump’s circle. Moreover, he was the attorney general during the Bush 41 presidency. His qualifications for the job can’t reasonably be questioned.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was not a Trump insider or crony. He earned his current post through his performance as director of the CIA. Cuban would be hard pressed to argue that Pompeo is inferior to Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State.
Secretary of defense Mark Esper is a longtime defense and foreign policy hand who served in the Bush 43 Defense Department and once worked for Chuck Hagel. He’s no General Mattis, but neither is he a Trump loyalist.
The current Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, has served throughout the Trump administration. The current HHS Secretary, Alex Azar, has been in this office during most of Trump’s time as president.
The administration’s pandemic policy has been based to a significant degree on the advice of Dr. Fauci and his protege, Dr. Birx. It would be laughable to suggest that either is a Trump loyalist.
In short, Mark Cuban doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He should stick to what he does best — playing, as obnoxiously as he can, the victim of referees who officiate Dallas Mavericks games.
NOTE: This post has been revised to reflect that Azar was not in the original Trump cabinet.