Transactional Justification Of Selfish Ideals

Two very different TV shows I watched over the recent long weekend connected a couple of dots for me.

First, WSJ's Gerald Seib on "Charlie Rose" (PBS), talking about his recent interview with Donald Trump, repeatedly used the word "transactional" to describe the president-elect's world view, insisting that Trump is not ideological, instead believing that mutual self-interest makes deals for a better world.

Second, a line in one of my surprisingly favorite shows, "Madam Secretary" (CBS): "Idealism kills mutual interest to save lives," said one character. Another responded: "For starters, mutual interests aren't always the same as equal ones, so that statement is just an ideal used to justify self interest."

This line of thought can yield different conclusions (and disagreements), but for me it suggests that Trump's thinking is simply about justifying selfishness. Ideals should matter.

Craig blogs daily at