Trump Nation

In one of my most overwrought posts (and there are a lot of overwrought posts on this blog) I despaired, somewhat histrionically, that in order to survive the horrors of the Age of Trump, I had to try to block it out and look inward. What was happening was simply too terrible, too alarming to deal with. I concluded, rather hopelessly,

On the eve of World War I, British Foreign Secretary Edward Grey famously remarked, “The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time.” Will we see them lit again in America? For now, all we can do is stand and wait. And maybe pray. I do not mean in any way to be an alarmist, but I do believe Trump is going to be worse than any of us imagine. I fear we are going to be in nightmare mode for years to come, if not for generations (thanks to a Trump-selected Supreme Court). A tragedy, in every way. A complete and total tragedy.

The bad news is that I am now just as pessimistic about my country’s future. Maybe even more so. We seem to exist from one Trump atrocity to the next. Weeks seem like months, months like years, as each day brings another outrage, so many so quickly that we can’t keep up. This past week he injected nasty political swipes during an address to the Boy Scouts. Just a couple of days later he told police not to be “too nice” when arresting suspected gang members, a particularly ugly example of Trump’s brutality, actually encouraging police to rough up people they arrest, throwing to the winds the concept of innocent until proven guilty. The day before that we witnessed his new communications director referring to the sitting chief of staff as a “fucking paranoid schizophrenic.” Today he ranted against China, as though Xi Jinping could erase the threat of North Korea’s nuclear program with a wave of his hand.

It all started on June 16, 2015, the day Trump announced his candidacy. I watched it live, transfixed. Here was a candidate for the presidency of the United States slandering Hispanics with glee. We all remember his chilling words that day.

When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best….They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.

How on earth could he hope to win the nomination while preaching hatred and racism? He would have to burn out in a matter of weeks, right? Americans would obviously see how menacing and unhinged he was, right?

For months I watched him closely, and I began to become calloused – little Trump said could surprise me. He shocked me, but he did not surprise me. I watched in astonishment when he said John McCain was only a war hero because he got captured. My jaw dropped when he made fun of a journalist with a neurological disease. And perhaps I was most stunned when I heard him utter these words in December, 2015:

“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”

This was deranged on several levels. Imagine President Obama announcing a ban on Jews seeking to come to America. Never before had we seen a “serious” politician slander an entire religion. Trump barely concealed his racism as he preached his message of “law and order,” which is code for keeping blacks and Hispanics in check. It was a message of fear. Fear of immigrants, fear of blacks, fear of Muslims, fear of Hispanics. Then he lashed out at Elizabeth Warren, dubbing her “Pocahontas,” another racist slur (imagine calling President Obama “Sambo”). When would it stop? When would he implode?

I admit, I was hypnotized. Like so many others, I watched the Trump rallies and speeches slavishly, in a state of bemused wonder. Bemused because he would, of course, never actually win. The networks became all Trump all the time. He was spectacular for their ratings; everyone wanted to enjoy the spectacle of this madman’s rants and insults. He had no fear of offending vast swaths of Americans (like the “elites”). The cheers of his adoring crowds gave him electrifying energy. He never backed down, never apologized, never showed any signs of conscience. He encouraged his fans to rough up protesters at his rallies, offering to help pay their legal bills. Ugliest of all, perhaps, was his constant smearing of Hillary Clinton as a criminal – a charge that stuck to her, and that he still rants about, calling for his attorney general to pursue criminal charges against her for using a private server, an issue that then-FBI director Jim Comey put to rest months earlier, saying she was careless but in no way criminal.

Then we watched him win one primary after another. Jeb Bush, we were told, was going to be the front runner, and maybe Marco Rubio would be his most serious opponent. Trump was a bad joke. He had to flame out. But we all know what happened next.

The fascination with all things Trump continues. Cable news cannot serve up enough of Trump, countless panels never tire of dissecting his every word, every tweet. Noxious Trump surrogates on CNN lie through their teeth defending him, and for some reason the network keeps them on despite their obvious prevarications. And I contribute to this circus, obsessively watching all the cable shows, and then tuning in later at night to watch Steven Colbert and Seth Meyers, both of whom have made mocking Trump a cottage industry.

We are now more than six months into this nightmare and things keep going from bad to worse. All the hope that he would “grow into the job,” that “sane” voices like Ivanka Trump’s and Jared Kushner’s, would keep him in check, and that experienced advisors like Generals Maddis and MacMaster would rein him in — none of it happened. And the Democrats can’t seem to come up with a credible alternative; where is the leader we can rally around and look to for leadership in 2020? And what is the Democrats’ message? This was a serious flaw in the Clinton campaign: she never successfully articulated a message that would bring people together. Trump’s Make America Great again and Bernie Sanders’ promise of a Better Tomorrow and a new deal for the working and middle classes, were effective, whatever we may think of Trump and Sanders. And let me be clear that I thought Clinton was a qualified, intelligent, experienced statesman who would have made an excellent president. But I was frustrated at her inability to articulate a vision, other than her promise to keep building on the foundations Obama had laid down. This proved to be tone deaf: Americans wanted a sea change; what we had wasn’t working for them. They wanted a leader who would “drain the swamp” and listen to the working people. Trump exploited their fears and prejudices masterfully. You have to give him credit. He tapped into a vein of anger, despair and frustration. Never mind that his promises were empty and that his words would ring hollow. He was a shrewd politician and I hope the Democrats can learn from him. The message is everything. What is the Democrats’ message?

At the moment, the only ray of hope I can see is the inability of Trump to get anything done. His narcissistic arrogance is equaled only by his incompetence and tendency to thrive on chaos. But don’t forget, he will almost certainly name at least one more Supreme Court justice, and the fate of Roe v. Wade (and plenty of other decisions) will be in danger. The Court will shape what America is for years, maybe decades, to come. And that is too scary to contemplate.

Thanks for indulging me as I rant against Trump for the second time in six months. I just had to get it out of my system. Meanwhile, I will keep doing all I can to support the resistance, but for now I remain half-paralyzed. I fear we still haven’t seen the worst of Trump’s presidency. It’s going to be a long three and a half years.

The Discussion: 9 Comments

Dear Richard

I am far less pessimistic than you. If Trump can solve healthcare, it will do a great deal of good. Congress and Senate have just given him the leverage he needs, watch what he does next.

I predict in a years time you will post here, reluctantly admitting that Trump has not been as bad as you feared, and has done some good things along with all the bad things.

Regards
Bobby

July 31, 2017 @ 9:52 pm | Comment

I sure hope you are right. Based on what we have seen over the past six months I see no reason to be at all optimistic. Trump’s “healthcare” bill was nothing but a thinly veiled tax cut for the super-rich. The entire government is in a state of perpetual chaos, rife with in-fighting and back-stabbing and a total lack of vision and purpose, aside from tax cuts for the rich. I’d love to know what you see that would make you in any way optimistic.

August 1, 2017 @ 1:59 am | Comment

The chaos in government started long before Trump decided to run for President. He used people’s anger and disgust with politicians to form a highly successful theme – “Drain the Swamp.” Hillary was the perfect foil to his message. Privileged, entitled, above-the-law, elitist. She put no effort into even attempting to reach voters in the Mid-West. She laughed about shutting down the coal industry and throwing thousands of miners out of work. Then the Dems are shocked these same voters didn’t turn out to vote for her. Trump is riding that same anti-establishment wave. The loss of the vote on the Obamacare repeal has actually helped him. It gave him the opening to again attack the establishment GOP for it’s blatant deceit. For 7 years they screamed about how they wanted to repeal Obamacare and even sent 2 repeal bills to the WH. Of course, they knew Obama would veto those bills and they didn’t have the votes to override it. Trump showed them up for the lying SOBs they are.

Trump thrives on chaos. And while the media focuses on the chaos, he just keeps advancing his agenda. You noted his USSC appointment and that he may have one or even possibly two more nominations. You may have failed to notice that he has successfully appointed alot of justices at the federal District and Appellate levels. That may have more impact than his USSC appointment thus far. He has rolled back lots of federal regulations and opened the doors to business expansion. The Unemployment rate is at 4.6%. The lowest in 16 years. The Dow Jones just keeps setting records. Hundreds of thousands of new jobs created.

I have, and still, believe that the President has only a passing effect on the Dow average. Of far more import is the view of the market on the President’s policy and what it means to them. They see a very rosy picture of the future. And they seem totally oblivious to the day to day drama.

August 5, 2017 @ 11:30 am | Comment

Clinton’s quotes about putting coal miners out of work, which you take wholly out of context:

‘m the only candidate which has a policy about how to bring economic opportunity using clean renewable energy as the key into coal country. Because we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business, right?

And we’re going to make it clear that we don’t want to forget those people. Those people labored in those mines for generations, losing their health, often losing their lives to turn on our lights and power our factories.

Now we’ve got to move away from coal and all the other fossil fuels, but I don’t want to move away from the people who did the best they could to produce the energy that we relied on.

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2016/may/10/context-hillary-clintons-comments-about-coal-jobs/

I’m glad you think Trump’s been so successful. I’m not going to argue because I know I can’t win with you. He’s all yours. Just as with Hillary’s remarks on coal miners, you make your points with no context or nuance.

August 6, 2017 @ 4:08 am | Comment

Unemployment at it’s lowest in 16 years. GDP approaching 3%. Over 1 million new jobs. Dow hitting records (only partial credit). One Supreme Court Justice. Possibly as many as 2 in the future. Numerous appointments at federal District and Appellate levels. Rollbacks on over reaching federal regulations. Overhaul of management of federal lands. Businesses expanding. Foreign companies building new plants in the US.

He’s done more in less than a year than the Dems managed to accomplish in 8 years.

Hillary had a clear program for policies that would put miners out of work. All she had to offer the miners was the “government will not forget you.” A stupid thing to say to people who have been forgotten by the government already. Her idea of helping them was welfare and food stamps. Telling anyone you are going to shutdown the industry they depend on for jobs is an incredibly stupid thing to say, no matter how “nuanced” you make it. Her history does not support confidence in her keeping her word.

Think about this for a minute. Progressives claim Trump is stupid and clueless. He still beat your candidate. Progressives also claimed Bush was stupid and he won 2 terms. If Trump and Bush are truly dumb, what does that say about the Progressives?

Did you know Hitler supported Hillary? Progressives screamed for years that Bush was the second coming of Hitler. When Jeb ran for the GOP nomination, we were assured that the Hitler mantle had been passed on to him. The Bush family supported Hillary in the general election, therefore Hitler supported Hillary. And, yeah, I have lots of fun with this. I usually post links to videos and sites that pushed the BushHitler meme. A simple Google search is easy enough.

Hillary was an unmitigated disaster as a candidate. By all rights, Bernie probably would have won that nomination if not for it being rigged by the DNC. Which also hurt her. It’s ironic that if she had followed the advice of Bill, she may have won. At least according to insiders from her campaign staff. Unnamed sources, so give it whatever level of credibility you think it deserves. Bernie may have even pulled off a win over Trump. I had fully expected to wake up to news of Hillary’s win. Didn’t even watch the live coverage.

August 6, 2017 @ 10:20 am | Comment

Whatever. The economy is doing well because America’s fundamentals are strong and earnings are good. Trump had absolutely nothing to do with it after a mere six months in office with very few changes in policy since Obama and not a single piece of major legislation passed. His only “victory” was the confirmation of right-wing hatchet man Neil Gorsuch, which the GOP could only do by changing the rules and invoking the “nuclear option.” We are now the laughingstock of the world. Each day we are subjected to a new Trump catastrophe, whether it’s his incoherent, bizarre and ignorance-filled phone calls with the leaders of Australia and Mexico or a tweet saying no transsexuals can serve in any capacity in the military. He himself said he fired Jim Comey because of the Russian probe,which probably constitutes obstruction of justice. The Senate is actually putting through a bill that would stop him from firing Robert Mueller. Congress passed legislation to tighten sanctions on Russia with such a large majority Trump can’t veto it, despite his shrieking that he is the great dealmaker – he only signed it kicking and screaming. Then we have the geniuses he’s surrounded himself with, like Steve Bannon and Steven Miller. These are dangerous nationalists, freaks who should never be so close to power. And then we have his pick as communications director, who typified the bullying, crude, hysterical imprimatur of this administration. Luckily he lasted just a few days, a testimony to Trump’s horrific judgment, but there are many more freaks waiting in the sidelines.

Here’s what conservative George Will has to say about the Trump presidency.

Longtime conservative columnist George Will published an article Wednesday night in which he called upon the public to contact their representatives to express their concerns about Trump, who he says has a “combination of impulsivity and credulity” that makes him “uniquely unfit to take the nation into a military conflict.”

“It is urgent for Americans to think and speak clearly about President Trump’s inability to do either. This seems to be not a mere disinclination but a disability. It is not merely the result of intellectual sloth but of an untrained mind bereft of information and married to stratospheric self-confidence,” he wrote.

Have you ever read Jennifer Rubin? She’s way to the right, yet she says this:

No group has been as blindly loyal to President Trump as Christian conservatives. They have not let religion or values get in the way of their support. Consider the “Access Hollywood” tape, the attack on a Gold Star family, a mass of inexplicable ties between Trump’s campaign and Russian officials (and the president’s open invitation to Russia to continue hacking), the firing of the FBI director, the humiliation of evangelical-favorite Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the politicization of the Boy Scouts, the threats to the special counsel and now an interview with Trump’s out-of-control, potty-mouthed communications director. What about Trump, exactly, reflects their values? (Taking Medicaid away from millions and separating families to deport law-abiding immigrants?) The Trump administration is a clown show — but it’s the evangelicals who supplied the tent, the red noses and the floppy shoes. Each day presents a new insult to the office of the presidency and a repudiation of civilized behavior.

I can pull up countless examples of conservatives shrinking in horror from this unhinged man-child. He is an existential threat to America and to the world. He has scrubbed references to global warming from government web sites. He has praised dictators who brutalize and murder their own people. His attorney general is calling for maximum sentences for non-violent drug offenders, a return to a failed policy that stuffed our prisons with people who pose no threat to society. Everything about Trump is bad. His elections is the greatest blight ever on the conscience of America.

We’ve been through this before so I won’t go on, though I easily could. I want to ask you to stop spamming my threads with pro-Trump wingnuttery. As I said in an earlier thread, I would prefer you leave this nonsense on sites where you’d be welcome with open arms, like Stormfront, Breitbart and World Net Daily. I am politely asking you to find a new dumping ground for your pro-Trump drivel. Trump is the worst thing in modern history to happen to America, even if the markets are doing well. (Take a look at how well the markets fared under Obama, as well as job growth.) If you don’t see Trump as a threat to all that America stands for then you don’t belong on this blog, which is a progressive, liberal site. I allow contrasting opinions here and I’ve given you lots of space. But I won’t tolerate comment after comment touting Trump’s “successes” and attacking Hillary Clinton. Luckily 68 percent of Americans see it like I do, and the people spoke loudly when Trump lost the popular vote by 3 million ballots. Trump, the serial groper and maker of shady deals with organized crime, the protege of Roy Cohn, the con artist (as Mitt Romney famously dubbed him), the thug who encourages his fans to rough up protestors at his rallies, the moron who refers to mainland China as “the Republic of China” and who said replacing Obamacare would be “so easy,” the narcissist who craves constant attention and approval — this monstrosity is not my president. As I’ve said before, he’s all yours. Enjoy him. Worship him. Feel free to go down with the ship as the grand juries take him and his minions down. But please don’t come here to make your arguments. I’ve heard them all, and they are laughable. Thanks for respecting my request.

August 7, 2017 @ 12:58 am | Comment

Trump’s camp will hand him all the credit for economic performance, but blame Obama for Bush’s fuck-ups. They also ignoring 8 years of stock market performance under Obama.

Republicans always want to eat their cake and have it too, which partially explains red state obesity rates.

August 7, 2017 @ 4:19 am | Comment

Bye Jim. I’ve given you ample space to say what you wish, but you just won’t stop. Enough.

Richard

August 8, 2017 @ 10:22 am | Comment

Thats the thing Richard. The US is a country of massive cultural bandwidth, unlike Australia and the Scandinavian countries, to select a few latter examples. To be exact, Trump is and sounds truly appalling even if he has the occasional good idea. eg getting rid of NAFTA which has only benefitted Mexican drug cartels and the mega US corporations. You wont find anything of value in the political sphere since Independence. In my lifetime: Kennedy – an aficionado of paid sex, Johnson – a Boss Tweed with good welfare intentions who had problems with Asians, Nixon – lets be honest, a total scumbag, Carter – inept, Reagan – Death Squads in South America, the Clintons – all form no content, the Bushs – engineers of overseas democracy who gave us the Middle East as we know it today, Obama – very likable, but a Wall Street catspaw.

Yet this is a country which has produced some of the most sublime music since 1800 – blue grass ,gospel, blues and not to forget jazz (and I won’t name numerous names here).

Name me one French or Dutch musician in your collection.

And I could do the same for US film directors.

I would worry more about your county/state police forces who routinely execute Black citizens and then get a free pass. Trump is simply the big picture of something which is taking place in your very own Phoenix backyard.

All these recent weather events are retribution for all the Bad Karma the US has been spreading around the globe since Viet Nam.

September 12, 2017 @ 4:28 pm | Comment

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