This Trump is starting to worry me. And I'm not so impressed with the efforts of those trying to take him down either.
Siccing the national political police, AKA the FBI, on him, isn't a great strategy. (That's what they've always been, starting with the Palmer raids on 'foreign' anarchists post-First World War. And still they raid: law offices, hotels, early morning at the home of Trump's former campaign manager.)
If this was any other president, the voices now cheering themselves hoarse (New York Times: "The Law is Coming, Mr. Trump") would be taking liberal fits.
It may seem more hopeful than just trying to impeach Trump, which hangs totally on the Dems sweeping Congress in the fall, and if they did -- and then do -- it would be disastrous for U.S. democracy, which would henceforward for all time become all and only about electing a Congress to impeach whomever's president.
And what if Trump just fires his tormentor Bob Mueller (and Rosenstein and Sessions)? They -- the anti-Trumpers -- seem to think the Murrican people won't take it because it negates their entire history of rule by law, blah blah blah.
But what do they think the past is? A mighty force à la Faulkner that isn't over, it isn't even past? Maybe sometimes it's that, but sometimes it's a diaphanous sliver blowing apart in a light breeze.
I'm betting that's the current phase. History is tuckered out and no source of hope. For sure the time when history will be least useful is when you count on it to save you since you can't think of anything else to do.
Trump's base -- 35 to 40 per cent -- remain utterly loyal. That's populism for you: they feel so disdained and patronized that when someone shows up who they believe really cares, an earthquake couldn't shake them, so great is their need.
The best hope of shedding him, I'd say, is more along the lines of a distraught, disoriented Trump quitting because he's too good for this crap and the White House is a dump to live in so he'll return to fantasizing about building a Trump Tower in Moscow or Azerbaijan -- oh wait, there's already one there. It's irrational and wouldn't save him and you can't see Nixon at his most paranoid contemplating it -- but Nixon was a model of tranquil calculation by comparison.
I pause, exhausted, to note that the only other strategy in play is his extramarital affairs. Huh? Does anyone remember a mere 20 years ago when that didn't work on Bill Clinton? He came out of it with the only real bragging point of his presidency: standing up against 400 years of American sexual puritanism.
This was also the week that Zuckerberg testified to Congress, looking like the headshot of a medieval nun painted on wood. He kept saying Facebook's only goal is to connect people and make the world better. Spoken like someone who's never been able to connect to people. He made even the congressional goofs sound smart. Together, he and Trump look like what America deserves.
Lenin said there are decades when nothing happens and weeks when decades happen. Then there's Trumptime, when every day seems to last a century of cataclysmic moments and then tomorrow is another century where you can't remember what just happened. Mercy, please.
If you want some way to make it through these consecutive daily eternities, I recommend seeing The Death of Stalin; it's so funny and so deathly serious. It's made by Armando Ianucci, who created, then departed the brilliant U.S. sitcom on the inanity of presidential politics, Veep. He must've known, once Trump won, that the madcappishness of Veep would fall flat in his light (or shade), so he moved to the only arena that could outcreep Trump: the czar of sinister political unpredictability himself, the one, the only JS.
An Italian politician this week, speaking on the chaos there, railed about people staying on the sidelines: "You can't just sit back and eat popcorn. There are no spectators in democracy."
Actually at this point there's almost nothing else to do. But if you are going to sit back and spectate the current farce, I suggest munching your popcorn while watching The Death of Stalin.
This article originally appeared in The Toronto Star.
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