Saturday, January 20, 2018

One Year Report Card

(By American Zen’s Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)
As with disasters such as Kennedy's assassination and 9/11, Americans years hence will be asking themselves in shell-shocked wonderment, "Where were you on January 20th 2017?"
     As the lead picture above shows, we should've taken a clue of what to expect just by looking at Barron Trump's face as he watched the historic transfer of power. To look at him, he'd seemed uncomprehending of the horrors about to unfold as well as of the stupidity and racism that went behind his father's election to the highest office in the land.
     To those of you who'd read Fire and Fury in its entirety, you'll know no one in the Trump campaign thought they had a chance. Melania was reportedly in tears on Election Night, not out of joy that her husband had won but that she'd be pressed into service as the First Lady, a post she'd never wanted. She wanted to continue living a trophy wife life, jet-setting to foreign, exotic locales and shopping on 5th Avenue. No one, not even Trump, thought the American electorate would be so stupid as to elect a serial adulterer, tax and draft dodger who'd bragged on a hot mic to a giggling member of the Bush family that he liked to grab women by their genitalia because he was rich and famous.
     Indeed, Trump's fanatical hold on power he never seriously thought would be his stands in stark contrast to the mass purge we've seen of like-minded sexual perverts we'd seen last year. From Bill O'Reilly to Harvey Weinstein to Matt Lauer to Mario Battaglia, men once considered invulnerable to criticism or feminine comeuppance had been toppled from power like dominoes. It was the classic snowball effect. And yet Donald Trump, perhaps the most rapacious and misogynistic of them all, retains, for now, a firm grip on the reins of Russian-conferred power. How did he survive the avalanche?
     Perhaps it was a mere matter of timing. The Hollywood Access tape wasn't released on the internet until September 7th 2016, a mere two months before the election. This was a full year before the mass purge of sexual predators really got into full swing and, if the election were held last year, even the politically and physically crippled Hillary Clinton and her corrupt band of lobbyists would have prevailed.
     Alas, it was not to be and, as Alexandre Dumas once said through the mouth of Cardinal Richelieu, treason is a matter of timing, so too is political comeuppance. You don't need to be a political science major to know that no president has even been toppled by a sex scandal. In fact, Richard Nixon is still the only one to resign from the office. Yet sex scandals had toppled several Democrats in their quest for the White House from Gary Hart to John Edwards. Yet Trump, admittedly through Putin and his stooges and tens of millions of racists desperate to elect anyone with an R after their name and wasn't dark-skinned, prevailed.

Après Moi le Déluge
Assuming Trump actually knows the language of diplomacy (he can't seem to master plain English), one could reasonably expect this famous phrase of Louis XIV to migrate to his Twitter feed. Yet, as Robert Mueller looms ever closer and more baleful over the horizon, some earthy iteration of the Sun King's motto will no doubt eventually emerge ("Ya better be grateful for this time I'm your president cuz Mueller wants to piss in the pool with his fake Russia investigation! #MAGA!").
     But, really, on this first anniversary of the day Democracy Died in Darkness, to paraphrase the WaPo, Trump can only point to one significant domestic or foreign accomplishment in his first 365 days- The GOP Tax Scam bill. And that is reviled to the point where even Trump's backers are beginning to question his campaign trail commitments to the poor and middle class (I know. I sadly chuckle when I hear them, too.)
     His response to the hurricane floods in Texas and especially Puerto Rico were a bad joke only a racist Republican would get. Nearly six months after the hurricane, literally half of Puerto Rico is still without power. And between rolls of paper towels thrown to the peasants while he laughed, Trump couldn't stop talking about Puerto Rico's debt, even though his failed golf course saddled them with part of that red ink.
     As proof he doesn't like Muslims, one of his first acts in office was to sign an executive order banning Muslims from first seven then six Muslim-majority nations (coincidentally, Trump had business interests in none of them), both of which were struck down by several federal judges. Despite that judicial wake-up call, however, the ICE raids that are tearing families apart each and every day continue apace while the media look the other way
     Then there was Charlottesville. Alt-right protesters held a protest rally in response to a statue of Robert E. Lee being taken down and by the time the fur stopped flying, an innocent woman was dead. Without once mentioning her, Trump defended the alt-right and diffused the blame for the violence on everyone who was there, citing, "many sides, many sides" were to blame. The next day he was shamed into making a robotic condemnation of the alt-right and, the very next day after that in Trump Tower, Trump again found his inner racist that vibrates just beneath his umber-powdered skin and called Richard Spenser's neo Nazis, white supremacists and David Duke's KKK "very fine people."
     The rest of the time had been filled with mass firings and resignations from Sean Spicer to Steve Bannon to Reince Priebus to Anthony Scaramucci and others almost too numerous to count. Key spots in the State Department and the federal judiciary remain deliberately unfilled as if Trump's downsizing a failing corporation, Congress can't seem to repeal ObamaCare or a spending bill or anything else of consequence aside from massive tax cuts for those least needing and deserving of them.
     So much winning, we're told.

"The Best President We've Ever Had."
In what was a wake-up call to even Republican pollster Frank Luntz, the Grand Poobah of the Right Wing Euphemism, Luntz held a session with a focus group composed entirely of Trump voters. Three minutes into the discussion, one man raised his doubts about Trump's commitment to working class people and claimed he was sold a rotten bill of goods. Immediately, he was shouted down and Clinton's name came up in rebuttal. One woman, a retired educator, actually said that Trump was "the best President we've ever had," which shocked even Luntz.
     The way that the man in back questioning Trump's honesty was attacked was more telling than virtually anything that was discussed or expressed. This is proof that Trump not only had altered peoples' perceptions of what's true or not for a single election cycle but had altered seemingly forever their tactics for dealing with dissent in a political debate. And the way Trump had infected these obviously low-information voters is something from which one cannot easily come back, if at all. Many Nazis, even those who weren't party members, including Goebbells' secretary, never wavered in their commitment to the Third Reich even well into their hundreds.
     Considering that Trump has spent literally a quarter of his illegitimate "presidency" on vacation and bankrupting the Secret Service, such die-hards honestly have nothing of any substance in the way of presidential accomplishment save for a tax bill that almost entirely excludes them to which they can point. So, if their unwavering loyalty to Trump isn't based on what he's done, then that leaves just one possibility- It's not what Trump is but what he represents to them.
     It doesn't faze them one bit that Trump's called neo Nazis against whom their forebears had fought "very fine people", or that he called for the end of births after the nine month gestation period or that he walks past his presidential limo so massive it's named "the Beast" or that he announced to Israeli officials in Tel Aviv that he'd just left the Middle East. It's Donald, Donald, he's their man. If he can't do it, no one can!
     Honestly, at this point, Trump could butt fuck a dead Palestinian kid on the Resolute Desk in full view of TV cameras and his supporters would cheer him on that it will drive liberals and Palestinians crazy.
     Because it's all about spiting the liberals. Who knows how many of his dwindling base have named their kids after him over the last two and a half years or eat their steaks well done and slathered with ketchup just like Trump. Their foaming at the mouth hatred of anything even remotely to the left of Hitler and deemed lib'ral is enough to drive them into a frenzy. Such is the success of the right wing's ongoing smear campaign against liberals who are hardly in evidence in Congress.
     So there you have it- The legislative agenda isn't there: Trump's signed fewer bills into law than any modern President since Eisenhower. He's spent more vacation days in one year than any president (and, no, none of them were busman's holidays). The wall hasn't come close to being built, at least if you exclude the land grabs along South Texas, land grabs of Trump voters who'd, ironically, voted for Trump because of his promise of a wall that'd be paid for by Mexico.
     At the risk of oversimplifying what amounts to a simple mindset, it seems Trump's greatest appeal to them is not having a vagina and not having black skin. They've mistaken ignorant stubbornness for strength and resolve, racism for patriotism and his particularly toxic brand of fascism as the kind of conservatism they can at last understand.
     So it's perfectly appropriate that Donald Trump's first year as "president" would arrive on the day the government shut down.

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