“I Alone Can Fix It” —Emperor Augustus Trumpus / “A Republic, if you can keep it” —Benjamin Franklin
October 22, 2016
“When the problems get bad enough, as they might do with another serious terror attack, or another financial melt-down, some one person will come forward and say, Give me total power and I will solve this problem. That is how the Roman Republic fell. Augustus did not become emperor because he arrested the Roman Senate, he became emperor because he promised to solve problems that only he could solve… that is what you should worry about at night.” —Supreme Court Justice David Souter.
October 2, 2016
With the death of Atilla the Hun, the sad passing of Napoleon, the last breath of Stalin, the strung-up wake of Mussolini, the suicide of Mien Kampf’s author, the passing of Mao, the croaking of Cambodia’s Pol Pot, the last noose of Sadam Hussein, a vacuum’s been left that needs filling and many Americans, ready for something old dressed as something new, big and flashy but void of substance, think they’ve found the dirt to fill it: the Hun of New York, Manhattan’s Lord Beeleevmee, he with small but ever grasping hands, purveyor of campaign violence, disser of constitutions, user of women, the one and only … Genghis Don!
As we’ve learned over the past year a man with no appropriate experience, little curiosity, with no real policies, short on empathy or understanding beyond his own needs, who stiffs people as a standard business practice, is a misogynist who’d demean any sister, daughter or wife he did not find attractive, is in a close contest to become president of the United States.
My father (blue collar as they come) would have referred to Big Don as a bull-slinger (though with a semantic twist). “Guys like him are a dime a dozen,” he would’ve said, “although with a slinger with that big a head the cost would be far greater.”
Dad could size up a fraud. His bull-slinger detector was well calibrated and though I think I’ve inherited some of his bull-slinger sensitivity it doesn’t take a genius to get at the working of Genghis Don’s primitive brain (the part that directs his streaming tweets and rally rants) you just have to listen to what he says.
First, regarding bull-slinging, Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo recently recalled Trump’s interview with Matt Lauer. Lauer asked Trump about his plan for dealing with ISIS. Trump responded as he usually does by saying nothing (but redundantly and with as many nonsense words as possible) and ended with his stock assurance to everything, “Believe me.”
Marshall summed up Trump’s answer this way: “Here Trump has very little idea what he’s talking about, and when pressed on a clear contradiction he starts making up new nonsense to avoid addressing the question … I think this exchange is pretty obvious for people in a way that transcends politics and ideology. Trump is the kid telling the teacher the dog ate his homework. Then the teacher points out he has no dog. But he’s not going to apologize or come clean. He’s just going to keep talking.”
Donald Trump’s ascent may be a sign of our loss of a collective sense of reason and decency. Trump may be karmic payback for former national arrogance, conquest and moral mistakes. Maybe we’re fated to follow a leader who, at his rallies and in his late night tweets openly proposes, suggests and pushes authoritarianism, xenophobia, misogyny, racism, and political violence outright as if to say, “Here I am with all my character dysfunction, what you see is what you get and, if you think otherwise you’re as naive as every business owner I’ve stiffed to make a killing.”
Trump makes no bones about what motivates him: money, sex and power. He lays it all out. As they say, he says what he thinks.
And so: a sampler of what he thinks (with some editorial comments):
—“Donald pulled me aside at his wedding. (and) said, ‘you know, I am getting remarried, but Howard, vagina is expensive.’ I will never forget those words. Those were the exact words!” —related by Howard Stern, one of Trump’s late night radio host buddies.
As testament to his fundamental view of women, Genghis could not be more… uh… fundamental.
—“You have to have the right genes. I have a certain gene, I’m a gene believer. I have great genes and all that stuff …I was born with a certain intellect. God helped me by giving me a certain brain. I mean, I am a smart person. You know I’m proud to have German blood. There’s no question about it, great stuff.” —transcribed from a video of Genghis’ self evaluation.
As a characteristic testimony to his greatness Genghis will not be less than a Narcissist-in- Chief.
—At a recent rally Trump bragged about his Christian conservative support and asked those audience members who were not Christian to identify themselves.
“Raise your hand if you’re not a Christian conservative, Trump said. “I want to see this, right? Oh there’s a couple people, that’s all right,” Trump said as he dismissively waved a hand. “I think we’ll keep them, right? Should we keep them in the room, yes? I think so.”
And if not, what? As an implicit threat to shred the 1st Amendment Genghis could not have been more clear.
These are just a few of Trump’s what-he-thinks revelations, but there are many more as illuminating. Trump’s only saving grace in the context of this campaign is that he has the mouth of a four-year-old: he says what he thinks even when it’s ignorant, false or absurd. Even his own forces spill the beans, of which I include one example:
—”One ally described Trump as the kind of guy who can’t simply be told a stove is hot — he has to touch it to see for himself.”
Or, in more pertinent terms: Genghis is the kind of guy who can’t simply be told nuclear war is more than hot– he has to start one to see for himself.
Many of us are fearful and angry, but there’s a price to pay for operating on the basis of those emotions. As Adam Gopnik of The New Yorker writes, “Countries don’t really recover from being taken over by unstable authoritarian nationalists of any political bent—left or right.
Whether you like it or not it’ll be Trump or Hillary. It comes down to a case of risk assessment.
Assess well, my friend.