“Democracy is not a matter of faith, but of guarantees.” – Valce Havel, from “On the Theme of an Opposition”, 1968
This is obviously the least consequential revelation in the string of shattering news that has come out since the rise of the Fake King, but the confirmation that First Lady Melania Trump and son Barron will not be moving to the White House is still kind of a shock, especially because it isn’t a shock at all.
Honestly, are you surprised? We knew that the Electoral College is electing America’s tackiest citizen, who has a fifth child from a third trophy wife who very palpably didn’t sign up for this. And the kid doesn’t want to be dragged from his school, which makes sense for any 10-yr-old. One could ask why this didn’t come up in family meetings before, but then, one gets the sense there aren’t any family meetings. That this norm–that of the First Family living together–is being ignored is not surprising. We know who Trump is.
But then, that’s sort of the point. He’s already made it clear he only wants to live at the White House part time. He’s made it clear that he intends to spend as much time as possible in his gilded tower in New York or one of his other estates, security headaches be damned (someone said that all this means midtown Manhattan is basically closed for the next four years). He’s made it clear that the Presidency is just going to be one of his concerns.
He’s made it clear that the state is just another one of his ventures, and he and his team are already bending every norm and institution around that idea. And that, piece by piece, is how liberal democracies fade out.
This certainly isn’t about the First Family, which, as I said, is the least consequential news. But that’s part and parcel of it. It is astonishing how quickly the media decided to write pieces on how son-in-law Jared Kushner is “the steadying hand“, and the direct enforcer of loyalty, getting rid of Chris Christie people due to Christie’s prosecution of Kushner’s father. This is seen as normal cut-throat politics, instead of what it is: government by family vendetta.
The stories are accompanied by discussions on whether anti-nepotism laws pertain to in-laws, especially if they don’t take a salary. It’s insane that this guy should somehow get security clearance and sit in on all top meetings when he’s clearly the go-between for President Trump and his business. “Can Trump get Kushner in?” is presented as an interesting legal debate, instead of something inherently corrupt. Maybe that’s the point: it’s so inherently corrupt and corrupting that we can’t even talk about it.
Hatchet-man and go-between: that’s Kushner. He’ll hatchet anyone not sufficiently loyal, and that means anyone who wants a job is falling in line. That seems to include Michael Rogers, the admiral in charge of the NSA, who met with Trump late last week.
The news comes as Rogers is being considered by President-elect Donald Trump to be his nominee for director of national intelligence to replace Clapper as the official who oversees all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies. In a move apparently unprecedented for a military officer, Rogers, without notifying superiors, traveled to New York to meet with Trump on Thursday at Trump Tower. That caused consternation at senior levels of the administration, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal personnel matters.
This is insane. He is going to political meetings without notifying superiors, a breach of the chain of command, in order to demonstrate his loyalty.
Loyalty? Last week, Rogers was “candid” about the role Russia played in influencing the election. Yesterday? “I don’t think in the end it had the effect [the foreign government] had hoped it might.” (Note: not Russia!)
The complete upending of truths for political convenience. White nationalists running rampant in the streets. Family ties being the deciding factor for governmental roles. The complete melding of the state and the family business. The flouting of all traditions. The cowed and self-lacerating media who quickly incorporates every new shattering into their nightmare tapestry of normalcy.
In less than two weeks, we’ve already become a banana republic.