It’s even worse than we imagined. A
So we’re one week into the dark nightmare, even if the administration says it is “working day 5”. It’s somehow been even worse than I had imagined. Trump has spent most of his first week, including in a series of batshit interviews and speeches, talking about the size of his inaugural crowd and moaning that press coverage has been unfair.
Well, he’s also been doing terrible, terrible things. Alex Shepard at the revitalized The New Republic has a nice summation of the week. Let’s just throw Wednesday out there.
On Wednesday, Trump promised to get to the bottom of the non-existent problem of voter fraud. He also authorized construction of The Wall, pledged to publish a weekly list of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants in sanctuary cities, proposed halting immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries, and opened the door to reopening black sites and torturing again. We also learned that Trump is tweeting from an unsecured Android phone and that he and his advisers have no idea how executive actions work. Also, speaking of voter fraud, nearly everyone in Trump’s inner circle is registered to vote in two states. At some point, he also got the White House to start stocking Doritos again. But despite all the craziness, the Democrats more or less had his back, voting to confirm many of his nominees. Trump also gave a whacky interview to ABC in which he acted like a child.
So we’ve talked a lot about what he’s done. But other than “the destruction of the American idea”, I think it is important to look at what we now know about the realities of a Trump administration (still can’t believe I am typing those words).
We have actually learned what it is like when the spoiled dauphin takes the throne and every adviser and courtier has to pretend that there spittle-flecked pronunciations are weighted with divine importance. Every time Trump says something, it has to become, if not policy, at least the official line. If the boss says there are a million souls at the inauguration–if he says the rain stopped for him–then it did. This is insane, of course, but it is much worse when he says that waterboarding isn’t torture and that it works. And, of course, when he says that millions of people voted illegally. (More on that in a bit).
We’ve learned that his impulse control and addiction to his own press wasn’t tamed by becoming the most powerful man in the world. He is as obsessed with ever at being praised.
We’ve learned he believes every possible conspiracy theory from every shmuck with an blog especially when it comes to his losing the popular vote. What’s more, we’ve learned he still pays attention to them.
This all adds up to the most important thing that we’ve learned, or at least has been confirmed. Trump’s pathologies, vanities, and the unhinged obsessions he has in place of any human interest of political principles line up perfectly with what the GOP and/or the far right has always wanted.
- He can’t stomach the thought that he lost the popular vote, and by quite a lot. That means his accomplishment (which even we’ve admitted was a work of terrible genius) is tainted. It isn’t historical enough for him. So of course he hones in on voter fraud, because that could be the only explanation. And now the wheels are turning. That’s partly because it has to become official administration line–his belief can’t be flatly contradicted–but it’s also because that’s what every Republican wants to happen. They only win if they can suppress the vote, which is why that’s been their overarching goal for a generation. And the only way they can suppress the vote is to convince enough people there is voter fraud. Now, thanks to his inbred prince act, this is sanctified at the highest level. How nice of that to work out!
- Trump, despite having a long record of debt and failure, and a wildly incompetent administration that is already leaking like the last days of Nixon, sees himself as a savvy businessman and the world’s greatest negotiator. And he has been good in some ways! He’s a good bully, whether it is with subcontractors or CEOs who want to avoid bad publicity. But he is convinced he’ll be able to negotiate better deals with every country, on a bilateral basis, which leads to his disdain for multilateral organizations, like the EU and the UN. Except for the UN, this isn’t strictly GOP, but it is the goal of the nationalist/Russiaphiliac/white power right.
- (As for whether he can actually negotiate “better deals”, I would point out that a series of bilateral agreements is exponentially more complicated due to overlapping and contradictory needs and rivalries, and that I don’t think Trump actually knows anything about any other countries, or for that matter, the complexities of trade other than “winning” and “losing”)
- Trump wants to beat the swells, and that means, more than anything, Obama. Obama, a black guy raised by a single mother who rose to where he was based on genius and talent, is still seen by Trump as an elite who got all the breaks (see Trump asking for Obama’s grades, which isn’t really a dog whistle). The level of projection is of course staggering, but that’s where we are. Obama, who came from nowhere, is the cool guy everyone like. Trump, who had every advantage, is crude and unloved. So if he can stick it to Obama, he will. And that means letting the GOP do whatever they want to his legacy.
- He also hates the media which doesn’t give him the respect he deserves. This allows for advisors to basically say “the New York Times will hate this!” I don’t have any evidence of that, but it isn’t hard to imagine Reince, and of course Bannon, playing him that way.
- He’s a flower-fingered weakling who went to a military-themed school and thinks he’s Patton, and was rich in New York and thinks he’s Charles Bronson. His desire to be seen as such allows for the return of torture, and the pledge to “fix” the inner cities by sending in troops. Oh, he’ll give the wrong element the whatfor.
I think that’s what we’re seeing. In every awful decision this administration has made, in every move that destroys the environment, weakens workers, hurts our security, and launches us to darker days, there is the perfect fit between Trump’s insecurity and the GOP/white nationalist agenda. It isn’t that Trump has no principles–I think he is sincerely and truly a plutocrat and class warrior for the rich–but even that is based in his overwhelming greed. It’s that he is mostly emotion, a little child, and those somehow mesh perfectly with the worst impulses of the right wing.
The dauphin crack is, I think, accurate. You have a weak know-nothing who thinks himself a lion, and the court knows how to ride that. That’s our government for the next four years.
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