Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Dangers of This Presidency





from A Hundred Days of Trump by David Remnick:

“…[Trump’s] presidency has become the demoralizing daily obsession of anyone concerned with global security, the vitality of the natural world, the national health, constitutionalism, civil rights, criminal justice, a free press, science, public education, and the distinction between fact and its opposite… Impulsive, egocentric, and mendacious, Trump has… set fire to the integrity of his office… 

“Trump flouts truth and liberal values so brazenly that he undermines the country he has been elected to serve and the stability he is pledged to insure. His bluster creates a generalized anxiety such that the President of the United States can appear to be scarcely more reliable than any of the world’s autocrats…

“Trump appears to strut through the world forever studying his own image. He thinks out loud, and is incapable of reflection. He is unserious, unfocussed, and, at times, it seems, unhinged… The urge to normalize Trump’s adolescent outbursts, his flagrant incompetence and dishonesty—to wish it all away, if only for a news cycle or two—is connected to the fear of what fresh hell might come next. Every day brings another outrage or embarrassment…

“In 1814, John Adams evoked the Aristotelian notion that democracy will inevitably lapse into anarchy. ‘Remember, democracy never lasts long,’ he wrote to John Taylor, a former U.S. senator from Virginia, in 1814. ‘It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy that did not commit suicide.’ As President, Donald Trump, with his nativist and purely transactional view of politics, threatens to be democracy’s most reckless caretaker, and a fulfillment of Adams’s dark prophecy…

“[O]pposition to Trump also has to give deeper thought to why a demagogue with such modest and eccentric experience could speak with such immediacy to tens of millions of voters anxious about their lives and their prospects, while the Democratic nominee could not. The intellectual and political task ahead is at once to resist the ugliest manifestations of the new right-wing populism—the fears it plays on, the divisions it engenders—and to confront the consequences of globalism, technology, and cultural change. Politicians and citizens who intend to defeat the forces of reaction, of Trumpism, need to confront questions of jobs lost to automation and offshoring head on. Unemployment is at five per cent, but that does not provide an accurate picture of an endangered middle and working class…

“The clownish veneer of Trumpism conceals its true danger. Trump’s way of lying is not a joke; it is a strategy, a way of clouding our capacity to think, to live in a realm of truth. It is said that each epoch dreams the one to follow. The task now is not merely to recognize this Presidency for the emergency it is, and to resist its assault on the principles of reality and the values of liberal democracy, but to devise a future, to debate, to hear one another, to organize, to preserve and revive precious things” (A Hundred Days of Trump by David Remnick). 



from Trump has a dangerous liability by George F. Will:

“It is urgent for Americans to think and speak clearly about President Trump’s inability to do either. This seems to be not a mere disinclination but a disability. It is not merely the result of intellectual sloth but of an untrained mind bereft of information and married to stratospheric self-confidence…

“What is most alarming (and mortifying to the University of Pennsylvania, from which he graduated) is not that Trump has entered his eighth decade unscathed by even elementary knowledge about the nation’s history. As this column has said before, the problem isn’t that he does not know this or that, or that he does not know that he does not know this or that. Rather, the dangerous thing is that he does not know what it is to know something…

“It is, however, too late to rectify this defect: He lacks what T.S. Eliot called a sense ‘not only of the pastness of the past, but of its presence.’ His fathomless lack of interest in America’s path to the present and his limitless gullibility leave him susceptible to being blown about by gusts of factoids that cling like lint to a disorderly mind. 

“Americans have placed vast military power at the discretion of this mind, a presidential discretion that is largely immune to restraint by the Madisonian system of institutional checks and balances. So, it is up to the public to quarantine this presidency by insistently communicating to its elected representatives a steady, rational fear of this man whose combination of impulsivity and credulity render him uniquely unfit to take the nation into a military conflict” (Trump Has a Dangerous Disability by George F. Will). 



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