Trump is a big strong man who is also begging Vladimir Putin to help him beat Hillary Clinton. Republicans from Mike Pence to Speaker Paul Ryan have responded to Trump’s remarks today by condemning Putin. We know plenty about Putin already. Could you brave defenders of freedom show some courage and say Trump’s words amount to treason? If Hillary Clinton asked for political help from Russian military intelligence, how long would it take for Republicans to call for her imprisonment–oh, they did that already, eh?
Not strong at all. I thought it was a sign of weakness and derangement when Trump disrespected John McCain for becoming a war prisoner. I expected stronger pushback from actual conservative Republicans running against him over Trump’s ignorance of the Constitution and complete lack of interest in liberty or freedom or limited government. That was then. Now Trump has gone full “Siberian candidate,” (hat tip Paul Krugman) and Hillary Clinton is the only obstacle left to a Trump presidency. There are no Republican elites with enough national constituency or credibility to oppose Trump. That leaves the donor class and the owners of Fox, CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, the AP and NYT to get over their bothsiderism and show some news judgment about where the threat to democracy lies.
Senator Mitch McConnell does seem to be channelling the chancellor of Germany circa 1932, Franz von Papen. Von Papen was confident that Hitler could be contained and manipulated. Hindenburg and von Papen gave Hitler’s Nazi party control over only three ministries, so how much could go wrong? McConnell has looked down his nose at Trump, and fidgeted a bit over a few of the more openly bigoted outbursts and retweets, but has spent more effort excusing and minimizing. Fritz Stern, who lived through “Five Germanies,” condemned von Papen as “the frivolous gravedigger of what was left of German democracy” in the early 1930s. Does McConnell want to be judged as a 21st-century American von Papen?
McConnell made light a couple of days ago of Trump’s remarks to the NYT undercutting NATO. A “rookie mistake,” said the senator, who went on to say that Trump was not unfit to be commander-in-chief because his implicit invitation to Putin to expand Russia’s hybrid warfare into NATO territory would be contrary to the views of “anybody he might make secretary of state or secretary of defense” (source: Greg Sargent, Washington Post Plum Line, July 21). Sargent comments: “We’ve reached a new level of absurdity. Now we are basically being told that the check against the threat Trump poses will come from his own cabinet officials.” Richard J. Evans wrote in The Coming of the Third Reich that “the complacent belief of Franz von Papen and his friends that they had Hitler where they wanted him did not last long” (p. 316). I wonder if Mitch McConnell is as complacent as von Papen? Maybe not, but he is so far nowhere near dropping Trump “like a hot rock,” as he is reported to have promised his Republican Senate colleagues earlier this year. If and when McConnell does take a look at Franz von Papen’s Memoirs, I hope that he can do so without the impediment of a President Trump whose Minister of Propaganda has “opened up the libel laws.”
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban gave lots of love to “valiant” Donald Trump today in Transylvania, and why not? I am not saying that Donald Trump was actually in Transylvania himself yesterday, nor that Trump sustains himself as an undead vampire. Not at all. Even if the National Enquirer flipped positions and published a story that Trump kept himself alive in an unnatural way, I would want to fact check that before believing it. If you prefer reliable sources, see the Financial Times for details.
But due to a nondisclosure agreement I made with myself I cannot tell you my name at this time or in the future, but I am your voice.
Trump will surely bring us unity, I hear today. Trump will be president of all the people. Sad to say, we will all be treated just like poor Chris Christie.
Yes it is OK to take a break from totalitarianism-angst. It will still be there on Friday. Polling has been quite stable. Hillary still doesn’t have a compelling theme but I am not waiting to exhale about it. Reminder to self: reading Hannah Arendt or Plato’s Republic or a biography of Mussolini or Richard J. Evans on The Third Reich in Memory and History does not count as a break from worrying.
Even the birthers are likely to miss Barack Obama by this time next year, in part because we are unlikely to have a president capable of masterly inactivity. Obama’s motto, “don’t do stupid s–t” is a vulgar way of expressing the modus operandi. Masterly inactivity can certainly be overrated and fetishized (as J. Peter Scoblic points out in a recent Washington Post opinion piece on Trump’s incapacity for inaction). Examples of this include Obama’s Syria flipflops, and perhaps Abraham Lincoln’s almost complete silence for months in 1860 and early 1861, wishing to keep his options open and not to inflame tensions–see Harold Holzer’s “The Sound of Lincoln’s Silence,” NYT Disunion blog, 11/23/2010, and his 2010 book Lincoln: President-Elect, which explores in depth the pros and cons of Lincoln’s refusal to “open his mouth, save only to eat,” as one of his political allies put it. But there is some real danger, I believe, that a President Hillary Clinton will feel compelled to prove her toughness in ways that won’t serve the nation well. The much greater danger is that we could easily, out of a misplaced faith in his “law and order” rhetoric, elect Trump, who seems utterly incapable of inaction, even when it’s most called for. “Watchful waiting” is a critically important capability of 21st-century presidents, and it is about the last thing that I associate with “Trump.” Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy in the mid-20th century were capable of watchful waiting. I hope our next president will study their example.
Have read several opinion pieces by media columnists that boil down to, “are we enabling Trump”? If you are wondering, the answer is probably yes. Fact-checking is good so long as it doesn’t overshadow the more important issue: is the candidate a repulsive jackass?
Freedom and liberty may not mean enough to Hillary Clinton, but they mean diddley squat to Donald Trump.
That old Russian saying that the situation is “hopeless but not serious” appeals to me in the midst of Trump’s bumbling rollout of his most important pre-election decision, picking a running mate. I’m glad that he refuses to be, or can’t stand to be, normal and boring the way he promised he would. That makes it clearer that we the people would be quite a bit nuts to elect him. He shows most every day that he is a barbarian at the gate, not the one to protect us against the other barbarians. He’s right about this, though–we voters do have to be smart and tough–which to me means we have to hold our noses if need be and make the binary choice that is (too much some days) right in front of our faces. Trump is not the answer to the Goths and the Vandals, he is the rude barbarian. He doesn’t say much at all about freedom or liberty for a reason: he has little if any feeling for their value. To speak his ancestral tongue, Herrschaft means a lot more to Trump than freiheit. I say things are hopeless but not serious because even though this summer’s drumbeat of ugly news is demoralizing, I do not believe we are going to fling ourselves over a cliff by electing a man who understands less about what makes our country great than any presidential candidate I have ever seen.
Really, whose idea was this? The Trump/Pence logo, that is. Trump has always seemed more about domination (or, in German, herrschaft) than freedom, but this is much too explicit for me. Surely Pence himself will condemn this logo.
Did Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg go too far by starting up a new anti-Trump Twitter account? Is it “Nolo Cholo Trump” or “Nolo Cholo Anglo Trump”? Only the justice knows, and despite her recent public candor re Trump, she has not confirmed or denied anything, that I know of.
So said former President George W. Bush at the memorial service in Dallas, Texas today for the five police officers killed last week. George W. Bush should be–though he is sometimes not–credited with scrupulous avoidance of anti-Muslim rhetoric after September 11, 2001. President Obama also addressed the memorial in a realistic and uplifting spirit.
We are burdened as a country this year with a presidential candidate who has, through insinuations and barely coded messages of exclusion if not through outright bigotry, has almost succeeded in normalizing white nationalist rhetoric. He, Donald Trump, has been abetted by our mainstream media’s addiction to false equivalence, as if politics was purely tactical and completely separated from morality and ethics.
George W. Bush’s words today did not, of course, mention his party’s nominee, but his comments stand as an implicit rebuke to the fantasy of restoring our lost greatness by building a giant wall to keep out otherness. We have had just one non-churched president, Abraham Lincoln. Trump would be our first openly, frankly heathen president.
That’d be Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama–according to the real 2008 version of Trump, according to today’s Wall Street Journal. And Hillary Clinton would make a “good president,” said Trump on his own radio program, the one that started with the “money, money, money, money” jingle. So we really have no choice. We cannot possibly vote for a chaos and disorder candidate like Donald Trump unless and until he explains why Hillary Clinton would make a good president. Once he does explain, then we can vote for Hillary. I have, quite frankly, qualms about Hillary, but if Trump thought she would be good, I guess I can set my suspicions of her aside.
Seeing a new shiny object, “law and order,” Trump proclaims himself its candidate. I had been thinking that most of his appeal was chaos and disorder. If you want a president who has zero regard for our constitutional protections, Trump seems to me to be the guy for you. If you could care less about freedom of the press, government neutrality regarding religion, protections against government searches and seizures, and independent judges following the rule of law rather than executive whims, Trump has a lot to offer, at least as entertainment.
If I actually felt President Trump could reduce the temperature, reduce violent killings, increase respect for authority and government, and deliver law and order within constitutional limits, I might see him as an attractive candidate. But Jeb Bush was right–Trump stands for chaos and disorder. Here’s hoping that’s not what 51% of voters are looking for.