The cast of “Hamilton” broke the fourth wall last night in the presence of Vice President-elect Pence. You demand an apology. Let’s recap what Aaron Burr/Brandon Dixon said: “We have a message for you, sir…We are the diverse America…alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not…uphold our inalienable rights. But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.” Before reading his statement, Dixon asked the audience to stop booing Pence: “there’s nothing to boo, ladies and gentlemen. We’re all here sharing stories of love.”
You say “the Theater must always be a safe and special place.” How, my poor snowflake-elect, are you going to get through your term as president of 320-plus Americans? Mr. Dixon, on behalf of the cast, said to Mr. Pence “we are scared of you (based in part, Dixon might have said, on your history of active hostility toward LGBTQ Americans) but we hope you do right in your new position representing the whole country. How you, Trump, can say that Mr. Dixon, by owning his own alarm and anxiety, is guilty of harassing Pence is beyond me. You might try something that your detractors are supposed to be unable to do in response to you: that is, take Mr. Dixon “seriously but not literally.” Doing so might give you some good ideas about making the USA an even more safe and special place than it is right now.
So far you, soon-to-be Snowflake-in-Chief, have communicated some signals of generosity and some of score-settling. My advice is to take the high road whenever you can, or you will consume yourself–which would be just your problem if you were not about to become president of the whole United States.
It’s on video. Last night President-elect Trump told astonished diners “we’ll get your taxes down.” He had ditched reporters, so the video is from somebody’s cellphone at the midtown Manhattan Cracker Barrel–oops, very sorry, it seems to have been the 21 Club. Sorry about that, forgotten men and women.
Mark Zuckerberg can say whatever he likes about fake news, but “facts” know better. John Adams in 1770 (and Ronald Reagan in the 1980s) said “facts are stubborn things” but that was then. Politifact is still with us, and yet “facts” are not fooled. But they are mortified, really mortified.
You say you woulda coulda won the popular vote and bigly? Maybe you will–next time. The campaign is over, dude, and you have a lot of actual work to do if you really want to drain the swamp.
And taking the easy way out of keeping the two most popular parts of Obamacare and skipping away from the unpopular mandates and penalties–that’s a real snowflake move that will make the whole system crash. Reality bites.
“Lobbyists, lobbyists and special interests…I don’t like it, no”
“That’s the only people you have down there”
“Everybody’s a lobbyist down there”
“Everything down there…I mean, the whole place is one big lobbyist”
“I’m saying that they know the system right now, but we’re going to phase that out”
Also, having your children run your businesses is not in any way a blind trust. And requesting top secret clearances for them right now? While they run his businesses?
Someday my prince will come, but it doesn’t look like Trump is it.
The President, still Barack Obama, was diplomatic in his news conference today, but he has seen some things about the incoming president, and he said some things to warn Trump and to give heart to steadfast progressives. Obama did not say, “I used to be a rock star celebrity newbie President and now you people just elected the same old same old thing.” He did not predict that Trump is fated to act like a narcissistic rock star celebrity president who flies off the handle. Instead he let Trump and the rest of us know that millions of real American citizens are going to be hurt unless Trump thinks long and hard and reconsiders much of his stated agenda.
And I am trying to remember just what Senator McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, said about President-elect Barack Obama in January 2009. Some words about making sure he would be a “one-term president,” among other words, if I recollect.
So the Senate Democrats should be at least as courteous to President Trump. Concerned that Senate Republicans will abolish the filibuster altogether? If McConnell turns the Senate into the House, and no cooling of the saucer remains, that will be on him. Trump and McConnell and Ryan own the economy along with all three branches of government. Constructive cooperation where it benefits the whole country is one thing; acquiescence, however, is not the answer, especially with the Supreme Court. Trump said women in some states will just have to drive to another state if they want an abortion.
Some have asserted that Trump in his campaign avoided insulting American citizens unless they stepped into the arena and opposed him. That’s very dubious, but be that as it may, now Trump has announced, on 60 Minutes, that he is right and millions of women are wrong–that is, women who decide to seek an abortion, depending on where they live, must go in many cases hundreds of miles out of their way. Hundreds of thousands if not millions of those women were definitely not in the arena and many of them voted for Donald Trump. It could be that some will say “Father Trump knows best” and vote for him again anyway in 2020. But if Democrats won’t filibuster Trump’s Supreme Court pick (or try to, and let McConnell be the one to go nuclear if he wants) what would they resist?
It is early days in Donald J. Trump’s new swamp-draining reality adventure. Let’s chill just a little bit and give him enough running room–I mean rope–and see what happens. I think the best protesting is likely to happen if and when Trump starts pissing people off. And in fairness to Trump or any president (missing you already, Obama, despite your mandarin tendencies) there are not too many easy win-win decisions that a president gets to make. If Trump increases the swamp gas fumes by hiring the oiliest of the lobbyist crowd, and shafts the “forgotten men and women,” the disgruntled “Carrier voters” of the rust belt who put him over the top, then the opportunity for successful protest will ripen. If Trump follows Paul Ryan’s lead and proposes privatizing Medicare and cutting off Trumpcare health exchange subsidies, solidarity against Republicans will be a much easier lift than if people disrupt highway traffic now and piss off ordinary people. Trump and the Republicans are about to take control of all three branches, and they will own the economy. They will either own the Affordable Care Act, or try to displace and dismember it. The hard choices are theirs, let them stew over it.
Nigel Farage says it’s up to British politicians to “mend fences” and Kellyanne Conway says Obama and Clinton are obliged to talk protesters down. Don’t be gaslit: they are just working the refs. Obama and Clinton already acknowledge Trump as a legitimately elected president, while Trump all but promised disruption if he had lost. And Trump has said plenty about what he feels are the shortcomings of political leaders in Europe and elsewhere. Those leaders are now obliged, on behalf of their citizens, to deal with Trump. But Angela Merkel and Nicola Sturgeon, among others, felt the need to lay down markers. It was stunning to read this from Chancellor Merkel: “Germany and America are bound by common values–democracy, freedom, as well as respect for the rule of law and the dignity of each and every person, regardless of their origin, skin color, creed, gender, sexual orientation, or political views. It is based on these values that I wish to offer close cooperation, both with me personally and between our countries’ governments.” That is flipping the script big league on national stereotypes.
I say Trump should be watched very closely, given the chance to pivot away from his own nastiness, and encouraged to make choices on behalf of everyone he represents–which, for better or worse, is all Americans. We the people always need to be vigilant toward our political representatives. With Trump, just as with a young person, we need especially to be firm, fair, and consistent. Melania knows as well as anyone that we are likely to hear quite a bit of “boy talk”; keeping a watchful grownup eye on our Elagabulus-like boy-emperor is shaping up to be a challenge
How long will President-elect Donald J. Trump last before he breaks down and admits he was all about the hunt and the chase, but that actually becoming the president is his worst nightmare? Some advice to Mr. Trump: announce that on day one, before you even eat your inaugural lunch, your first executive order will, in honor of risk-loving entrepreneurial capitalists everywhere, nullify all of our limited liability laws. All these anti-competitive, soul-killing limited liability regulations do anyway is protect weak, corrupt corporations from the forgotten men and women they rip off day in and day out. The forgotten men and women sure don’t have much “limited liability” any more, do they?
And then watch and see how long this new president lasts.
Forgotten men and women all over the United States signed up for Affordable Care Act plans yesterday, the day after the transition to Trump began. HHS Secretary Burwell tweeted that it was over 100,000 people. This sounds more than a little like the flood of people buying their third or sixth or seventh firearm after President Obama was elected. If Obama was the greatest gun salesman ever, maybe Donald Trump will make America’s health care enrollment even greater than it is now. If a whole lot of folks who were back in the cut, avoiding buying health insurance, make it into the daylight and sign up, that’s a victory for all of us. It could be that even, or especially, some Trump voters are suspicious enough to figure they better sign up right quick before that African Muslim usurper Obama rides off. In any case, Trump owns American healthcare now. And McConnell too–though that wily turtle will try to stay in the shadows if repeal of the individual mandate leads to collapse of the health exchanges.
CNBC, the Financial Times, and the Wall St. Journal all report President Trump may scrap the retirement advisory rule set to go into effect next April. Trump may hate rules and regulations, and his “forgotten men and women” may be ecstatic and delirious right now, but if they have retirement accounts, getting rid of a regulation that protects savers by imposing a fiduciary duty on people selling advice on 401K accounts is going to cause a boomerang effect. Whether Trump ever gets blamed for that, who knows. But governing is a whole new world for him. How much ammunition does he want to hand to Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Bernie Sanders?
If Donald Trump acts like a president of all the people, more power to him. If he acts like a vindictive tyrant, I only hope Americans cross divides, put country first, and resist. His first public words as President-elect seemed nonthreatening and positive. I think he showed some self-awareness of his past by suggesting a while back that becoming president and succeeding was the only way he could make it into heaven. But he has also said, “I’m all about the hunt and the chase…then I lose interest.” If he is able to concentrate on American “forgotten men and women” in a much more inclusive sense (think FDR rather than William G. Sumner) than I expect, maybe he will make it to heaven. As Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama said today, gotta give him his chance. That’s in spite of James Comey, Wikileaks, Russian interference, and Hillary’s lead in the national popular vote, bitter pills all.
P.S. Hat tip to Beverly Gage’s piece in the NYT, “Just Who Is the ‘Forgotten Man,'” in which she contrasts William Graham Sumner’s 1880s essay, “What the Social Classes Owe Each Other” (not much of anything) with FDR’s 1932 evocation of the “forgotten man” as “a reason to rebuild the economy from the bottom up.” Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Michael Moore, and others have already put Trump on notice that their cooperation can be his if he truly wants to rebuild the U.S. economy on a more equitable basis than neoliberal technocrats and the big banks are expecting.
Short answer: short-term amoral bottom-line mindset. Zucker was a Trump sucker this election, along with Les Moonves among others, because they did not put journalism first or even second.
If anything can be said in their defense, it’s that their sloth may have been an even bigger factor than their cynicism. Trump learned the rules of reality TV so well that he did almost all the work of framing for them. The broadcast and cable shows hardly had to invest any resources in actual journalism. Giving Trump the amount of unfiltered air time they did was resistable, but only if media elites possessed more sense of civic obligation than they actually do.
For a long while I used to feel I didn’t have enough money that voting Republican could possibly make any sense. Now, though not much wealthier or poorer, I feel I have just enough to lose that the very idea of voting Republican makes zero sense. Is that sensible? I sure hope that enough voters feel they have enough to lose that we can keep a choleric, petulant, hormonal man like Trump off Air Force One.
An economy with slow and unequal growth is not fun for people whose futures feel stagnant or precarious. Thus Trump has tried to make loss aversion work for him by claiming only he can set things right, “drain the swamp,” and restore the glory days. It’s no accident that Trump has tried to demoralize African-Americans by yelling at them that they have nothing to lose, implying at the same time to white voters that old hierarchies will be put back in place.
Despite the perhaps uncharismatic and uninspiring alternative to Trump, do we really feel safe taking what we have for granted? Do we really have so little to lose, are we so oblivious to risk, and so unable to value our own freedom that we would let ourselves be ruled by a guy who combines in himself the worst of Biff Tannen, Gordon Gekko, Captain King Kong, and Stalin’s “useful idiot”? Did I mention Alcibiades and Elagabulus? Quite a ruler, that Elagabulus! Think you have little to lose–search for Elagabulus and imagine President Donald E for Elagabulus Trump. (Hat tip to Ross Cardinal Douthat of the NYT)