I'm not hallucinating, and neither are you. The Donald Trump presidency is swiftly manifesting itself as almost the exact same presidency that Hillary Clinton envisioned for herself. Same war-hungry neocon generals, same neoliberal Wall Street bankers, and of course, the same kind of palace intrigues and unforced errors for which the Clintons have been so rightly famous throughout their own political careers.
Politics is entertainment, in case you hadn't noticed. Unless, of course, you're one of those people on the receiving end of the Tomahawk missiles, the Predator drones and most recently, the Mother of All Bombs. Only in America could the biggest piece of weaponry ever dropped upon the earth be described in such grotesque maternal terms.
The populism of Trump is (surprise!) turning out to be just as fake as the populism of the Clintons. As the late Christopher Hitchens noted in his scathing book about the Clintons (Nobody Left to Lie To) these politicians achieved their initial success by co-opting regular people in the service of the ruling class elite. Hillary's problem during the past election cycle was that she was a stale, boring, wonkish liar, while Donald was the more colorful and amusing fibber.
And so far, Trump hasn't been forced to pay for his lies because he has utterly succeeded in normalizing the political flip-flop and making ignorance a virtue. Nobody expects him to tell the truth about anything, and so the constant fact-checking of his statements is getting more tedious and exhausting by the day. Stop the presses! Trump lied again! In relentlessly informing his fans about something they didn't already know, the fact-checkers only keep proving what stuck-up snobbish sticklers they are.
We exceptional bootstrapping Americans are far too enthralled by the dogma that the end always justifies the means, and that nothing succeeds like success, to really take Trump to task. As Jeremy Peters writes in the New York Times:
With Trump's unabashed love of international violence and sanctioned terrorism now on full display, the phony opposition party known as the Democrats hasn't even got a feeble leg to stand on. There's been nary a peep from the Clintonites on his ever more lethal rampages, including the dropping of "Mother" and a whole series of other utterly unintentional bombings of hundreds (if not thousands) of innocent bystanders in his first hundred days in power.No matter how many people try to tell them they have been played for fools, much to their annoyance, that is not a conclusion they seem likely to reach before Mr. Trump even marks his 100th day in office.They knew all along that they were not voting for a man with concrete convictions. And they continue to see that lack of rigidity — his preference for the transactional over the dogmatic — as a quality they want in a chief executive.So while much of the country sees the swerving on policy as another sign of White House dysfunction, many conservatives shrug it off as esoteric jockeying over foreign alliances, currency manipulation and economic policy. They are focused more, they say, on what they see as a litany of recent victories.
But if the Democratic leaders are having any second thoughts about their own recklessness, goading Trump into adopting a more bellicose policy in response to their accusations of Kremlin puppetry, they're keeping such thoughts to themselves. RussiaGate is still a thing, albeit a less discussed thing this week, now that Trump is going into full neocon overdrive.
Trump is Obama's third term, Bush's (both pere and fils) third term, Clinton's third term and Reagan's third term. He is continuity of government of, by and for the richest of the rich. He combines the very worst that the duopolistic enterprise has to offer to us, and he offers it with a vicious relish so lacking in his more circumspect predecessors. He doesn't lie and pander with their glibness and charm and folksiness. He wears his heart, clogged and shriveled as it probably is, right on his sleeve.
Nepotism? He's proud of it. As Jack Shafer points out in Politico, Hillary Clinton would have established Bill as co-president by now, with Ivanka's BFF Chelsea doing the honors as first lady. And without the ethical baggage and the grandstanding of permanent congressional investigations, where would our reality show of a democracy be?
Remember how Trump’s surrogates said during the campaign that a Clinton presidency would be too hobbled by the ongoing FBI investigation to govern effectively? Instead, we’ve gotten a Trump presidency tainted by an FBI investigation of several of his top campaign aides. During the campaign, Trump beat on Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen with the baseball-bat fury of Joey Ramone. “To a certain extent, I think she should be ashamed of herself,” he said. That statement is now inoperative, replaced with the “I like her, I respect her” statement he gave to the Wall Street Journal. Reappointing her to the Fed is not outside the realm of possibility.Ivanka's and Jared's personal lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, who opined that there is nothing at all shady about the Kushners' use of public office for private gain, is an alumnus of the Clinton administration. In her capacity as Bill's deputy attorney general, she became embroiled in the Fannie Mae accounting scandal and also wrote the memo segregating intelligence agencies from one another. That decision, which disallowed the sharing of information among the agencies, led to the series of unfortunate miscommunication events which culminated in the 9/11 attacks. The War on Terror has continued raking in the cash for the plutocrats ever since.
Gorelick later acted as chief counsel for BP in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill. And besides imparting lucrative legal advice to Jared and Ivanka, she also sits on the boards of Amazon and the giant weapons manufacturer and major polluter known as United Technologies.
You obviously don't hear establishment Democrats lambasting Trump for stuffing the White House with the same Goldman Sachs people who paid the Clintons their hundreds of millions of dollars in speaking fees. That's because Wall Street is the living continuity of government so essential to the ruling class racketeers who run this country as they fund and control both political parties.
Gary Cohn, the Democratic Goldman Sachs COO in charge of Trump's National Economics Council, is another testament to the fact that despite what the entertainment media dubs The Wild West Wing, everything is running very smoothly, exactly as it is meant to run in a feudal society. Slate's Daniel Gross explains:
The Clintons and the Trumps are both New York limousine liberal dynasties residing in the same physical core of the Plutonomy. Therefore, the core accusation in RussiaGate -- that Trump is beholden to, and financially embroiled with, Putin's oligarchs -- is simply a partisan red herring. High-end New York real estate could not exist without the global oligarchy. Luxury buildings and apartments in Manhattan are just like unregulated banks: they're a place for obscenely rich and tax-averse tycoons to park their billions. The purchasers of these luxury digs rarely if ever even set foot in them, even as the homeless population in the Wealth Disparity Capital unconscionably increases.The National Economic Council was created during the first year of the Clinton administration. Its inaugural director was Robert Rubin, the co-head of Goldman Sachs who was an influential early Clinton adviser. After two years at NEC, Rubin was promoted to Treasury Secretary. Rubin’s partner in running Goldman in the 1990s was Stephen Friedman. Friedman left the firm in 1994 but in 2002 was named to succeed Larry Lindsey as—yup—director of President George W. Bush’s National Economic Council.Friedman and Rubin were succeeded at the helm of Goldman by Jon Corzine, who went on to run successfully for U.S. Senate and then governor after he was ousted in 1998. Corzine was replaced by Henry Paulson, who had been the chief operating officer. And when Paulson’s time at chief executive at Goldman came to an end, he skipped the NEC and went directly to the Treasury Department.
Joel Kotkin writes in "The New Class Conflict",
Fifty percent of buyers in some urban areas are foreigners seeking pied-a-terre in what is increasingly an exclusive global club. This concentration of wealth begins to change everything in the political realm as well. In New York (...) the finances of the country's largest municipality are now entirely at the mercy of a few thousand very rich taxpayers....It should come as no big shock, therefore, that Russian oligarchs have invested some of their ill-gotten gains in Trump properties and hidden their ownership beneath limited liability companies for the tax-evading purposes which our corporate-owned Congress have deemed perfectly normal and legal. Rare would be the real estate tycoon or associate who avoided interacting with them.
Increasingly, in this era of Oligarchs, certain cities are not so much centers for upward mobility as preferred locales for the successful, talented and wealthy.... The rich cluster in the center and the poor serve them from the dreary periphery.
As I wrote during the Clump campaign last year, Hillary and Donald actually have more in common than either they, or the corporate media profiting so intensely from the electoral charade, were willing to publicly admit. They did not, for example, heed my suggestion to hold one of their debates at their mutual homestead, located at 1209 Orange Street in Wilmington, Delaware. This is just one of the domestic havens where both Hillary and Donald hide their excess cash from the tax collector.
Something invaded our democracy, all right, and the invasion was born within our own national boundaries. These boundaries are, of course, perfectly porous. Capital flows freely, but human bodies do not.
There's never been a more apt bipartisan time for Congress to change the name of Washington, D.C. to Wall Street-Upon-Potomac.