That's why I find the overreaction (*see update below) to his gaslighting tour of Europe this week to be so amusing. Once again, our renegade president is single-handedly destroying all the advanced Norms of Civilization, which, legend has it, reached their finest hour in the McCarthyite post-World War II years of American Empire. The smell of neoliberal punditry in the morning, mourning Decline and Fall, is both bracing and nauseating.
The earthshaking news is that Trump insulted Theresa May in the pages of a British tabloid (yuck) when she'd so movingly laid out the red carpet for him at Winston Churchill's palatial estate, and he so awkwardly grabbed her hand like an adolescent swain wearing his first tux to his first prom. Fetch the smelling salts, pronto, to alleviate the horror of what the New York Times called this "remarkable breach of protocol!"
You'd think he'd pulled a Poppy Bush and puked all over her bright red dress or something, when all he was doing was making the world safe for capitalism, but minus the normal feel-good concern-trolling mask of smarmy neoliberal spectacle.
But n-o-o-o-h. He had to insult America's NATO client states right to their faces, demanding that they pay their fair share for continued inclusion in the Military-Industrial Complex welfare state for the very, very rich and the very, very powerful. It's extortion, I tells ya! And the defense contractors of America are laughing all the way to the bank while their media lackeys on CNN and MSNBC are phonily tut-tutting Trump's etiquette breaches in exchange for their seven-figure salaries.
What's being billed as the ultimate coup de grace to the so-called World Order is yet to come, when Trump meets Putin in Finland. What will he "give away" to this vile dictator, who so rudely annexed Crimea and who is so abnormally meddling in Iran and Syria and Eastern Ukraine? If you listen to the servants of the Military-Industrial Complex tell it, tiny Estonia with its thousands of heavily armed US troops protecting it is becoming newly vulnerable to the ghost of Stalin himself, thanks to our Kremlin Stooge-in-Chief.
And most distasteful of all, the over-hyped "bromance" of Trump and Putin is having the awful side-effect of eliciting latent anti-gayness in all those lovable liberals for whom celebration of diversity substitutes for actual progressive policies. (see the homophobic... er, I mean iconoclastic, New York Times animated cartoon treatment of the imagined TrumPutin sodomy if you don't believe me.)
"Trump must not capitulate to Putin!" shrills former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice in the latest of her long series of fear-mongering moralistic op-eds selling the concept of Russophobia to explain away all of her own boss's decisions favoring Wall Street over Main Street.
( )... precisely because President Trump is anything but typical — including in that his campaign is under investigation for possibly coordinating with Russia to win the presidency and that he consistently lauds Vladimir V. Putin while denigrating our closest allies — his coming summit with Mr. Putin in Helsinki is a dangerous and counterproductive undertaking. The risks are many and the benefits, if any, are difficult to discern.
It's Donald Rumsfeld's damned known knowns, unknown knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns all over again. But in keeping with the prescribed Bromance narrative, Rice at least tries to keep it subliminally sexy, if not quite Kama Sutra-ish:
In normal circumstances, the American president would press Russia on multiple fronts. He would refresh demands that Russia: withdraw from Ukraine and renounce its illegal claim to Crimea; cease backing the murderous Assad regime in Syria and work for a diplomatic outcome that protects the rights and security of all Syrians; stop supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan; halt provocative military actions on NATO’s periphery and harassment of United States personnel in Moscow; extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty on nuclear weapons and come clean on its violation of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty; press the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, to denuclearize completely; cease destructive cyberoperations; and halt interference in America’s electoral processes and domestic politics, or face harsh additional sanctions. There is a rich and full agenda to pursue, if only we had a president who cared to advance American interests.As a loyal member of the Duopoly, Rice doesn't even have to outline what "American interests" are, because she is not writing for a general audience. Through the ever-reliable Times, she is addressing her own class, aka the Establishment-in-Exile, aka the Flailing Brotherhood/Sisterhood of the Travailing Pants (as in very heavy breathing, not couture) Still, I do have to admit that her arcane prescription for "split-yielding" at the Bromance summit does have some teasing erotic potential.
Meanwhile, where would aphrodisiacal Resistance punditry be without Paul Krugman?
According to his latest column, the United States leadership spectacle was absolutely chock-full of considerate lovers and moral heroes before Trump came along to destroy the myth of great American male-centered greatness. Ignoring Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan and all the CIA coups in between, Krugman defends the Pax America myth with all the passionate punditry he can muster:
My published response:The institutions Trump is trying to destroy were all created under U.S. leadership in the aftermath of World War II. Those were years of epic statesmanship — the years of the Berlin airlift and the Marshall Plan, in which America showed its true greatness. For having won the war, we chose not to behave like a conqueror, but instead to build the foundations of lasting peace....
And what Trump is trying to do is undermine that system, making bullying great again.
Trump is the personification of capitalism run amok.
He fires at whim. He's immune to public shaming.. His pursuit of wealth and power is relentless. He cares for nobody but his immediate gene pool, just as the capitalistic system itself has no regard for anyone other than owners and the investor class.
He's a very stable crook and a master gaslighter. Taunting his prey one minute and fawning over them the next is how he keeps them off-balance before either lunging for the kill or leaving it for later.
This is exactly how bosses, from CEOs all the way down to middle managers, instill fear into workers every day of their precarious lives.
Thanks to both our major parties moving further right in the past 50 years, there are now few legal restraints against either public and private tyrannical behavior or graft.
It's no surprise that Trump confuses "the country" with "my company." It's no surprise that the longstanding, pre-existing world order of profits over people has produced such a glut of reactionary global leaders like him.
It's no use griping that Trump is destroying "norms," or pretending that everything was cool before he came along. More than a dozen wars, with millions killed and trillions of dollars wasted since World War II, coupled with the constant assaults on our social programs, have created a virtual Petri dish for all kinds of Trumps to grow and thrive like Blobs.
We need some social democracy, and we need it right now.
A new New Deal or bust.
*Update 7/14: I wrote the above before Friday's indictment of the dozen Russian hackers, announced just as Trump was breaching all kinds of protocol with the queen, not least of which was failing to bow and walking ahead of her while reviewing the guards with the beaver hats.
It's not surprising that #Resistance, Inc. is treating the indictment as a conviction instead of the standard accusation requiring presentation of evidence in a court of law. That is because the accused will never show up for a trial. That is because the Justice Department and Robert Mueller do not expect there ever to actually be a trial, other than the kind performed in the media. Otherwise, they would have indicted Wikileaks and Julian Assange, who, unlike the Russians, is very vulnerable to extradition.
This is so obviously a political wrench in the works of the Trump-Putin summit it doesn't even bear further analysis. The New York Times is even editorializing on its news homepage that Trump ordered Russia to "hack" the computers of Hillary and the Democrats, and that Russian intelligence became Trumpist lemmings in the space of a New York minute.
It seems to me that if there were true treason at work here, Trump would have been gone by now.
All Mueller would probably have to do to get Trump on felonies is produce his tax returns and bank records to prove any number of sordid financial (not treasonous) ties to Russian oligarchs. I suspect the problem with that gambit is that it would expose too many other valuable Establishment figures and political donors to be worth the risk. John Podesta's lobbyist brother has already been tainted from the Manafort indictment, after all, so I'm sure there are more where he came from. Trump has gotten where he is today by importuning all kinds of politicians from both establishment parties, along with their bankers, factotums and relatives.
I can't help wondering whether Hillary Clinton will use the indictments as vindication, proof that Donald Trump is a Russian stooge who stole the election and therefore a rationale for a third time's-the-charm rerun. My suspicions are raised not by her relentless fundraising emails on behalf of various progressive veal pens, but by the planted news stories last week of her and Bill flying coach on not one, but two, occasions. She is telegraphing her born-again down-home populism, folks!
Happy Bastille Day.