Trump and the Democrats stumble into a ‘Wilderness of Mirrors’

Summary:  James Bowman looks at the increasingly fantastic claims — backed by insubstantial stories — about Trump’s connections to Russia. He compares this crisis to an incident in the early years of Nixon’s administration. It’s a powerful analogy. Also note that while Nixon was innocent of this accusation, he went on to made serious mistakes that led to his resignation. Trump might have only innocent relations with Russia, but will he last the full four years?

“These with a thousand small deliberations
Protract the profit of their chilled delirium,
Excite the membrane, when the sense has cooled,
With pungent sauces, multiply variety
In a wilderness of mirrors.

“Gerontion” by T.S. Elliot (1920).

Wilderness of Mirrors

A Wilderness of Mirrors

By James Bowman from The New Criterion, May 2017.
Posted with his generous permission.

Way back at the beginning of the year, when we were still living in the golden age of Good King Barack and had not yet descended into the hell-hole that America has become under his much-despised successor, The New York Times ran a curious piece by Peter Baker claiming that, after almost half a century, long-dead former President Richard M. Nixon had finally been rumbled. There it was, in black and white: the long-desired, long-anticipated Smoking Gun (to mix our metaphors) proving that the long-rumored October Surprise of the 1968 election by which Nixon had supposedly attempted to sabotage the Paris Peace talks with North Vietnam and the Viet Cong in order to boost his own presidential campaign had now been proven to be factual. So said Mr Baker anyway, doubtless in the spirit of the “truth” which the Times has lately been claiming as its exclusive property.

And what did Mr Baker and the Times suppose this fuliginous firearm to be? Why, the word “monkey wrench,” used as a transitive verb, though with only the pronoun “it” as its object. Pay close attention now. The tell-tale verb appeared in handwritten notes taken by Nixon aide H.R. Haldeman, who was to become his chief of staff in the White House and one of the chief fall-guys of Watergate, of a telephone conversation he had with candidate Nixon about then-President Johnson’s bombing halt in Vietnam. Forgive me for all this ancient history, but I’ll soon come to the point. Nixon, not implausibly, saw Johnson’s stopping of the air campaign as a gimmick — an October Surprise of his own, if you will — to boost the campaign of his, Johnson’s, vice-president, Hubert Humphrey, Nixon’s electoral rival that autumn.

Well, that’s politics, you might think. Not when it came to Nixon it wasn’t. In its context, the note and its reference to “monkey wrenching” appear to me to refer to the bombing halt, which Nixon was instructing his trusted aide to do whatever he could to expose and discredit, since it would have signaled to the enemy America’s willingness to give up the fight. But a reference in the same memorandum to Anna Chennault, who was Nixon’s back-door access to South Vietnamese President Thieu (hang on, I’m getting there; just give me another minute or two) could be interpreted as naming her as the monkey wrencher, and the act of monkey wrenching as the exertion of her influence on Thieu to resist any pressure from Johnson to come to terms with the enemy in time to give him (and, vicariously, Vice-President Humphrey) a diplomatic triumph before the election.

Wilderness of Mirrors

Phew! Never mind the irrelevance of all this convoluted reasoning to the fact that there was never the slightest prospect of a sudden peace agreement when they were still arguing over the shape of the conference table. In fact, negotiations dragged on throughout Nixon’s first four-year term. Nor did Thieu need any pressure from Anna Chennault (or anybody else) to resist what he and Nixon both would have seen as a de facto surrender to the communist enemy.

And yet, to Mr Baker and John A. Farrell, the Nixon biographer who discovered the Haldeman memo, here was proof positive that Nixon was guilty of what Johnson was said privately to have described as “treason.” It just goes to show you, not only that Nixon-hatred never dies at The New York Times, or on the left generally, but also that, for the media, there can be no statute of limitations on scandal — not, at least, so long as the scandals of the past can have their political usefulness in the present.

We had to wait a few weeks to discover the usefulness that the Times had found in this particular scandal. Of course there was what must have seemed to Times editors the obvious headline to a review of Mr Farrell’s book: “‘Richard Nixon,’ Portrait of a Thin-Skinned, Media-Hating President“. Remind you of anyone? But it took a piece by the Times’s columnist Nicholas Kristof to convey the full, feculent flavor of the scandal banquet being prepared for us by the Farrell revelation: “There’s a smell of treason in the air” was the Times headline to Mr Kristof’s op ed column:

“The greatest political scandal in American history was not Aaron Burr’s shooting of Alexander Hamilton, and perhaps wasn’t even Watergate. Rather it may have been Richard Nixon’s secret efforts in 1968 to sabotage a U.S. diplomatic effort to end the Vietnam War.”

Doesn’t that smooth transition from “was” in the first sentence to “may have been” in the second just epitomize the sweetest thing there is about scandal? Nothing needs to be proven, no criminal act to have been committed, for even a charge as serious as “treason” to be wheeled out and fired off like a cannon, preferably at the already shot-to-pieces reputation of someone who cannot defend himself. Mr Kristof was able, then, to make the equally smooth transition from Nixon to — guess whom?

“Nixon’s initiative, long rumored but confirmed [sic] only a few months ago, was meant to improve his election chances that year. After Nixon won, the war dragged on and cost thousands of additional American and Vietnamese lives; it’s hard to see his behavior as anything but treason. Now the F.B.I. confirms that we have had an investigation underway for eight months into whether another presidential campaign colluded with a foreign power so as to win an election. To me, that, too, would amount to treason.”

Well, there it is, folks. No more pussy-footing about with the airy subleties of mere innuendo! The charge on the table against President Trump now was said to be (hypothetical) treason.

In another era, that might have been something of a bombshell, but no longer. Mr Kristof’s sensational allegation passed almost without notice in the rest of the media, where the addiction to scandal has now reached the stage at which even mainlining pure and unadulterated accusations of treason doesn’t give them the same high as once that “third-rate burglary” did. Our political culture is beginning to resemble that presided over by a third world despot like Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, who only the other day had an opposition party leader arrested on a charge of treason. Ho hum. Who there, besides the victim, even notices such things anymore?

Mr Kristof himself didn’t bother with the pretense of being horrified to think that his country’s chief elected leader could be guilty of such a crime, or to find it in any way difficult to believe. On the contrary, it was only too obvious how eager he was — he and the whole media milieu from which he issues — to believe that or, indeed, anything else, so long as it might be to the discredit of Mr Trump. Neither he nor they are any more disinterested in making such an allegation than Lyndon Johnson was in accusing Nixon of treason, and yet it never seems to occur to them that this might cast any doubt on the “truth” of their reporting or analysis about either of the two hated Republican presidents.

Haldeman, who died in 1993, will long be remembered not only for his role in Watergate — come to think of it, what was his role in Watergate? — but for having said: “We are getting into semantics again. If we use words, there is a very grave danger they will be misinterpreted.” This gnomic utterance is listed by Steven D. Price among 1001 Dumbest Things Ever Said, which seems a bit unfair. Obvious, yes. Dumb, no. Perhaps we could make it sound a little cleverer if we translated it into French.

“Qu’on me donne six lignes de la main du plus honnête homme, j’y trouverai de quoi le faire pendre.”

That was how Cardinal Richelieu was said to have put it nearly 400 years ago. “Let me have six lines from the hand of the most honorable of men, and I will find therein wherewith to hang him.” That was a century and a half before the Cardinal’s spiritual successors of the French Revolution had the guillotine to speed up the process of dealing with the pre-convicted. The story is told that one of Richelieu’s secretaries, seeking to test him, wrote the words: “One and two are three.” Instantly the Cardinal replied: “Blasphemy against the Holy Trinity! One and two make one.”

I believe that the secretary was not hanged, but his lesson appears to have been lost on the prelates of the media today, who seek to wield a power not entirely unlike that of Richelieu under Louis XIII (or Señor Maduro today), which was acknowledged to be moral as well as administrative — and no less absolute either, since the Democratic party in Congress was brought to heel. The Cardinal, at least, was honest enough to recognize that “investigations” undertaken out of hostility towards their subject can be no more than a charade designed to produce a predetermined outcome.

Blured text with focus on TREASON

Likewise, the pretense of the media (and their creatures in Congress) of an investigation into Mr Trump’s “collusion” with Russia — the word is itself redolent of the treasonous, though no one seems to know or care about what, exactly, they might have been colluding to do — is the most shameful example yet of the actual mendacity of those who are forever proclaiming their exclusive property in the “truth.”

Still another way to put it would be to say that the supply of scandal rises to meet the demand, and the demand has never been higher than it has been under the hated Trump regime — unless it was under the equally hated Nixon regime.

I would like to suggest that there is a bit of a pattern here. Surely it cannot be quite coincidental that the two Republican presidents most disliked by the media on their election day have also been the two most (to use the media cliché) “scandal-plagued” presidents of all time, or at least since Mr Trump’s self-designated model, Andrew Jackson, a man who represented a similar outrage to the elites of his day, and who also rather enjoyed outraging them. The difference is that, today, the media don’t dare acknowledge their own elite status and so must implausibly pretend that the President represents a threat not to them but to the morality and the democracy and the security and the good government and even the existence of the whole country.

Are you frightened yet? Well, they don’t appear to be. They make their dire forecasts of national and even world doom with the same insouciance that Nicholas Kristof makes his accusation of treason. And somehow life goes on. When everything is a scandal, then nothing is a scandal — which may also have been Mr Trump’s insight in continuing to trade accusations with the media — including the accusation, further reminiscent of Watergate, of “wiretapping” against his predecessor. Each repetition of the charge (and there were many repetitions) then became a further scandal, which is why there was never a mention of it that I saw in either The New York Times or The Washington Post without the cordon sanitaire around it of some such formula as “unfounded”, “unproven”, “unsupported” or “without evidence.”

And yet evidence, if hardly conclusive, was not lacking if you counted the leaks by intelligence services to the media of private conversations of Trump associates.

The skeptical epithets continued even after, in response to a Bloomberg report by Eli Lake, Mr Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice admitted (having previously denied it) to having “unmasked” the names of these Trump associates in transcripts of their phone calls, said to have been “incidentally” collected because they were talking to Russians already under surveillance. And, of course, skepticism only increased when Mr Trump then inferred, not unreasonably I think, the distinct possibility of Ms Rice’s thus being implicated in facilitating the illegal — indeed, felonious — leaks to the media. Hence the Washington Post online: “Susan Rice may have committed a crime, Trump says without providing evidence.”

Likewise, The New York Times: “Trump, Citing No Evidence, Suggests Susan Rice Committed Crime.” This, remember, was the paper whose columnist had not scrupled to “suggest,” and with no more evidence, that the President himself had been guilty of treason. If ever a pot had called a kettle black, that pot could have gone to work for The New York Times and no questions asked.

There was a further symmetry between the “collusion” and the “wiretap” stories in the way that each was said to be a cunning “distraction” by the other side from the real scandal — which was, therefore, the real distraction for the first side. When Susan Rice’s “unmasking” was also said to be a distraction, it became a distraction from the distraction from the distraction. For those, if there were any, who could tear themselves away from this media ping-pong match, the original distraction was from any serious attention to what the Trump administration intended to do or actually was doing on behalf of our security, our economy and our laws. And for whose benefit, we might ask ourselves, was that distraction?

One answer, certainly, is the media’s. “Distraction” from scandal must be, of course, itself a scandal. And so the media’s demand for ever more scandals could be easily and cheaply satisfied while substantive consideration of what the administration was doing which did not lend itself to further scandal reporting — and, to hear the media tell it, there was little enough of that — could be infinitely deferred. And all without even the allegation of actual criminal wrong-doing, unless you count Mr Kristof’s charge of treason.

“Trump Tries to Deflect Russia Scrutiny, Citing ‘Crooked Scheme’ by Obama,” headlined The New York Times over an article by our old friend Peter Baker (with Matthew Rosenberg). But how could we not take the Times’s decision to interpret Mr Trump’s remarks as an attempt to “deflect” their reporters from something else as itself an attempt to deflect their readers’ from Mr Trump’s accusation of the alleged “Crooked Scheme” against Mr Obama? It all must have seemed to more than just me like something out of T.S. Eliot’s “wilderness of mirrors,” as the alleged “media” were in fact always and everywhere a part of the story they were reporting without ever acknowledging the fact — a fact, surely that was material to their readers in making up their minds as to where “truth” might lie.

Was that not itself a derogation from the truth? Or consider, finally, The Washington Post headline to a piece by David Ignatius, who had started all this back in January by being leaked to about, and then reporting on, Michael Flynn’s conversations with Sergey Kislyak. “Trump’s shell game on Russia makes everything look suspicious.” Well, calling it a “shell game” certainly makes it look suspicious! You can see what the headline writer meant, of course, except that the shell game was at least as much the media’s as it was Mr Trump’s — which is one “truth” that you can count on never hearing from the media.

—————————————————————

James Bowman

About James Bowman

Honor: A History
Available at Amazon.

Bowman is a Resident Scholar at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

He has worked as a freelance journalist, serving as American editor of the Times Literary Supplement of London from 1991 to 2002, as movie critic of The American Spectator since 1990 and as media critic of The New Criterion since 1993. He has also been a weekly movie reviewer for The New York Sun since the newspaper’s re-foundation in 2002. He has also contributed to a wide range of other major papers.

Mr. Bowman is perhaps best known for his book, Honor: A History, and “The Lost Sense of Honor” in The Public Interest.

See his collected articles at his website, including his film reviews going back to 1994.

For More Information

See Bowman’s devastating analysis of the major news media’s coverage of Reality Winner’s story. This is why only 20% of Americans have much confidence in newspapers — a record low (going back to 1973).

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about Trump and the new populism, about the Trump years in America, about ways to reform America, and especially these…

  1. Is Trump a tool of Putin? See the story & the debunking.
  2. Here are the facts so far about the Trump-Russia file.
  3. Deciphering the scandalous rumors about Trump in Russia.
  4. Exposing the farcical claims about Russian hacking of the election.
  5. What Trump told Russia, why it matters, and why journalists ignore the smartest man in Washington.
  6. ImportantThe GOP might impeach Trump, changing our politics forever – for the better.

A book about impeachment in America – and the case against Trump.

The Case for Impeachment
The Case for Impeachment

One of the best introductions to impeachment in modern American politics is The Age of Impeachment: American Constitutional Culture since 1960 (2008) by the historian David E. Kyvig (deceased). For more background see these five books about the process and history of impeachment in America.

The latest and most provocative book on this subject is Allan Lichtman’s The Case for Impeachment, released in April. He is a professor of history at American University. From the publisher…

“In the fall of 2016, Lichtman made headlines when he predicted that Trump would defeat the heavily favored Democrat, Hillary Clinton. Now, in clear, nonpartisan terms, Lichtman lays out the reasons Congress could remove Trump from the Oval Office: his ties to Russia before and after the election, the complicated financial conflicts of interest at home and abroad, and his abuse of executive authority.

The Case for Impeachment also offers a fascinating look at presidential impeachments throughout American history, including the often-overlooked story of Andrew Johnson’s impeachment, details about Richard Nixon’s resignation, and Bill Clinton’s hearings. Lichtman shows how Trump exhibits many of the flaws (and more) that have doomed past presidents. As the Nixon Administration dismissed the reporting of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein as “character assassination” and “a vicious abuse of the journalistic process,” Trump has attacked the “dishonest media,” claiming, “the press should be ashamed of themselves.”

“Historians, legal scholars, and politicians alike agree: we are in politically uncharted waters—the durability of our institutions is being undermined and the public’s confidence in them is eroding, threatening American democracy itself. Most citizens—politics aside—want to know where the country is headed. Lichtman argues, with clarity and power, that for Donald Trump’s presidency, smoke has become fire.”

Read the first chapter here.

 

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21 thoughts on “Trump and the Democrats stumble into a ‘Wilderness of Mirrors’

  1. “We are getting into semantics again. If we use words, there is a very grave danger they will be misinterpreted.”
    Putting that into the 1001 Dumbest Things ever said is beyond unfair- it betrays a lack of understanding of the nature of language and reality.

    This is far from being a silly statement. It is pretty much one the core messages of the Tao Te Ch’ng.

    He who speaks, knows not.
    He who knows, speaks not.

    Richlieu had it right- but I wonder if he knows just how that statement revealed his corruption?

    Like

    1. Mindbody,

      That’s an interesting perspective! I don’t understand it, but any quote from the Tao Te Ch’ng gets my respect.

      “if he knows just how that statement revealed his corruption?”

      What corruption? Haldeman and Richlieu stated the problem — inevitable, inescapable — with language. It is easily misinterpreted, especially by those motivated to do so.

      Like

  2. Huh? All this and you fail to mention the scandal-mongering against the Clintons? It’s as if this guy had been in a coma for the last 5 years. Benghazi? Emails? Does he not remember that Benghazi started because the GOP was mad that Obama blamed it on a video for the sake of optics, something Trump does on a daily basis. That led to a need to see Clinton’s emails which took us further down the rabbit hole. And then there were missing emails. Did the right not go into hysterics about what “could” be in those emails? Anyone with an ounce of integrity and intelligence would not fail to mention any of this when discussing the topic of mirrors. And, he fails to mention that the intelligence community thinks the Russians actually did meddle in the election AND that Trump has all but ignored that. Let’s see, Obama sites a video because it makes him look tough on terrorism and we launch years of investigations that ultimately brings down a candidate. Trump ignores Russia’s transgressions for similar optics. Obviously Trump does not want to have to discuss the role Russia played in getting him elected. And notice that collusion is not needed. It is the fact that he is avoiding it for personal gain.

    Like

    1. Dapper,

      I look forward to seeing your articles and commenting on all the things you fail to mention!

      This is a longform complex 3200 word comparison of two historical events. It’s not a statement of the Cosmic All. There are a billion things it doesn’t mention.

      Like

    2. Sure Fabius, it doesn’t mention chemtrails or Marilyn Monroe’s murder by the Kennedys or 911 truth or the Rothschilds or the Bilderberg Group or why Bernoulli’s law doesn’t actually have anything to do with how airplanes fly or…. But please don’t try to characterize it as an objective analysis of two events. It’s clearly a partisan effort to discredit the New York Times and the Washington Post and to rationalize, if not to legitimize, Trump’s actions. And there’s certainly fire under that smoke. But he’s obviously entirely sympathetic to Trump and to Nixon, good for him. The piece is anything but objective. Certainly no more so than the Baker article he decries.

      Like

    3. PA32R,

      “It’s clearly a partisan effort to discredit the New York Times and the Washington Post and to rationalize, if not to legitimize, Trump’s actions.”

      I suggest you focus your efforts on seeing the world clearly by determining what is true and false. Leave analysis of motives to Professor Xavier and his psychic powers.

      Do you have a substantive comment about the accuracy of anything in Bowman’s analysis? Are his facts accurate? Is his logic correct? Are his conclusions robust, given the his facts and logic?

      Like

    4. the nyt and wapo discredit themselves everyday.
      help not needed.
      Trump cant discuss what doesnt exist.
      no russian involvement except as excuse for hagwitch’s defeat
      and for the System to attempt a coup.

      Like

  3. It will be interesting if all that is there there is Trumps limp attempt to obstruct (as far as Mueller sees it).

    How such a master troll can be trolled so easily and can’t bear any implied legitimacy issues (after playing Birther-in-Chief for so long). Why those on the right can’t accept any ideation that Russia would attempt to play games with an election, that what could be perfectly legitimate contacts should be reviewed/investigated, and just let themselves be trolled into hysterical absolutism.

    It really doesn’t matter if Trump makes it, the formula for driving him crazy and neutering him is well understood now and he, more than anyone, can be relied to keep the bonfire going.

    You reap what you sow.

    Like

    1. Fellow Traveler,

      “It will be interesting if all that is there there is Trumps limp attempt to obstruct”

      Yes, that will be interesting. The pattern of the past two generations has been fevered scandal-mongering. Against Nixon (after several dry holes, one hit pay dirt). Endless ones against Reagan and Carter (mostly misses) — and Bush Jr and Obama (mostly misses). Now it is Trump’s turn in the target ring.

      “Why those on the right can’t accept any ideation that Russia would attempt to play games with an election”

      Examples of that? The articles by conservatives I’ve seen are quite aware that the Cold War consisted to a large extent of both sides influencing elections (plus the helping occasional coup or revolution).

      “It really doesn’t matter if Trump makes it”

      I might matter a great deal. If Trump continues to screw up on increasingly large matters, eventually the GOP might decide to dump him to save themselves. The grounds on which they do so might radically change our structure of government. See the posts in the For More Info section for details.

      Like

  4. On Chennault: this issue suffers from the same problem that a lot of Vietnam War topics do from both the American Left and Right in historical memory-the Vietnamese themselves are ignored entirely. The archives in Hanoi and HCM City make explicitly clear that Le Duan, the General Secretary of the Communist Party and the real power in Hanoi (Ho Chi Minh was ailing and more or less a puppet by this point) by the 1960s, was not inclined to cut any deals with the US, before and after 1968. The communiques between him and Xuan Thuy show that North Vietnam’s motive in showing flexibility with Saigon’s participation in Paris in October 1968 was to get a bombing halt before the election, and if possible, to get Humphrey (who they naturally viewed as less militant than Nixon) into the White House.

    Did the sunk October Surprise effect the election, as opposed to the peace talks? Maybe-if we assume Thieu was enough of a drooling moron to forget that there was an election and quietly cooperate with LBJ’s October 31st announcement, it could have well been an October Surprise. But the only reason Le Duan signed the Paris Peace Accords four years later OTL was because he didn’t have a choice, militarily speaking, by late 1972: Linebacker pretty much completely destroyed North Vietnam’s infrastructure during the Easter Offensive, and Nixon had changed the rules of the Cold War game with the USSR and China. This was a year after all US ground combat operations had ceased and Nixon and Kissinger privately conceded PAVN “presence on the ground” in the South, which more or less sealed Thieu’s fate. Le Duan likely wouldn’t have magically become more flexible if Humphrey was elected. IMO, the war might have ended sooner, for a host of reasons, but nowhere near as soon as the NYT asserts-and over half the casualties incurred during the Nixon administration came during 1969, the first 6 months of which was spent switching to the Vietnamization strategy in the first place.

    As for what is going to happen to Trump, I have absolutely no idea. But even if he ends up falling, it won’t stop the permanent decline of the legacy media thanks to the Internet, IMO, meaning the Overton window will continue to widen. People will find their own views on what they want and isolate themselves in their own e-communities, thus political polarization increases. Do you agree? I’m sorry if you’ve addressed this before, I’m still a relative newbie to the website and looking at all the articles.

    PS:

    Fabius Maximus,

    Do you plan on writing a follow-up to that piece you wrote recently on masculinity and the gender wars? You mentioned that many young American men could learn a lot from black men on the subject toward the end of the piece, from what I recall, and I’m very interested to hear more on that.

    Like

    1. Leaving,

      Thank you for providing additional information about N. Vietnam in the War. That’s useful info!

      “But even if he ends up falling, it won’t stop the permanent decline of the legacy media thanks to the Internet”

      That’s the consensus theory. I disagree. The other media — music, film, TV, etc — have continued to prosper. My guess (emphasis on guess) is that the news media’s incompetence is responsible for their decline. They have liquidated the once-high confidence of the American people. See Bowman’s article (in the For More Info section) about their coverage of Reality Winner’s story — for a stunning example. The news media are selling “trust” (much like health care). They are losing that, which is all they got.

      Unfortunately I agree with your somber comments about what’s happening, with the media’s decline a factor in this. But I believe it’s a small factor. Here’s my analysis of what’s happening — pointing to the guilty parties responsible for this.

      “Do you plan on writing a follow-up to that piece you wrote recently on masculinity and the gender wars?”

      That was one post in a long series. See the other posts listed here.

      “many young American men could learn a lot from black men on the subject toward the end of the piece, from what I recall, and I’m very interested to hear more on that.”

      Yes, lots more to write about this. Today’s post was the 4000th on the FM website, giving me a large baseline of material. Looking back…

      • The most powerful are on the cutting edge and non-consensus — and the most difficult to write.
      • The most powerful insights were among the articles most hated. They destroy large fractions of our audience.

      This series about gender has liquidated my readership among the Left. The west coast traffic was several hundred pageviews per hour. Now it’s running at 50-100. Americans hate hate hate material which challenges their deeply held views. They run from it like vampires from daylight. Providing them is bad business. Smart people stick to tribal truths, so readers can mindlessly boo the bad guys and cheer the good guys (look in the comments of most successful websites).

      Like

    2. FM: “Americans hate hate hate material which challenges their deeply held views.”

      Guess I’ve always been a bit odd that way. I am always interested in finding out why people hold certain beliefs. I may not always agree with them but I’m usually better off for being introduced to new ideas. But you are generally right about the American public.

      Like

    3. Pluto,

      “Guess I’ve always been a bit odd that way.”

      As you know, broad statements like mine refer to group characteristics. In-group variation is as larger as or (usually) even larger than between-group variations.

      In other words, you’re exceptional in this respect.

      Like

  5. Meanwhile, the business of government goes on behind the scenes, as always. How easily the media is distracted by superfluous little nothings!

    Trump has dealt with far more difficult detractors and saboteurs in the course of doing deals in NYC and NJ. It is difficult for pablum raised moderns to wrap their minds around the idea of a politician who has actually had a life outside of the silly games that politicians, journalists, and university faculties play.

    Like

    1. Dean,

      I suspect you are making the same mistake that Trump is making. He is not the CEO of America. Acting as if he is CEO just creates a series of mistakes.

      Combine that with with his deep ignorance of the world outside his little business empire — and his unwillingness to learn — and the result is someone on course for self-destruction.

      Like

    2. There’s no excuse for Trump’s business ethics and, frankly, other than the big con, Trump brings no serious actual business acumen (in the sense of adding value) to the table. As Fabius points out, he’s not the CEO of America in any case.

      Like

    3. PA32R,

      “There’s no excuse for Trump’s business ethics”

      True. That was a relevant consideration in the election. It’s water under the bridge now. For example, LBJ had a sordid political career – such as his early support by the corrupt Texas machine. That didn’t make his great Civil Rights legislation any less valuable.

      “other than the big con, Trump brings no serious actual business acumen (in the sense of adding value) to the table.”

      This just in: the election is over. And frankly, I think business experience is of limited value as President. What’s more important is his ability to learn, applying his experience and knowledge to this very different domain (as Eisenhower did with his military and diplomatic experience). So far Trump has shown both ignorance and inability to learn. If that doesn’t change fast, his support might evaporate. I’ll bet there would be severe consequences.

      “As Fabius points out, he’s not the CEO of America in any case.”

      Yes, even if he had serious business experience (which, like you, I doubt) those lessons might be all wrong in national politics.

      Like

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