The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz Age
    Michael Maiello's picture

    Making Trump Normal (Again)

    I don't watch a lot of cable news anymore but I obviously did last night and tonight I tuned into Anderson Cooper 360 and whatever Don Lemon's show is called, for coverage of the protests that have sprung up in New York, Chicago, Seattle, Austin, and other major cities.  The message of tonight's coverage echoes the message of Hillary Clinton's concession speech.  All they are saying is give Trump a chance.

    Donald Trump will get his chance, absent a miracle, whether we "give" it to him or not.  That chance was given in the voting and Trump won, according to Hoyle, though more on that later.  The appeal tonight, though, is for us to do more than allow for the peaceful transition of power that the law requires (that's never been in question) but to now greet the president elect with something of an open mind, even if we are skeptical about his intentions, qualifications or mental and emotional fitness for office.

    In short, we on the left are now being asked to treat Trump in the normal way -- the way we treated more typical Republican presidents like Ronald Reagan, or either of the George Bush's.  Heck, consider George W. Bush, who won in 2000 under the fishiest of circumstances but who still got his chance from Democrats around the country.  This is how the system works.  As I type this, the always problematic Nick Kristof is talking with Don Lemon, who had just given a "give Trump a chance" monologue. Kristof does not "see the point" of the protests.  They won, we lost, so stand down for now, is his argument.

    I suppose that in a typical election, these arguments would make sense.  You can't win them all.  The typical American response is for the losing side to respect the result and fall in line as a sort of loyal opposition.  Typically speaking, Democrats have been better about this than Republicans.  We obstruct less. We impeach less.

    But, I've written a lot here without getting to the point, which I will bold, because Donald Trump is not a typical candidate.  He campaigned as an unhinged an unapologetic racist, misogynist and isolationist with an authoritarian's view of executive power.  He has surrounded himself with similarly authoritarian sycophants.  He has, through his candidacy, mobilized and inspired homegrown white supremacists. If we take him at his word that he will build walls, deport millions, bring back stop and frisk to make it national, void longstanding trade agreements and withdraw the US from its NATO commitments if push comes to shove, then we have elected a big problem.  I mean, I don't want to violate that rule about not mentioning you know who, but you know who was elected in Germany and went on to do terrible things partly because he was treated as a normal leader when he was not.

    The "give Trump a chance" crew, which includes the kinds of Democrats allowed on CNN, wants to take a "wait and see" approach, as if the magnitude of the presidency will somehow temper Trump so that maybe he'll stay off the Twitter and not do all of the crazy things he promised during the campaign.  This is, to me, magical thinking. The power of the presidency is not likely to humble a guy who ran for the office because he took offense to jokes that Barack Obama made at his expense during the 2011 White House Correspondent's Dinner.

    Perhaps, then, we are to believe his campaign bluster does not equate to any sort of agenda.  We should wait and see what he really does.  But this would make him a sociopathic liar who manipulated vulnerable people into making him president. So, not normal, you see.

    This should also bring us to the style of Trump's win, which is being treated as more normal than it is.  Trump has no mandate.  He won the electoral college but lost the popular vote.  Clinton won more votes than he did.  Trump is only president because of a stupid election system that, Michael Wolraich will remind me, was put in place partly to prevent the masses from electing a demagogue.  In practice, though, the electoral college favors rural voters over urban voters so that a minority from the hinterland can impose a president on a greater number of cosmopolitan voters.  I'm not suggesting changing the rules in the middle of the game.  The electoral college is here and will be tough to dislodge, but losing the popular vote should put a sizable asterisk next to Trump's name in the list of presidents. While the electoral and popular vote totals can certainly differ, it is unusual.  Not normal.

    We have elected a demagogue who conducted an abnormal campaign, made crazy and illegal promises, never released his tax returns and who has no popular mandate or legitimate standing to ask for unity or support from anyone who has opposed him.

    The mainstream media will normalize Trump, as if he is any other politician who became president.  It isn't right or healthy, though.  Once the media is on board with this narrative, and it is, Trump's fringe demeanor will fade and we'll be expected to treat him as just another president.  We don't owe him that.  He's not normal and should not be treated as if he is.  I think it's fine to go to the mat over this. Fight the culture war.  Push back against the morons.  Do not treat him with the respect you would give a more acceptable president from the opposing party. He is, by his behavior, as dangerous as a far right European Union politician and if he doesn't turn out to be like you know who, it'll be partly because smart people never really believed in him as a legitimate president.



    See Michael Moore's 5 to-dos as for how to welcome Herr Trump (or "Hair Trump"? you read it here first...)

    But I do object to the bit about popular vote -  candidates campaign for an electoral victory, not a win by popular vote. Otherwise Hillary may have been hanging out more in California and New Jersey to run up her numbers, rather than the swing states that are hard to win. Same with Donald. Whatever its origins, these are the rules of the game. Not that they don't keep changing to accommodate Hair Trump - he never met a rule he didn't like to run over or intimidate or grab by the money-maker. Money makes the child - we've elected a male Veruca Salt, though someone noted his mannerisms are explicitly feminine on analysis. I'm sure he'd love to hear that.

    But unless the Democrats grow up and start playing the opposition party from day 1, the way the other team does, we'll be shrunken and ineffective. They love the double standard where they act like jerks, but we play by the rules, whinging about how it's not fair. It isn't fair - and we should be used to that and do something about it. Hari Trump's teh perfect hair rug on which to cut our teeth/yard trimmer.

    Agree on all counts.  Let's not freaking worry so much about being called obstructionists or whatever.  Criticize loudly, filibuster everything, bring symbolic motions. Impeach the guy over every parking infraction.  It's how they play.

    Garrison Keillor

    Trump Voters will Not Like What Happens Next:

    ... the Trumpers never expected their guy to actually win the thing, and that’s their problem now. They wanted only to whoop and yell, boo at the H-word, wear profane T-shirts, maybe grab a crotch or two, jump in the RV with a couple of six-packs and go out and shoot some spotted owls. It was pleasure enough for them just to know that they were driving us wild with dismay.... Alas for the Trump voters, the disasters he will bring on this country will fall more heavily on them than anyone else. The uneducated white males who elected him are the vulnerable ones, and they will not like what happens next.... We liberal elitists are now completely in the clear. The government is in Republican hands. Let them deal with him.... Mr. Trump was the cruelest candidate since George Wallace. How he won on fear and bile is for political pathologists to study. The country is already tired of his noise, even his own voters. He is likely to become the most intensely disliked president since Herbert Hoover. ......the damage he will do to our country — ....His supporters voted for change, and boy, are they going to get it.

    Great stuff. Yes, his supporters are going to suffer if anybody does.  Best I can tell, absent Trump causing a war or recession, the most direct effect on my liberal elitist self is going to be a tax cut.

    Big Pharma and private corporate prison stocks rose 10+%.

    Seems Making America Great Again means depriving sick Americans drugs at the lower prices the rest of the world pays, and locking more of us up to line the pockets of fatcats on Wall Street.

    Oh, and Pence vows that Oral Contracdeptives will no longer be covered by insurance.  I guess the fact that abortions decreased on Obamas watch is less important that Pence's perceived "christian" views on what should be lawful.  He promises that any law that doesn't strike him as christian will go.  

    Yes America will be great again -- a great big steaming pile of religious pap.

    Keillor rules

    There IS one little cloud...The electoral framework within which Keillor posits a future comeuppance envisions an October 2020 during which a psychotic narcissistic sociopath contemplates impending defeat and acquiesces to the constitutional mandates while believing that dark and conspiratorial forces are subverting the popular will which would otherwise sweep him to a second term.


    Without exposing myself to ridicule as an overly pessimistic paranoiac, I wonder if President  Trump might finally be the guy who cancels the election (I admit to having thought the same possible for Nixon and Bush II).

    Keillor rules because of his satire, not his predictive power.

    I am quite concerned that Trump will undermine our institutions, but I still have some faith in the Constitution. We've got a much longer history of democracy than places like Russia, Turkey, and Venezuela, where autocratic leaders have undermined democratic institutions. I also suspect that Trump lacks the charisma of folks like Putin, Erdogan, and Chavez.

    Actually, I had a fantasy that Roger Stone was recruiting ex Mossad guys to impersonate Arab terrorists in a "thawarted" assault in DC on the new hotel just around sunday or monday, but, silly me, they didn't need that!.


    Which said, they are a conspiracy minded bunch with what I fear is a frankly demented nut-in-chief.


    He is already tweeting that the streets are full of paid demonstrators--we are talking hundreds of thousands--of course, it's right in his wheelhouse because he kicked off the campaign with paid attendees!


    And there is this:  Fred died six years into his Alzheimer's diagnosis.

    I think we should treat Trump, Trump supporters, and republicans with the same type and amount of respect they treated Obama. I wish our elected democrats would deal with Trump and the republicans in congress with the same amount of respect and deference and exactly the same way that the republican senators and representatives did with Obama. I doubt that will happen. Democrats never play hard ball. But it's not business as usual for me.

    During Obama's inauguration key Republicans met and agreed to never give him an inch.

    Fuck Trump.

    This will never be normal.



    That's Stone Cold's music!

    I'm just gonna port this and delete

    Parenthetically, I put to you the following, from what is actually a totally uninformed position vis-a-vis the WWF, save only that my nephew is a lifelong WWF fan,

    Rick Ruffman's Profile Photo


    (and, to my shame, a Trump voter, albeit I hasten to add,an innocent one cuz he votes in NJ)




    May we perhaps take some comfort(or not...) in the proposition that 90% of the posturing is understood (and intended to be understood) as "puffery" (cf. Trump Steaks, etc) and any disparagement inflicted is no bar to being on a tag team (eg, Chris Christie)next week, BECAUSE IT'S ALL SCRIPTED  AND MEANT TO BE UNDERSTOOD AS SCRIPTED?


    Thus no real insult has been delivered to the seeming victim. (cf shaving Vince)  And each despised primary opponent becomes an esteemed and hard fighting (almost) equal as soon as he rolls over and presents his throat. (The HRC comments in his victory speech were paradigmatic.


    Add to this the retroactive editing that Burnett brought to Survivor and it's demon child, The Apprentice, with the wrinkle that whereas Survivor was edited and the games fixed to please the viewers, the outcomes in The Apprentice were rigged (pace, Deadbeat Donald...) to please Trump.


    Bottom line, Strawberry Fields Forever.


    Except that he has segued to a sequence where he is in a reality  show where none of the other wrestlers are in on the secret and he doesn't have the power to retroactively edit how the "tests" come out.


    So whereas on one hand, I raise the possibility that he is not as totally deranged by end stage Munchausen Testosterone Poisoning Syndrome as would have appeared, (a plus) but the indications (and implications) of a profoundly defective epistemology are terrifying.


    The delusional issues worry me...

    ETA: also, how could he think that Serge Kovalaski was "in on the joke"...and I'm pretty sure you can't go back and edit the outcome of a 3am nuclear strike.


    This is very bad.

    I just don't see how this goes well for the first six weeks, let alone the delicate question of the response to be expected should repudiation loom in 2020.


    This is a guy who thought having our sailors flipped off merited the brandishing (at least) of deadly force.


    I know what is coming  the first time Al-Baghdadi does a WWF style call out (instead of a head being bashed by a chair it will, never mind) in a tweet that all 14 million followers see (it has been defined as the two way vulnerability of Twitter that drives many off.)

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