Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Emperor Trump, continued

Image via Alabama Today, from a story on the nomination of Tom Price (R-GA) as secretary of destroying the Affordable Care Act. I have no idea why they ran this particular shot, unless Kellyanne wrote a song about it.
So it's my theory—trigger warning, this might make you feel a little sick—that the Romney concept really belongs to Barack Obama, as part of the Trump Whispering campaign.

Yes, I'm old enough to remember when Romney owned the world record for political lies per minute (about 0.76), but that was back in ancient times, before a presidential campaign in which Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Carly Fiorina, some of the most prolific and dedicated liars in US history, making the Mittster look like a gentleman amateur, were themselves completely outclassed by the winning candidate, our president-elect, who reached the stunning rate of a lie every 50 seconds (1.2 lies per minute) during the presidential debates. (Oh, and both sides do it, because Hillary Clinton once said she landed under sniper fire in Sarajevo in 1996, which was not true, but then Brian Williams, who seems to have claimed to have spent pretty much his entire life under sniper fire, still has a job as a news broadcaster, so who knows what it all means.)

There's no reason to think Romney would be a particularly good secretary of state, but compared to Rudy Giuliani (who is nowadays virtually an InfoWars acolyte and looks like an elderly patient escaped from a 19th-century hospital for the criminally insane), he's George Marshall. The idea would be that Romney has this air of personal respectability that is rare in the Trump Cabinet of Curiosities so far, but more important that he clearly knows how to read and has this old-line bourgeois notion of service. I suspect Obama has more reasons than any of us can know about for ruling out David Petraeus on that last criterion.

He would be there not so much as Obama's representative as a representative of those Wise Men (nowadays surely including a few women), the bipartisan cabal of experienced old folks who began to disappear from the scene around the time Dick Cheney came on in 2001, who maintain a tradition not so much of positive views of foreign policy as the negative conventions of what "simply isn't done, my dear". His task would be to save the United States from abject humiliation in its foreign relations, by dressing right and speaking calmly and assuring them the president doesn't mean what he says; sort of the job Colin Powell was meant to do for George W. Bush, but probably considerably more urgent.

I just hate this Politico-style personalization of politics we've all fallen into here, where there isn't any direct discussion of policy but everything's about who likes or hates whom and psychological speculation. That's the way it is when you have an Emperor, though. He thinks he has ideas and principles, because that's what the courtiers tell him—"You come up with the best ideas, Boss!"—but what he actually has is whims, and thoughts transmitted by flatterers, and fits of oppositional defiance. And nowadays television; it's clearer and clearer that Trump gets most of his understanding of how things are from watching TV, mostly Fox.

That is, I thought, why Kellyanne Conway went on Fox to complain about the possibility of a Romney nomination for secretary of state; she couldn't get a meeting with Trump, or he wouldn't pay any attention to her when she did, but if she said it on TV there's a good chance he would hear it. Of course it's hard to understand why she would literally care. If she was seriously upset that Trump would be betraying his voters, why doesn't she complain when he nominates people who will take away their Social Security and Medicare, or return banks to the days when they'd double your credit card interest rate if you made a late payment?

Anyway it could easily backfire—Trump might see her on TV, say, "Why is this irritating blonde harassing me in public?" (yup, CNN got an anonymus to say so) and nominate Romney just to spite her. I actually hope so, and that's the worst thing of all. People's lives depend on the Imperial whim, and you find yourself desiring that he should have a temper tantrum with Conway, or that that lying Mormon Romney should have flattered him just enough at dinner, or that Obama will be the last person to talk to him before he has to initial some document. It's a disgusting and dispiriting way to be thinking about public life. "So this is what it feels like to be Mark Halperin."

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