Saturday, October 15, 2016

Reinforcing the Authority of Kings

Matt Taibbi has a way with words.  His latest article in Rolling Stone on “The Fury and Failure of Donald Trump” is a gorgeous piece of writing.  Read it for the content.  Splash around in it for the imagery.

Taking up the Trump phenomenon, Taibbi makes the now obvious point that others are making as well: that Americans are between a rock and a hard place, that what we want is change, but because of Trump we have no option but to support the status quo.  

I see the alternative as putting a grenade into the hands of a three-year-old.  Taibbi uses less clumsy metaphors.

He risks beating a dead horse.  Most people I know are sick to death of this election campaign and we feel like we're crawling through the desert with an empty water canteen, hoping we can make it to the next oasis alive.  

Taibbi's writing reminds you that this seemingly endless journey can be fun, if you don't lose your sense of humor.

A few quotes:

Taibbi sums up the mess Trump has made for himself:

Trump, in the space of a few hours, had become the mother of all pop-culture villains, a globally despised cross of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Charlie Sheen and Satan.

It begs the question, how did we get here?  Why Trump, for God’s sake?  Well…

All 16 of the non-Trump entrants were dunces, religious zealots, wimps or tyrants, all equally out of touch with voters. Scott Walker was a lipless sadist who in centuries past would have worn a leather jerkin and thrown dogs off the castle walls for recreation. Marco Rubio was the young rake with debts. Jeb Bush was the last offering in a fast-diminishing hereditary line. Ted Cruz was the Zodiac Killer….  By the time the other 16 candidates finished their mass-suicide-squad routine, a tail-chasing, sewer-mouthed septuagenarian New Yorker was accepting the nomination of the Family Values Party.

On the fate of the clueless Republican voter:

Duped for a generation by a party that kowtowed to the wealthy while offering scraps to voters, then egged on to a doomed rebellion by a third-rate con man who wilted under pressure and was finally incinerated in a fireball of his own stupidity…

On Mike Pence:

The man who once opposed clean needles on moral grounds was now ready to march through history with a serial groper and tit-gazer

On Rudolph Giuliani’s role in the campaign:

How Giuliani isn't Trump's running mate, no one will ever understand. Theirs is the most passionate television love story since Beavis and Butthead. Every time Trump says something nuts, Giuliani either co-signs it or outdoes him. They will probably spend the years after the election doing prostate-medicine commercials together.

On the problems the Republicans have been faced with:

The challenge for the leaders of the Republican Party: it's hard to keep the loons out when you're scraping to find people willing to sell rich-friendly policies to a broke population.

On Trump’s chutzpah:

Shackled! Only in America can a man martyr himself on a cross of pussy.

Taibbi sums up the country’s best course of action.   It’s a sign of the times that Taibbi, like the rest of us, is singing Hillary’s praises.  Sure, she’s the Queen of Wall Street.  So why doesn’t she stop denying it?  That’s where we are.  We could go off the grid and live in the dark.  Or we could have four more years of business as usual with a candidate who knows the ropes.  In time, we need to get to the real issues like the gap between rich and poor in America and a totally corrupted political process. Get this election over with, admit defeat, put Hillary in, and get on with the show. 

Taibbi calls the American political process a TV reality show, which explains Trump’s remarkable success in the first place:

… (T)he Campaign Reality Show as it has evolved over the years…(l)ike every TV contest…discourages subtlety, reflection and reconciliation, and encourages belligerence, action and conflict…. It's a divide-and-conquer mechanism that keeps us from communicating with one another, and prevents us from examining the broader, systemic problems we all face together.

We’ve now seen that reality show.  It’s done with, and the hero is dead.

Built up in the press as the American Hitler, he was unmasked in the end as a pathetic little prankster who ruined himself, his family and half of America's two-party political system for what was probably a half-assed ego trip all along, adventure tourism for the idiot rich.

Taibbi articulates the dismay of the American left.  Thanks, Donald.  Thanks, Republican Party.  We’re voting for the status quo now.   The Queen of Wall Street.  There simply is no realistic alternative:

If he goes on to lose, he will be our Bonaparte, the monster who will continue to terrify us even in exile, reinforcing the authority of kings.

There’s no justification for putting all the blame on the Republicans, of course.  Democrats participate in this process of selecting leaders from alternate dynasties.  Republicans didn’t write our Bush-Clinton-Bush-Obama-Clinton history all on their own.

But that’s a problem for another day.  Tomorrow, if we are able, we will rebuild.  Today, we simply pick up the pieces.


SJH said...

Thank you, Alan, for consolidating as this as much as I can take on Trump for one day. You and Taibbi make a good team!

Emil Ems said...

Dear Alan,

When reading this post, a Roman counterpart to Donald Trump comes to mind. His name was Publius Claudius Pulcher. Clodius was a dangerous populist and sexual malfeasant and as such forbearer to the likes of Donald Trump. He also contributed greatly to the demise of the Roman Republic. Just a few examples of his deeds:

He crashed, disguised as a woman, a sacred religious rite reserved to women, headed by the mother and wife of Caesar. His aim was to seduce Caesar's wife. This created quite a scandal in Rome and led Cicero to fulminate in mock resignation that "If the Republic must be destroyed by someone, let it at least be destroyed by a real man."

He denounced his patrician rank and changed his name to Clodius so as to be eligible for the office of tribune. Once elected, he spared no effort to destruct his opponent Cicero and most honest men supporting this nobleman.

As tribune he enacted a host of populist laws, almost bankrupting the finances of Rome. When opposed by the Senate, he established guilds of workmen that he used to control the streets of Rome, attacking any (patrician) politician who dared confront their patron.

When he began attacking the Members of the first Triumvirate, he even attempted to have Pompey assassinated by his guild of thugs. .

Fed up with Clodius, the Triumvirate gave his successor tribunes approval to raise their own gangs to fight with Clodius. Eventually, he was killed off by one of his opponents.

Clodius' misuse of the power of his office as tribune and subsequent offices contributed strongly to the demise of the Republic.

If history should repeat itself, I fear the worst for the Republic of modern day Rome!