Thursday, November 17, 2016
The Donald Trump Show Is Coming To Town - Glitz, Glamour, And Soap Opera. Enjoy Every Minute!
Never has there ever been a President-elect like Donald Trump, never a campaign like his, and never the opportunity to be part of the greatest political circus ever imagined.
Yes there are important issues to be decided – immigration, the Supreme Court, Putin, religious rights, ISIS, and the dollar – but for pure spectacle, show, glitz, and glamour, what could be better than a Trump presidency?
The pre-White House is in Trump Tower, the gorgeous First Family is ready to move into 1700. The purges, infighting, contentious appointments and geopolitical drama is already beginning, made even more E! worthy because the Left is apoplectic in its grief, far more upset than it ever was when Trump was only a candidate. Petitions are circulating on the web to protest his advisors, to stop the hate, misogyny, homophobia, and militaristic xenophobia that candidate Trump promised. Robert Reich, Noam Chomsky, Paul Krugman, and Joseph Stiglitz, old men who have staked their reputation on defending liberalism and find themselves not only facing a new political enemy but Hollywood, Las Vegas, arm candy, showmanship, outrageously public egos, and a side show of political side show freaks with nary an intellectual among them.
Young women are distraught at the Hillary defeat. Just when a woman was poised to be President of the United States, and just when Barack Obama’s legacy of inclusiveness, kindness, and good nature was set to be continued, in marches an evil clown, a malevolent Joker, and a thoroughly evil man.
Progressives who have staked reputation, profession, and personal identity on environmental protection, civil rights, the glass ceiling, income inequality, and LGBT acceptance find themselves flummoxed, hurt, and befuddled. Not only were their social and economic policies dealt a hammer-blow, but the very righteousness of their causes challenged. Not only was the political order now in chaos, but the moral order as well.
Not only has the first African American President been asked to leave the White House, but a a family so lily-white, white-privileged, billionaire-wealthy, and stunningly attractive taken over. The transition at 1700 Pennsylvania Avenue would have been far easier to take if the Trumps had not been so movie-star, runway model, GQ attractive.
Liberal lament notwithstanding, Donald Trump is indeed our President; and not only does he represent 60 million disaffected, angry, frustrated, and resentful Americans, but he is the very epitome of America - image, style, carny barker hucksterism, Wild West showdowns, and nouveau-riche excess – as far from the Eastern Establishment, old-guard Republican and liberal Democratic character as Mae West, burlesque, and W.C.Fields.
Gone are the days of Camelot where Pablo Casals played at the White House, Robert Frost read his poetry at JFK’s inauguration, Jackie was the epitome of European grace, charm, and elegance. Gone are the morally righteous days of Jimmy Carter who abhorred excess, preached parsimony and restraint; and gone are the days of George H.W. Bush, a patrician in the Roman style – generous, respectful, dutiful, and principled.
In its place are gold bracelets, a rough-and-tumble macho braggadocio, a Jay Gatsby lifestyle, and a concentration of American power – not the political power that Robert Reich and his colleagues are used to but financial, retail, real estate, entertainment power all concentrated in one man.
The greatest political divide in the past decades was that between Barry Goldwater and LBJ; but that was just political. Goldwater, the first real Republican conservative who championed private enterprise, a muscular military, and social reform was for all his strengths, perspicacity, and political insights, a politician.
LBJ was the consummate politician who won his way to power through the manipulation of the system. He understood political power better than anyone in America, and he used it and his position as Speaker of the House and intimidating President to get what he wanted.
There was political debate between Johnson and Goldwater, but – although the campaign was as nasty as they come – it was only political. The two men were both Westerners who followed much the same predictable trajectory and had much in common. More importantly they were familiar to Americans whose political leaders were cast in the same mold.
Along comes Donald Trump out of nowhere, an unpredictable, excitable man with no interest in or patience for politics. A businessman, financier, high-stakes high roller reveling in new wealth and its own particular and very American power.
Which is why the Trump years will be melodrama, circus, and the most outrageous reality TV ever concocted by New York producers. A national soap opera already on the air with heroes and villains, tears, unhappiness, triumph, chicanery, trickery, and continuing personal crises.
When will the Trump children start fighting over access to Father? Will Melania continue to live her life of luxury and privilege in New York, dismissing Foggy Bottom, Capitol Hill, and press club events as boring, déclassé and unenviable? Why should she be any different from the Hollande and Sarkozy wives and loves who came and went from the Elysees as they pleased?
The first purges of Trump insiders has already started, with son-in-law Jared Kushner leading the Inquisition. He quickly got rid of Christie, the enemy of his family, the judge of his father, and a persona non grata the moment he started kissing up to Trump the Elder. More purges will continue. Will Trump be another Erdogan who had the will and conviction to jail thousands of suspected traitors? Or a Putin wannabe, purging from the inside, expunging all traces of dissent? Will the White House be a Soviet-style Kremlin where party faithful were airbrushed and exiled?
How will Trump behave at press conferences, the first such events ever to be watched by ordinary Americans? Gone will be the judicious parsing of language, the careful and thoughtful evasion of pointed questions, the respectful demeanor. We will tune in because we want to see Trump fire people, yell at insolent reporters, storm in and out. If anyone thinks that just because Donald Trump is President he will change his ways is just whistlin’ Dixie.
What would a Trump foreign visit be without Biarritz, Rimini, and the grand brasseries of Paris? He and Melania will be sure to be in Milan for the Spring Collection. Their coterie will be fashion designers, Euro-financiers with yachts, and the best Berlin.
Of course Trump will govern, but somewhere between Reagan and Eisenhower in terms of hands-off management. Reagan had to do nothing more than repeat his Ten Commandments, and the world changed. Eisenhower knew that he was governing from the world’s pinnacle of power, so played golf instead of interfering with business. Trump will provide the zingers and his family and staff will do the rest.
The Trump circus will be something to behold. Yes, there is a risk – a big one in fact if his Administration implodes or he makes ill-advised decisions; but he is not a stupid man. On the contrary he is as smart and savvy as they come. There will indeed be a socio-political revolution the likes of which we have never seen.
The fun part, however, is what we have been waiting for. Soap opera, melodrama, Hollywood burlesque, Las Vegas tinsel and lights, and good old-fashioned big top fun and games.
I can’t wait.