"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Friday, December 21, 2018

The Trump Show Continues With Its Merry-Go-Round, Side Shows, And Lion Tamers–But Honestly, Isn’t It Fun?

It has been two years since the Democrats lost the Presidential election, and are still licking their wounds.  They have never understood how such a buffoon, a circus carny, carnival huckster, and moral reprobate could possibly have become president, and have therefore focused more of their energy on removing him from office rather than working with him as members of the loyal opposition.

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All this is understandable up to a point.  No one was prepared for the Trump Show, and not even his populist, hungry supporters could have imagined such bombast, peep-show intrigue, and unalloyed entertainment.  They knew he would take no prisoners and run roughshod over those without the gumption to stand up to him; but had no idea of the sheer chutzpah of the man and his super-confidence.  They knew he was a street-fighter, but had no idea of his determination and will.  They knew that he was a man of Hollywood, Las Vegas, and the streets of New York, but never imagined how little patience he had for insult, disrespect, and disloyalty. 

Democrats claim that he is not ‘acting presidential’ – as temperate, conciliatory, well-spoken, and respectful as Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter, or Ronald Reagan – and should be taken to task for his braggadocio, media hype, and outrageous disregard for the truth. Only a president who governs reasonably, without arrogance or personal showmanship, and with the country’s interests in mind, can be a good president.  Anyone else simply cannot be considered.

“Who says?”, say his supporters. Trump is what they bargained for and then some.  Not only are they getting a president who is faithful to his promises – rollback of the progressive social agenda and government interventionism, overbearing regulations and taxes, and pusillanimous dealings with mighty adversaries – but they are loving the choler of the progressive Left who are befuddled, frustrated, and disassembled. 

No matter what they do, no matter how many attacks on Trump’s veracity, principles, or interests; no matter how many presidential advisers come and go;  no matter how many Special Prosecutors, investigators are appointed; and no matter how many alleged misdeeds the press can uncover, the juggernaut rolls on.  Everyone but they know that while Trump may be impeached, he will never be convicted.  Trump knows it, would relish a Congressional battle reminiscent of the dirty street fights of his real estate days, and in the end could care less about his legacy.

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Trump’s achievements rarely get the press they deserve not only because they are less compelling than the White House soap opera, but because they are considered successes only by his supporters.  Nevertheless an international foreign policy governed by Kissinger-esque realpolitik and uncomplicated by traditional concerns American moral exceptionalism have led to ‘adversarial compromise’ in pursuit of common aims.  The US is less interested in Putin as an autocrat or czar-in-waiting than as a canny Machiavellian leader.  China’s treatment of the Uighurs, Tibet, and other ethnic minorities is of little relevance given its rising geopolitical, economic, and financial influence, and its powerful cultural nationalism.

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The insistence on due process at universities and the insistence on adherence to Constitutional principles has been long in coming; and the Administration has not been shy about threatening the withdrawal of funds from those institutions which continue their imbalanced and preferential campus policies.  Its support of religious rights especially in light of the the ‘diversity’ movement which has focused uniquely on secular rights and been prejudicial to religious ones also relate to due process.

Its demands for a border wall, while only symbolic, are correct in focusing the nation’s attention on immigration.  Its refusal to join the climate change bandwagon has less to do with the facts of environmental change than it does with social equilibrium.  Environmentalism comes with a price tag, and investments must be made prudently with due attention paid to economic liability.

This having been said, all but the most offended, hurt, and angered Americans tune into the White House soap opera because it is more entertaining than any reality TV.  How would the family squabbles among the Trump children and in-laws play out?  Would Jared and Ivanka have the inside track to the President as expected, given his fierce family loyalty and suspicion of outsiders? How long would opportunist Washington power players stay alongside the President, take his insulting and defamatory tweets and precipitous changes in course in stride? What new, scurrilous, and damaging revelations will be revealed?  Who will the President fire and disgrace in their wake?

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More than Donald Trump’s real estate deals, beauty pageants, high-risk, high-roll investments, oratory, arm candy, and his outsized, outlandish personality, he is remembered for ‘You’re fired!’.  Who will be next? No one parses the difference between reality TV and the Presidency.  The man who has acted in both hasn’t changed and never will.  Only the stakes are fired when he gets rid of someone in the White House.  That’s real entertainment.

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This is all played out not in the demure, socially conservative Kennedy White House – the White House of Pablo Casals, cuisine, and elegant appointments – but at Trump hotels, resorts, and golf courses.  He hires and fires from Mar el Lago, completes deals before the 9th hole, wines and dines not for political interests but for his own kicks. 

The man is irrepressible, and anyone who grimaces at his antics, chases out to the Mall to protest his treatment of women, watches Fox News to add fuel to the fire, is simply missing the fun.  The Donald Trump Show is the Greatest Show on Earth because it combines a three-ring circus, sideshows, clowns and the best of soap opera.  None of the best Turkish dizi or American daytime television series can match the family intrigues, suspicions, conspiracies, and dirty dealings of the Trump White House. Not only is it entertaining but it is on every day.  We are used to smarmy news about Trump and his coterie from the NY Times , Washington Post, and MSNBC, but what about E! ,People, and Entertainment Today

It is surprising that so many people take the  Donald Trump persona so seriously.  Of course he is antic, unpredictable, impossibly arrogant and dismissive, and critical; but afer two years, the country is well-off economically; the threats of ISIS, Boko Haram, al-Shabab, and al-Qaeda, once thought to be globally dangerous and destabilizing, have been largely neutered.  North Korea is more conciliatory than ever before.  Iran is more circumspect in its support of Middle East insurgencies.  A positive nationalism – one that insists on a return to the principles of the Founding Fathers, faith, and individual moral responsibility discredited by sectarian, ‘identity’ interests – is being reinstated.  Trump may act the buffoon; may have played NY-style rough, down-and-dirty politics and not the expected patrician, faded, old boy, Old Blue camaraderie kind; but the country, despite naysayers and Trump-haters, has not fallen apart.

Many Americans have turned off their televisions and stopped reading newspapers.  They have never watched soap operas, are old enough to appreciate how human nature acts itself out again and again, is remarkably consistent, and offers few surprises. Of course politicians will be self-centered and self-interested.  Of course they will do anything to get and retain power.  Of course they will resort to the dirtiest tricks, lies, and chicanery to do so.   Why should today’s news be any different? Why should they watch?

Shakespeare understood human nature and its determinism.  Laid out in chronological order, the Histories would repeat the same, familiar, common tales of greed, ambition, jealousy, and desire again and again.  What interested the playwright was not in providing insights about the nature of power but in providing dramatic, humorous, ironic, and memorable displays of human nature.  The genre and its major themes may not change, but what a delight to see how Tamora, Dionyza, Goneril, Regan, and Volumnia do their dirty business.

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For the same reason, Americans should turn the television back on, renew their print subscriptions, and have a good laugh.  The admission is free, and the show will always deliver.

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