Tuesday, January 17, 2017

No Catharsis

Donald Trump is the new LBJ. That's Richard Cohen's conclusion in this morning's Washington Post. And, like Lyndon Johnson, his presidency is doomed:

But Trump ought to pay attention to [John] Lewis and what he represents. The president-elect will take the oath with a minority of the popular vote — a substantial deficit of almost 3 million votes. He enters the Oval Office with historically dismal poll numbers, lower now than right after he won the election. He has done nothing to woo the majority of Americans who rejected his candidacy and has, instead, adhered to his schoolyard habit of tweeting his every grievance, denigrating his every critic, making cameos with vaccine and global-warming doubters and, as if to show some versatility, rascals such as Don King and Kanye West. It is a “Gong Show” with no gong in sight.

Lyndon Johnson would no doubt warn Trump that he is already on thin ice and he will plunge through it the moment Congress takes the measure of his unpopularity. Johnson was a man of huge political abilities and experience, and his achievements in civil rights entitled him to greatness. Yet, when Vietnam went sour, so did the public, and it seemed, after a while, that his personal characteristics, scathingly caricatured by artists such as David Levine and Jules Feiffer, oozed out of him so that they obscured both him and his accomplishments. He was deemed capable of anything — of lying and perversion of all kinds. This is where Trump stands now.

Trump has a sense of self. But he has no sense of history. So don't expect him to take any lessons from that quarter. However, there are also lessons to be gained from Greek Tragedy:

Meanwhile, Trump will have his moment, that’s for sure, but when things go wrong he will be chased from office — just like Johnson once was. The ancient Greeks knew why: A man’s character is his fate. In that case, Trump’s presidency is doomed. 

 When the end comes, there will be no sense of catharsis.

Image: jarofquotes.com


Steve said...

Its worth having Trump as president to watch the deep state in action.

Owen Gray said...

But it won't be easy to clean up the damage, Steve.

Steve said...

making omlettes Owen, Trump will not dictate what come out of the oven.

Owen Gray said...

I'm not so sure you're going to see sunshine, Steve.

Anonymous said...

Comparing Trump to LBJ is the most tortured analogy a writer could come up with. I see no parallels whatsoever having lived through the sixties ups and downs.

LBJ had self-awareness even as he upped the ante in the Vietnam war. He could have, but decided not to run in 1968, announcing that on TV. Can you imagine that Trump has the slightest bit of self-introspection? Would he resign even if 320 million individual Americans told him to leave? He'd just assume they were stupid.

No, not good enough as a comparison at all. Sorry.


Owen Gray said...

I agree that the analogy breaks down, B.M. Eventually all analogies do. To begin with, LBJ won a landslide victory in 1964. And he had spent years in government. He knew how it worked. Cohen's point, though, is that both men were -- in the end -- utterly despised by the public and forced from office. Trump is already there, before he assumes office.

The central thread of the analogy -- that character is destiny -- holds.

Owen Gray said...

Initial your comment, Anon, and I'll publish it.