Tuesday, April 04, 2017

The Lords of Misrule



Neal Gabler is on to something. He admits that he was wrong about Donald Trump:

So many of us were wrong, myself included, about Donald Trump. We saw in the jut-jawed, brow-furrowed Mussolini-like posturing, in the blatant narcissism, in the reckless disregard for truth, the anger and incitement to hatred, the declamations that he would fix everything single-handedly on Day One of his presidency, his disdain for democracy and hints that he would lock up his opponents — we saw in all of these things incipient fascism.

Trump is an authoritarian. But he doesn't have the talent to make authoritarianism work. The failure of his health care plan proved that:

Last Friday, with the demise of the Republican attempt to repeal Obamacare and replace it with… well, with a massive tax giveaway to the rich, we discovered — I discovered — that I was fearing the wrong thing. It’s not Trump’s ability to marshal the forces of repression that should terrify us. It’s his inability to marshal forces to conduct even the most basic governance. Trump really is a presidential Joker. He knows how to wreak havoc, but he doesn’t seem to know how to do, or seem to want to do, much else.

Trump poses as an authoritarian. But -- aided and abetted by his Republican lackeys -- he's actually an anarchist:

The truth may be that chaos is more his m├ętier than tyranny. As much as he says he hates losing, we may have actually caught a glimpse of the real Trump, the one sitting at his desk, smug and seemingly self-satisfied after his terrible defeat on Friday. This Trump may have thought he won by losing. No, he hadn’t won the congressional vote. But he had sown disarray, certainly within his own party and gradually throughout the health care system, especially once he joins judicial challenges to curb Medicaid expansion, as he undoubtedly will. The anarchistic tendency prevailed over the authoritarian one. Things fell apart. He wasn’t necessarily an unhappy Joker.

This is what many of the pundits, myself included, may have missed in the whole Obamacare repeal-and-replace saga. We thought there was some ideological obsession on the right with repealing Obamacare because it was a government program, because it helped people whom Republicans believed undeserving (the poor), and because it was a signal achievement of the Obama administration: not necessarily good reasons but at least reasons. And we thought Trump, who seemed to have no ideological commitment to anything, wanted to repeal it because it would be a demonstration of his muscle as well as a way to unman Obama. And we may have thought that after repeal, Republicans wanted a new plan that would basically defund Medicaid to injure the poor and further enrich the wealthy with the billions of dollars in proceeds. In short, we may have thought there was some vaguely coherent direction to the anti-Obamacare enterprise.

But the unvarnished truth is that Trump and the Republicans know how to oppose, but they don't know how to create anything:

Republicans may talk tough. They may tout the idea of conservative, market-driven solutions to our problems, but somehow, serious solutions never get presented because, frankly, Republicans don’t have any interest in them.

When you come down to it, Republicans are really anarchists dedicated to undermining government in the furtherance of an economic state of nature where the rich rule. What we saw these past few weeks was not the failure of Republicanism, as so many pronounced on Friday, but its logical and inevitable conclusion. Republicans are great at opposing things, destroying things, obstructing things, undoing things. They are really, really terrible at creating things because they have no desire to do so.

They are the Lords of Misrule.

Image: Granta

13 comments:

Owen Gray said...

Your comment is interesting, Anon. But it needs to be initialed.

Steve said...

Republicans are good at buying toys. Mostly they dont work well. Still waiting for Air Show to refund his retainer.

Owen Gray said...

A very expensive toy, Steve. And you're right. It doesn't work well.

The Mound of Sound said...


Trump is no anarchist but the guy driving his bus, Steve Bannon, is. Bannon's quest is to destroy what he's called the "administrative state." He's never concealed it. Infrastructure, sure. Health care, the environment, the arts - anything that is a drain on the richest of the rich, forget it.

Trump is an empty vessel, an accomplished hustler but really not much more. Ask the creditors of his multiple bankruptcies. His book, "The Art of the Deal," should more accurately be named The Art of the Con.

Owen Gray said...

I have read that Bannon looked for a long while for an empty head to fill, Mound. His first choice was Sarah Palin. When that didn't work out, he fastened onto Trump -- and, with the former casino owner, he hit the jackpot.

Steve said...

On the love boat Trump would be a seventy year old Gopher

Owen Gray said...

That would be ironic, Steve. The actor who played Gopher went on to become a Republican member of The House of Representatives.

Steve said...

Sonny Bono

The Mound of Sound said...

Yeah, Owen, I've also read that about Bannon. He's a bit like a hermit crab. Well he found a spacious place to park himself between Trump's ears.

Owen Gray said...

Fred Grandy

Owen Gray said...

Bannon's a parasite, Mound. But there's a lot of nutrition free high calorie junk food to feed on.

ffd said...

I view Trump something the Brits would call an upper class twit, though a lot more malignant than the traditional upper class twit. The Brits have been making fun of the rich and stupid for centuries. Bertie Wooster, rich boy who has to be rescued by his clever butler regularly, is one of a long line of upper class twits. At least Bertie is good-natured. It is not that these rich people are intrinsically dumb but they have no motivation to develop their minds.

I can't see Trump as an anarchist. He is too comfortable being rich, likes the way things are too much. But he does like to bust things just for the hell of it and of course to get attention.

I go with those who say: don't overthink Trump. He is not complicated, just undeveloped and unmotivated to learn.

Owen Gray said...

A agree that he is undeveloped and unmotivated to learn, ffd. The problem is that Bertie Wooster, private citizen, can do relatively little damage. Bertie, president of the United States, can do a lot of damage.