Donald Trump is mad. There can be little doubt of that. But, E.J. Dionne writes, there is a method to his madness:
One of the many costs of the Trump era is the dumbing down of our political discourse. The incoherent spoken and tweeted outpourings from President Trump and the daily outrages of his administration leave little time for serious debate about policy or meaningful dialogue about our larger purposes.
News outlets are entirely justified in lavishing coverage on the sensational and the personal, since developments in these areas are a part of a bigger story that could undermine the Trump presidency all together. Nonetheless, the circus that Trump has brought to town is nearly as much of a threat to a well-ordered political system as is Trump himself.
This is where the Trumpian circus benefits the Trumpian project. If there are too many scandals for any one of them to seize our attention for long, all of them taken together allow what are potentially very unpopular policies to take root without much scrutiny.
Amid the total chaos of the Trump administration, all kinds of nasty policies slide by unnoticed. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Healthcare is slowly strangled. And, most importantly, nobody believes anything anymore:
Intellectual confusion and ambivalence now haunt the West. Older and once vital systems of thought—in Europe, Christian democracy and social democracy; in the United States, New Dealism and free market conservatism—have an ever-weaker hold on the popular imagination.
Madeleine Albright lived through the last period of mass confusion. Dionne writes that her book Fascism: A Warning is a call for public attention. Mr. Trump is hoping that very few people are paying attention.