Political Matters – October 2018

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By Mordecai Specktor

‘The Trump Presidency’ reality show
Like many of you, I’ve watched too much coverage of the confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination. At this writing (with an FBI investigation of sexual misconduct accusations against the nominee in the works), it looks like the Republicans in Congress will approve Kavanaugh’s ascension to the highest court in the land. Because what do credible accusations of sexual assault matter, in the face of a conservative court majority that could roll back Roe vs. Wade, entrench voter suppression, limit environmental protection, curb labor union organizing efforts, further erode treaty rights, etc.?

As our GOP friends like to remind us, elections have consequences. One of those is that Trump can stack the Supreme Court with conservative justices that will influence the direction of government for the next generation.

The Kavanaugh travesty is one part of the ongoing dumpster fire that is the Trump presidency. We have seen Trump repeatedly plumb depths of aberrant behavior and rhetorical idiocy. Out of the blocks, in 2015, Trump demonized Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers. He went on to vilify Muslims, women, Africans (from “shithole countries”), the press (“fake news”) and anybody who would criticize the “very stable genius.”

On the other hand, the white supremacists, neo-Nazis and KKK members that created mayhem and carnage at the August 2017 “Unite the Right” gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia, were deemed “very fine people.”

Something of a new low occurred during one of Trump’s campaign-style rallies, on Sept. 29, in Wheeling, West Virginia. The president got on the topic of his Singapore summit meeting with Kim Jong Un, the North Korean dictator who has systematically starved and murdered his people, including his own relatives.

“I was really being tough, and so was he,” Trump told his adoring followers. “And we would go back and forth. And then we fell in love, okay? No, really. He wrote me beautiful letters, and they’re great letters. We fell in love. But you know what? Now they’ll make, they’ll say, ‘Donald Trump said they fell in love, how horrible. How horrible is that? So unpresidential.’”
Then came the salient point: “I always tell you it’s so easy to be presidential, but instead of having 10,000 people outside trying to get into this packed arena, we’d have about 200 people standing right there.”

I don’t know if Trump was speaking to a “packed arena”: he lies about everything, about issues great and small. He’s a pathological liar. But this textbook case of extreme Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) sees everything in terms of popularity: rally attendance or TV ratings. And Americans, a large slice of them, can’t distinguish between politics and show business.

Readers likely recall that Trump, who had no experience in government before becoming president, was a popular TV reality show host with “The Apprentice and “The Celebrity Apprentice.” In a rather depressing opinion article for The New York Times, Sept. 29, Amy Chozick wrote: “Some TV executives say the only way for the Trump show to get canceled is for ratings to fall off – forcing the president to fade into obscurity or an awkward fox trot in a ‘Dancing With the Stars’ spray tan. But TV history shows that the most successful series – ‘American Idol,’ ‘Lost,’ ‘The West Wing’ and, yes, ‘The Apprentice’ – don’t see sharp declines in viewership or talk of cancellation until around Season 6.”

As far as “The Trump Presidency” reality show, season 6 will air in 2022.

It’s a matter of speculation as to what will be left of the United States and the world midway through Trump’s second term. There is not space in one column to provide a complete catalogue of the Trump administration’s current and proposed depredations. In less than two years in office, the Trump administration has presided over the opening of federal lands, including national monuments (lopping off close to 2 million acres from the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments) to oil and mining interests.

A commitment to what Trump calls “energy dominance” has aided the progress of the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline and other destructive big oil boondoggles. And a bipartisan effort seems to be leading to the advent of copper-nickel mining in Minnesota’s Arrowhead region, which could pollute ground- and surface-waters and destroy stands of wild rice.

While the Democratic Party often seems lacking in its efforts to stop the GOP/Tea Party assault on democracy and the environment, it is the blunt weapon that we have to pummel the Republicans in 2018. In Minnesota, for example, there are four toss-up races for the U.S. House; the Second and Third District contests could flip seats from red to blue.
Please register and vote, for the sake of our nation and the coming generations.