Tuesday, February 19, 2019

‘Genius’ shut-down exposes Trump ‘fix-ations’

Trump can’t fix anything, certainly not his own credibility and lost leverage, and that makes his tenure a fusillade of fixations repeated ad infinitum.

It’s the government shutdown, stupid! How predictably the latest Trump stunt boomeranged, shredding his delusions of grandeur and obliterating the corrosive lie he “alone can fix everything.” He can’t even fix what he alone breaks – damn near everything he grabs for. And now farcical fixations threaten another shutdown. I’d favor the unconstitutional, if comic absurdity of declaring a national emergency, thus bagging reams of more bad publicity, years in the courts and nary a yard built of Trump wall. What defines not just insanity but manic stupidity is repeating the same mistake and expecting positive results.

In free fall, Trump has done to himself what juicy scandals and definitive investigations failed to do: alienate his own party support, both base and top brass. Is the Donald not the cornered desperado heaving grenades upwards, hoping they take out lawful inquisitors? Watch your head. Being that allergic to reality, he forgets where the land mines are set, shuckin’ and jivin’ as fast as he can. What an unforced, amateur error: not knowing which pie-in-the-sky pledge should get buried by inauguration day – and never dragging it out years past their pull date. Maybe this pygmy president extorts a few pygmy posts but what poetic justice: Trump’s about all bigger and stronger and louder, taken down by smaller and weaker and merely symbolic.

Most importantly, as scandalous news compounds, we now confirm Trump’s use of the word “fix” was solely underworld slang, having nothing to do with “restoring to greatness.” Instead, the ever Trumpian “fix” denotes ruthless, self-interested Mafia ways, as in “erase that problem, means and consequences be damned.” What other “non-colluding” criminal ever “associated” (read: conspired) with an army of sleazy fixers that go way back? For Trump, “fixing” by demolishing answers to his mania of having to dominate everything, whether trying subterfuge, lying, intimidation, bluster or bullying. But Trump can’t fix anything, certainly not his own credibility and lost leverage, and that makes his tenure a fusillade of fixations repeated ad infinitum.

And what does such irrepressible talent display about ever less stable “genius”? Obviously, not “exceptional intelligence or innovation.” His reactionary reflex covers his ears against his own multiple, professional intelligence reports with the same message. That reduces “genius” to fun-house self-regard, blasting out soundbites, galumphing around and acting like he’s in charge. For him, his yokels have a five minute memory and so he plays on their Biblical moralisms like a fiddle. Trump true believers are just as crudely transactional as the boss, intoning “ordained” ends whatever the unscrupulous means. And what about that malarkey God chose Donald? What deity so desperate fingers Trump, from billions of earthlings, as the chosen, messianic vessel? What sane model of goodness “elects” a mafia-style chiefdom to run down our former beacon on the hill?

Counting the countless wins

Of course, by one transcendent standard, Trump’s rapacious free-for-all (except for federal workers) is a screaming success: after two years and a month he’s still president. Every week he escapes an upsurge of genuinely new scandals is cause for WH cheering – and consider this mock triumph: formal bills of impeachment are not yet underway. Oh yeah, his tax returns aren’t yet public but not for ever. How demoralizing of late for his base, for they must intuit in their bones strong leaders set the agenda, control the message, stick to their guns, and deliver more wins than anyone can stand? Not the Trumpster, not from now on. Nancy calls the shots.

But boy oh boy, did not the Trump shutdown show both House and Senate, and the world, what he’s made of? He not only jumped into the fire, but in advance bragged about owning his taunt. Then, blindly fixated, he stayed the course far beyond common and political sense (what do experts know?). How many besieged presidents willingly bet their last valuable chip (remnants of public opinion) on a busted flush?

How wonderfully ironic was his disapproval slide since finally he was “sticking to a principle” and enduring storms for a cause. Isn’t great sacrifice what greatness demands? Of course flexibility matters when you don’t believe in anything and that high, impregnable wall shrinks to invisibility before our very eyes. But for Trump, never impeded by details, his pygmy wall will still shield Americans from crime, drugs and foreign-looking people. And more positives: the shutdown kept Trump from expensive, blunder-prone foreign junkets – and, unlike absurd troops sent to the border, saved us millions. Keep the buffoon distracted, addicted to nonsense TV, so he can’t wag the dog and do even more damage.

Overall, does not this shut-down, along with the Muslim ban, battered health care coverage, incredibly unpopular tariffs, and rejected tax reform, reinforce the sole Trump Doctrine: many must suffer to benefit the few?  And not just abused asylum seekers, desperate Central American families, or Muslims coming to visit relations, but scads of federal employees and farmers seething over clumsy tariffs?  That’s the Trump specialty – the voodoo of shock and awe – par for the course when reality resides in only one mind.

Trumpers, however, are so impressed with their champ’s incredible remarkableness they think he’s redefining greatness. That puts him high in the presidential pantheon because historians they think judge importance not on doing something decent but “making a difference.” Here is the ultimate “great – if shrunken man” theory of history on display –  proving it’s so much easier to destroy than it will be to restore tarnished institutions and traditions, if not law and justice. Even ardent critics fear the magnitude of change that Trump has wrought. What if the presidency is never the same again? What if scurrilous campaigning plagues running for office? What if the Republican Party is riven, ideologically chaotic, thus less dominant, then shunned by new voters? We just have to learn to accept the good with the bad.

A monument to being unpresidential

So for both me and his fans, Trump’s handling of his own private, nightmare shutdown speaks volumes about his character, judgment, and manic risk-taking. Who else dares invoke the N and E words, as in National Emergency, reinforcing how gut folly replicates itself? No one can match Trump’s special skill – disrupting everything he touches, even his own credibility, leverage and legacy.  Bravo!

Mr. Unpresident: keep trusting your own deluded gut feeling, defying all other collective brainpower. May your standing shrink like your disappearing wall. Thanks for exposing what happens when a belligerent non-reader, willfully defying his own experts, seizes an absolutist (and absolutely damaging) position, then sticks rigidly to his guns. The question is no longer about failure but how seriously Trumpery will dent history. He certainly redefines the monumentally unpresidential, let alone shooting yourself in the head. Inmates unite, all you have to lose are your perverse fixations – and did such aberrations ever fix anything?

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Robert S. Becker
For over a decade, Robert S. Becker's independent, rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, history, implications, messaging and frameworks. He has been published widely, aside from Nation of Change and RSN, with extensive credits from OpEdNews (as senior editor), Alternet, Salon, Truthdig, Smirking Chimp, Dandelion Salad, Beyond Chron, and the SF Chronicle. Educated at Rutgers College, N.J. (B.A. English) and U.C. Berkeley (Ph.D. English), Becker left university teaching (Northwestern, then U. Chicago) for business, founding SOTA Industries, a top American high end audio company he ran from '80 to '92. From '92-02, he was an anti-gravel mining activist while doing marketing, business and writing consulting. Since then, he seeks out insight, even wit in the shadows, without ideology or righteousness across the current mayhem of American politics.
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