Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Origins of Wednesday liv: Letter from a watchman on the coast


Stubbed toe

Mulling it over, I have hope that this fracturing of the Republican Party over its cardinal objective will make it harder for Bannon and Trump to achieve the intimidating character they were looking for, by means of any salient legislative triumph in the two Houses they unambiguously possess, not merely control. Their erasures of Obama's regulations and their extraordinarily prompt destruction of the Executive departments, possibly excluding the Pentagon but plainly not the State Department, are of truly daunting semi-permanence, which will probably mature into irreversibility if they control both Houses for another two years. But they left the President unsatisfactorily feared. He needed (not that he knew it, but Bannon does) to exhibit himself as truly contemptuous of his base, in order to solidify his position. This was Himmler’s insight, and he is evidently Bannon’s model, his exemplar in the genuine seizure of power over the ostensibly organized, neo-representative State. He doesn’t want to martyr them, any more than he particularly wanted to expose the tremulous docility of Congressional figureheads. But he does need them go to mad in the knowledge of his control.

Bannon knows, Trump can never achieve all that he must as merely ‘primus inter pares’ in a party already obsessed by visions of financial concentration in the fewest unregulated hands. He must mature that consequence. He must destroy the position of the United States and avenge any pretext for its liberties.

The alienation of dozens of millions, of whole organic sectors of the population from sustainable life - the unifying vision of “health care” legislation emerging from both Houses of Congress - would represent the most articulate image of this agenda, imaginable, short of full bore terrorism hysteria in the streets, with all its racist and religious ornamentation, all the darling bells and whistles of anarchic carnage. Garden variety thievery, such as we see in the rape of Dodd-Frank and foretell in tax “reform,” are mere orthodoxy of Republicanism, not the clarifying eradication embodied in the health care crusade.






I passed along Al Hunt’s appreciation of the rôle of Old Media in this. I don’t wish to exaggerate it, but the Times - one has to admit - has been vigilant in this beyond precedent, and we did read the damn paper every day through the Administration of Richard Nixon. The Post, by slight contrast, has taken the lion’s share of open warfare with the President’s personality in all its ramifications, certainly not avoiding the health care fight but casting its net just as diligently into foreign policy, trade policy, war and peace 
(its arrogated purview, for many years), and of course the partisan tradecraft of Party politics. Bannon welcomes this; not that he has a choice, but because it affirms his lifelong message to the base — “they” are snotty pricks. What the Republicans could not have measured, or at least failed to do, was the energy of CNN in its own open warfare against the President, to say nothing of SNL’s remarkable cheerleading for us all. This made the essayists, from lettered venues such as The New Yorker, The New York Review, The Atlantic, New York, and The Nation, Huffington, etc, etc, not exactly superfluous, but almost. One didn’t need to know Plato, to know that the President is incompetent, crazy, and adored for both virtues.







So, I do think there is a momentary condition of trench warfare now, with both sides “dug in,” and you will tell me, it is such an unstable interval, and untenable for Trump, that I should expect something extraordinarily depraved on his part, any day now. Well, I do. He does retain the initiative, merely because any reprimand is in partisan lockdown in the Republican Congress. But this only argues for not letting up in the exposure, while it still bleeds, of the rotten carcass of Republican health care, so that whatever Trump next pursues, will draw its revolting stench. He does control the Party well enough, still, for imminent lying before investigative committees to be seconded, praised, upheld and embraced. So, for me, if Summer has shown us anything, he is immune in his corruption, his betrayals, his treasons and his striking incapacity. But he is not feared enough to satisfy himself. And this bothers him, because he really is the only power who can bring himself down.

History tells us to expect a trade war exacerbated by a naval incident or two. I don’t think George HW Bush’s foray into Panama affords the scale this time. Sounds like China, from where I’m sitting. He has to be seen to be willing to make his base suffer; and he has to be seen as so reckless of security, that he can claim not to need it, and of common sense, that his genius can be seen at last. But endocrinology tells us something else, which is the intolerability of the gradualism of a strangulation by commerce. He needs a paroxysm - garish, noisy, inversely scaled to his magnitude. If he were sane, we'd say he had endangered himself. Not intentionally. As he has taught us, he'll eat whatever will bear his name.



























1 comment: