It is amazing how swampy Washington became with the presence of Donald Trump in the White House. There seems absolutely nothing else he can say or do but further his story, imposed mercilessly on the entire nation, day in, day out. This president must be happy to see himself at the center of attention, of both the national media and the political chatter traveling across the nation. Once again, it is Silvio Berlusconi, unlike Stalin and Hitler, who we can look toward when seeking an example of a person as equally self-absorbed, and in love with himself, as President Trump.
As Masha Gessen says, modern dictators are obviously more human than Hitler and Stalin were:
We have witnessed the greed and vanity of Silvio Berlusconi, who ran Italy’s economy into the ground. We recognize the desperate desire of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to be admired or at least feared — usually literally at his country’s expense. Still, physical distance makes villains seem bigger than they are in real life. Many Americans imagine that Mr. Putin is a brilliant strategist, a skilled secret agent turned popular leader. I can vouch for the fact that he is a poorly educated, under-informed, incurious man whose ambition is vastly out of proportion to his understanding of the world.
Gessen, a Russian writer, and journalist who now lives in the U.S., then turns to Trump and describes him in the following words:
In the past few months, Americans too have grown familiar with the sight of a president who seems to think that politics consists of demonstrating that he is in charge. This similarity is not an accident (nor is it a result of Russian influence). The rejection of the complexity of modern politics — as well as modern business and modern life in general — lies at the core of populism’s appeal. The first American president with no record of political or military service, Donald Trump ran on a platform of denigrating expertise. His message was that anyone with experience in politics was a corrupt insider and, indeed, that a lack of experience was the best qualification.
As dramatic and devastating as she sounds, Gessen’s words, unfortunately, are turning into reality with every passing day, with an increasing number of opponents swearing to prioritize the impeachment of the president before all else in their lives. For many of them–including the Democratic party, with no apparent strategy as to the Trump aftermath–there seems to be no afterlife, no vision or another plan whatsoever. The opposition too and many of the powerful adversaries of Trump only think that it will be enough to eliminate the uncontrollable tyrant and America will become normal again. They are wrong because as egocentric as he is, Trump has not arrived at the White House by his own will only, but with the problems and the votes of many Americans.
As ridiculous as it looks, this president is indeed now doing everything to prepare his political funeral. He is so egocentric that he got himself in trouble by boasting that he fired the director of the FBI, James Comey, who had to leave the office because he would not obey the President, he would not stop the investigation on Russia and, in particular, of Michael Flynn, a retired general who served the president for a month before he was fired because of his secret dealings with the Russians. Trump has reignited the war between the White House and the intelligence agencies and continues to employ the social media, public opinion-pining methods that got him elected rather than those suited to the President of the United States, who ostensibly serves the American people. Just this morning, he let loose another barrage of tweets which threaten the legitimacy of his legal case against the obstruction charges.
It’s a war that the erratic president can never win because it requires a long-game strategy and a much better team than he possesses. Because of the suspected involvement of his campaign in collusion with the Russians, and his arrogant response to such suspicions, Trump is now officially (a fact acknowledged by all sides but not yet formally confirmed) under investigation for obstruction of justice. Firing Comey with the intent to stop an investigation that might have proved the collusion between the Trump election team and the Russian government seems an obvious smoking gun. As we know, such collusion might have involved Russian hacking and general meddling with the U.S.elections in favor of a Donald Trump victory. How Putin despises Hillary.
What I found most amusing is that a few days ago, the president came to know that he is being investigated, and called a cabinet meeting and invited the media. After his short speech, in which he referred to himself in the third person (an apparent attempt at the objective distance, to make the success of his government more credible), the president invited all the cabinet members to present themselves and say a few words. It was this pathetic scene–of shameless sycophantism–that reminded me more of the images coming from Pyongyang than those we’re familiar with out of Washington D.C. Every member of the government in that room expressed unironic praise for the Trump leadership. Luckily, there were no tears. The media reaction was uniform, saying that the scene was an act of undemocratic idolatry. It was worse than that. From every member of his government, Trump was asking, demanding, loyalty. The same loyalty he asked Comey for, but never got. All the secretaries, including Vice President Pence, had to swear that they will not abandon ship as Trump forced them to become his accomplices. There won’t be any tears at the end either. What this government risks provoking is bloodshed.