Brooks and Cohen

Bobo has extruded another mealy-mouthed whine about how “those” Republicans, over there, betrayed his party.  Cripes.  In “The Republican Fausts” he gurgles that they struck a deal with the devil, Donald Trump, that comes at too high a price.  It’s always “them,” you know, “those” Republicans WAAAAY over there — Bobo has no responsibility whatsoever…  “Soxared, 04-07-13” will have something to say in rebuttal.  Mr. Cohen considers “The Abnormal Presidency of Donald Trump” and says his immigration measures reflect a streak of gratuitous cruelty.  Here’s Bobo:

Many Republican members of Congress have made a Faustian bargain with Donald Trump. They don’t particularly admire him as a man, they don’t trust him as an administrator, they don’t agree with him on major issues, but they respect the grip he has on their voters, they hope he’ll sign their legislation and they certainly don’t want to be seen siding with the inflamed progressives or the hyperventilating media.

Their position was at least comprehensible: How many times in a lifetime does your party control all levers of power? When that happens you’re willing to tolerate a little Trumpian circus behavior in order to get things done.

But if the last 10 days have made anything clear, it’s this: The Republican Fausts are in an untenable position. The deal they’ve struck with the devil comes at too high a price. It really will cost them their soul.

In the first place, the Trump administration is not a Republican administration; it is an ethnic nationalist administration. Trump insulted both parties equally in his Inaugural Address. The Bannonites are utterly crushing the Republican regulars when it comes to actual policy making.

The administration has swung sharply antitrade. Trump’s economic instincts are corporatist, not free market. If Barack Obama tried to lead from behind, Trump’s foreign policy involves actively running away from global engagement. Outspoken critics of Paul Ryan are being given White House jobs, and at the same time, if Reince Priebus has a pulse it is not externally evident.

Second, even if Trump’s ideology were not noxious, his incompetence is a threat to all around him. To say that it is amateur hour at the White House is to slander amateurs. The recent executive orders were drafted and signed without any normal agency review or even semicoherent legal advice, filled with elemental errors that any nursery school student would have caught.

It seems that the Trump administration is less a government than a small clique of bloggers and tweeters who are incommunicado with the people who actually help them get things done. Things will get really hairy when the world’s problems are incoming.

Third, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the aroma of bigotry infuses the whole operation, and anybody who aligns too closely will end up sharing in the stench.

The administration could have simply tightened up the refugee review process and capped the refugee intake at 50,000, but instead went out of its way to insult Islam. The administration could have simply tightened up immigration procedures, but Trump went out of his way to pick a fight with all of Mexico.

Other Republicans have gone far out of their way to make sure the war on terrorism is not a war on Islam or on Arabs, but Trump has gone out of his way to ensure the opposite. The racial club is always there.

Fourth, it is hard to think of any administration in recent memory, on any level, whose identity is so tainted by cruelty. The Trump administration is often harsh and never kind. It is quick to inflict suffering on the 8-year-old Syrian girl who’s been bombed and strafed and lost her dad. Its deportation vows mean that in the years ahead, the TV screens will be filled with weeping families being pulled apart.

None of these traits will improve with time. As former Bush administration official Eliot Cohen wrote in The Atlantic, “Precisely because the problem is one of temperament and character, it will not get better. It will get worse, as power intoxicates Trump and those around him. It will probably end in calamity — substantial domestic protest and violence, a breakdown of international economic relationships, the collapse of major alliances, or perhaps one or more new wars (even with China) on top of the ones we already have. It will not be surprising in the slightest if his term ends not in four or in eight years, but sooner, with impeachment or removal under the 25th Amendment.”

The danger signs are there in profusion. Sooner or later, the Republican Fausts will face a binary choice. As they did under Nixon, Republican leaders will have to either oppose Trump and risk his tweets, or sidle along with him and live with his stain.

Trump exceeded expectations with his cabinet picks, but his first 10 days in office have made clear this is not a normal administration. It is a problem that demands a response. It is a callous, bumbling group that demands either personal loyalty or the ax.

Already one sees John McCain and Lindsey Graham forming a bit of a Republican opposition. The other honorable senators will have to choose: Collins, Alexander, Portman, Corker, Cotton, Sasse and so on and so on.

With most administrations you can agree sometimes and disagree other times. But this one is a danger to the party and the nation in its existential nature. And so sooner or later all will have to choose what side they are on, and live forever after with the choice.

What a fucking little weasel he is…  (Apologies to all 4-legged weasels.)  Here’s what “soxared, 04-07-13” had to say:

“Well, Mr. Brooks, the sky is falling.

Take a look at he image that accompanies your essay. The Republican (a/k/a, White Man’s) retreat at Philly last week was a good ole boy campfire. Notice the glee on the faces of Mitch McConnell, the architect of the Tea Party movement (racist resistance to the black president) and John Cornyn, his fellow saboteur to his (appropriately) right. Your president’s arms are outstretched in a “what now?” appeal? Indeed, what now?

Paul Ryan defended his president’s draconian anti-Muslim ban, a stunning 180 from the campaign trail (“this is not conservatism”). Mr. Brooks, it’s really way past time that you and others with your audience cease with the mantra of respectability when it comes to “conservatism.” It’s really a cover for intolerance, for misogyny, for xenophobia, for protectionism; not for “the base,” but for the anonymous billionaires in the shadows, the Saurons and Voldemorts who run this country, from the county level to the SCOTUS.

Your littering of President Obama is entirely uncalled-for. He has nothing to do with the catastrophe that has descended upon our nation, courtesy of you and the GOP. “Leading from behind?” Yes, from behind an impenetrable wall of recalcitrance and denial, a huge Congressional middle finger to the “will of the people”. Twice.

Where was your patriotism, Mr. Brooks, as a town crier? Did you warn against this day when you stood silent as your party gouged and savaged Barack Obama?

No. 45 is all yours.”

And now here’s Mr. Cohen:

For Ghassan and Sarmad Assali, naturalized Americans from Syria, 14 years of efforts to bring their family to the United States from Damascus unraveled this weekend at the stroke of Donald Trump’s pen.

They had applied in 2003 for Ghassan’s two brothers and their families to join them in Allentown, Pa., where Ghassan works as a dentist. Finally, last month, after an interview in Jordan, the relatives were granted immigrant visas. The Assalis bought and furnished a house for them.

“They landed at 7:45 a.m. Saturday,” said Sarmad, who goes by the name Sue. “We got a call from Philadelphia airport telling us if you’re waiting for somebody they’re not coming out. My husband said, ‘You’re joking.’ ”

The family was sent back to Damascus, arriving Sunday night.

Of course, Trump cares nothing for the plight of the Assalis’ Damascus relatives, who arrived about 15 hours after the president signed an executive order on Friday suspending all immigration from Syria and six other mainly Muslim countries, and barring entry of Syrian refugees indefinitely. In fact, he cares nothing for Syria. Trump’s airy mention of creating safe zones in the war-ravaged country was an example of how the American president’s word — the basis of global stability since 1945 — has already ceased to mean anything. It’s noise.

Trump insisted his decision was designed to keep America safe, but the measure was rushed, uncoordinated, sloppy, arbitrary and punitive — the work of an impulsive man driven by anti-Muslim prejudice. Hatched by his inner circle in contempt of normal procedure, it has provoked a crisis. Trump has fired the acting attorney general who questioned its legality.

People are now stranded, many diplomats at the State Department outraged (Trump has told them to quit), allies agitated, artists and athletes disgusted by this un-American act. Former President Barack Obama, scarcely out of office, has dissented.

As my colleague Scott Shane noted, citing studies by Charles Kurzman, a sociologist at the University of North Carolina, no one since 9/11 “has been killed in the United States in a terrorist attack by anyone who emigrated from or whose parents emigrated from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.”

A draft dissent memo circulating at the State Department noted that, “A vanishingly small number of terror attacks on U.S. soil have been committed by foreign nationals who recently entered the United States on an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa.”

It said: “We are better than this ban.”

As Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, observed of Trump’s order on the Lawfare blog: “This is not a document that will cause hardship and misery because of regrettable incidental impacts on people injured in the pursuit of a public good. It will cause hardship and misery for tens or hundreds of thousands of people because that is precisely what it is intended to do.”

And here we get to the president’s character, doubly important when, as in the Trump White House, personality dominates process.

For well over a decade Trump hosted a successful TV show that hinged on a spectacle of controlled cruelty — his summary dismissal of a contestant with the words “You’re fired!” All the action built toward the tantalizing moment when Trump brought down the guillotine.

No doubt the experience offered him insights into the human fascination with power, as well as the human capacity for pleasure in others’ suffering. Certainly, in just 10 tumultuous days as president of the United States, Trump has demonstrated a streak of gratuitous cruelty.

There is no other explanation for such a pointless measure that inflicts so much pain.

Here in Britain a petition started this weekend against a planned State visit later this year by Trump has already gained some 1.5 million signatures. The government of Prime Minister Theresa May, desperate for Trump’s favor to offset its Brexit travails, has had to scramble to reassure British dual nationals who may have an Iraqi passport, for example, that they can enter the United States.

Sir Mo Farah, the British Olympic gold medalist who was born in Somalia, and whose family lives in the United States, wrote: “On 1st January this year, her majesty the Queen made me a knight of the realm. On 27th January, President Donald Trump seems to have made me an alien.”

The measure has given many this feeling they no longer belong. Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini has British and Iranian passports, holds a green card, has an American husband and two American children, and works in Washington as executive director of the International Civil Society Action Network. She told me she’s unsure if she should travel to Germany in a few days on business.

“It’s just insane,” she told me. “May talks about Churchill, but it feels like she’s appeasing Trump.”

Trump does not retreat. He does not admit mistakes. That is not his style. This month, in tweets, he has written, “Are we living in Nazi Germany?” and he has accused two prominent and dissenting Republican senators of “always looking to start World War III.”

Impetuosity allied to cruelty combined with immense power equals trouble. The current storm would cause a normal man who’s a neophyte in a big job to reflect on other approaches. But is anything about Trump normal?

No, Mr. Cohen.  This has been yet another installment of SASQ.

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