Mr. Friedman gives us “A Concerned Citizen’s Plea to America’s Business Leaders” and moans that only the likes of Bill Gates, Jamie Dimon and Elon Musk may be able to save the country from President Trump. I wonder if Tommy has called his Senators and his Congressman to make his thoughts known… Somehow I doubt it. Mr. Bruni asks “Where is Jared Kushner?” and whines that Donald Trump’s son-in-law was supposed to be a positive influence, but Steve Bannon has taken charge. Well, Frank, have you noticed that the most egregious crap that spews from the Dark House happens late Friday? Jared and his wife (whose name shall not be mentioned here) are Jewish and observe Shabbat. And why on earth either of them would feel comfortable around a gang of Nazis befuddles me… Here’s TMOW:
Dear America’s Business Leaders:
I am writing you today because it will soon become clear that you’re going to need to do a job that you’ve never thought of doing before: saving the country from a leader with a truly distorted view of how the world works and the role America should play in it.
There is no Republican Party today to restrain President Trump’s worst instincts. Save for a few courageous senators, the G.O.P. has melted into spinelessness. The mainstream media can expose misbehavior, but can’t veto legislation. The Democrats control no levers of power. And Jared Kushner couldn’t even stop the Steve Bannon-led White House from issuing a Holocaust Remembrance Day decree that deliberately omitted any reference to Jews.
The only group whom Trump has some respect for, who can get access to him and who can maybe counter the malign ideological instincts of Bannon & Company are the likes of Bill Gates, Tim Cook, Jeff Immelt, Mark Zuckerberg, Eric Schmidt, Jamie Dimon, Mike Bloomberg, Elon Musk, Indra Nooyi, Ginni Rometty, Dennis Muilenburg and Doug McMillon.
Sure, if Trump executes on his promises for deregulation, infrastructure and tax reform, your companies will enjoy a quick sugar high. But if you listen to what Trump and Bannon are saying, their vision of America and the world is unlike anything you business leaders have encountered before.
They are playing with, and happy to dispense with, big systems — like Nafta, the World Trade Organization and the European Union — that drive so much of the global economy. They believe things that are provably wrong — that the majority of job loss in America is from Mexicans and Chinese, when in fact it’s from microchips and computers, i.e., improved productivity.
Yes, some things are true even if Trump believes them: Islam does have problems with gender and religious pluralism, and integration in Western societies. Ignoring that is reckless.
But some things are true even if liberals believe them: that America has integrated Muslims better than any European country, because we are a melting pot. And making Muslims part of our community at home and our alliances abroad — rather than treating them as permanent aliens — has made us safer since 9/11. Ignoring that is dangerous.
And while we’re talking dangerous, why are there record numbers of migrants flooding out of sub-Saharan Africa, the Mideast and Central America, trying to get into Europe and America? Two big reasons are droughts and population explosions. And what do Trump and Bannon propose? Ignoring climate change and halting U.S. government help with family planning in the developing world.
Nothing is connected in their world. Everything is just a box to check or wall to build.
The Washington Post on Monday quoted Bannon as saying that he and Jeff Sessions were at the center of Trump’s “pro-America movement” that was “poorly understood by cosmopolitan elites in the media. … What we are witnessing now is the birth of a new political order, and the more frantic a handful of media elites become, the more powerful that new political order becomes itself.”
When someone tells you he is giving birth to a “new political order” in America, be afraid. Yes, the acceleration in technology and globalization has particularly benefited higher-skilled knowledge workers in the West and lower-skilled rising middle classes in Asia. And, yes, it did squeeze middle-skilled workers in the West, who were more vulnerable to outsourcing, algorithms and automation. More needs to be done to help them.
If Trump is simply out to negotiate better trade deals for America and get our allies to share the burdens of defending the free world more equitably, God bless him. That can be a win for our workers.
But I fear that Bannon is manipulating Trump into a more messianic mission — that his “new political order” is not just about jobs, but culture, an attempt to recreate an America of the 1950s: a country dominated by white Christians, not “cosmopolitans”; where no one spoke Spanish at the grocery store; where America’s biggest C.E.O.s weren’t named Satya or Sundar; where every worker could have a high-wage middle-skilled job; and where trade walls and the slow pace of automation meant you didn’t have to be a lifelong learner.
If that’s where Trump is going, it will take us to a dark place. The way we lift American workers is not by building higher walls, but rather stronger communities — where business, philanthropies, the local school system and local government forge adaptive coalitions to enable every worker to engage in lifelong learning and every company to access global markets and every town to attract the smart risk-takers who start companies.
That is exactly what is happening in America’s best communities, and the job of government is to scale it, and the job of big business is to defend it. So don’t be fooled by a Trump sugar high; your businesses will thrive only if America is the country that prepares itself and its workers to live in a world without walls, not one that goes around erecting them.
This is the “new political order” we need and that you must defend. You ignore this mission at your — and our — peril.
Correction: February 1, 2017 An earlier version of this column misstated, in two instances, the surname of the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase. He is Jamie Dimon, not Diamond.
Oh, dear, sweet baby Jesus… Either TMOW is a world-class moron or whatever software they have checking spelling (I doubt the Times bothers with actual copy editors any more) is being managed by a world-class moron. Cripes… Now here’s Mr. Bruni:
Remember the good old days — by which I mean just a few weeks ago — when there was hope and talk that Donald Trump’s 36-year-old son-in-law would play the angel to Steve Bannon’s devil, tempering the president’s policies and keeping his crudest and most belligerent tendencies in check?
Well, the devil is running rampant in the Trump administration so far. The angel looks ever paler and frailer, with a halo that’s hard to find.
Jared Kushner, where are you?
I ask that specifically, in terms of Trump’s inner circle and Bannon’s obviously greater sway. But I ask it in a broader sense as well. Where among Trump’s sanest advisers and the most reasonable Republicans in Congress is the degree of pushback that’s called for? Where are the sufficiently loud voices of dissent? Right now Trump has too many mum collaborators too content to hope for the best. I put Kushner in that pack.
Bannon certainly knows how to manipulate the president and get what he wants. He’s Trump’s unabashed Iago, whispering sweet fictions about the magnitude of the “movement” that the president is leading and specifying how to feed it. He has a seat on the National Security Council. Kushner has his hand on Ivanka Trump’s seat.
If you haven’t seen that photo of the couple, do find it, and bear in mind when Ivanka posted it on her social media accounts: around midnight on Saturday. Her father’s hastily, sloppily composed immigration ban was just being implemented. Many confused, frightened travelers languished in detention or limbo. Protests had erupted at American airports. But she and her husband were on the town! They beamed, resplendent in formal wear and peerless in tone deafness.
A clever observer tweeted an image of Ivanka in her metallic gown next to one of a Syrian girl in a metallic emergency blanket, asking: “Who wore it better?”
If Kushner has sturdy principles or half the say that Bannon does, then explain the wording of the statement that the president put out on Friday in remembrance of the Holocaust. It failed to mention Jews, an omission so glaring that it incited a furor among Jewish Republican groups. And rather than apologize to them, the administration dug in, reprimanding them for being too touchy.
This had all the markings of Bannon, who deplores what he deems the politically correct coddling of minority groups. But it seemed to go against what Kushner holds dearest. He’s the descendant of Holocaust survivors, including a grandmother who helped to found the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and once complained of America’s reluctance to take in Jewish refugees who were trying to avoid extermination.
His family is famous for its Jewish philanthropy. He and Ivanka, who converted to Judaism for their marriage, observe the Sabbath from sundown Friday until sundown Saturday. And yet his father-in-law fell short of the presidents before him in recognizing the horrors inflicted on Jews.
Some observers point to the Sabbath as proof that Kushner does indeed exert a taming force in Trump World. They say that the president is most reckless during these periods, because Ivanka and her husband aren’t around to babysit.
It was during the Sabbath that Trump pressed the National Park Service for more-flattering inauguration photos and gave that cockamamie, vainglorious speech to the C.I.A. It was the next day that he calmed down and tweeted a tribute to the Women’s March, calling peaceful protests “a hallmark of our democracy.”
Both before Trump’s candidacy and at its start, Kushner was pegged as someone with mild political views. He and Ivanka ran in socially liberal crowds, and their presence beside Trump provided at least an iota of reassurance for some of the many people aghast at his racially incendiary tactics.
But for Kushner, the campaign was less a political journey than an emotional one. His family had felt the lash of disdain after his father was sent to prison years earlier, and he was intent on redemption, revenge or something along those lines. Trump represented a road to a summit from which his son-in-law could lord it over the elitists who had looked down on him.
Maybe he didn’t register all the ugly swerves along the way. Maybe he convinced himself that they weren’t so ugly. Maybe he believed that he’d be able to grab the wheel and correct the course. Maybe he still tells himself that, despite all the evidence to the contrary.
Sometimes I study him and see someone drained of color, even thinner than before, haunted. More often I see an emblem of our morally compromised capital, full of people willing to let the Trump juggernaut flatten essential American values just as long as they get to go along for the ride.
The entire pack of them are beneath contempt and should be shunned like pariahs by decent people.
Tags: The Moustache of Wisdom