Andrew Sullivan engages in the only polemic against Trump that has ever caused me to consider I was wrong about him. I love it! It is so powerful, so over-the-top, it nearly had me for a moment. Try it, you will like it.
The piece is in three parts. It starts with a catalog of Trump’s errors, as he sees them, which is merely a warm-up for the indictment.
The second part assaults the Left in a way I believe to be a true description of their intentions and tactics. It is a dark though accurate vision.
Nothing could be further from the left’s current vision, which is that the very concept of post-racial integration is an illusion designed to mask the reality of an eternal “white supremacy.” Today’s left-liberal consensus is that Obama, however revered he may still be as president, was and is absurdly naïve in this respect: that there is no recovery from the original sin, no possible redemption, and certainly no space for the concept of an individual citizenship that transcends race and can unite Americans. There is no freedom here. There is just oppression. The question is merely about who oppresses whom.
The idea that African-Americans have some responsibility for their own advancement, that absent fatherhood and a cultural association of studying with “acting white” are part of the problem — themes Obama touched upon throughout his presidency — is now almost a definition of racism itself. And the animating goal of progressive politics is unvarnished race and gender warfare. What matters before anything else is what race and gender you are, and therefore what side you are on. And in this neo-Marxist worldview, fully embraced by a hefty majority of the next generation, the very idea of America as a liberating experiment, dissolving tribal loyalties in a common journey toward individual opportunity, is anathema.
There is no arc of history here, just an eternal grinding of the racist and sexist wheel. What matters is that nonwhites fight and defeat white supremacy, that women unite and defeat oppressive masculinity, and that the trans supplant and redefine the cis. What matters is equality of outcome, and it cannot be delayed. All the ideas that might complicate this — meritocracy, for example, or a color-blind vision of justice, or equality of opportunity rather than outcome — are to be mocked until they are dismantled. And the political goal is not a post-racial fusion, a unity of the red and the blue, but the rallying of the victims against the victimizers, animated by the core belief that a non-“white” and non-male majority will at some point come, after which the new hierarchies can be imposed by fiat. When you read the Jeremiah Wright speech today, it seems as if it is coming from a different era altogether.
In the third section, Sullivan likens Trump to King Richard III, as presented by Shakespeare. Truly this is a triumph of invective, and fully confirms my view that people are being driven mad – mad – by the breakdown of their cognitive apparatus in the wake of the Donald’s passage through time.
The tyrant is not in full control of himself, and has no real idea of what to do with power when he gets it — except purge his ranks and dispatch his rivals in an endless cycle of insecurity. No one lasts for long in Richard’s orbit, or Trump’s. He rages forward blindly, and his only constancy is his paranoia, loneliness, and willingness to cause collateral damage to anything around him. The only way to defeat him, Shakespeare implies, is from outside the system itself: via an invading army, led by an exile. Even then, the damage is deep and lasting. Richard’s reign is just two years long; but the scar is indelible.
And this is indeed the kernel of what I fear: that if Mueller at any point presents a real conflict between the rule of law and Trump’s ego, the ego will win. If Trump has to fire his attorney general, and anyone else, he will. If he has to initiate a catastrophic conflict to save face, he will. If he has to delegitimize the Department of Justice, empty the State Department, and turn law enforcement against itself, he will. If he has to unleash unspeakable racial demons to save himself from political oblivion, he will not hesitate to do so. If he has to separate children from parents, describe humans as animals, and turn Christians into pagans, he will not blink. This is what a tyrant does….
Trump, it seems to me, has established this tyrannical dynamic with remarkable speed. And what we are about to find out is whether the Founders who saw such a character as an eternal threat to their republic have constructed institutions capable of checking him without the impact of an external intervention, of a disaster so complete it finally breaks the tyrant’s spell. Watching what has transpired these past two years, seeing how truly weak the system is, and how unwilling so many have been to recognize our new disorder, I see no reason to be optimistic. The play is a tragedy, after all.
You are at liberty to view this as mere vaporing, however erudite and informed. Or deeply insightful, and which predicts tragedy.
I do not share this perspective.
I consider that Trump is more sinned against than sinning, to cite King Lear. I believe him to have been the object of a conspiracy of espionage agencies (Brennan, Comey, Clapper) using opposition research bought or purveyed by the Democrats, which is fabricated nonsense, in the attempt to cripple his regime by delegitimizing it from the beginning on the basis of a story of Russian collusion and interference.
I consider that the Mueller probe is a weapon of the permanent State and Democratic political appointees against the President, and predict that, after two years of turning over every page, it cannot and will not find any evidence of the collusion it was intended to find. But like any bureaucratic legal enterprize, it will seek eternal self-perpetuation.
In short, Trump’s enemies have nothing on him except political differences.
Those who hate Trump may fear a Richard III, wandering the halls of power and calling for the assassination of enemies, if they had the culture and literary imagination. What they have, by contrast, is a vulgar and effective billionaire real estate developer, who is whipping their collective asses with his success.
So to Andrew Sullivan, I say, nice try. A very nice try. An erudite, informed and brilliant try. But I am not buying it. One of us is off his rocker, and it is not me. As Robert Frost once said, you have to have a certain coarseness to get through life: I have it, it would seem, and Andrew Sullivan does not. Because I see Sullivan’s take on Trump-as-tyrant as an effusion of a certain type of gay excess, like the apartment in La Cage aux Folles. I dislike descending to stereotypes, yet in this case they are apposite.