Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Enablers

Not yet a month into the Trump era and it is not at all clear if The Donald will continue to play the clown or get past that to become the authoritarian despot he aspires to be.  He faces a steep challenge as he is so ignorant of techniques of governance and diplomacy, and seems to have no fundamental understanding of important social and economic issues.

In the meantime, it is all too obvious that Trump is disruptive and dangerous.  His rants and crude bullying are causing consternation in capitals around the world and there is a growing fear that he will push the wrong button, either inadvertently or on purpose.  That said, while Trump may be unique in his unsuitability as a sitting President, he is probably not that unlike other historical despots.  Hitler and Mussolini also exhibited a lot of clown-like behavior that was fodder for satirists.  However, that did not ultimately prevent them from causing death and destruction on a massive scale.

Of course, the accomplishments of the great despots were not theirs alone.  They relied on the acquiescence of millions and the skilled manipulations of an inner circle.  Stalin had Malenkov and Beriia.  Hitler leaned on Speer, Hess, Goebbels and many other skilled propagandists like Leni Riefenstahl.

Regardless of the arc of his personal development, Trump's path through history will be largely guided by those around him who have the skills he lacks.  The rigors of the political process will weed out many of the sycophants and incompetents like Flynn, but political and constitutional processes will not prevent the ascension to power of the enablers like Tillerson, Sessions, Mnuchin, Ross, Coats, Perry, Carson, Zinke, Perdue, Shulkin, Mattis, Kelly, DeVos, Puzder, Chao and Price.


The good news:  Puzder is out as Labor Secretary.
Not so good:  The guy who nominated Puzder is still (sometimes) in the White House.

The reasons for the withdrawal included the likelihood of four Republican senators voting against confirmation.  The reasons for that and other factors are dissected in a post at 538.

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