I could spend my final column in The Sun wistfully lamenting the passing of these years spent perched far above Cayuga’s waters, but I’m sure there are others waiting to step into that breach. My tales are much too inane for general consumption, so a meditation, if it deserves such a term, on my time in this country seems a better choice than bland personal anecdotes. Though I suppose it is precisely the inanity of the anecdotes that makes the profundity of the meditation. There are things one notices only after having lived in a country for some time. Small things that tourists would not recognise.
In another pivot away from Trump’s isolationist America First campaign rhetoric, U.S. forces in Afghanistan deployed the fuel air GBU-43/B or the “mother of all bombs,” destroying an ISIS tunnel complex in Nangahar province. Many bearded bad hombres dead and The Donald surely flush with glee at all the buttons he gets to press.
Last week’s failure of the American Healthcare Act (an act whose formal short title was “World’s Greatest Healthcare Plan of 2017”) is a major blow to Donald Trump and Paul Ryan. In the words of the former, “nobody knew that health care could be so complicated” (or, as the latter would say, “access to care”). Besides a crushing defeat for a divided Republican Party unable to reach a vote on the bill, its withdrawal once again puts the lie to Trump’s chief campaign argument of being a solid dealmaker. In the presidency, you can’t trade on your father’s name and money, as among the rarefied airs of New York City real estate. Indeed, Trump demonstrated a fundamental misunderstanding of the art of the deal by both playing his hand too early and lacking knowledge of the parties with whom he was dealing (but who can blame a man for that when watching Fox is soooo much more satisfying).
In The People v. O.J. Simpson, Johnnie Cochran, a member of O.J. Simpson’s dream team legal squad, tells his colleagues, “Evidence doesn’t win the day. Jurors go with the narrative that makes sense.” The show presents DNA analysis as being so new that most jurors could make neither head nor tail of solid evidence presented that tied Simpson directly to the scene of two murders. Simpson’s defence relied on muddying the waters with accusations of systemic racism in the Los Angeles Police Department in order to prevent any conclusions being made beyond a reasonable doubt. The jury was enthralled by show tricks and rhetoric, smoke and mirrors around the fire of what actually happened on the night of the murders for which Simpson stood trial. Such seems to be the state of much political discourse.
Before last year’s presidential election, Donald Trump was solidly the candidate of anger — anger at elites, anger at the media and anger at the yawning gap between the rural and urban Americas. As part of this anger, Trump foretold destruction — draining the swamp and dismantling NATO, all while building a big beautiful wall. He was a “disrupter,” that faddish term economists use to describe upstart startups. Clinton’s message of hope couldn’t withstand Trump’s brand of change. Now Trump and his motley crew have taken over the White House and those who were angry before are no longer quite so.
Hannah Arendt wrote that terror is the foundation of totalitarianism. The regimes of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin bound individuals into a single quivering mass through which terror coursed unhindered. Some say money is the root of all evil. I say fear is a more likely bedrock. Fear was an important, primal reaction that helped our ancestors survive – and we are all descended from the same; all races can trace their lineages back to the same primate forebears – in a dangerous world.
Donald Trump, like Mobutu Sese Seko’s illegitimate child, is already showing his nepotistic tendencies. Unprecedented is an understatement. Trump’s transition team reportedly enquired about obtaining security clearances for his children, the very people who would be controlling his “blind trust.” Ivanka Trump sat in on her father’s meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan. Trump, *ahem*, reportedly closed their meeting by asking his guest if he could help him understand just quite why “the nuclear” is so bad. Jared Kushner, a newspaper proprietor, could bring peace to the Middle East, according to Trump.
Before Tuesday night I had expected the gnashing teeth of a poll-drowned American electorate to soon take my most ugly of muses. The moment when the Trump well would run dry was close at hand. Alas, it was not to be. The Donald shall be enthroned in the seat of power, like a lascivious Jabba the Hutt, for a period of no less than four years (barring impeachment or some act by the “Second Amendment people”). America will replace its first black president with the orange zealot who built his political career on questioning his predecessor’s citizenship.
Don’t get complacent, Democrats. Donald Trump could still play an ace. Polls have tightened. Though many voters in states like North Carolina have already decided between Hillary Clinton and Trump, there remain high numbers of undecided voters in other battleground states, which could intensify Trump’s benefit from James Comey’s Halloween emails treat. Trump has, for once, resisted turning the attention back on himself.
Pauses for breath during this presidential campaign have seen much talk of the Democrats’ chances to retake the Senate. Their prospects appear to be buoyed by a rapidly sinking Donald Trump, who isn’t slinging mud as much as he is wallowing in it. His remarks and behavior have created quite the quandary for vulnerable Republican senators in purple states. Sure, Trump’s bark might be worse than his bite but the real trouble is his base. Yet among all this hopeful chatter Democrats continue to neglect state-level races, as they are wont to do.