Two views of The Trump Melodrama : Ross Douthat & Janan Ganesh offer … Political Observer comments

Ross Douthat presents Trump as resembling ‘the flawed, arrogant, appetitive figures from the Hebrew Bible‘ I have taken the liberty of posting only this part of Douthat’s political apologetic. Note that Trump, through his nomination of  Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, gives hope to Douthat, of the final end to Roe v. Wade, it is just a matter of time! Barrett, like Douthat, are the American versions of Ultramontanism, in sum, the deeply anti-democratic expression of Papal Infallibility. Link to a short review of How the Pope Became Infallible: Pius IX and the Politics of Persuasion. by August Bernhard Hasler.

Headline: The Tragedy of Donald Trump

Sub-headline: n the drama of 2020, the president’s own coronavirus infection is one more seemingly pre-scripted twist.

Our president does not, to put it mildly, resemble the tragic heroes familiar from Aeschylus or Shakespeare. But he has a little more in common with some of the flawed, arrogant, appetitive figures from the Hebrew Bible — figures who are given opportunities to do something important in spite of their flaws, who are placed at crucial turning points in history notwithstanding their weaknesses and sins and who have the capacity to achieve things that amaze the wise and powerful.

In Trump’s arc in 2020, it’s possible to see a more tragic version of this kind of biblical narrative, in which Providence grants a flawed old sinner a unique chance at heroism, even greatness — and he chooses badly, and lets it pass him by.

The president’s coronavirus diagnosis bends that tragic arc a little further. The idea that an illness and speedy recovery might help him win re-election on a wave of sympathy seems — well, let’s just call it unlikely. Rather, his illness just seems to emphasize that we’re inside the falling action of the play, the working out of choices and themes that were established months ago.

You can’t pray to a writer’s room, but you can pray to God. And so we should pray for the president’s swift recovery, that all those infected around him recover soon as well, and that the falling action of 2020’s drama would spare as many lives as possible.

But to pray is also — inherently — to behave as though life isn’t just one accident after another, as though narrative lines in history actually exist, as though our choices are woven into patterns and not just left to unspool randomly. And the president’s affliction, in this sense, is woven intimately into the larger story of 2020 and his administration’s rendezvous with pestilence — a story whose might-have-beens could have redeemed his vices, but whose realities have sealed his presidency’s transformation from a dark farce into a tragedy.


Janan Ganesh:

Headline: Donald Trump’s faults are more libertarian than authoritarian

Sub-headline: As the past week shows, the US president is not a conventional autocrat

Mr. Ganesh’s cast of characters in this essay: Eva Perón, Nicolae Ceausescu, Mussolini, ‘the 1930s far-right.’ Joe Biden, Mexico,  Obamacare, ‘Congress’s free-market Republicans’, Hobbes’ Leviathan , Nationalist International , Vladimir Putin , Viktor Orban,  Jair Bolsonaro.

Janan Ganesh assures the reader that Trump is not so much an ‘Authoritarian’ as a ‘Libertarian’ . The cast of characters, that Ganesh cobbles together, in his necessary ransacking of philosophical/political history encourages a necessary readerly vertigo: a lesson learned from the Neo-Conservative acolytes of Leo Struss? Then come this puzzling bit of, what to name it? anti-intellectualism:

It feels wrong to complain about excessive education, but the second world war and the years leading up to it are almost too well taught. That period has become the lens through which we see all contemporary events.

This non-sequitur, an oblique refence to Neville Chamberlain? followed by his final paragraph:

“Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state,” said Mussolini, in his epistrophic definition of fascism. It is hard to draft a sentence that Mr Trump and his Republican supporters are less likely to utter.

The desperation of political writers, employed by Corporate Media, who fancy themselves ‘Pundits’, to find usable rhetorical framing for their commentaries, while rigorously observing the strictures of bourgeoise political respectability, is a challenge that leads to a journalism that is practiced at Newspapers like The New York Times and The Financial Times.

Political Observer

About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.'
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