Thursday, January 4, 2018

Grifter, racist, despot

It is often said, by liberals --who don't know any more about the history of their own country than rightwingers -- that Trump is unique among presidents for using his office to promote his private fortune.

Washington not only used the office of president to line his own pockets, he also used the office to turn violent militias against citizens who -- to put it mildly -- disagreed not only with his policies but  resented his personal business methods.

It is not easy to find this record. The most complete I know is in Thomas  Slaughter's "The Whiskey Rebellion," published as late as 1986.

Nut graf:

. . . Indeed, Washington now sought to use the influence of his office  in the same ways that he had always exploited personal connections in behalf of business enterprises. "I am about [to] give you a little trouble on my private account," the President informed a political appointee. His mixture of public and private affairs included solicitation of a customs collector's aid in selling some tobacco and wheat, an attempt to convince the commissioners of the District of Columbia to purchase rocks from his quarry, and the enlistment of a U.S. Senator to sell land in western Pennsylvania. . . . and there is evidence . . . that the President's private experiences influenced his pubic decisions about how to handle anti-excise unrest.

Which is not to say that WBD is not unique among American chief magistrates, though he follows a pattern well-known among foreign despots.

You do not have to be two Harvard political scientists to dope this out. RtO has been saying the same thing all year. Trump is not merely a fascist but a Nazi, because unlike garden-variety fascists, he is also a racist.

Fascism is not, essentially, racist, since its main orientation is religious. The original French version was anti-Jewish but on religious npt racial grounds. The first successful fascist regime, in Italy, was not originally racist, nor was the longest-surviving one, in Spain. It was the special quality of German fascism to make racism the fundamental ideological principle of what was otherwise a nationalist, xenophobic enterprise.

Without the racism, Trump is just another tinhorn despot, as the Harvard scholars discerned evn before he took office:

We have spent two decades studying the emergence and breakdown of democracy in Europe and Latin America. Our research points to several warning signs.

The clearest warning sign is the ascent of anti-democratic politicians into mainstream politics. Drawing on a close study of democracy’s demise in 1930s Europe, the eminent political scientist Juan J. Linz designed a “litmus test” to identify anti-democratic politicians. His indicators include a failure to reject violence unambiguously, a readiness to curtail rivals’ civil liberties, and the denial of the legitimacy of elected governments.

Mr. Trump tests positive. In the campaign, he encouraged violence among supporters; pledged to prosecute Hillary Clinton; threatened legal action against unfriendly media; and suggested that he might not accept the election results.

This anti-democratic behavior has continued since the election. With the false claim that he lost the popular vote because of “millions of people who voted illegally,” Mr. Trump openly challenged the legitimacy of the electoral process. At the same time, he has been remarkably dismissive of United States intelligence agencies’ reports of Russian hacking to tilt the election in his favor.


  1. Harry,

    Your comparison to Hitler keeps making no sense at all. Wolff's books tells us DJT often ends up his nights with a cheeseburger in his bed.

    You knew Hitler was a vegetarian, right?

    OK, both are teetotalers, I've heard, but you can't be Hitler eating at McDonalds!

  2. You know what Santayanya said: history repeats, first as tragedy, then as farce.

    Trump so far lacks a Goebbels or a Himmler, and he has no obsession comparable to Jews.

    Nevertheless, he goes through all the Hitler motions.