Trump is not a drill
I was going to write about Bill Clinton this morning. I was going to talk about his extraordinary gift for weaving the personal and political together, for straying from script and managing to paint an incredibly heartfelt, genuine, humanizing picture of Hillary Clinton at last night’s Democratic National Convention, of his repayment of a four-decade debt. I was going to frame him as one of the last great orators from the bygone tradition of the 19th and 20th centuries, and talk about how, if anyone could cut into the Orange Fascist’s overwhelming lead among non-college-educated white men, it was Bill Clinton.
And then Donald Trump called a press conference this morning.
I don’t know why this press conference was called — presumably He, Trump was feeling deeply insecure about the fact that media had been talking about somebody other than him for more than five minutes. But what followed was quite something. Trump has set the bar for “batshit crazy” improbably high over the course of his run for the Presidency, but he cleared it with room to spare. To highlight a few of the most egregious claims, he:
· Called on a foreign power (Russia) to actively engage in espionage against US government departments for the purpose of helping his political campaign. Two minutes after he suggested that (increasingly solid) accusations that Putin is actively aiding his campaign were “ridiculous”.
· In the next breath, insisted that Clinton shouldn’t get access to Classified briefings because an aide’s husband once sent dick pics via Twitter.
· Indicated that he would be open to recognizing Russian sovereignty of the Crimea Peninsula
· Confused Clinton’s running mate Tim Kaine, who was Governor of Virginia from 2006–2010, with Tom Keane, who was last Governor of New Jersey in 1990.
· Accused Barack Obama of being “the most ignorant President in history” (Note: this man brags about how he doesn’t read books).
· Told a female reporter who asked questions about his unreleased tax returns to “be quiet” and accused her of being in league with Clinton.
· Called the Geneva Conventions, which bar militaries from committing war crimes, “outdated”
· Doubled down on his insistence that Russia should hack Clinton and the State Department — 27 minutes after his VP pick (Mike Pence) publicly insisted that he didn’t really mean that comment.
This stopped being funny a long time ago. There’s a reasonable argument that the Republican Party’s nominee for President just committed treason. This is a man who has openly courted white nationalists and neo-Nazis, dabbled in conspiracy theories, questioned the legitimacy of Barack Obama’s presidency (less a racial dog whistle and more a racial fog horn), questioned the basic science of vaccines and climate change, and offered to pay the legal fees of supporters who beat up protestors. He has promised to institute the largest forced population transfer since the end of the Second World War, to bar an entire group of people from entering the US on the basis of which language they pray in, to abandon the Baltics and Eastern Europe to a belligerent mafia-state, to engage in economic and political extortion against long-time allies, to transform the US Armed Forces into a pillaging mercenary force that actively engages in War Crimes, to bring back the witch-hunting of civil rights activists of the J Edgar Hoover era, to gut the civil service and staff it with loyal sycophants, to blow up the system of political and economic multilateralism that has maintained the postwar peace for seven decades, and to place control of 4,500 nuclear warheads in the hands of a dangerously insecure narcissist with zero knowledge of policy and a penchant for impulsively lashing out at perceived enemies. This man is more unfit for the office of the Presidency than anyone who has ever run for it. Oh, and’s he’s currently leading in aggregate polling.
This is real. It is happening. The odds of President Trump laying his tiny fingers on the Resolute Desk come January 2017 are dangerously, uncomfortably high. It is a campaign fueled by rage, and rage alone. Trump is not just a threat to 11 million undocumented immigrants, or to millions of women who would see their bodily autonomy rolled back by a hyper-conservative Congress, or to millions of American Muslims who would become the sanctioned targets of hatred and bigotry, or to African Americans, or members of the LGBTQ community. Donald Trump is a threat to civilization.
People often wonder how they would have acted in 1920s Italy or 1930s Germany: would they have stood up to the Fascist war machine as it eroded domestic institutions and plunged the world into the bloodiest conflict in human history? Would they have resisted? Would they have fought? We all like to think we would have.
Now it’s time to find out. This is not a drill.