In Trump’s version of America, I’m happy to be called an ‘Enemy of the People’

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An 18th century parliamentarian well might have had Donald Trump in mind when he described a political opponent, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, as “blending mediocrity with cunning.” Trump doubtless will spawn many such descriptions on his own; one legal scholar, for example, already has described his slap-dash travel ban as a “combination of malevolence and incompetence.” Trump’s ongoing campaign against the news media is a signature example of his malevolent cunning. Beset with bad publicity—and historically low public approval ratings—because of his administration’s stunningly chaotic launch and growing suspicions over surreptitious Russian involvement in his election, Trump has scuttled to the ...

It’s hard to be an effective populist when you’re not all that popular

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Donald Trump is about to discover that it’s very difficult to govern as a populist when the majority of the populace isn’t with you. One of the most unexpected events in this period of dizzyingly destabilizing socio-political novelties—Trump’s chaotic attempted presidency foremost among them—is the mass resistance to his administration now expressing itself in the streets: The massive post inaugural women’s marches, first of all, and now the stunningly widespread airport protests against his anti-immigrant diktats. The spontaneity, scope and intensity of the latter exceed, I think, anything that occurred at the height of that last great period of popular mobilization, ...

Trump’s First Days in Office: Deeply Sinister

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The trick to making something like sense out of these first stages of Donald Trump’s presidency is distinguishing between conduct that merely is vulgar or idiosyncratic and those ideas, policies and appointments whose implications are genuinely sinister. The difficulty, of course, is that the new chief executive’s bellicose, frenetic, self-aggrandizing and habitually mendacious persona throws up a kind of smoke screen that impedes such sober distinctions.  His appallingly tasteless and offensively egomaniacal performance before the “Wall of Heroes” at CIA headquarters Saturday was a quintessential example of the boorish and dissembling Trump; his cabinet and White House staff appointments are chilling ...