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Andrew Bacevich: Donald Trump and the Remaking of America
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As a child of the 1980s, certain touchstones, figures, and moments are seared into my brain: Pac-Man and Michael Jackson, the personal computer, Yuppies, crack hysteria, AIDs, the Challenger disaster, and in the waning days of the decade, the fall of the Berlin Wall. Two newsmakers also stand out in my mind. From my local area, there was Mafioso John Gotti, the “Teflon Don,” who always seemed to be mugging for the camera and beating the rap. On the national front, there was Ronald Reagan, the “Teflon president,” who slipped and slid (and maybe slept) through one scandal after another: the Iran-Contra Affair, influence-peddling at the Department of Housing and Urban Development , the Ill Wind Pentagon fraud scandal, Sewergate at the Environmental Protection Agency, the Inslaw Affair, and so on.

Something else stands out from those years, a commercial that always seemed to be playing on TV, perhaps even between stories about the two Teflon newsmakers. It began with a team of horses charging through the night pulling a carriage. As the coach comes to a stop, a clone of Henry VIII steps forth, his eyes wide, his mouth open, awed by the utter 1980s opulence arrayed before him. “You’re the king, you’re the king of the castle,” sings a woman with a cruise-ship-quality voice. “Trump Castle, hotel and casino, and baby, baby, do we know how to treat a king!” What follows is a barrage of a montage: a tux-clad maître d’, Vegas-style showgirls, a cork popping from a bottle of champagne. And then Henry’s back. “Now this is a castle!” he booms, his arms lifted to the sky as the camera pans to take in the gaudy “elegance” of Donald Trump’s Atlantic City pleasure palace.

For decades, that commercial, or at least the horrible jingle sung by Trump’s sequin-clad chanteuse, never quite left my brain. Still, who could have imagined that the man who sired that ad would emerge as a “serious” presidential candidate of the party of the Teflon president and prove to be, at least to this moment, more resilient, more Teflonesque, no matter what he says or does, than Dutch Reagan and John Gotti combined? What started as a joke has become a disaster-in-the-making and the wink offered by a tiara-wearing cocktail waitress at that ad’s end has taken on a new resonance for me.

Trump’s Castle was rebranded out of existence in the 1990s and The Donald’s Atlantic City empire — the Trump Taj Mahal (now owned by activist investor Carl Icahn), Trump Plaza, and the Trump Marina (the old Castle) — crumbled. But Trump himself has somehow emerged stronger than ever. The man who sought to lure all aspiring monarchs to A.C. (“welcome to a kingdom where everybody’s treated like a king”) has whipped up a heady mix of xenophobia, political bromides, and so-light-it-floats policy proposals into a movement. Call it Trumpism, or maybe even Trumpismo. And should he ride this populist wave of fear and loathing to the Republican nomination for president, the American political system will never be the same — so says TomDispatch regular Andrew Bacevich whose monumental new book, America’s War for the Greater Middle East, is due out this April. If the Teflon doesn’t wear thin soon, you might want to start preparing yourself for this once-improbable candidate to become, as Bacevich suggests, America’s very own Juan Perón, though he might prefer to be called the king of the castle.

(Republished from TomDispatch by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: 2016 Election, Donald Trump 
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  1. [Commenters should just use regular text rather than bold italics, which unfairly gives their comments greater visibility. Stop doing that or your comments will get trashed.]

    The usual too-clever-by-half beltway bullshit. Trump in and of himself is nothing remarkable. What he is: an expressive vessel for a rapidly-shrinking White America that is, though still slowly and not-yet-coherently, becoming aware that it is on “someone”‘s Extinction Protocol. That someone had better beware. Because Trump is actually highly civilized and reasonable…compared to what’s lurking just below the event horizon

  2. I’m surprised at Andy working himself up into such a lather when he’s usually capable of such nuanced insight. Maybe it’s just the contagion hysteria of proximity to the overwrought media and establishment politicos’ environment now that he’s finally managed to penetrate their borders.

    I note that this broadside ignores that Trump alone refuses to demonize Putin, thinks we ought to let the Russians dispose of ISIS, says we ought to be fair-handed in the dispute between Israel and Palestinians, believes that five trillion has been misspent on futile Middle Eastern wars, called President Bush a liar and his wars acts of stupidity, reviles the TPP style trade deals as bad for average folks, and refuses to tear up the nuclear deal with Iran.

    Not only does this diverge from the establishment double down policies of all the others (and yes, Hillary too) but it is remarkably redolent of Andrew Bacevich’s own critiques. It seems that both I and Donald Trump have been convinced by the same arguments that Andy has so cogently and tirelessly made. It seems that even someone who speaks in cruder terms and has the financial wherewithal to buck the gamed donorist system has noted the cognitive dissonance of our failed duopoly beltway consensus.

    You know what? He isn’t even a lawyer, those most skilled at devising loopholes in the Constitution, which has allowed an oligarchy to create a de facto velvet fascism of big money usurpation of democratic accountability.

    Is it so bad that the billionaire was a reality TV actor? Wasn’t Ronald Reagan, a mere Hollywood actor, possessed of a common sense for leadership that defied professional politicians’ acceptance of stagflation and made common cause with the unthinkable, the last General Secretary of the Soviet Union in the only genuine push to rid the world of a potential nuclear holocaust? Were his Presidential debates profound, or reduced to the wielding of one-liners: “There he goes again,” “I refuse to use my opponent’s youth and inexperience against him” – quips as determinative of winning a serious debate?

    No, Andrew, this is not Peronism. It is the case that other than Sanders and Trump, none of the establishment pols are supporting the cause of the American people’s interests. It is not huge numbers as imagined Trumpistas, but recognizing that someone in the running is supporting their interests. Who else will rid us of these pestilential high priests?

    • Replies: @Bliss
  3. “supporting the cause of the American people’s interests”

    Most Americans are government worshiping dupes who deserve ten times the death and destruction they’ve inflicted on the rest of the world.

  4. MarkinLA says:

    has whipped up a heady mix of xenophobia, political bromides, and so-light-it-floats policy proposals into a movement. Call it Trumpism, or maybe even Trumpismo. And should he ride this populist wave of fear and loathing to the Republican nomination for president

    Did Bacevich say this or is this Turse’s take?

  5. “government worshiping dupes who deserve ten times the death and destruction they’ve inflicted”

    I suppose the Earth would easily support a population of the few thousand who haven’t been fooled by their own governments at one time or another.

    However, given the propaganda level and its sophistication, the ones who knowingly promulgate lies to others are the guilty.

    You can’t make civilian populations subject to the death penalty just because they live under regimes they have such little power over and who keep much of what they do and its real reasons secret from them. To say otherwise is the facile utilitarian argument in favor of killing civilians under the theory that no one is innocent. Both terror organizations and the Mutually Assured Destruction crowd operate on much the same theory, which is why there is such a fear of nuclear proliferation.

  6. Bliss says:
    @Fran Macadam

    Trump alone refuses to demonize Putin, thinks we ought to let the Russians dispose of ISIS, says we ought to be fair-handed in the dispute between Israel and Palestinians, believes that five trillion has been misspent on futile Middle Eastern wars, called President Bush a liar and his wars acts of stupidity, reviles the TPP style trade deals as bad for average folks, and refuses to tear up the nuclear deal with Iran.

    That proves he is indeed the man of the hour. Being the only candidate for President who is talking common sense.

    In fact Trump has recently started calling himself a common-sense conservative, including in his impressive speech last night, after Super Tuesday.

  7. Many inexpensive gleaming wines stated in the U.S. also depend on container fermentation.

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