Post-Donald Time

In the News: A Time for Trump, now Dump?

Brooks-Trump. Andrew Russeth, Creative Commons Licensed.
Brooks-Trump. Andrew Russeth, Creative Commons Licensed.

Just recently, I hung my grandfather’s old clock on my wall, to remind myself that there is such a thing as time, even in our times. It’s the kind of clock where you can easily reset the handles, to adjust the time shown. You needed to reset time back then. Clocks didn’t tick as accurately as they do now. You also had to wind them up, since time also wound down. That was the beauty of it: Time required human assistance in order for us to keep up with it. Otherwise, time just went its own way.

I think many of us might want to remember that sort of time now; to reset US presidential time to any time but Trump. It certainly looks that way, across the range of public opinion. But maybe time compares to political freedom? It might be that for us to be in charge of time, we need to be constantly maintaining our clock, like being in charge of political freedom means constantly maintaining our democracy? I don´t know if this is a likely metaphor, but it may be worth trying it out?

My granddad’s clock reminds me that I as a person can have a measure of control over time.  I just set it to 10 minutes before 2 PM, as it seemed the likely thing to do, given that it was 10 minutes to two. I named this re-set “Post-Donald Time” – or PDT. Wishful thinking, kinda. I was reading Facebook, see. A surprisingly high number of intelligent people were sharing news feeds about whether and how to remove President Trump, after a month in office.

I kept reading. Ten minutes later, my clock then went “dong” PDT. The time for “ding” had already passed. But I was already in PDT mode, anyway.

And being in this PDT mode, I started passing the time until the next “dong”, picking up the the sources of these  facebooked articles from US media on what President Trump has been up to this past week. I ended in serouc news papers rather fast, in magazines of various formats and in blogs I never knew existed. It was an educational experience.

PDT – Standard Past Donald Time

I then asked myself: Where were these news media people during the nominations, when you really needed them? As if Democracy, for instance, can be put on automation without being basically altered? Back then, the news media were filled with assurances that Trump would run, but loose. He was not really in the race to become president. Not to worry. Hillary would beat him, or the Republicans would not be so silly as to actually nominate “that guy”.

By February 2017, it´s dawning on more and more of these commentators how Donald Trump is dangerous, and why. They are drawing up linkages to things going on in Europe, the Brits leaving he EU, the Dutch potentially electing right-wingers, and the possibility of an end to the Merkl statemanship in Germany.

And now these media are saying it, while they should have done so during the US presidential candidate nomination – where it might have mattered in deciding the outcome. One might at least dream of a scenario where the red and the blue dots on the electoral map would have evened out a bit more; where the rural areas would not have been so uniformly pro-Trump and the blue urbanites wold be more rock solid.

Below is a selection of articles to underscore that question, serious as it is. How to understand the scenario of Trump leaving? Is thee one? Can there be such wishful thinking as PDT? What does it say about our political discourse, to wish and actually take seriously, for the idea that a sitting president gets removed?

It never happened before. Andrew Johnson was impeached, and so was Bill Clinton. Neither one quit. Richard Nixon quit, but he was not impeached.

Here is a sample of the ongoing discussion in various media, more or less as it slides into my Facebook feed from a variety of sources:

David Brooks

The well-spoken New York Times columnist wrote a commentary piece this past Feb 17th. that became a world known reference, spread through social media. I got in through Facebook a dozen times, or more. What he wrote was this: “I still have trouble seeing how the Trump administration survives a full term. Judging by his Thursday press conference, President Trump’s mental state is like a train that long ago left freewheeling and iconoclastic, has raced through indulgent, chaotic and unnerving, and is now careening past unhinged, unmoored and unglued”.

No one has said it better, recently:

Everything about Trump that appalls 65 percent of America strengthens him with the other 35 percent, and he can ride that group for a while. Even after these horrible four weeks, Republicans on Capitol Hill are not close to abandoning their man.

The likelihood is this: We’re going to have an administration that has morally and politically collapsed, without actually going away.

What does that look like?

Brooks notes: “The first conclusion is obvious. This administration is more like a medieval monarchy than a modern nation-state. It’s more “The Madness of King George” than “The Missiles of October.” The key currency is not power, it’s flattery”.

Nicholas Kristof: How can we get rid of Trump?

Indeed, and in fact. Here is the link to a piece of commentary by Kristof: A noted op/ed writer in the world’s most important newspaper, who asks that question. It is far from obvious that anybody would do so, and very far from expectation that it would be asked just a month into a new president’s first term. It is in more than one sense news journalism history. What Kristof does is to refer back to numerous questions he has received on the matter, and then attempts an answer – in the New York Times.

There have been more than 1,000 references to “Watergate” in the news media in the last week, according to the Nexis archival site, with even some conservatives calling for Trump’s resignation or warning that he could be pushed out. Dan Rather, the former CBS News anchor who covered Watergate, says that Trump’s Russia scandal isn’t now at the level of Watergate but could become at least as big.

Maybe things will settle down. But what is striking about Trump is not just the dysfunction of his administration but also the — vigorously denied — allegations that Trump’s team may have cooperated with Vladimir Putin to steal the election. What’s also different is the broad concern that Trump is both: A) unfit for office, and B) dangerously unstable. One pro-American leader in a foreign country called me up the other day and skipped the preliminaries, starting with: “What the [expletive] is wrong with your country?”

From Time Magazine
From Commentary Magazine
Epilogue

Here is the full transcript from the February 16th. Trump Press Conference. 
Here is the link to the interactive commentary feed, from correspondents. 

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