Trump’s alternative realities

What to read and what to do about it


– – – A Saturday morning ritual for many years, I read the New York Times more or less from cover to cover. When I can, I do it on paper. When I can’t, and that’s most of the time, I do it online. In recent years, I have started to prefer the online version even when the paper version is available to me. As global news go, it’s changed my way of staying informed, in part because what happens when reading online is that new links and stories come to attention – getting to them is much easier than on paper. As a consequence, whatever happens in that newspaper’s current coverage of President Donald Tump, is available in a multitude of ways; you can save it, share it, and review it. With Facebook and other social media as means of sharing, one end result is an spreading insight into the doings of one particular individual that stands out and causes worry: Never before has the world been treated to so much news about one sitting president in the United States.

Never before has a global civil society been as capable of mobilizing a healthy critique. As these few links below attest to:

NYT this morning: “It’s with a whiff of desperation that President Trump insists these days that he’s the chief executive Washington needs, the decisive dealmaker who, as he said during the campaign, “alone can fix it.” What America has seen so far is an inept White House led by a celebrity apprentice.

It’s not a common editorial, as editorials go. And neither is the news coverage of Donald Trump as president, business as usual. Rarely, and certainly not in my time reading that paper, has a news paper been as consistent, as clear, as critical, and as pervasive an agenda setter.

New York Times: A voice of sanity

150820141418-trump-time-magazine-780x439When Mr. Trump’s assistants can keep the edge of panic out of their voices, they insist that Mr. Trump has gotten more done in the early going than most presidents. And Mr. Trump is so adept at creating smoke that Americans might be forgiven for thinking that’s true. But at this point in the Obama presidency, which did inherit a mess, Congress had passed laws aimed at dragging the economy back from the brink of depression while committing $800 billion in Recovery Act spending to projects ranging from housing to roads to advanced energy technologies.”

TIME Magazine: Another one

In Time Magazine recently, another story about “disrupting” the White House:

intcover0227lr“Disruption can take many forms. Protesters have filled the streets, blocked airports and interrupted town-hall meetings by lawmakers across the country. Republicans, meanwhile, have been growing increasingly restless, with the House Oversight Committee probing Trump’s security protocols for discussing classified information at his weekend retreat in Mar-a-Lago, and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell suggesting that the Senate investigation of Russian interference in the election would expand. Others in the GOP have raised concerns that their legislative hopes under unified Republican control could fade, given the confusion over Trump’s priorities on issues such as tax reform and trade. “There are a lot of questions on the part of the people who took the President home after the dance,” explains Republican Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas”.

And in the Atlantic: Containing Trump

The monthly magazine Atlantic also runs a regular newsfeed on US and world politics, worth our time: “He may well try to govern as an authoritarian. Whether he succeeds depends less on what he does than on how civil society responds”. 

And yes: What reason one may have to question journalism, there is all the better reason to emphasize how important media like these are for just that civil society response.

A strange thing then happens, I think. While the intelligent response is available, the usual news fare on President Trump in my own home country seldom reaches very high, and a great meany people in that US civil society tom whom the Atlantic refers, never opened a copy of The Atlantic, nor an issue of New York Times.

After Trump

The one thing I learned today, from reading through the news coming to me by clicking one link after the other, is this: There is a new watchdog group out there called After Trump. One of the cofounders is named Yascha Mounk.  And he says, according to The Atlantic: “Most people,” he told me, “are thinking about Trump as a policy problem: how he will lead to the deportation of undocumented immigrants or lead the U.S. to pull out of the Paris climate agreement. But I think Trump is also potentially an authoritarian threat to the survival of liberal democracy”.

Here is his website: After Trump.

Here is also a story by and of him in Slate. 




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