Friday, February 17, 2017

So What Happens When?

It's a little early to draw any definitive conclusions about the Trump regime.  It's fair to say that it's gotten off to a rough start.  Beyond that, confirmation bias and a multiplicity of possible narratives really get in the way of any fair assessment of El Caudillo de la Basura Blanca and his crew.

Confirmation bias is a reality--most Trump supporters apparently see what's happening as a proof that the lib-tard main stream media and an entrenched Washington bureaucracy are in a hellish conspiracy to frustrate the will of the people ( well, of the minority--by 3-million voters--of the population who voted for Trump).  Most Democrats and the non-political people of the center see what's happening as the thrashing around of dangerous amateurs and 'somebody needs to do something' about it (where are the adults in the room?, they ask).  The rest of the world--all those people beyond the shores of the Atlantic and the Pacific, the people on the other side of the Wall--seem to be reaching some more guarded preliminary conclusions--write off Trump, not the United States, and for time being assume there is a black hole where the United States of America used to be.

The multiplicity of narratives is as much a problem as confirmation bias.  Trump came into office having never been elected to anything, have never served his country in any capacity, hell, not even having paid taxes in over a decade.  Doleful Republicans too gutless to admit what their party has foisted on the country, console themselves by claiming that Trump used to be a Democrat.  Gotta call bullshit on that one.  He was a New Yorker, sporting the local plumage, that's all.  He was a billionaire parcelling out bipartisan political contributions as part of the group effort to make sure the oligarchy's interests were political served, that's all.  Beyond the lack of a political track record, there is the erratic personal past--three wives, the bankruptcies, starting with great wealth, thrashing around in casinos and golf course projects, the larger than life media persona--that make him an enigma at the human level.  An unpleasant enigma, but an enigma nonetheless.  'Make America Great Again' isn't much to go on.  It certainly has a fascist ring to it (more so that anything offered up by Islamic fundamentalism, despite the efforts of Rumsfeldt et al. to label that baffling and contradictory movement 'Islamofascism').

On a human level you can make some educated guesses about Trump, but unless you care about the man, that's beside the point.  And, besides Trump and his associates, there is the whole question of how institutions and individual actors are going to react.  The Senate, the House of Representatives, the federal government as a whole, the military have never been tested this way.  It's probably childish and naive to put much faith in, say, the courts, as the final  safeguard against tyranny, a role they're given in the innocent mindset of most conservative American political thinkers, but their responses will emphatically effect how this is going to play out.

So, if you are interested in how the situation is going to unfold, there simply isn't enough to go on, and in that vacuum preconceived notions have too much weight.

All that said, a rocky start.  And, interestingly, all the rough patches have, basically, been sought out.  The fiascoes over the Wall and the Travel Ban were self-inflicted, in the sense that the regime itself started things rolling.  Rather than starting with something with widespread bi-partisan support (infrastructure, anyone?) or something of substance requiring heavy lifting (healthcare reform beyond sloganeering?), the Trump regime began by pandering to its base, to the general consternation of everyone not part of that base.   In my opinion, these guys haven't done a particularly good job dealing with the fallout from the, er, mixed reception their first initiatives out of the box, have received.  They almost blew their fingers off, lighting the cherry bomb, then failing to throw it.  The Travel Ban and the legal strategies associated with it, in particular, are astonishing.  Sometime needs to tell Team Trump that 'do overs' really aren't' possible in politics.  Once roiled, the waters take a long time to go still again.

So, that brings us to the question that is the title of this essay.  What is going to happen when, inevitably, the Trump crowd is no longer itself kicking off the controversy, but is called on the react to a situation out of its control?  How will these guys handle a crisis?  So far, the economy is cranking along just fine, there has been no new outbreak of regional violence anywhere in the world.  All that has happened so far has involved highly symbolic missile-related muscle flexing.  The Iranians tested a missile.  The North Koreans did the same.  The Russians deployed new intermediate range missile battalions (a treaty violation).  All of this is alarming, of course, but not on the same level as, say, an overt military intervention by Russia in the Ukraine.  So far, and he hasn't been in power long, global events have not required Trump to respond with American power.

But, every few years or so, something happens and American need their federal government.  Since the turn of the century, the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001 and the economic melt-down of 2008 have been the kind of thing that a country needs a strong central government to handle.  Sooner or later, something like that will happen again.  Then we'll see.  No use trying to predict.

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