That’s what liberals worry about when they talk about “normalizing Trump”: that the sheer repetitiveness of his offenses against liberal democracy will make them ordinary and banal, that we will lose our ability to understand that each new outrage is, in fact, outrageous, and must be treated as such if we are to retain the precious legacy bequeathed to us by our Founding Fathers, and two centuries of successors who painstakingly built the liberty we now enjoy. When his supporters dismiss criticisms as hysteria, saying “It’s not that bad,” in some sense, they’re right: So far, he has not openly defied the courts, a la Andrew Jackson, nor explicitly threatened people who threaten his business interests. The problem is that the way you get to “that bad” is often through a long succession of “At least he hasn’t …” until finally, he does, and you find that the permission granted for earlier transgressions has created a blanket hall pass for gross abuses of power.
No, liberals are right to worry, and in fact, I don’t think they worry enough. Because the biggest risk is that even if we keep shouting “This is not normal!”, voters who have heard that a thousand times before will eventually yawn and say “No, actually it is.”
I know Mark Cuban well. He backed me big-time but I wasn’t interested in taking all of his calls.He’s not smart enough to run for president!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 12, 2017
It cannot be said often enough: this surpassingly petty behavior demeans the presidency. The time Trump spends focusing on things like this is time he’s not spending focusing on the country’s real problems, and getting done what the people who voted for him want to get done.
(Rod Dreher, Trump Outrage Fatigue)
Trump’s lies are different. They are direct refutations of reality — and their propagation and repetition is about enforcing his power rather than wriggling out of a political conundrum. They are attacks on the very possibility of a reasoned discourse, the kind of bald-faced lies that authoritarians issue as a way to test loyalty and force their subjects into submission. That first press conference when Sean Spicer was sent out to lie and fulminate to the press about the inauguration crowd reminded me of some Soviet apparatchik having his loyalty tested to see if he could repeat in public what he knew to be false.
… Any lie is usually doubled down by another lie — along with an ad hominem attack.
Here is what we are supposed to do: rebut every single lie. Insist moreover that each lie is retracted — and journalists in press conferences should back up their colleagues with repeated follow-ups if Spicer tries to duck the plain truth. Do not allow them to move on to another question. Interviews with the president himself should not leave a lie alone; the interviewer should press and press and press until the lie is conceded. The press must not be afraid of even calling the president a liar to his face if he persists. This requires no particular courage. I think, in contrast, of those dissidents whose critical insistence on simple truth in plain language kept reality alive in the Kafkaesque world of totalitarianism. As the Polish dissident Adam Michnik once said: “In the life of every honorable man comes a difficult moment … when the simple statement that this is black and that is white requires paying a high price.” The price Michnik paid was years in prison. American journalists cannot risk a little access or a nasty tweet for the same essential civic duty?
I’m very glad that Andrew Sullivan is back. I hope the press corps takes his suggestion. The Mad Twitter King must be publicly disgraced for his lies until he learns how to speak extemporaneously without B.S.
Hat Tip to Rod Dreher for everything in this item.
How many time did Lord Peter Wimsey, having solved a disgraceful crime, leave the perpetrator alone in a room, to think about the crime and his upcoming trial, with Wimsey’s pistol on the table?
It tended to resolve things because Brits back then had a sense of honor. Now we mostly have senses of entitlement and of drama.
I just wanna put this behind me and that’s an expression we hear a lot these days in all walks of lives. From people in all walks of life usually the person in question who has committed some unspeakable act.
Yes its true I strangled my wife, shot the triplets, set fire to the house and sold my young son to an old man on the train. But now… I just wanna put this thing behind me and get on with my life. That’s the problem in this country too many people getting on with their lives. I think what we really need more of is ritual suicide, you know. Never mind the press conferences get the big knife out of the drawer.
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“The truth is that the thing most present to the mind of man is not the economic machinery necessary to his existence; but rather that existence itself; the world which he sees when he wakes every morning and the nature of his general position in it. There is something that is nearer to him than livelihood, and that is life.” (G.K. Chesterton)