Thursday, May 3, 2018


Geese are force-fed for their post mortem "foie gras". Americans are subjected hourly to "Trump gras". The president occupies every nook, directly with his tweets or outbursts, indirectly with a pathological activism in all realms: foreign policy, lies, self-congratulation, fake news and the "pursuit of alternative narratives".  He leaves both fans and enemies exhausted. He does not hesitate to come up with the most outlandish utterance to stay in the limelight. His base, which is addicted anyway, never has enough and forgives him, as long as he plays the "god-with-him" card.  In this he has, in the vice-president and wife, the perfect American complacent couple from hell which exists in between Tupperware and the Bible.

This might sound exaggerated but, let there be no mistake, this "formula" might even be a winning one if no lethal mistake is made by this undisciplined president or by one of his Praetorian lawyers or confidants. Until now the faux pas or the blatant lies have passed every litmus test, be it at a cost, but the cumulative weight of Trump's current and past sins start to take a toll. His spokesperson is no longer able to map the minefield wherein she has to operate. His cabinet, too, looks like an assembly line of crooks. Now that Trump has got Giuliani out of the mothballs, the mutual bragging might reach a breaking point. The political Ozone layer suffers now from a double indemnity scenario. Nevertheless the president will be on his Barnum best in his meeting with Kim jong-Un and for the expected burial of the Iran deal. Foreign leaders should be aware of the danger of getting too close to him. They tend to consider his undetermined savoir faire as a weakness, while he is a master in undermining them by sheer bluff, histrionics and body language. There is the Stockholm syndrome--there is also the Munich syndrome (not that different).

The Democrats are making big inroads in the red states now. The Republicans fear the worst. Lots are leaving Congress and the "stayers" cling to Trump like a person drowning clings to his lifebelt. They are hostage too of a Southern strategy which helps gaining the upper hand in the electoral college and neuters the outcome of the elections.  The president is a cynical player, less preoccupied with the chances of his party than with himself. The Democrats might score in the half-term elections but if Trump survives the inquests, the proven lies, the affairs, the collusion and the disgust of many, he will be again a formidable candidate who will target his opponents with every nuclear option available. For now, there is no Democratic shadow cabinet, or leader of the opposition. Taken individually the Democrats are the clear alternative, but they need to find a figurehead for these times, who can bridge the many factional divides in the party.

The world can only watch while this saga plays out.Trump America is too busy demolishing the many former bridges with the world,  in so alienating allies and being blind to the rise of others. China's transit routes and aid projects are becoming the vectors of a new winning soft-power. India follows suit. America morphed into the unloved giant. This downgrading started to gain traction under G.W. Bush, was halted under Clinton and Obama and is in free fall under Trump. The political science literature which is currently making the best seller list reads like a condolence. When initiatives are considered for the principal purpose of deflection, it becomes normal that they are taken away from diplomats and specialists and are downgraded to the turf of amateurs who can avoid liability. This "show for the show" will only get more crazy. 

It is easy to reduce the current American travails to some politico-Picaresque aberration. In fact, the structural changes that are being made by stealth will be difficult to undo. The role of the presidency is also being rewritten by this White House in superseding terms. There is no other precedent than the Weimar times...which abode nothing to be commended for.

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