So much has been written of the current President that it feels almost a work of uselessness to sprinkle one’s grains on the ash pile. And yet, to a degree unmatched by his recent predecessors, Mr. Trump makes one feel both compelled to speak and, at the same time, exhausted by the thought of doing so. I’ve wondered what it would have been like to live under the regimes of, say, Saddam Hussein or Kim Jong-il, and the Trump administration provides a measure of insight into an important psychological aspect of authoritarianism. That aspect is the inescapability of the Dear Leader, the tendency of the regime to smother and exhaust its critics and their faculties. This raises the question of whether or not the President will succeed in his evident work of discrediting and confounding his critics, including those within the state who function in a constitutional capacity as a check and balance. Assuming the Trumpists do prevail, what might the world look like? That is the topic of this essay.
AMONG THE GOOD Riddances this past week were exhibitions of ill grace from British citizens not yet born in 1979, the year Margaret Thatcher captured the office of Prime Minister. It happens that 1979 is a year I recall vividly — from the retreat of Pol Pot to the televised campaign ads of former California governor, Ronald Reagan, boasting (ironically, as it would turn out) his reduction of the public debt, to the Iranian hostage crisis. To remember the flavour of those days is to begin the accounting of Thatcher’s political successes.
LAST WEEK the Conservative Party of Canada’s Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Keith Ashfield, improvised some lines in an otherwise scripted event staged to cheerlead the 2013 federal budget. At the Morena family home in Fredericton, New Brunswick, he complimented eldest daughter Grace, observing that she is ‘a great cook’ who will one day ‘make a wonderful wife for somebody.’
If you are old enough to have witnessed the not-so-distant arc of Bob Dole’s political career in real time, you will have some context for the apparent re-invention of Tim Pawlenty. You will also know the precise manner in which the Evangelical Christian right has debased the Republican primary to the current level at which it yields every four years a depressing spectacle of hypocrisy, hateful demagoguery, and anti-intellectualism.
At the mall today I noticed a shop employee dressed in what I could only describe as beach wear. This I noted some years ago to be a trend, the putting on of flip-flops and short shorts and tank tops for an on-concrete walkabout. It may merely be the return of beach weather, but whatever it is I have had the ritual on the mind for a while now. Allow me to pull my white cotton pants over my nipples as I settle into the plush rocker to address the under-thirty crowd assembled at my feet — for today I shall talk about the lost pastime of going to the beach.