Monday, April 3, 2017

Graydon Carter

There is a toadying  editorial in Vanity Fair by Graydon Carter titled "The Trump Presidency is Already a Joke."
Of course, no gigantic culture undergoing constant economic mitosis and armed to the teeth is a joke. Perhaps "dangerously inept?" But there is a smugness in the article that implies a grand history of great American leaders whose measurement Trump fails. This all implies a historical mist obscuring multiple uncarved Rushmores with smiling politicians nodding wisely and knowingly. There seems to be some unspoken norm, some generally agreed upon high bar of politics and politicians.

The essence of Hayek's "fatal conceit" is the notion that large, sprawling systems can be successfully analyzed and managed. There should be a second: That the self-appointed noble volunteers who rise to these positions of control should be given respect for their grand vision and their superior moral purpose.

It may well be there is a huge scandal here with Trump and the Russians; it may be no more than the simple character assassination that has been routine in American politics--for example Harry Reid's accusations of Romney from the legal safety of the Senate floor. But if these criminal hopes are true I doubt they will be any worse than the characteristic hallmarks of his predecessors: JFK's astonishing behavior, his invasion of Cuba, his confrontation with Russia that was a near-extinction event, LBJ's Gulf of Tonkin fraud committing the U.S. to the Asian War and undermining the morality of the nation, Nixon, Carter's ineptness (at least not criminal or certifiable)--through to the more recent heroes with their self-destructive wars and social visions whose damage is yet to be fully realized.

The problem with Trump  is not his personal or political stupidity or silliness, it is that he reminds us of the basic disconcerting truth: These people are all cut from the same cloth and we revere or dislike them depending upon how well we allow them to deceive us.

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