ultimate question and one of the maybe
before answering and I’ll be brief I
invite people and this is may be
responsible y’all should just say to ask
yourself what are you trying to
accomplish here if what you’re trying to
accomplish is how do we strengthen the
left that’s one answer and you’re saying
how do we try to strengthen democratic
norms that’s quite a different answer
and there’s been a tendency to blur them
the way I’m not on the person with the
left at all so I’ll just give you four
Myositis me you wanna strengthen life
the way you do it is by ramping up is by
building a coalition of minorities
that’s that’s the best democratic
mobilization build-up racial antagonism
black lives matter those because of the
the big the reason that Hillary which
the reason the 2016 election was
abnormal was by the normal political
science indicators Hillary Clinton
should have won fifty three percent of
the vote the fact that she got forty
eight is abnormal she lost five points
in a very common friendly
environment why failure de mobilized
black voters partly because of voter
suppression partly because she wasn’t
offering them much of anything Medicare
for all that that’s how you build the
left but what you will discover when you
do that is the candidates who leave that
will be Trump’s of the left not as gross
for example like Bernie Sanders who was
good at his job
yeah they won’t they they will be norm
travelers they will do things like
Obama’s executive actions to in his
second term that’s what you’ll get that
is a way to a more social democratic
United States it’ll be an ethnically
driven way if what you want to do if
it’s it but if your question is how do
we build democratic norms that’s a
different question and then and and then
you have to say this is not about party
advantage and that means that some of
the people you have to address the
things that are driving the corrosion of
democratic norms what do you think was
you would you be a butter he said why
did you why did you vote for trouble and
by the voter said well you know I’m just
really disappointed and what is happened
to my personal living standard I’ve been
at a way wage increase in twenty years
saying you are so greedy and
materialistic don’t you understand that
money is the root of all evil hi Colin I
caught you like order you delay aside
these crass okay but that is the sermon
that they get if they say I’m happy that
my sis my neighborhood which used to be
a hundred sailors percent
english-speaking now has 30 percent
English second language learners in my
children’s school and that will happen I
went to a school in North Carolina what
does research in Oakland 20 in 2007
where family reported the change from no
foreign language speakers to 30 percent
over the course of their through
children’s time in that one school
district if what finally what is
bothering and do something about and
take them and take the grievances
seriously I’m the trumpeter Jose
trumpeter is deeply at a stop but I had
a big impact on me the job that seems to
me that Democratic systems get into
trouble in two ways
one is when you put populist muses the
people identify the problems and the
people offer the solutions
bad lead ISM is the the people identify
problems the elites tell them they’re
wrong about them and offer other
problems and other stages also bad
listen to the problems then then use
partisan competition to compete to offer
responsible solutions but do not read
the problems on court any anyone else
want to pick up any of that well there’s
several questions that are basically
about the connections between populism
and presidential ism to what extent are
they some kind of you know symbiotic to
mutually encouraging or one one
producing the other or yeah I’m going to
be very brief this time but I’m gonna
make myself even more unpopular um if
there’s one thing but all of political
scientists seem to agree on over the
last thirty years so that it’s all about
institutions right and and it’s not
clear to me in the case of populism but
it is now obviously the particular way
in which populism plays out in different
countries is shaped by institutions but
when you look around these different
contexts what is striking is that
populism has found a way of expressing
itself here for a presidential election
there threw a party was very strong in
Parliament there through you know a
popular referendum across all it is very
very different institutional context so
while I think was obviously things to be
said about hyper partisanship about
anger about the fact that the political
system is blocked because of all the
veto powers and all of those things the
United States what’s striking to me when
you look at international perspective is
how little of the experience and the
variation of populism can be explained
just add you know Viktor Orban era Diwan
came to power as Prime Minister you know
you go down the list and so to me what
this suggests is that old debate juan
linz his question actually in some ways
it was answered I think by Adams
students a chaemoo I don’t know if you
stood but he answered it about a decade
ago you know that it’s not presidential
ism or parliamentarism per se there’s
selection issues which create the
outcomes we see and to me that suggests
a much more micro focus in terms of our
research agenda can I pop in I wrote a
book about mandates and presidential
mandate claiming and my argument in the
u.s. context is that populism is a
rhetorical strategy for presidents to
deal with the legitimacy challenges to
an incredibly powerful and problematic
institution and the conditions of
partisanship so I think this there’s
something separate there about populism
as as a rhetorical strategy
well so here’s one that this says it has
david firm’s name at the top but that
may be a rhetorical sleight making
America great again would require
strengthening the welfare state which
many voters interpret us giving handouts
to blacks and Latinos these voters are
also the most vulnerable to
anti-immigrant and xenophobic appeals
would your concessions work question
mark did at one point endorse the
lowering of the age would qualification
for Medicare I think to 55 I forget that
was one of her 972 policy proposals and
one of the things I has always been a
theory of mind about campaigns as if you
have 1972 policy proposals you don’t
have any if you have four you don’t have
any if you have two you’re testing
people’s memory so if you yeah I think I
think generally I think you see
throughout the that the United States
needs a thicker Social Insurance network
Europe needs a thinner one we need ways
of financing it that are not too
provocative and you need you need an
offer but the offer the offer works
because it’s an offer to the politic if
if the offer is to the planet then the
offer is going to break down to the tone
of its own way so I think actually the
two thing when you talk about it is not
that this there in this it is not a
contradiction that you have a policy of
thicker social insurance and higher
borders those two go hand-in-hand and
that’s one of things by the way that
people want to break the welfare state
they understand that very well that’s
that’s why you find libertarians are
very committed to open borders because
they know with
orders your welfare system your social
service system cannot work and that’s
why they’re favored so a question for
for Emily and perhaps also Yasha there’s
a deals party with social media
how can journalists deal with the
particular challenges of covering the
Trump presidency a that so much is
happening such that many important
stories get neglected and be that Trump
manages so often to dominate the news
cycle with tweets that derail attention
from substantive and timely issues
sometimes this seems to me like Trump’s
main talent is that he has taken his
reality television show and turned it
into the news that we consume all the
time that is an inescapable and there’s
a kind of fire hose and in fact there
are all kinds of teasers you know you’ll
we’ll see soon he’s sort of using all
those strategies that served him in this
different role to great effect and it is
a huge challenge for the media you know
we cover everything it’s just that
people can’t really keep up and it
becomes harder and harder to know what’s
important the 972 points
kind of hold in that era as well you
know one part of the media that I
probably should have mentioned and
didn’t it’s obvious is that um you know
the right-wing media has become has
taken on such a role in fueling social
media in covering the president in a
different way and I think that again
that puts pressure on the mainstream
media to become kind of a different
animal and responds in a way that were
not particularly well suited for um I do
think one thing the mainstream media has
doing been doing better at is covering
fake news as fake news as opposed to
ignoring it even last year you see a
fake news story you just sort of like
act as if that’s you’re not gonna touch
that as opposed to trying is realizing
that it’s out there being consumed and
needs to be debunked and it’s always
tricky debunking also you know spreads
misinformation too but I think we’re at
given how people are consuming news how
difficult it is to tell on Facebook
whether the source you’re looking at is
credible or not that the mainstream
media has a responsibility to be
engaging in these stories that we used
to see as beneath us yeah so I mean
i-i’ve been thinking through sort of the
different notions of truth and lies we
have right so those this pair of
concepts that were very popular a few
years ago so Stephen Colbert’s
truthiness and when Harry Frankfurt on
which is basically saying the
problem isn’t isn’t any more of a sort
of straightforward lies for problem now
that people are sort of indifferent to
the truth and we don’t quite know how to
deal with that and that’s different from
the straightforward lie because at least
there’s a how Frankfurt ones at least
Valaya pays it kind of tribute to the
truth right I actually think that that
in retrospect is really naive that
compared to what we have now
that sort of child’s play but what you
see and I think the first place where I
observed it actually was Italy and a
silhou Bella’s kony but I think Donald
Trump is completely following that part
of Paris Coney’s example it’s it’s it’s
over frating the public of so many false
claims and with just so much spectacle
and with so many things going on that it
becomes impossible for people to
ascertain what’s true or not because if
you have a normal sort of attention span
to politics which is to say a fraction
of that of what most people in this room
whose life it is to study politics half
you just cannot no longer it’s the
opposite of what David was saying what a
policy promise it’s not one lie that is
defining of your presidency you do 10
lies a day and so nobody in the you know
in 98 percent of population don’t have a
patience to try and figure out with
details on each of those claims and so
all you can do is to trust the people
whom you trust and if you’re on the
right that’ll mean you know Fox News or
to the right lad and if it’s on the left
it means you know the kinds of things we
must be probably consumed right and I
think there’s a difference between those
two I’m not saying but we’re the same
but but but I at this point don’t have
the time and the patience to go through
every claim and
make my own assessment as to whether
Donald Trump is actually true in bout
racist things he claims a happening I
simply assume that they’re false because
he has managed to over freight the
system so much but there’s no other way
of dealing with that I’m a diving is a
fundamental attack on the very
possibility of having a truth based
discourse or a political discourse in
which truth sort of negotiates how we
should act though we haven’t quite faced
up to conceptually much less in terms of
our response to it can I say something
very brief about this very brief yeah
it’s a question actually you know Trump
has a big Twitter following but you know
when you tweet something it might get
retweeted I don’t know ten twenty thirty
thousand times it’s nothing like Kim
Kardashian right so my question is why
is it that every tweet is news why is
the mega the megaphone is actually the
New York Times printing you know
treating his tweet as news and I wonder
how you guys think about that so it does
seem that the subject no I’m sorry
oh you want an answer to that well
you’re gonna get the penultimate worries
well and also this is just like
everything turns into my trying to
answer for the New York Times right I
don’t even work on the news desk but
look the president is making statements
right I mean I don’t know if you all
notice the Twitter account that turns
every tweet into an official statement
but ridiculous as it is that is what
they are and so then you have to make
judgments as the news desk every day
that covers the president well which of
these really matter and that is hard to
do there is no question that there’s all
kinds of chaff with the weed but that is
a tough decision for a journalist to
make something the president says
something provocative isn’t newsworthy
the problem with the refusal to stay
away is we have things like you know the
four days during Puerto Rico where
Puerto Rico is a nun television because
there’s no electricity there and it’s
very hard to get images and instead
we’re having some made-up fight about
you know Colin Kaepernick and Steph
Curry and the and black athletes which
is simply divisive it’s that is tough
for journalists to push back on
and one sentence I know this is will be
to your question the fact that the
statements don’t matter is why they
matter so when the President of the
United States the commander-in-chief of
the Armed Forces says with an eight and
a half minute gap in between to give the
Russians lots of time to get off a
nuclear missile response I am about to
announce a total and complete ban on dot
transgender soldiers in the military and
then the military says thank you for
your helpful comment we certainly will
take it into consideration
and give it to and the military’s
actually no we thought it over we’re
sticking to our original policy because
it’s tweetIn that’s astonishing that’s
an amazing thing and the fact we have
this decision of government where the
president proposes ideas from time to
time and the Secretary of Defense
determines whether they’ll become
government policy we we are out of time
I would just say that I think it’s
fitting since we are a university that
the subject of truth is where we’ve
we’ve ended up we are after all our
basic mission is the creation and
dissemination of knowledge and you know
some might might go so far as to say
that the the movements within
universities to question whether it’s
possible to actually generate nevermind
disseminate knowledge have have created
part of the intellectual and ideological
terrain that makes what we’ve been
talking about for the last five minutes
possible and perhaps in addition to
being public intellectuals are coming
out of our our ivory towers and speaking
in the public sphere we might want to
pay some attention to the the recreation
of norms of truth-telling and truth
seeking within our own institutions but
I want to thank everybody for
participating and particularly the
people have done all a tremendous amount
of work to come here
thank you all very much indeed
The Perverse Thought of Right-Wing Identity Politics
.. “The Church has become the number one enemy of Western Civilization. Soon the only people left in Christianity will be third-world immigrants and a handful of self-hating whites.”
..Hillary Clinton devoted a speech in Nevada to deploring its influence on the election. “These are race-baiting ideas. Anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant ideas, anti-woman—all key tenets making up an emerging racist ideology known as the ‘alt-right,’” she charged.
.. Clinton could not name a single member of a movement that, she warned, imperiled American democracy
.. The movement exists almost entirely among anonymous users of the Internet. It has no institutions, no money, no political representation, and no traditional media.
.. It enjoys the close attention of the liberal establishment it seeks to discredit and the conservative movement it intends to displace.
.. “Everything we have seen over the past year suggests that the alt-right will be around for the foreseeable future.”
.. The alt-right purports to defend the identity and interests of white people, who it believes are the compliant victims of a century-long swindle by liberal morality. Its goals are not conventionally conservative.
It does not so much question as mock standard conservative positions on free trade, abortion, and foreign policy, regarding them as principles that currently abet white dispossession.
.. Its creed, in the words of Richard Spencer, is “Race is real. Race matters. Race is the foundation of identity.”
.. the alt-right represents something more nefarious, and frankly more interesting, than white identity politics.
.. The alt-right is anti-Christian.
.. Its leading thinkers flaunt their rejection of Christianity and their desire to convert believers away from it.
.. Greg Johnson, an influential theorist with a doctorate in philosophy from Catholic University of America, argues that “Christianity is one of the main causes of white decline” and a “necessary condition of white racial suicide.”
.. it argues that Christian teachings have become socially and morally poisonous to the West.
.. Its intellectual birth is marked by the 1918 publication of the first volume of Oswald Spengler’s The Decline of the West.
.. While the movement is often accused of advocating racial supremacy, its appeal is more often to cultural difference. A generation tired of multicultural pieties
.. A cultural relativist, Spengler rejects as a “ridiculous distortion” any view that privileges European thought or history.
.. “Each culture possesses its own standards, the validity of which begins and ends with it.”
.. Spengler therefore sees the world as divided into fundamentally different cultures, whose identities he interprets in morphological terms. Cultures are like plants
.. They live through a determined cycle of birth, growth, maturity, and death. During its lifespan, a culture gives expression to the animating “form”
.. Spengler had no scholarly expertise in non-Western cultures (his advanced studies were in mathematics), and Decline of the West is frequently nonsense as both history and sociology. But its interpretations of cultural artifacts and their hidden symbolic meanings are often brilliant and have enchanted readers for a century.
.. All cultures are unique, but some are more unique than others. “We men of the Western culture are an exception,” Spengler claims. At the heart of his book is an interpretation of the culture he named “Faustian,” a term widely used in the intellectual circles of the alt-right.
.. a single idea permeates the arts and sciences of the West. Its distinctive mark is an intense striving for “infinity.”
.. our culture has uniquely sought to see all things in relation to the highest or most distant horizons, which, in turn, it seeks to surpass and extend.
- The vaults of medieval cathedrals, the
- discovery of perspective in painting, the
- exploration of the New World, the
- development of orchestral music, the
- invention of the telescope and
—in Spengler’s story, all express the Faustian drive toward transcendence.
.. He argues that there is no Christianity without Western civilization. He arrives at this conclusion by claiming the West begins not with ancient Greece or Rome, but with the high Middle Ages and the birth of scholasticism, Gothic architecture, and polyphony.
.. Its cultural achievements are not testimonies to faith in God. They are the monuments of Faustian man’s attempt—in speculation, stone, glass, and sound—to propel himself into infinity. Of this aspiration, Spengler maintains, “the Gospels know nothing.”
.. In the minds and hands of Europeans, Christianity became a religion that affirmed the unceasing expansion of human freedom, power, and knowledge.
.. There is no biblical god for Faustian man, but there is high Christian culture, which is a tribute to his identity.
.. To a young man lacking a strong identity he says, “This heroic culture is your inheritance, and yours alone. You stand in a line of men who have attained the highest excellences and freely endured the hardest challenges.
.. Albert the Great, Cortés, Newton, Goethe, the Wright brothers all carry this daring spirit, and so do you.”
.. in his 1933 book Hour of Decision, he foresaw the rise of democratic “Caesars” and growing racial animosity. Who will give birth to the next great culture? Not Europeans
.. Spengler predicted the future would belong to the race that had preserved its “strength” in face of the rising “colored menace.”
- If Spengler is the alt-right’s cultural critic,
- Julius Evola is its political mystic.
- Umberto Eco mockingly called him “the magician,” and the
- future Pope Paul VI condemned his writings in a Vatican newspaper
- Evola is the most right-wing thinker possible in the modern world. There is nobody to his right, nor can there be. His influence on the alt-right is detectable in one of its most controversial features: its rejection of human equality.
- “We don’t belong to the liberal family,” writes popular blogger Hunter Wallace. “Nothing is less self-evident to us than the notion that all men are created equal.” Here is the movement’s clearest dispute with conventional conservatism
- The alt-right denies that constitutional democracy is worthy of principled veneration. For Evola, its popular acceptance is a sign we are living in a spiritual dark age.
The basic problem with modernity is “desacralization,” the collapse of spiritual meaning in daily life. Work, family, and citizenship are no longer saturated with spiritual importance, but are understood in functionally secular terms.
.. materialism “kills every possibility
.. Spengler’s fundamental flaw was that he “lacked any understanding of metaphysics and transcendence,” which led him to conclude that human cultures are irreducibly different.
.. Evola believed more or less the exact opposite, arguing that there are timeless and universal principles that have provided the foundation for every true civilization. He referred to these perennial truths as “Tradition,” and he traced the disorders of modernity to our loss of contact with it.
.. No, the world had been slouching into spiritual poverty ever since the eighth century b.c., when the world of Tradition began to disappear.
.. Revolt Against the Modern World, claimed that these primordial societies—whose existence can be accessed only by way of myth and legend, not critical scholarship—all operated on the same principles.
.. In a traditional culture, every aspect of human life, every social activity, role, and caste, was dedicated to the service of an otherworldly order; indeed, they were ritual pathways into it. “According to Tradition,” Evola imagines, “every authority is fraudulent, every law unjust and barbarous, every institution is vain and ephemeral unless . . . they are derived from above.”
.. His key claim is that traditional societies were hierarchically ordered under an absolute ruler, who embodied the sacral order itself.
.. Men Among the Ruins, he argued that political conservatism is intrinsically impossible in a democratic age. True political order can never come from below; it must always be imposed from above.
.. only a transformative leader could elevate humanity out of its degraded state. Such a leader could not appeal to the masses—this was the mistake of the vulgar fascisms of Mussolini and Hitler—but must inspire submission through lofty contempt for democratic norms and popular tastes.
“The presence of superior individuals bestows on a multitude . . . a meaning and a justification they previously lacked,” Evola wrote. “It is the inferior who needs the superior, and not the other way around.”
Evola was less clear about what this sacred authority looked like than what stood in the way of its realization.
.. The problem is that Catholicism forbids the sacred state. And a state without absolute spiritual unity is no state at all.
.. Benoist is the leading theorist of the European New Right, an intellectual movement that began in France in the late 1960s
.. however, no return is necessary if we simply move beyond Christianity altogether. Evola did not believe in a personal deity, but his criticisms of Christianity were political rather than theological. With Benoist, the alt-right becomes explicitly and confessionally anti-Christian.
.. took its inspiration from the failed “conservative revolution” of Weimar Germany.
Carl Schmitt, Ernst Jünger, Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, and Spengler were its chief figures
.. Most of its members, including Spengler, took sides against the Nazi regime, but they also sought a path for the West beyond the twin evils of American democracy and Soviet communism. Benoist comes from this anti-liberal tradition
.. Benoist is the leading theorist of the European New Right, an intellectual movement that began in France in the late 1960s
.. attempt to envision a post-Christian future for people of European descent.
.. his 1981 work On Being a Pagan
.. Paganism’s central claim is simple: that the world is holy and eternal. “Far from desacralizing the world,” Benoist tells us, paganism “sacralizes it in the literal sense of the word, since it regards the world as sacred.”
Paganism is also a humanism. It recognizes man, the highest expression of nature, as the sole measure of the divine.
.. God does not therefore create men; men make gods, which “exist” as ideal models that their creators strive to equal.
.. Benoist’s case against Christianity is that it forbids the expression of this “Faustian” vitality.
.. It does so by placing the ultimate source of truth outside of humanity, in an otherworldly realm to which we must be subservient.
.. He accuses Christianity of crippling our most noble impulses. Christianity makes us strangers in our own skin, conning us into distrusting our strongest intuitions. We naturally respect beauty, health, and power, Benoist observes, but Christianity teaches us to revere the deformed, sick, and weak instead.
.. Benoist’s theology is in the service of a political warning, and it is this, more than his Nietzschean posturing, that attracts the alt-right.
.. Christianity is unable to protect European peoples and their cultures.
.. Christianity is not our religion.
.. Benoist means that Christianity renders Western culture morally lethargic and culturally defenseless.
.. its universalism poisons our attachments to particular loyalties and ties.
.. “If all men are brothers,” Benoist claims, “then no one can truly be a brother.”
.. Politics depends on the recognition of both outsiders and enemies, yet the Christian Church sees all people as potential members, indeed potential saints.
.. Christianity imparted to our culture an ethics that has mutated into what the alt-right calls “pathological altruism.”
.. Its self-distrust, concern for victims, and fear of excluding outsiders—such values swindle Western peoples out of a preferential love for their own.
.. Christianity today is the enemy of the West and the race that created it
.. we ought to see ourselves through the eyes of our pagan critics
.. They distort many truths, through both malice and ignorance, and lead young men into espousing views and defending authors they scarcely understand.
.. “Christianity provides an identity that is above or before racial and ethnic identity,” Richard Spencer complains.
.. invoking race as an emergency replacement for our fraying civic bonds.
.. identity politics on the left is a response to the same erosion of belonging.
.. we lack a compelling civic theology for the twenty-first century—a theology of the nation
.. In its absence the alt-right will continue to grow.
.. A nation will become an idol, however, if its cultural inheritance is not oriented toward, and inwardly transformed by, a divine inheritance.
.. “The inheritance we receive from Christ,” the late pope argued, “orients the patrimony of human native lands and cultures toward an eternal home land.”
.. It speaks of tradition, while transmitting no traditions. It guards a false patrimony, while destroying real ones
.. Race offers no inheritance, and its mere preservation reflects no human achievement.
.. Our stories, art, music, institutions, and religious traditions—unlike race—are transmitted only through special efforts of human intelligence and love. They are a bequest of the spirit, not blood.
.. The alt-right speaks a seductive language. Where liberalism offers security and comfort, the alt-right promises sacrifice and conflict.
.. . For Christians, the problem with Faustian man is not the vaunting heroism of his aims. It is the pitiable smallness of his goals.
We are not meant to merely aspire to the infinite. We are called to participate in it—to be, in a word, deified.
Faust could not overcome death. Through Christ, Christians already have.
In a stunning one-two assault, Mr. Corker of Tennessee, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and Mr. Flake took on the president in terms rarely, if ever, heard from members of a sitting president’s party.
Mr. Corker, who has been feuding with the man he once contemplated serving as vice president, accused Mr. Trump of serial lying and debasing the office.
“We must never regard as normal the regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals, we must never meekly accept the daily sundering of our country,” Mr. Flake said.
.. But Mr. Corker, Mr. Flake and Mr. McCain remain the outliers.
.. Mr. McConnell left his lunch with Mr. Trump and members of the caucus to emphasize the issues that bind congressional Republicans to Mr. Trump and play down the divisions underscored by Mr. Flake and Mr. Corker.
.. They have been willing to look past some actions and pronouncements by Mr. Trump that they consider beneath a president in hopes of pushing into law some of their long-sought goals, the most important of which are tax cuts. And with no substantial legislative achievements so far, the party is all in on a tax overhaul, recognizing that failure to deliver one will be a political disaster. That necessity ties them tightly to Mr. Trump, at least for now.
By stepping up to the line without crossing it, a commander in chief tacitly acknowledges that a line exists.
.. President Trump does not possess the sense of nuance a well-told joke requires. He does not seem to know when he is pushing the envelope.
.. This refusal to recognize the unwritten rules that govern us, so evident during Mr. Trump’s failed attempts at humor, is a central feature of his presidential tenure thus far. If a leader does not understand the idea of benign violations, blatant violations inevitably occur.
.. Presidents can either laugh at the strangeness of their circumstances or be consumed by them.
.. Without the qualities that laughter both demonstrates and fosters —
- a willingness to find common ground,
- the respect for agreed-upon norms and
- the awareness that we are all only human —
Mr. Trump’s attitude toward the presidency is defined by the one characteristic that remains: a lust for power.
.. Thanks to the power of the internet, there is proof that our president has indeed laughed at least once. This was during a campaign rally in January, when Mr. Trump’s speech was interrupted by a barking dog.
“It’s Hillary!” an audience member shouted. And the candidate tilted his head back, opened his mouth wide and laughed without reservation, quite possibly for the first time in his political life.
This documented incidence of Trump laughter is as illuminating as all the grim smiles that preceded it. For they reveal a president who is constantly, endlessly preoccupied with status.
President Donald Trump addressed criticisms Saturday that his use of Twitter to attack his critics is not presidential. “My use of social media is not Presidential – it’s MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL,” he tweeted, and added: “Make America Great Again!”
In another tweet, he pointed out that his use of social media had been crucial to his success in the 2016 presidential election — despite urging by the media, and even by his fellow Republicans, that he stop it.
One thing is clear: Trump has always used this method of fighting his critics. In 2012, he tweeted: “Everybody tells me not to hit back at the lowlifes that go after me for PR–sorry, but I must. It’s my nature.”And long before Twitter existed, he was doing the same thing through more conventional methods. In one of the most memorable passages of his 1987 book, The Art of the Deal, Trump describes writing a nasty letter to Paul Goldberger, who was then an architecture critic for the New York Times. Goldberger had written a positive review of one of Trump’s projects — a “setup,” Trump says, for a negative review of another. He concludes by observing: “My people keep telling me I shouldn’t write letters like this to critics. The way I see it, critics get to say what they want about my work, so why shouldn’t I be able to say what I want to about theirs?”
Nothing has changed in thirty years, except for the medium.
.. One difference is immediately apparent: Trump generally confines his attacks to members of the media and political elite, while Obama attacked ordinary people, or Americans as a whole.
.. Moreover, he is usually punching back: his targets almost always start the fight.
.. One would like a president to do so at all times. Yet recent history is littered with Republicans who played nice and lost elections, or backed down from a fight once in office. Controversial tweets may be a political hazard of a winning mentality.
Regardless, many Americans prefer a president who breaks the social norms of politics to one who breaks the rules of the Constitution, however politely.
The main reason not to use it is that the real chief complaint against Donald Trump is that he threatens U.S. democracy not (chiefly) by breaking laws, but by undermining the norms which are just as important to democratic governance as the laws and constitutional provisions. And therefore efforts to remove him should be especially careful to abide by those norms [bold mine-DL]. The 25th amendment is for use in Wilson-like cases where the president is really, truly incapacitated. While mental illness could qualify, the many armchair diagnoses we’ve seen of Trump simply do not clear the constitutional bar.
.. he is not so physically or mentally disabled that he can’t discharge the duties of his office. He may discharge those duties badly, but that is an entirely different question and one that the amendment was never intended to address. Going that route would also require more support in the House than an impeachment vote would, so it would be even less likely to “work” in removing Trump.