I Alone Can Fix

But is Twitter really the problem?

.. Twitter is just a tool. With or without it, Trump’s conduct would be disordered and self-sabotaging. The Comey firing is but one of hundreds of examples.

.. The crude way Trump fired Comey — without the courtesy of a meeting or even a phone call — guaranteed a new and skilled enemy.

.. Twitter played no role in Trump’s blurting of classified information to the Russian ambassador and foreign minister, or in his choice to slander Comey as a “nut job” to them. Twitter wasn’t implicated in many other blunders, such as undermining the NATO alliance by refusing to confirm our commitment to Article 5; praising the Philippine president for his extrajudicial murders of drug addicts and dealers

.. It is Trump’s inexplicable and insatiable appetite for conflict that keeps roiling the waters.

.. When the city of London has just endured another horrific terror attack, the decent thing is to express American sympathy and solidarity. Trump instead picked a fight with London’s mayor.

.. Trump is feuding with his own staff and even with his family.

.. This is a reprise of a campaign theme, perhaps the chief campaign theme. America, Trump argued, was being led by boobs and incompetents. “I alone can fix.”

.. But the truth is that he is the incompetent, and too vain and insecure to recognize his own faults. When he screws up, he blames those around him.

.. even the best people are diminished and tarnished by what Trump requires of them and does to them.

.. He makes liars of previously honorable men and women.

The Magic of Donald Trump

The Apprentice debuted on NBC in 2004 with 20.7 million viewers, ranking it seventh among all primetime programs.

.. Did tens of millions ever cast their eyes on the junior senators from Florida or Kentucky or Texas, or the governor of Ohio, not to mention the ex-governors of Arkansas or Florida, or the ex-CEO of Hewlett Packard, before they chanced to mount the stage for a debate with Donald J. Trump last August, a television event that drew the unheard-of viewership of 24 million? Those 24 million tuned in to see Trump.

.. In the casually corrupt American political system the candidates serve as bagmen carrying cash from the corporations to the networks.

.. What other candidate is allowed to call in to morning shows or the sacred Sunday shows for television “interviews” whenever he pleases?

.. this in large part relies on the carefully cultivated illusion that it is all off the cuff, that it comes from the heart and that on a given day he might indeed say anything

.. So they have a choice: They can pretend some impossible solution is actually going to happen, or they can listen to the person who has proved that he can solve problems.

.. as the height of monomania. One can find, in any speech or tweet, more concentrated versions, for example this tweet on Easter Sunday: “Another radical Islamic attack, this time in Pakistan, targeting Christian women & children. At least 67 dead, 400 injured. I alone can solve.”

.. Ignorance and narcissism are joined together here, surely, but they are fortified by the very fact of the amazing events of the last ten months.

  • He hired no pollster.
  • He spent relatively little money, bought few ads.
  • He promulgated few policies.
  • He merely flew on his own plane from city to city, from arena to arena, talking about himself—about how the country “has big problems” and how only he can solve them

Who is there to contradict his claim that “there’s nobody like me. Nobody”?

.. These “exceptional powers or qualities” include not just the reputed business genius—a mysterious power that makes the promulgation of specific policies redundant—but the ability to tell a story about why “our country is in big trouble” that is simple, convincing, and satisfying.

.. “Our leaders are so incompetent,”

.. turning on its head the entire drift of post–World War II American propaganda that said the country acted to rebuild Europe and protect the free world not out of national self-interest but out of good old exceptional American generosity.

.. As he declared last November about waterboarding terrorists, “You bet your ass I would!… It works…. If it doesn’t work they deserve it anyway for what they’re doing!


certain European leaders of the 1930s would have recognized. The sense of threat from the Other—whether it be Mexican rapists swarming over the border or Muslim terrorists posing as refugees or “two young bullies cursing and threatening”; the sense of national decline that this signals (“We don’t win any more…”); the clear path to a restoration of greatness marked by simple, autocratic solutions (imposing tariffs, pulling out of NATO, bringing back torture, “bombing the shit” out of ISIS)—all of it springs from the populist toolbox, if not the fascist one, and the advertisements show that the roots of these positions and attitudes run very deep.

.. “fascinating intersection of celebrity and neo-fascism”

.. Trumpism is partly the child of the 2008 Wall Street collapse and the vast sense of political corruption and self-dealing it brought in its wake: the sense that the country was looted on a vast scale and that the politicians of all stripes made sure the criminals were not punished.

.. anger at and fear of the Other—illegal immigrants, Muslim refugees, an African-American and possibly Muslim president who seems in league with both—that Trump has skillfully cultivated.

.. Again and again when I asked rally-goers why they supported Trump I heard the word “honesty.” “He doesn’t slip and slide like all the others,” a retired accountant in his seventies told me. Or else: “I see strength in him, power. He’s not afraid to say what he thinks….” That he speaks clearly—that he is unafraid of the police of political correctness—itself bespeaks a power to cut through the corruption and the dealmaking, to fight and fight to get things done: to actually end illegal immigration, to actually repeal Obamacare. It suggests he has the sheer fighting power and energy to do what he says.

.. Rorty’s words prophesy not only the strongman’s rise but his blithe refusal to let “political correctness” prevent him making sexist and bigoted remarks, and his fans’ euphoric enjoyment of their hero’s reveling in the pleasures of free speech. He says what he wants: he is rich enough, strong enough, to do what he pleases.

.. So we started, and something happened called Paris. Paris happened, and Paris was a disaster. There’ve been many disasters but it was Paris and then we had a case in Los Angeles, in California

.. That this is a fact, and that Trump recognizes this fact, represents the greatest risk of that future that the political class still stubbornly refuses to take seriously

.. the longtime lobbyist and fixer Paul Manafort, confidentially assured Republican National Committee Members:

When he’s out on the stage,…he’s projecting an image that’s for that purpose…. He gets it. The part that he’s been playing is evolving into the part that now you’ve been expecting…. The negatives will come down. The image is going to change.

.. we are sure to be hearing a lot about “Crooked Hillary.” (“You have to brand people a certain way when they are your enemies,” he proclaimed to us at Boca. “You gotta brand people….”)

.. A President Trump could likely only emerge as a product of our own fears, carefully fostered as they have been ever since the airliners emerged out of that bright September sky one morning in 2001.