Thursday, 19 January 2017
The Doom of Donald Trump: fleshy man given to vulgarities and gauche behavior, boastful, thin-skinned, politically amoral, vengeful, unforgiving and, most important, considered an illegitimate president
New York Daily News, 16 January 2017:
Whether he knows it or not, the specter of Lyndon Baines Johnson haunts Donald John Trump. There are some jarring similarities -- two big fleshy men given to vulgarities and gauche behavior, boastful, thin-skinned, politically amoral, vengeful, unforgiving and, most important, considered illegitimate presidents. For Johnson that took some time to sink in; Trump is already there.
Johnson ascended to the presidency upon the death of John F. Kennedy and then won election in a landslide over Barry Goldwater. Nevertheless, an air of illegitimacy clung to him like an odor. It thickened as opposition to the Vietnam War became more and more furious and it peaked, in my estimation, with a hoax in 1967 by Paul Krassner in the counterculture magazine The Realist.
Tongue in cheek, it reported that Johnson had climbed into Kennedy's casket and there done unspeakable things. The story was abominable, tasteless and deserved any other insult you could throw at it, but some people believed it. I know. I heard it.
Jump now a half-century to the recent stories relating to Trump and alleged shenanigans in Russia at a time not all that distant. The accounts, unverified and as revolting as any concocted about Johnson, had a currency that can only be explained by Trump's own behavior -- a persona that seems so self-indulgent, so juvenile, that almost any sort of behavior seems credible. Trump called the report fake news and, as always, blamed the messenger (the media, the intelligence community, etc.) but he ought to have looked in the mirror and wondered why he looks so ugly to so many people.
Krassner is an obscure 1960s figure; Rep. John Lewis is not. He said the other day that Trump's presidency was illegitimate and he would not, as an invited member of Congress, attend the inaugural. Trump, of course, tweeted a disparagement. As he did when he belittled John McCain's heroism under torture, Trump said Lewis was "all talk" and "no action."
Lewis is one of the last of the great civil rights era heroes. He marched. He protested. He had his head cracked at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. It was 1965 and the Alabama police nearly beat him to death. He is a man of immense courage and morality, so much greater than Trump in those respects.
Yes, Trump won in the Electoral College and that, alas, is all that matters. But on the larger point, Lewis is right. Trump conducted a dirty, dishonest campaign which sullied the very presidency he won. He questioned Barack Obama's legitimacy, trafficked in racism and demagoguery and seems to have had poll workers in far-off Moscow. Still, he'll be the President….
By the end of the week, Donald Trump will be the President. I wish him the best; I wish him the worst. The dilemma is how to separate loathing for him from love of the country. I am leaving it to time to work that out.
In the meantime, Trump will have his moment, that's for sure, but when things go wrong he will be chased from office -- just like Johnson once was. The ancient Greeks knew why: A man's character is his fate. In that case, Trump's presidency is doomed.