Trumpster Diving Into 2018

* Here’s a quote to ponder. It’s from Venezuela-born economist Andres Miguel Rondon. “Scandal is no threat to populism. Scandal sustains populism. … Like all populists, Trump offers a much different (scandal-response) deal. ‘Vote for me: I will destroy your enemies. They are the reason you are not rich/have less rights/America is not great anymore.”

Imagine Hugo Chavez and Donald Trump having this much in common.

* Here’s another, beyond sobering, quote to contemplate, this one from author and Nazi-Germany historian Ron Rosenbaum. “Now Trump and his minions are in the driver’s seat, attempting to pose as respectable participants in American politics, when their views come out of a playbook written in German.”

I doubt that Trump & Co. have made some concerted effort to consult “Mein Kampf” for guidance. But there are some, well, haunting similarities between the Fuhrer and the Donald. To wit: Habitual liars. Both weaponized their lies. Both also bluffed their way into power and were consequently normalized by their vulnerable, delusional, partisan societies. Both eroded public trust in the media with repetitious attacks. And both targeted strategic scapegoats. Other than that … .

* Trump to the New York Times: “The Russian probe makes the U.S. look bad.”

Most everybody else: “Trump makes the U.S. look bad.”

* Not that we needed reminding, but back in the day Donald Trump was a client of notorious, Red-baiting attorney Roy Cohn. Other Cohn clients: John Gotti, Sen. Joe McCarthy and Rupert Murdoch. It’s said that Cohn in the 1970s helped nurture a style of bluster and smears that would become a Trump trademark.

* According to a Gallup poll, the most admired man of 2017 was Barack Obama. Runner-up was Donald Trump. Obama had 17 percent; Trump had 14 percent. Usually a sitting American president is a slam dunk to come out on top, so this was atypical. But still, that close?

* We know that erstwhile Trump foreign policy, advisory-team member George Papadopoulos is a Robert Mueller asset and a growing Trump Administration concern. He talked out of school and now he talks to the Feds. The best strategy for this Administration is to do what it always does when confronted and threatened: Undermine the credibility of the threat. Whether it’s Mueller, James Comey, the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN or Papadopoulos.

Hence, Papadopoulos was dubbed a 20-something “coffee boy.” A coffee boy who somehow had a seat at the big boys’ campaign table with Trump and Jeff Sessions. Who somehow knew enough to help arrange a pre-election meeting between Trump and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. Who somehow set off the Russia-collusion inquiry while on a latte run.

* Yes, there was actually a time when polarization and paralysis weren’t the driving forces of our politics. For example, when Congress established Social Security in 1935 and the interstate highway system in 1954, both were done with solid majorities in each party. And ditto for congressional cooperation when Congress passed civil rights legislation in 1964 and authorized Medicare in 1965. Yeah, that was us.

* Nostalgia. Remember when we use to say that at large family gatherings it was best to stay away from sex, religion and politics? Sex and religion never looked so topically inviting.

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