Trump = Creeping Fascism, Buffoon, or Both?

Trump fires Comey who is overseeing at least 3 Trump-related investigations and Chris Matthews and others wonder: Is this creeping fascism? Or a buffoon? Is the GOP flailing or are we on the verge of something unthinkable? What is really going on here? And what do we do?
At the end of this piece you will find a very compelling video on what may be going on and what we need to do. But first: Tyrant? Buffoon? Puppet?  All of the above?

After his calamitous first attempt at TrumpCare, his almost laughable tax reform plan, his failed executive directives, and now a second TrumpCare health plan doomed to fail in the Senate, it is hard not to cheer gleefully as Trump appears hellbent on destroying the GOP and restoring the Democrats to control at least one chamber of Congress in 2018.

And there is mounting evidence of concern among GOP leadership that Trump is steering the GOP off a cliff. Click here for an excellent summary of the sequence of events and the various FBI investigations that are under way involving Trump or his administration. And it isn’t just the media who are concerned. Below are the concerns of no less than eight GOP Senators about the firing of FBI Director Comey:

  • Sen. Richard Burr (N.C.): The Senate Intelligence Committee chairman said in a statement that he was “troubled by the timing and reasoning of Director Comey’s termination.”
  • Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.): Corker said in a statement that “while the case for removal of Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey laid out by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein was thorough, his removal at this particular time will raise questions.”
  • Sen. Jeff Flake (Ariz.): Flake said in a tweet that “I’ve spent the last several hours trying to find an acceptable rationale for the timing of Comey’s firing. I just can’t do it.”
  • Sen. John McCain (Ariz.): McCain said in a statement that “while the President has the legal authority to remove the Director of the FBI, I am disappointed in the President’s decision to remove James Comey from office.”
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska): Murkowski said in a statement that “whether or not you are a supporter of Mr. James Comey’s actions as FBI director, the timing of his firing — in the middle of an investigation into Russia’s interference in our election — is serious cause for concern.”
  • Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio): Portman said in a statement that “given the timing and circumstances of the decision, I believe the White House should provide a fuller explanation regarding the president’s rationale.”
  • Sen. Ben Sasse (Neb.): Sasse said in a statement that “regardless of how you think Director Comey handled the unprecedented complexities of the 2016 election cycle, the timing of this firing is very troubling … I have reached out to the Deputy Attorney General for clarity on his rationale for recommending this action.”

So while there is ample evidence of a possible crumbling of the GOP, there is also much about which we should be very concerned. In just 110 days, Trump has fired the acting attorney general, his national security adviser, most of the scientists in the EPA, a raft of US attorneys, and now the FBI director who was in the midst of overseeing three investigations of the Trump team. He tweets a steady stream of dangerous racist rhetoric and creates alternative facts at the same time that he accuses credible media of being villainously untrustworthy and has launched a trio of impulsive military adventures. All of these behaviors point to a President with no appreciation of any form of balance to government, a tyrant who wants his way or the highway. And then there is the lurking fear that we are one faux terrorist attack away from his seeking to seize unheard of emergency powers. Recall that Hitler used the burning of the Reichstag, just weeks into his ascendancy in Germany, to dissolve the legislature and form a dictatorship.

In an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, former FBI agent Clint Watts noted that Comey’s firing meant that the “rule of law does not matter — it’s the rule of political power.  “A little whiff of fascism tonight, I think, is fair today,” Matthews responded.

So which is it, buffoon who will dismantle the GOP? Or calculating fascist in waiting?

But there may be other things operating here. After laying out two ways to view the situation, a buffoon or a developing fascist, in a Salon.com article, Is Trump Really Building a Fascist Regime? Andrew O’Hehir opined: “I’m always tempted, when faced with this kind of dichotomy, to suggest that both things can be true. It could end up that way: Trump could begin his accidental presidency as a reality-show character who escaped containment, and end up as the figurehead leader of a totalitarian regime.”

He goes on to quote Yale historian Timothy Snyder as saying that a Trump led effort to create a coup was inevitable and then in the next paragraph cites Brooklyn College political science professor Corey Robin’s Guardian Op-Ed, where Robin points out that Trump has done very little to actually assemble power, leaving hundreds of positions in the Justice Department, Homeland Security, and other branches of government run by Obama appointees. He makes the point, that if consolidating power were Trump’s goal, he would be doing a better job of doing it.

O’Hehir then reaches a scary prospect: “The fact that Donald Trump is really bad at being a tyrant is itself dangerous, and the fact that he has allowed himself to be turned into a puppet for the most retrograde elements of the Republican Party adds some extra instability to the danger.”  And it is this last point that causes me to be most concerned. That while Trump is a buffoon, at the same time he is a puppet for some very dangerous autocratic folks who pull his strings, who will let him do his work dismantling the balance of power, and then when his silly tweets and embarrassing blunders become inconvenient, will cut the strings on the puppet and easily seize power. Click here to review the entire Salon piece.

As O’Hehir’s sort of inconclusive narrative unfolds, you can’t help reach the conclusion that it is impossible really to know whether Trump is a buffoon or is a subtle strategist in buffoon’s garb. But, and this is the point, it doesn’t really matter. We are either left with a huge opportunity in 2018 or face an ominous and immanent challenge to our very way of life. In either case, there is only one response: activism, raising your voice with consistency and saying no to tyranny. Click here for a number of opportunities to take action and raise your voice in the next week or two.
The short video below underscores the urgent need for taking action and resisting, and this from David Frum, a former Bush speech writer and Atlantic editor. Frum is not exactly a leftist, yet he is decidedly feeling that fascism could be lurking and points to precisely how it could unfold. He makes some very interesting distinctions between what happened in the 1930s and what could be happening here. Short and very worthwhile.
In solidarity,
Paul and Roxanne

 

8 thoughts on “Trump = Creeping Fascism, Buffoon, or Both?

  1. I continue to understand Trump’s actions as conforming to the psychological disease narcissm. That is consistent with autocracy, namely one person having all the power of governance. The result is Trump’s actions being in his (family) self-interest financially and bringing only praise to him if possible. For example, he claims great success in public benefit of his actions when that is clearly not true.

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    • I also agree that the defining psychological issue with Trump is that of extreme narcissm and this feeds his autocratic and erratic, inflammatory behavior (whenever he is challenged). In turn it does make him someone who may be manipulated by those who are ideologically fascist leaning and know how to stroke his ego. The fact that he is likely unaware of what constitutes fascism or has no political skill provides little comfort as the various parts of this fascist system, particularly corporatism, are clearly in play. Our long ongoing drift from participative democracy, fueled by both parties, fed by corporate media influence, allowed this situation to occur. But we must see that the primary enablers and leaders in getting us to this ugly situation is the Republican party. Ironically, I still hope that some patriotism remains in a handful of Republican politicians and that they will join with the opposition to stop this before all vestiges of a constitutional state with even a modicum of democracy vanishes. I am afraid that we may soon see either a false foreign or domestic terrorist action leading to more seizure of power and freeing those racist, xenophobic, “true” Americans to make sure their leader is obeyed.

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  2. Masha Gesson’s writings and interviews are an excellent (frightening…) resource for understanding the beginning of an autocracy/dictatorship.

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