Paul Craig Roberts: ‘The Assault On Trump Is Unprecedented’
OBAMA I and last
And even if Republicans in the House of Representatives are able to squeak through their horrendous repeal of the Affordable Care Act, it is likely to die in the Senate.
The Senate may well be our rampart, as it is an institution that recognizes the severe threat Trump poses. It could be the Senate that saves America from this tyrant and his throngs of cheering supporters who have set this whole nightmare in motion.
One of the best lines in the film is delivered by one senator to another as he laments Commodus’s manipulation of the people:
“I think he knows what Rome is. Rome is the mob. Conjure magic for them and they’ll be distracted. Take away their freedom and still they’ll roar. The beating heart of Rome is not the marble of the senate, it’s the sand of the coliseum. He’ll bring them death — and they will love him for it.”
Sound like someone’s supporters we know?
Rockaway Beach Ny 17 hours ago
In Gladiator the Senate didn’t save the Roman Empire from Commodus. The job of saving Rome was left to Russell Crowe’s heroic General Maximus, who had been dubbed The Savior of Rome, by the beloved Marcus Aurelius. By comparison a cowardly Senate decided to humor Commodus because they knew how unstable their new emperor was. It was wise policy just to play along especially when the Senators realized that Commodus knew the way to win the mob over was with elaborate spectacles and endless games in the Coliseum. However Charles Blow should find it reassuring that General Maximus killed Commodus in a duel to the death in the Coliseum.
The only time the Roman Senate openly revolted against a would be emperor was when they murdered Julius Caesar en masse on the Ides of March in 44 BC.
London 16 hours ago
Charles Blow blithely dismisses half of the electorate as ignorant, easily distracted lovers of death.
In this arrogance, he shows why the liberal elite, living in their coastal bubbles, still do not get why Donald Trump is President, or why over 90% of his voters, including this one, approve of his performance.
Instead of trying to apply B rate films to understand the present, perhaps columnists and commentators should take a good, long, look in the mirror and try to explain why we have:
A Republican President
A Republican Senate
A Republican House
A Republican majority of Governors
A Republican majority of State Legislators
Cape Cod, MA 16 hours ago
I don’t know, Charles. I get what you’re saying. But given that Mitch McConnell is the Majority Leader of our Senate doesn’t fill me with confidence that we can count on them to be the saviors that you suggest.
Just look at what McConnell did to sneak Gorsuch onto the Supreme Court. He may be mouthing the words now, insisting that the Senate will not abandon the filibuster, but he’s already done it, for Criminy’s sake. I wouldn’t put it past him to do it again. He may not use it to assuage trump, but he’ll certainly do it if it suits his own evil purposes.
flyovercountry 10 hours ago
HARRY REID……… keep him in mind
Here we go
Georgia 16 hours ago
I do not believe these sorts of popular culture oriented analogies to Rome are useful. Instead of using all those words to explain or suggest how the analogy work, it would be better to describe how are our political system is largely founded upon unwritten conventions. Here we have a president who is ignoring the conventions and showing us right now how fragile democracy is and can be. The focus should be on how to bring the political life of the US into focus. This quasi-historical reach into ancient Rome requires a creaky This = That approach, rather than a direct critique of our own time, and our own history. By now it is obvious that a significant number of people in our country do not understand how legislation is presented and becomes law. Basic information about our own system is far more important than learning about some cinematic version of Roman history that we then somehow apply to our own world (of which we as a people are ignorant).
So, it is not a matter of persuading our own “mob”, but of learning how to resist these people’s desire for anti-democracy right here and now. Mobs are impervious to reason. How do we turn a mob into a crowd of citizens?
Altoona PA 16 hours ago
Sorry Mr. Blow, it wasn’t the Senate that saved Rome, it was Maximus. In your analogy Maximus is Who?
Cape Cod 15 hours ago
Charles does a great job of expressing well reasoned revulsion for Trump, but once again he takes a swipe at Trump’s supporters. That disdain reinforces the cultural divide which brought us the ignorant wrecking ball in the Oval Office.
Trump’s success came not from his political agenda, he has none. It came from fomenting and exploiting feelings of disrespect. He is indeed, the voice of people who feel dissed and those people will stand by him to their own detriment so long as he hurts the people who did the dissing.
Stop disrespecting Trump voters. Don’t push them away. We need them not only to “take our country back,” but also to move it forward.
NYC 15 hours ago
Wow! What a masterful use of extended comparison! If I were still teaching comp, I’d show it to my students as a model of the genre. And, of course, I could not agree more with the content. I too am a fan of “The Gladiator”–and the comparison hits the nail on the head.
France 15 hours ago
Funny Mr. Blow mentions “Gladiator”, as one line from the movie strikes me as appropriate for the current state of American politics:
“Are you not entertained?”
Toronto 15 hours ago
Never underestimate the duplicity and sedition of one Senator Mitch McConnell!
Texas 14 hours ago
Sound like someone we know?
Let me guess, it’s Donald and the Deplorables, heard exclusively on the Trump of Clubs label.
I was excoriated by a fellow citizen commenter only a few days ago for dredging up the “deplorable” term. Sorry, but when shoes fit… While these folks may be devout in their religious beliefs, honest in their relationships with co-workers and friends, and generous to those in needier situations than they, as long as they continue to support and cheer for their chosen leader, who is none of the above…again, sorry, but when the label fits…
My main reservation about embracing Charles’s hope that the Senate will be the bulwark that stumps Trump is Mitch McConnell. This man still has not experienced his Saul of Tarsus revelation. He is the chink in the Senate’s armor.
Accra, Ghana 13 hours ago
When Mitt Romney declared that nearly half the voting base in the US were takers who only wanted “free stuff” and were therefore beholden to Democrats and Mr. Obama, he was soundly condemned, and rightly so. Same thing happened when Hillary Clinton made her “basket of deplorables” blunder. And reading this column, I see the exact same dynamic at work.
I think people misunderstand the results of our last 3 elections. Americans didn’t vote for Obama because they wanted the country to be more liberal, and they didn’t vote for DT because they want the country to be more conservative. In both cases, they voted for someone they thought would alter the status quo in Washington, and in America.
But the status quo is highly resistant to change. While most Americans despise the hatred that is spewed across this great ideological divide that we have allowed to form in the Senate and in our national discourse, they simultaneously take part in exactly that on Facebook. Though we despised the attacks from the right against Mr. Obama, we have gleefully engaged in exactly the same partisan attacks against his successor. “Fake News” isn’t what’s inaccurate, it’s what doesn’t support “our side.”
Before you start shouting “False Equivalence,” look over what I’ve written. By no means are the two sides equally culpable. But what is missing in this national dialogue is the sound of the adults in the room.
vermont 12 hours ago
I agree with your statement. However, I don’t see the right attacking free speech, committing arson or vandalizing buildings because they didn’t get their way. And no, these aren’t just “anarchists”. These are petulant college children. Children, including “professors” who gleefully play the part of disaffected ‘anarchists” while taking public salaries.
13 remarkable quotes from people who voted for both Barack Obama and Donald Trump
(Note: Some of these quotes may be from the same people, because the participants are identified only as “man” or “woman.”)
1. A Michigan woman:
“Obama is more like your best friend who has parties and has Beyoncé over, and then Trump is like your dad. He’s going to come whoop your ass because you didn’t do what you were supposed to do and get it done, yeah.”
2. A Michigan man:
“I just, she never like went away and like rebranded herself. She just stayed. She was like a piece of [expletive] that wouldn’t go down the toilet. She just like, she was done being secretary of state. You knew the next step was she was just gearing up to run for presidential, and she never got away. And then there always like with her and her husband, just always some kind of scandal of them ding people over.”
3. A Wisconsin woman:
“I voted for Obama too, because, I mean, there’s always been a white person, obviously, in office. I mean, he was of African descent, so I voted for him thinking I would change a little bit of the race issues that we had going on and make the colored people feel better, like they have a black person in office.”
4. A Wisconsin woman:
“I thought it was funny when he announced he was running for President, to be honest with you. Yeah. I really chuckled. I was like is this seriously who we have to vote for?”
5. A Wisconsin man:
“I’m still, to this day, amazed he’s our president. I think about it sometimes, and I can’t believe it. Like I’ll see him on TV, and I just can’t believe he’s the president. … I mean, one minute he’s on this thing — you know, ‘You’re fired’ and all that stuff — and the next thing he’s, you know, we’re sending missiles over to Syria. And I just, I’m just, I’m wowed.” (Again, this man and everyone else here voted for Trump.)
6. A Wisconsin woman:
“They made Trump, I think, — I, well, I shouldn’t say it was the media’s fault, it was pretty much his mouth’s fault — but he made himself look like a very mean, cruel person that just was very racist. And I thought he would, everyone was going to vote for Hillary because of that.”
7. Michigan man:
“Well, on top of that, she had an earwig in, and they were feeding her the answers.” (This was a conspiracy theory pushed by the Drudge Report and others. A woman on the panel seemed to agree, responding: “Right, well, that’s what I’m saying.”)
8. Michigan man:
“She just didn’t care what she said to people, and, you know, avoided every issue that was out there, and didn’t really want to really answer any questions. And, you know, it was all sideline, political.”
9. Wisconsin man:
“I think they all lie, but Trump was more — is more obvious.”
10. A Michigan man:
“There were quite a few opportunities for him to stand up to defend things, and all he did was just roll over and show his belly every time.”
11. A Michigan woman:
“And I always thought that Obama is a really nice guy. Trump is not. But Trump is going to be a better president, because Obama was not.”
12. A Michigan man:
“Oh, you know, Obama is like a very entertaining speaker. Like he’s captivating, and but he, yeah, he just, he tries to appease everybody.”
13. A Wisconsin woman:
“I didn’t always like listening to Hillary. I didn’t always agree with what he said, but I could listen to his like speech and stuff a wee bit more than Hillary’s. Like anything she said just turned me off.”
Don’t Like Trump’s Bluster? Sometimes It Works.
By CHRISTOPHER RUDDY MAY 4, 2017
President Trump and President Xi Jinping of China in April. CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times
As President Trump ended his first 100 days in office last week, I found myself in China, a good place to judge how he has transformed the presidency’s bully pulpit.
During the campaign, Mr. Trump denounced Chinese trade policies, saying he would not allow Beijing “to rape our country” any longer. In early April, when President Trump met President Xi Jinping of China at Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Fla., he continued the tough talk. He and his aides told the Chinese delegation that the administration would impose restrictions on Chinese investments in the United States if Beijing did not lower its barriers to American investments in China.
It is too soon to tell whether the Chinese will change their policies. But there are signs that the president’s antagonistic approach has opened the door to strategic cooperation on one of the world’s biggest problems: North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
China already has suspended coal imports from Pyongyang in compliance with United Nations sanctions, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that China would impose more sanctions if North Korea continues its nuclear testing program. China’s foreign ministry spokesman said last week, “I can say in terms of solving the North Korean crisis, China’s efforts can’t be overstated.”
There are also signs that Mr. Trump’s style is resonating with ordinary Chinese. Considering the harshness of his past statements about China, I was surprised by the number of people I met there who expressed respect for him. “He is a very successful businessman,” one said. “He is strong,” another said. One person noted, “I think in the past your country respected such people.”
Apparently, the Chinese never took Mr. Trump’s campaign rhetoric personally. They saw it as his starting point — a “negotiating position,” as Mr. Trump himself might say.
At home, President Trump is garnering far less reverence. Our political and media elites, along with Democratic critics, see Mr. Trump as overly provocative, unbalanced and lacking in any real results. They point to his thin legislative record.
But those critics have failed to appreciate how Mr. Trump’s strong positions on foreign policy have had a positive impact. The president has put North Korea on notice while bolstering South Korea with the Thaad missile defense system. Even as he has voiced support for NATO, he has continued to demand that its members pay their fair share for defense — likely a factor in Germany’s decision to increase its troop strength.
Struck by the inhumanity of Syria’s use of chemical weapons on innocent civilians, the president struck back in a measured way, ordering a strike of 59 Tomahawk missiles. Rogue actors like President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and his Iranian benefactors have been warned.
Mr. Trump has also shown the ability to learn on the job, having become a realist toward Russia and shown new caution in dealings with two allies, Turkey and Israel. On Iran, he has expressed flexibility regarding the nuclear deal he once denounced.
Mr. Trump has also used his White House platform to begin changing sclerotic domestic policies and politics. In shaking the tree, he is causing old leaves to fall even as healthy ones remain in place, still strong.
Simply by stepping up enforcement against undocumented workers, he has caused word to spread south of the border. Today, apprehensions of people crossing the southwest border illegally from Mexico are down 61 percent from January.
The president’s policies have created a virtual wall, one that may obviate the need for the $20 billion eyesore after all.
Mr. Trump has also already forced American companies to think twice about exporting jobs. And one conservative organization estimates his efforts to eliminate onerous and expensive regulations could save American businesses and consumers $60 billion or more.
I know some of Mr. Trump’s proposals seem frightening to many people. His budget calls for draconian cuts, such as reducing State Department spending by 28 percent and eliminating federal support for beloved programs like PBS and the National Endowment for the Arts.
His tax plan also might look as if it benefits mainly wealthy individuals and businesses, slashing the corporate tax rate to just 15 percent, from 35 percent.
But remember, for Mr. Trump these things are opening bids. Knowing him as I do, as a friend, I can imagine a more modest final budget that leaves most programs intact and compromises on a corporate tax rate of 25 percent. At the end of the day, Donald Trump is a dealmaker.
At 70, he is also not about to change. He won’t stop saying things that rub people the wrong way. And he will not stop tweeting — nor should he (though perhaps there should be a process for reviewing his tweets before posting). His theatrical persona, his rallies and his hyperbolic tweets have become the “big stick” he waves from his transformed bully pulpit.
Through his message he has moved markets, steered global business in a better direction for American companies and defended American workers. He has also put bad actors, domestic and foreign, on notice.
Even I do not agree with everything the president says or does. But we should be willing to recognize that, at times, he can be very effective. The Chinese have.
New York City 18 hours ago
It’s far too early to tell if “it works.” China’s cooperation with North Korea is in all likelihood nominal. North Korea is the bargaining chip they use to get away with all kinds of stuff. What incentive do they have to solve the North Korea problem?
Canada 18 hours ago
Although I appreciate the capacity to be able to learn on the job, watching this process is like paying $1000 for concert tickets to watch someone learn to play the piano. Someone who is president of the USA shouldn’t need to learn complex thinking skills on the job – those skills should have long been aquired, and been a pre-requisite for getting the job in the first place.
NYC 3 hours ago
As a Chinese American, I admire Trump very much and for many of the same reasons you list.
Chinese are negotiators by blood – go to any market or butcher and you’ll be negotiating, from age 5. It just works that way in certain countries, and China is, after all, a Silk Road country.
During the campaign, most liberals would take Trump literally but not seriously. They laughed at his candidacy. But the negotiators among us recognized that Trump was a supreme negotiator – not to be taken literally, but definitely seriously.
His moves, especially as it relates to foreign policy, have been very wise. Ordering 59 Tomahawks over dinner with China’s President and then informing him over chocolate cake was genius. It’s obviously not coincidence that China is helping us much more. Trump also threatened to recognize Taiwan, embargo the Chinese-man made islands, and name China a currency manipulator. Those were just made-up, artificial bargaining chips, but China didn’t know that for sure, and appreciated it when we withdrew them, and are now helping us a lot more with N.Korea. Obama never had such skill to link issues and leverage together.
Same with NAFTA. I highly doubt Trump was actually going to sign the withdrawal papers last week. He just leaked the news, knowing that the leaders of Mexico and Canada would come scrambling to beg for renegotiation instead. This puts us in a better opening posture.
Trump is a great negotiator. We should let him do his work.
San Diego,Ca 3 hours ago
Finally an opinion about Trump that is grounded in reality, instead of the hysterical rubble that cascades from the Times and most other news sources.
Victor Davis Hanson: Success of presidency depends on economic growth
The Republican Party establishment is caught in an existential paradox.
Without Donald Trump’s populist and nationalist 2016 campaign, the GOP likely would not have won the presidency. Nor would Republicans now enjoy such lopsided control of state legislatures and governorships, as well as majorities in the House and Senate, and likely control of the Supreme Court for a generation.
So are conservatives angry at or indebted to the apostate Trump for helping them politically in a way they previously could not help themselves?
For a similar sense of the paradox, imagine if a novice outsider such as billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban had captured the Democratic nomination and then won the presidency — but did not run on either Bernie Sanders’ progressive redistributionism, Barack Obama’s identity politics or Hillary Clinton’s high taxes and increased regulation. Would liberals be happy, conflicted or seething?
Republicans concentrate on what they like in the Trump agenda — military spending increases, energy expansion, deterrence abroad, tax and regulatory reform, and the repeal/replacement of the Affordable Care Act — and ignore the inherent contradictions between Trumpism and their own political creed.
But there are many fault lines that will loom large in the next few years.
Doctrinaire conservatives believe that unfettered free trade is essential, even if it is sometimes not fair or reciprocal.
Establishment Republicans (privately) argue that cheap imports into the U.S. at least kept inflation low. If our trade partners dump state-subsidized products into the U.S., it is to their long-term disadvantage, not ours.
In this mainstream Republican view, the role of a superpower is to endure trade deficits to help its less powerful allies and keep the global order prosperous and stable.
But Trump’s idea of “fair” trade trumps “free” trade.
Trump is not willing to accept a permanent Midwest Rust Belt as the price of globalization. If there are to be sacrificial lambs in world trade, for Trump it is better that they reside in China, South Korea and Germany, nations that for a change can try finding any upside to running huge trade deficits.
Unlike doctrinaire Republicans, Trump believes illegal immigration is a big — and bad — deal.
Trumpism seeks to help the working class by stopping the importation of cheap labor. It believes that secure borders will restore the sanctity of law, and that the end of illegal immigration will lead to greater integration and assimilation of Latino minority groups. In the long run, Mexico will be a better neighbor by not counting on impoverished expatriates to prop up an often corrupt government in Mexico City and by addressing the plight of its impoverished rather than exporting its poor.
Trumpism views the world abroad largely in terms of realist deterrence.
Outside the West, the world is a mess, and it will likely not change — and cannot be forced to change — because of American blood and treasure spent on trying to replicate America abroad. Instead, Trumpism seems to want to deter rivals to ensure a calm global order.
Trumpism has no illusions that there will ever be a world of liberal democracies. It seeks instead only to make sure enemies understand that any future aggression will not be worth the anticipated benefits. Trumpism argues that it makes little sense to snub autocratic friends while cutting deals with autocratic enemies like those in Iran or Cuba.
Trump is politically incorrect. He sees a person’s pocketbook, not his outward appearance, as the key to his allegiance. Through deregulation, tax reform, immigration reform and fair trade, Trump hopes to grow the economy by 3 percent each year.
Such economic growth has not happened in over a decade. But if Trumpism works, then prosperity will supposedly unite Americans to a greater degree than identity politics can divide them.
In other words, Trump apparently believes that if he achieves 3 percent GDP growth and avoids a major war abroad, his brand of economic nationalism, realist deterrence and America-first chauvinism will replace mainstream Republicanism.
If he stalls the economy or gets into a quagmire abroad, then Trump will end up like most other American populist mavericks — as an interesting footnote.
In the hundreds of Trump’s phone calls I listened in on with his consent, and the dozens of meetings I attended with him, I can never remember anyone disagreeing with him about anything. The same climate of fear and paranoia appears to have taken root in his White House.
Conversations with some officials who have briefed Trump and others who are aware of how he absorbs information portray a president with a short attention span. He likes single-page memos and visual aids like maps, charts, graphs and photos. National Security Council officials have strategically included Trump’s name in “as many paragraphs as we can because he keeps reading if he’s mentioned,” according to one source, who relayed conversations he had with NSC officials .
12:59 AM EST
I am SURE the Republicans will NEVER attempt to force Trump from office, and I am SURE he will not last out the summer. Because being President is a job and requires WORK.
5/17/2017 10:22 PM EST
This will require patience! Trump is not leaving office. The GOP is not willingly giving up power. It all still comes back to the 2018s and 2020. Hopefully, the damage to our environment, our economy, our healthcare, our public school system, and our debt can be minimized until Dems regain a majority. The best I can realistically hope for is that the investigation slows the GOP agenda and allows more American to realize that their best interests lie with Democrats.
5/17/2017 10:18 PM EST
And yet, a sizable portion of our population still support him. They are unwilling to admit to their error and continue their “team” loyalty regardless of the ongoing screw ups. This is such a dangerous trend and international embarrassment.
5/17/2017 9:32 PM EST
Nope, the GOP cult will stand by their cult leader because that’s what cultists do. Cultists live in a reality defined entirely by their cult, rejecting everything outside their cult as ‘false’ (or ‘fake news’), view anything negative said about the cult leader as all lies spread about by their unbelieving enemies, and will justify anything their cult leader says and does because, well, he’s the leader of their cult.
No. Don’t expect the republicans to reject Trump any time soon, or possibly ever. Because that’s the nature of cults. The more bad things that happen, the more they cling to their insular beliefs, denying objective reality with ever greater vehemence, claiming that it’s ‘those’ people who are making it all up. This being the case, the GOP will never reject him – he’s their Messiah, their avenging angel, the savior who’s going to burn the country to the ground so they can rebuild it into the christian theocracy it should have been from the very beginning . . .