Friday, January 20, 2017

In Banality We Trust

comparing Donald John Trump to Abraham Lincoln is an exercise in absurdity.
Last night, Trump and his family stood before the statue of Lincoln and stared up at his words engraved on the walls behind him and it was essentially pathetic. Here was Donald Trump looking at the image of the man and the engraved words of one of the best writers America has ever known.

The nation was blessed to have a Lincoln in 1861. We needed him to survive. There was not a better man available for the office in the entire nation, although that was not immediately apparent.

We are now in a very different time and place. Our nation is not riven with strife, torn by the original sin of slavery, torn by poverty and ill prepared to provide for and receive immigrants. Racism is not buried here, but it is in no way as widespread and virulent as it was then. Our economy is strong, although the inequality in wealth is even greater now than it was then, than it ever has been.

We are stronger in relation to foreign powers than we were in the middle of the 19th century, but we  cannot impose our will just anywhere we please. From Vietnam, to Afghanistan to Syria to the entire Middle East, we are unable to dictate attitudes or events. But we are not threatened by a power which is capable of invading us, or denying our ships and airplanes access to overseas markets.

We have a new problem: global warming, but we do not need to launch a world war to address this.

There is no ideology out there like slavery, fascism, communism or anarchism to compete with our ideas of democracy and capitalism.

We have mass communications, amazing transportation, access to information which would astonish anyone from Lincoln's time or from Washington's time.

What will determine the fate of the people in the Rust Belt  will be decisions made in CEO offices, board rooms of commercial companies, and that is not a new thing, actually, in American history. Often enough, the captains of industry have driven the big things in American life and politicians were either unimportant or only facilitators. The Trumps can point the finger at "Washington" but the real power is not in Washington. It is in money.  

The fact is, we probably do not need a strong President right now. We can work around a boy/man like Donald John Trump, much as they do in the state of Maine, where legislators literally walk around the office and the hallways connected to the office of Governor LePage.

The fireworks at the Lincoln memorial, the spiritual presence of Lincoln himself, the place which once provided the setting for Martin Luther King's memorable address, only served to diminish Mr. Trump last night.  Standing where Lincoln delivered his masterful Second Inaugural address, Mr. Trump, it was apparent, is no Lincoln. He's not even a Grant, certainly not an Obama.
He's one of those forgettable men, like Warren Harding or Franklin Pierce or even silent Calvin Coolidge. You remember Cal: When Dorothy Parker was told President Coolidge had died, she famously remarked, "How can they tell?"

If we are lucky, Mr. Trump will be like that, a President of no consequence.


  1. Mad Dog,
    Oh, and if we are unlucky he starts World War III because some foreign leader makes a crack about that thing he calls hair atop his head-or some similar good reason...Then he'd at least merit some substantial space in the history books. Donald thrives on attention and notoriety-he'd prefer to be considered disastrous to inconsequential any day, so my money is on him doing something colossal-even if it has to be colossally bad-if for no other reason than to be remembered..In that sense I think you are under estimating him..

  2. Maud,
    What is that dead animal on his head? It's too yellow to be a skunk, and two small to be a golden retriever.

    Mad Dog