Contra to more savvy political operators, Donald Trump holds his secret meetings in public. Perhaps at 71, he’s come to the conclusion that skulking around is bad for the hips.
By most accounts, the newly revealed second meeting with Putin was startling to nearby observers. Given the American president and his associates’ alarming proclivity to elide their contacts with the Russian president and his own cadre, it seems like yet another in a series of optical missteps.
For someone who is trying to get away from the cloud of suspicion, he does a piss-poor job of making escape attempts. As if on cue, today he said he wouldn’t have hired Jeff Sessions if he’d known Sessions was going to recuse himself on L’affaire Russia instead of faithfully running interference on attempts to investigate that tangled web.
Don can’t seem to quit Vlad. Vlad in turn seems to revel in the influence he openly wields over a man in a position it is often claimed is the most powerful in the world. Trump carries Putin’s water on issues like undermining NATO, the removal of sanctions against Russia, and ending a covert CIA program to arm anti-Assad rebels.
The nation’s CEO is a threat to the fabric of society on his own. And while a great many threads in that fabric are in dire need of repair or replacement, his inclination is to blame immigrants for the shoddy workmanship, throw it in the dumpster and buy a new one with his name branded on it. He hopes his extraordinarily rich Russian friend approves.
Under normal circumstances, some of the political actions undertaken wouldn’t be so concerning. Take his order re: Syria. Whether the CIA should be involved in the matter is an ongoing and legitimate question. American foreign policy can often be monsterous, yet is seems Trump lacks any moral or philosophical grounding in his decision-making process. From the outside, it seems like it has everything to do with giving Vladimir Putin what he wants.
That, for me, is the pith of what startles. A fascist who rose to power through an admixture of cult of personality, elevating racist/nationalist sentiments and foreign collision is eminently swayable to the suggestions of another, far cannier authoritarian. Whether the cause is intellectual enfeeblement or blackmail doesn’t matter. What matters is that nothing substantive has been done to stop it by the party in power, and the danger is rising.
(Year Zero/Day One Hundred and Eighty-One)