The Darkest Timeline

Fans of Dan Harmon’s pre-Rick and Morty joint Community have spent a lot of the past year referring to the events unfolding as “the darkest timeline”; that is, the timeline where the confluence of random events has led to the most disasterous outcome.

Though an entertaining proposition to explain these benighted times, I didn’t take it seriously until today, when

In an extraordinary — albeit veiled — attack, former President George W. Bush delivered a scathing assessment Thursday of President Trump and his policies, suggesting he has promoted bigotry and falsehoods to the detriment of the country and its values.

Speaking at a policy seminar in New York, the nation’s 43rd president never mentioned Trump by name. But his target was unmistakable.

“We have seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty,” Bush said. “We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism.”

“Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children,” he said at another point. “The only way to pass along civic values is to first live up to them.”

George W. Bush is a voice of reason against Trump? Dubya, the war criminal who destabilized not only Iraq but much of the Middle East? Dubya, the buffoon whose criminal negligence was response for the severity of the Hurricane Katrina humanitarian crisis (remember how nearly two thousand New Orleans residents [often poor, often black] died?). Yeah, that guy. If this is the darkest timeline, surely Bush the Sequel is the grinning troll.

(Year Zero/Day Two Hundred and Seventy-Three)

The Authoritarian Mindset

Abdel Fattah el-Sisi seized control of Egypt from democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi in a military coup in 2013. His rule since has been marked by human rights abuses and authoritarianism. Which is why Trump’s statement of solidarity with Sisi during the public portion of their meeting at the White House today raises alarm bells:

“We agree on so many things,” Mr. Trump said as he sat beside Mr. Sisi in the Oval Office. “I just want to let everybody know in case there was any doubt that we are very much behind President el-Sisi. He’s done a fantastic job in a very difficult situation. We are very much behind Egypt and the people of Egypt. The United States has, believe me, backing, and we have strong backing.”

Donald Trump fucking loves dictators. Each time he heaps effusive praise on a power-hungry “strongman”, it reinforces a crucial difference between this president and most of his precessors. Don’t find too much comfort in recent news stories that declare his failure to replace Obamacare has isolated him from his party or that he’s nothing more than a blustery lame duck.

George W. Bush is currently enjoying extensive image rehabilitation. He pops up on talk shows, acts like everyone’s genial, slightly befuddled grandpa and audiences eat it up. Yet this ignores the blood on his hands; how his perfidious invasion of Iraq destabilized much of the Middle East, leading to the rise of ISIS and the Syrian refugee crisis; and how he supercharged America’s surveillance state. It ignores every ill he inflicted at home and abroad, and how it laid the groundwork for the rise of fascism in America.

Bush had what was widely perceived as a lame duck presidency until September 11, 2001. All it takes it one significant act of terrorism to open the door to previously unthinkable alterations to the fabric of American society. For all the damage he wrought, he still seems to vaguely believe in the democratic tradition. No one can say the same about Trump.

(Year Zero/Day Seventy-Four)