St. Patrick may have driven the snakes from Ireland, but eight weeks into Trump’s swamp-draining administration, Washington D.C. is slithering with more vipers than ever.
We need to take every precaution that this encounter with the serpent doesn’t leave us all longing for a lost Eden (flawed as that garden may be). We’ll need to stay even more focused. Like the Original, our current snake has spent quite a bit of time making out with the Blarney Stone.
The Fairytale of New York mogul Trump is a con. From the steaks and the university, to the developer who doesn’t build anything, just slaps his name on for a price. Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post nailed it pretty good today in her piece “Trumpism is losing, again and again.”
“Maybe Trump and Trumpism in practice are a lot less impressive than voters believed in the campaign. After all, Trump’s career has been defined by hyping shoddy products (steaks, vodka, airlines, chocolate, etc.). Once the sales pitch ends and the product must stand on its own, the results can be underwhelming as Trump University students found out. In business Trump has always gone on to the next new thing, never acknowledging failure but never proving success.”
I think this is an overlooked aspect of Trump’s Russian ties because he fits so seamlessly with “the surreal heart of the new Russia” that Peter Pomerantsev described in his 2014 book Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible. Near the end of “Act I: Reality Show Russia,” Pomerantsev talks about balancing professional and personal lives in Putin’s Russia.
“‘Over the last 20 years we’ve lived through a communism we never believed in, democracy and defaults and mafia state and oligarchy, and we’ve realized they are illusions, that everything is PR.’ ‘Everything is PR’ has become the favorite phrase of the new Russia; my Moscow peers are filled with a sense that they are both cynical and enlightened. When I ask them about Soviet-era dissidents, like my parents, who fought against communism, they dismiss them as naive dreamers and my own Western attachment to such vague notions as ‘human rights’ and ‘freedom’ as a blunder. ‘Can’t you see your own governments are just as bad as ours?’ they ask me. I try to protest – but they just smile and pity me. To believe in something and stand by it in this world is derided, the ability to be a shape-shifter celebrated.”
Pomerantsev published the book two years before Trump was elected, but for our Shape-Shifter-In-Chief, his non-stop PR puts this mindset in practice in the U.S. We can see it when Trump tweets something ridiculous or presents a budget proposal beyond the hopes of the most right-wing Republican talk radio host all for maximum controversy. As we all argue whether celebrities having political opinions or the merits of feeding the elderly, the grifting continues.
Of course all those extra billions of dollars for Defense, or fetishization of military power as Jim Wright more aptly put it, flow into the Pentagon’s less-than-stellar accounting process for the military-industrial complex. Money being thrown at the DoD that it never asked for presents a much greater opportunity to skim than a Meals-on-Wheels program.
Yet again this weekend, Trump will head to his Florida home at a cost of about $3 million of taxpayer money. And now the new Mar-a-Lago Club heliport has passed inspection and is ready for use by Marine One.
Meanwhile, NYC is paying $150,000 per day for securing Trump’s estranged third wife holed up in Manhattan. And just coincidentally, the family of son-in-law Jared Kushner just scored a $4 billion deal with a shady Chinese company.
In this Trump/Putin era where everything is PR, avoid the swindle of green beer and celebrate St. Paddy’s with a nice authentic shot of Jameson and a pint of Guinness. And yes, I know that’s a Christmas song. Here’s a more appropriate choice from the Pogues for the night.