Things have become a little creaky six months into the Reign of Error. Cries of “Fake News” on Russia have evolved into inquiries about Presidential pardon authority.
The first six months has also seen more disarray on the personnel front than perhaps any Administration in history. Despite claims of Democratic obstruction, of the 210 seats requiring Senate confirmation, 33 have been confirmed, 58 have been nominated, 5 more have been announced but not formally nominated, and Trump has yet to take any action on the remaining 114 seats. This is in addition to losses of people from his first National Security Advisor Michael Flynn to his spokesman Sean Spicer the other day.
Spicer’s leaving came as a result of Trump naming the slick Wall Street huckster Anthony Scaramucci as White House communications director. Things did not start all too well for the Mooch. From being fully transparent about being less transparent and removing old tweets (or at least thinking he could remove old tweets) to muddled messages about the Russia investigation, it was just another weekend in the slow motion train wreck that is the U.S. right now.
Meanwhile, dealings with Congress aren’t going much better. From immigration, to health care, to infrastructure, to the Russia probe, The Washington Post headline today summed things up well saying “Republicans are in full control of government – but losing control of their party.”
“Frustrated lawmakers are increasingly sounding off at a White House awash in turmoil and struggling to accomplish its legislative goals. President Trump is scolding Republican senators over health care and even threatening electoral retribution. Congressional leaders are losing the confidence of their rank and file.”
This mess can’t all be laid at Trump’s feet. Republicans have lacked any cohesive, workable plans that they can build anything resembling consensus around for a long time, other than attention-grabbing soundbites for an out-of-power party.
Trump just amplifies the more general problems of the GOP. In an excellent Twitter thread, NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen took an in-depth look at the recent Trump New York Times interview and the way it breaks down the premises on which such interviews are historically built.
“It’s more than incoherence, it’s the obliteration of sense,” Rosen wrote. You don’t get a sense that he’s explaining what existed prior to its being asked about in the interview— or that it will persist after.
“Reading the transcript, you see desperation everywhere: a hunger for validation, a dim rage to appear before the judges of appearance.”
Oscar Wilde is reported to have said, “there is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”
This has been a guiding idea for Trump, perhaps forever (or at least since he was calling in to the NY Post posing as his fake publicist). Trump may not be a dedicated follower of fashion in the way Wilde was something of the pre-eminent Dandy of his day, but in the late 19th Century Dandyism was partly defined as a style marked by artificiality. As a grifter looking to enrich himself while paying lip service to blue collar Americans, Trump fits the definition.
So while we watch flames kick up around Trump and the GOP, enjoy a Dandy Cocktail. Taken from Kara Newman’s excellent book “Shake, Stir, Sip,” though the drink dates back much longer and was in the Savoy Cocktail Book, it is:
1.5 oz rye
1.5 oz sweet vermouth (I went with Cocchi Rosa in this case)
3 dashes of orange liqueur (Cointreau here)
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 lemon and 1 orange twist
Stir over ice and strain into a chilled coupe, express the citrus oils and use the peels of each as garnish.