Morning Observations of Cohen, Cohen, and Aardvark
Eliiot A. Cohen, in a post titled How This Will End: Sooner or later, tyrants are always abandoned by their followers, lucidly compares and contrasts Trump and Macbeth:
Macbeth is an utterly absorbing, troubling, tragic, and compelling figure. Unlike America’s germaphobic president, who copped five draft deferments and has yet to visit the thousands of American soldiers on the front lines in Afghanistan or Iraq, he is physically brave. In fact, the first thing we hear about him is that in the heat of battle with a rebel against King Duncan (whom he later murders) Macbeth “unseamed him from the nave to th’ chops.” He is apparently faithful to his wife, has a conscience (that he overcomes), knows guilt and remorse, and has self-knowledge. He also has a pretty good command of the English language. In all these respects he is as unlike Trump as one can be.
Eliot Cohen seems to think that Trump’s character flaws will lead to his downfall. But another Cohen, to wit, Roger Cohen, writing yesterday in the New York Times, observes,
The thing about all the shocking Trump revelations … is that they are already baked into Trump’s image. His supporters, and there are tens of millions of them, never had illusions. I’ve not met one … who did not have a pretty clear picture of Trump. They’ve known all along that he’s a needy narcissist, a womanizer, a lowlife, a liar, a braggart and a generally miserable human being. That’s why the “Access Hollywood” tape or the I-could-shoot-somebody-on-Fifth-Avenue boast did not kill his candidacy.
It’s also why the itch to believe that the moment has come when everything starts to unravel must be viewed warily.
Roger Cohen’s piece is titled—perhaps by the editor, not the author—“How Far America Has Fallen.”
No, Roger, not really. What we have learned is that there has always been a sizeable mob of fascisti out there in the heartland.
Four things needed to happen, I think, to engender the present tragedy.
Thing One. America needed to elect a black president—who would do the job with competence and dignity, and thus pose a mortal threat to white self-image.
Thing Two. The Democrats had to nominate a competent woman for president, thus posing a mortal threat working class male misogyny.
Thing Three. A suitable Mussolini-like figure needed to appear on the scene and offer to lead the mob, overtly validating their racism and their misogyny.
Thing Four. A small but pivotal section of the population needed to be persuaded to swallow their objections to impolite racism and misogyny, so as to promote other economic and ideological objectives.
When the mob was ready for Mussolini, Mussolini appeared.