Dr. Faustus Publishes His Memoir


Jeff Flake, My Party Is in Denial About Donald Trump:

[W]e conservatives mocked Barack Obama’s failure to deliver on his pledge to change the tone in Washington even as we worked to assist with that failure. It was we conservatives who, upon Obama’s election, stated that our No. 1 priority was not advancing a conservative policy agenda but making Obama a one-term president—the corollary to this binary thinking being that his failure would be our success and the fortunes of the citizenry would presumably be sorted out in the meantime. It was we conservatives who were largely silent when the most egregious and sustained attacks on Obama’s legitimacy were leveled by marginal figures who would later be embraced and legitimized by far too many of us. It was we conservatives who rightly and robustly asserted our constitutional prerogatives as a co-equal branch of government when a Democrat was in the White House but who, despite solemn vows to do the same in the event of a Trump presidency, have maintained an unnerving silence as instability has ensued. To carry on in the spring of 2017 as if what was happening was anything approaching normalcy required a determined suspension of critical faculties. And tremendous powers of denial. …

But then the period of collapse and dysfunction set in, amplified by the internet and our growing sense of alienation from each other, and we lost our way and began to rationalize away our principles in the process. But where does such capitulation take us? If by 2017 the conservative bargain was to go along for the very bumpy ride because with congressional hegemony and the White House we had the numbers to achieve some long-held policy goals—even as we put at risk our institutions and our values—then it was a very real question whether any such policy victories wouldn’t be Pyrrhic ones. If this was our Faustian bargain, then it was not worth it. If ultimately our principles were so malleable as to no longer be principles, then what was the point of political victories in the first place?


Death of a F***ing Salesman

Dog Bites Man: Trump is Crazy

We are reaching that point in the emperor’s story where even the adults are coming around, reluctantly and grudgingly, to the view that, yeah, he’s bare ass naked all right, and his little weenie is out there dangling in the wind. There are many examples, but thanks go to Vasari for this one from the Guardian:

Like some kind of Shakespearean villain-clown, Trump plays not to the gallery but to the pit. He is a Falstaff without the humour or the self-awareness, a cowardly, bullying Richard III without a clue. Late-night US satirists find in this an unending source of high comedy. If they did not laugh, they would cry. The world is witnessing the dramatic unfolding of a tragedy whose main victims are a seemingly helpless American audience, America’s system of balanced governance and its global reputation as a leading democratic light.

I don’t know, but I’d guess that most of you don’t read the National Review with any regularity. I know I don’t. But you probably need to make an exception today, to check out Devin Williamson’s Death of a F***ing Salesman. He writes,

Trump is the political version of a pickup artist, and Republicans — and America — went to bed with him convinced that he was something other than what he is. Trump inherited his fortune but describes himself as though he were a self-made man.

He has had a middling career in real estate and a poor one as a hotelier and casino operator but convinced people he is a titan of industry. He has never managed a large, complex corporate enterprise, but he did play an executive on a reality show. He presents himself as a confident ladies’ man but is so insecure that he invented an imaginary friend to lie to the New York press about his love life and is now married to a woman who is open and blasé about the fact that she married him for his money. He fixates on certain words (“negotiator”) and certain classes of words (mainly adjectives and adverbs, “bigly,” “major,” “world-class,” “top,” and superlatives), but he isn’t much of a negotiator, manager, or leader. He cannot negotiate a health-care deal among members of a party desperate for one, can’t manage his own factionalized and leak-ridden White House, and cannot lead a political movement that aspires to anything greater than the service of his own pathetic vanity.

He wants to be John Wayne, but what he is is “Woody Allen without the humor.” Peggy Noonan, to whom we owe that observation, has his number: He is soft, weak, whimpering, and petulant. He isn’t smart enough to do the job and isn’t man enough to own up to the fact. For all his gold-plated toilets, he is at heart that middling junior salesman watching Glengarry Glen Ross and thinking to himself: “That’s the man I want to be.” How many times do you imagine he has stood in front of a mirror trying to project like Alec Baldwin? Unfortunately for the president, it’s Baldwin who does the good imitation of Trump, not the other way around.

Hence the cartoon tough-guy act. Scaramucci’s star didn’t fade when he gave that batty and profane interview in which he reimagined Steve Bannon as a kind of autoerotic yogi. That’s Scaramucci’s best impersonation of the sort of man the president of these United States, God help us, aspires to be.

Man Bites Dog: We’re Crazy to Have Elected Trump

It’s great fun to talk about what kind of crazy Trump is. But there are plenty of crazy people in the world. We don’t usually pick one to be President.

And it isn’t as if Trump’s peculiarities were hidden until his election. Nothing whatsoever that has happened in the last six month’s is a surprise. It isn’t as if a reasonably normal person some kind of unexpected psychotic episode. The facts were there. Yet we elected him anyway.

The thing to be investigated is not Trump’s craziness, it is our craziness.

To that end, Aardvark has pre-ordered Twilight of American Sanity: A Psychiatrist Analyzes the Age of Trump.

When the book comes, I hope it will improve my own sanity.


Medicare for All

pie in the sky

Here at Happy Acres, the growing band of progressives has invited a speaker on Medicare for All. Everyone is excited.

Meanwhile, Fred Hiatt—no progressive he—has composed a thumb sucker called Behold the Trump boomerang effect. It’s like the Midas touch in reverse: everything that Trump wants to do backfires on him. Among many disparate examples, Hiatt addresses health care:

Obamacare is not just hanging on but becoming more popular the more Trump tries to bury it. And if he now tries to mismanage Obamacare to its death, we may boomerang all the way to single-payer health insurance. This year’s debate showed that most Americans now believe everyone should have access to health care. If the private insurance market is made to seem undependable, the fallback won’t be Trumpcare. It will be Medicare for all.

Unless Trump beats the Democratic establishment to the punch.

At Daily Kos Egberto Willies warns: Democrats beware: Trump may beat you to single payer Medicare for all.

I think Willies is right and Hiatt is wrong. Hiatt obviously has not grasped the full absurdity of the moment. Contrary to the reasonable but inaccurate assumption Hiatt makes, Trump does not give a flying fuck about keeping American health care in the tender embrace of the insurance industry. Trump wants a bill to that seems bold and courageous and has his name on it. That’s winning!

So, progressives, what do we do? The Paul Ryan Republicans made their deal with their devil, and it has not worked out well for them. Should we progressives propose our very own Faustian bargain? Should we embrace the

Donald Trump Make American Health Care Great Again Medicare for All Act of 2017