Hey Jim. Thank you again for your comments. Although we have points of disagreement, we have several others on which we are in total agreement. Above all, I appreciate having a robust, substantive, civilized debate, which is rare on the ol’ Interweb.
You seem to be suggesting that Trump has done nothing worse than any previous POTUS, and that all this is the result of nitpicking by his overly aggressive enemies. I can’t agree. I do agree about the partisan-driven demonization of Bill Clinton, but these two presidencies are far from equivalent. Clinton was a like a case of acne; Trump is more like leprosy.
Lying is in fact a felony in itself. In keeping with the maxim that “the coverup is worse than the crime,” Nixon of course was brought down not for ordering the break-in at the Watergate, but for obstructing the investigation of it. Even if Trump is not shown to have personally conspired with the Kremlin (though it’s clear the members of his team did, from his campaign manager to his son-in-law to his son), he has still obstructed the investigation of it, in spades, if only to keep investigators away from the other criminality in his personal life and business empire.
Likewise, “payoffs to hookers” is not merely a salacious distraction. Forget the sex angle: we’re talking about a US president lying to the American people by silencing — bribing , in other words— those who have damaging information about him that the public otherwise deserves to know.
To bigger issues:
I could not agree with you more about American imperialism, and in particular the disregard for brown and black people; about the inexcusable state of the US health care system (such as it is); education, incarceration, and intergenerational poverty. I agree with you on the Bill of Rights, and it doesn’t help that we have a POTUS who almost daily attacks the free press.
I do take issue with the term “entitlement programs.” SS etc are not “entitlements,” which has a pejorative connotation (not accidentally — that’s how the GOP wants us to perceive them). They’re earned benefits. The system may be overcommitted, yet the Republican party sees fit to blow up the deficit with a trillion dollar tax cut for the 1%? In light of that, it’s impossible to take seriously their risible claims that we need to cut the social safety net.
Above all I agree with your overarching point about the ruling class trying “to keep us ruled distracted and fighting each other.” But I don’t put Trump’s monstrous regime in the category of one of these distractions. On the contrary, it’s more like the flowering of that plutocracy. (I do think foreign actors like Mr. Putin are happy to see America in chaos, and led by a malignant buffoon.)
To that end, I’m not of the school that thinks of Trump as a “disruptor” in any kind of positive way, or credits him with raising any kind of valuable “questions.” The damage he has done to the US and the world over the past two years (on foreign policy, on climate change, on the economy, on human rights, on truth full stop, etc etc ) ought to have disabused anyone of that delusion, which I heard bandied about a lot in 2016, even on the left. At best he is like a tumor that forces us to pay attention to a cancer that is consuming us, and for that he gets exactly zero credit from me.
Thanks again. Looking forward to reading your “Flouter-in-Chief” piece.