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Member since: Tue Dec 6, 2016, 06:49 PM
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Will We Ever Return to Normal After Trump?

There is plenty of ugly fight left in Donald Trump’s presidency, which has already warped American culture. But it’s not too soon to contemplate a post-Trump challenge: tyrant-proofing the country, in case the next one isn’t such a clown.

t is my dearly beloved hope (yours too, I trust) that it won’t take another presidential election to expel the Desecrator in Chief from the premises, to liberate us from the otiose spectacle of Donald Trump tramping over the Constitution in his golf spikes and exercising his tweeting thumbs at the expense of decency, democracy, and basic spelling (“Somtimes you need protest in order to heel, & we will heel, & be stronger than ever before!”). The frantic tempo of his cruel, petty fits of pique—the pardoning of the sadist sheriff Joe Arpaio, the transgender ban, the decision to end the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program simply to inflict pain and roll back any vestige of the Obama-stamped compassionate policy—and the Agatha Christie elimination of assistant warlocks such as Mike Flynn, Steve Bannon, and Seb Gorka (could Stephen Miller be next on the skewer?) signal an administration heading toward a crescendo, not one buckling down for the duration and plotting new coordinates. It’s stuck in a dead man’s float.

All Trump has to show for his first year in office is a whole lot of nada. No border wall. No tax reform. No infrastructure package. His sole bragging point—the installation of Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court—was a gimme, owing everything to the Republican Senate’s obstruction of Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, not to any exertion of his own. His spats with congressional chieftains (Mitch McConnell, John McCain, Paul Ryan) reek of sour grapes and frustrated stalemate. Meanwhile, in the background is the ominous sonar beep of Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference, a run-silent, run-deep probe drawing upon a lode of legal brainpower that ought to make any finky operator nervous. (And Mueller’s reported Batman-Robin team-up with New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman takes the magic pardon wand out of Trump’s little hand.)

In the sorriest days of the Watergate scandal, the iconoclastic journalist and 60 Minutes commentator Nicholas von Hoffman compared the Nixon presidency to “a dead mouse on the American family kitchen floor. The question is: who is going to pick it up by the tail and drop it in the trash?” It would be premature to write off the Trump presidency as a deceased rodent lying on the linoleum. In its nasty defensiveness, it is closer to a cornered rat. It still has plenty of ugly fight left. But we are at the beginning of the endgame and it is not premature to start imagining how to pick through the damage the Trump presidency will leave behind and future-proof the republic so that It Can’t Happen Here never happens again. So much headspace will be opened up once Trump is no longer occupying it that we must make the most of it.

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