I can hardly keep up with the news these days, what with obsessively reading I don’t know many articles a day about the new regime in Washington plus following the French presidential campaign, which is the wildest and craziest ever. It’s too much. I’ll intend to post something on US politics but if I sit on it for more than a day, it’s already old news. Passé. E.g. Trump’s latest psychotic meltdown on Twitter, but which we’ll likely have already moved on from by tomorrow.
I’m not going to offer any personal thoughts here. Just links, in particular to two excellent articles I read just today. The first is entitled “‘Bring everything crashing down’: Bannon’s reactionary guard and U.S. national security,” posted Feb. 27th on the War on the Rocks blog (h/t Claire B.). The author, previously unknown to me, is Iskander Rehman, Senior Fellow at the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina University in Newport RI, and who received all his degrees from Sciences Po Paris. He’s a sharp analyst and with numerous insights, e.g. on the Vichy regime and parallels to Washington today—and quoting historian Henry Rousso, who had some problems at Houston airport last week—and on Stephen Bannon’s Weltanschauung, which, for Rehman, has five clear components—class resentment, millenarianism, decadentism, ethnotribalism, and illiberalism—none of which, Rehman contends, have a place in traditional American conservatism. Peut-être.
Rehman links to several good articles, one from last November, in Politico, by Jedediah Purdy of the Duke Law School, “The anti-democratic worldview of Steve Bannon and Peter Thiel.”
The other first-rate piece read today is Emily Bazelon’s in the current NYT Magazine, “Department of Justification.” The lede: “Stephen Bannon and Jeff Sessions, the new attorney general, have long shared a vision for remaking America. Now the nation’s top law-enforcement agency can serve as a tool for enacting it.” I personally think—today at least—that Trump’s sinister henchmen will fail to enact their vision—the resistance of America’s robust civil society, plus the courts, will prevent that from happening—but it’s chilling stuff nonetheless.
On 45’s SOTU address last Tuesday—now ancient history—which certain media organs normally critical of the SOB shamefully praised, Vox’s Matthew Yglesias had a brilliant analysis in case one missed it, “Trump is performing the role of president, not doing the job: He doesn’t want to be president, he just wants to play one on TV.” Also see the commentaries in Slate by Michelle Goldberg—who is consistently tops—and William Saletan. The one by Never Trump Republican Max Boot in FP is also good, “Don’t believe the new Trump: He’s still the same old, uninformed, easily manipulated, egomaniac—surrounded by second-raters, lickspittles, and extremists.” Lickspittles: love that!
Esquire’s Charles P. Pierce has the most gratifying piece of the week: “Why I’ll never sympathize with regretful Trump voters: They brought this disaster on themselves. They must own it.” That’s right. Qu’ils aillent se faire foutre. FN voters in France too.
C’est tout ce que j’ai à dire.