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Columns

Trump Is Turning and Turning in a Widening Gyre

October 16, 2017 - 7:00am

With eyes wide open, Mike Pence eagerly auditioned for the role as Donald Trump's poodle. Now comfortably leashed, he deserves the degradations that he seems too sycophantic to recognize as such. He did Trump's adolescent bidding with last Sunday's pre-planned virtue pageant of scripted indignation -- his flight from the predictable sight of players kneeling during the national anthem at a football game. No unblinkered observer can still cling to the hope that Pence has the inclination, never mind the capacity, to restrain, never mind educate, the man who elevated him to his current glory. Pence is a reminder that no one can have sustained transactions with Trump without becoming too soiled for subsequent scrubbing.

A man who interviewed for the position that Pence captured, Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, is making amends for saying supportive things about Trump. In 2016, for example, he said he was "repulsed" by people trying to transform the Republican National Convention from a merely ratifying body into a deliberative body for the purpose of preventing what has come to pass. Until recently, Corker, an admirable man and talented legislator, has been, like many other people, prevented by his normality from fathoming Trump's abnormality. Now Corker says what could have been said two years ago about Trump's unfitness.

The axiom that "Hell is truth seen too late" is mistaken; damnation deservedly comes to those who tardily speak truth that has long been patent. Perhaps there shall be a bedraggled parade of repentant Republicans resembling those supine American Communists who, after Stalin imposed totalitarianism, spawned the gulag, engineered the Ukraine famine, launched the Great Terror and orchestrated the show trials, were theatrically disillusioned by his collaboration with Hitler: You, sir, have gone too far.

Trump's energy, unleavened by intellect and untethered to principle, serves only his sovereign instinct to pander to those who adore him as much as he does. Unshakably smitten, they are impervious to the Everest of evidence that he disdains them as a basket of gullibles. He understands that his unremitting coarseness satisfies their unpolitical agenda of smashing crockery, even though his self-indulgent floundering precludes fulfillment of the promises he flippantly made to assuage their sense of being disdained. He gives his gullibles not governance by tantrum, but tantrum as governance.

With Trump turning and turning in a widening gyre, his crusade to make America great again is increasingly dominated by people who explicitly repudiate America's premises. The faux nationalists of the "alt-right" and their fellow travelers like Stephen Bannon, although fixated on protecting America from imported goods, have imported the blood-and-soil ethno-tribalism that stains the continental European right. In "Answering the Alt-Right" in National Affairs quarterly, Ramon Lopez, a University of Chicago Ph.D. candidate in political philosophy, demonstrates how Trump's election has brought back to the public stage ideas that a post-Lincoln America had slowly but determinedly expunged. They were rejected because they are incompatible with an open society that takes its bearing from the Declaration of Independence's doctrine of natural rights.

With their version of the identity politics practiced by progressives, alt-right theorists hold that the tribalism to which people are prone should not be transcended but celebrated. As Lopez explains, the alt-right sees society as inevitably "a zero-sum contest among fundamentally competing identity groups." Hence the alt-right is explicitly an alternative to Lincoln's affirmation of the Founders' vision. They saw America as cohesive because of a shared creed. The alt-right must regard Lincoln as not merely mistaken but absurd in describing America as a creedal nation dedicated to a "proposition." The alt-right insists that real nationhood requires cultural homogeneity rooted in durable ethnic identities. This is the alt-right's alternative foundation for the nation Lincoln said was founded on the principle that all people are, by nature, equal.

Trump is, of course, innocent of this (or any other) systemic thinking. However, within the ambit of his vast, brutish carelessness are some people with sinister agendas and anti-constitutional impulses. Stephen Miller, Bannon's White House residue and Trump's enfant terrible, recently said that "in sending our [tax reform] proposal to the tax-writing committees, we will include instructions to ensure all low- and middle-income households are protected." So, Congress will be instructed by Trump's 32-year-old acolyte who also says the president's national security powers "will not be questioned." We await the response of congressional Republicans, who did so little to stop Trump's ascent and then so much to normalize him.

George Will's email address is georgewill@washpost.com.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group

Comments

I always liked George Will even though I often disagreed with him. He is confirming why now, with his clear repudiation of the disgrace that is the Trump administration. Go George Go. We need your hammer now as much as any time before. Like I said, I don't "always" agree with you but I clearly do now.

I talked to you 2 years ago and you said Trump could not be elected, you said if he were the party would be lost, you said washington was not as bad a republicans say, etc. You were wrong. The nation is so gone it needs a radical to disrupt the process and make us think again of right and wrong, to have an opinion based on fact. We are not there yet, but on our way. Enjoy the ride, because it will end and we will all be on more stable ground when it is over

You are absolutely right. George Will's opinion should only be consulted on baseball from now on.

The piece was over the top, but the message is clear, and as true today as it was 2 years ago. Trump is everything that is wrong with America today, and deep down everyone knows it. Whether they will admit it or not does not matter. The writing is on the wall and it is only a matter of time before his unfortunate stay in our great nation's highest office comes to a fitting end...

Have you been in a vacume for the past 9 years?? What’s wrong for America were the past 8yrs of Obama’ and the possIbility of HRC being president!!!!

George, here's some advice given to me by my seventh grade english teacher years ago: "Never say 'metropolis' when you can say 'city'.."; it reveals you pretentiousness and your overly developed 'feeling' of self-worth..

Excellent comment, C Breeze. George Will is no longer relevant. The Dems don't want him and the true Conservatives who elected Trump do not want him. He has a very small, and very misinformed audience. I am disgusted with him. I did not even read his column beyond the first paragraph. I have NO respect for George Will. Go Trump!!

And how about that dripping sarcasm?

George forget about the left loathing you , even republicans and conservstoves can’t stand you anymore. You’re denial of The Nov. 8th election is even worse than Hillary!! Geo. Get over it and get some therapy you’re making a fool of yourself even more than when you write articles using a chain of $100 words that make you think you’re so much better than everyone else. Please Go away!!!

George will, you are part of the establishment that needs to go! Well past sound thinking! Perhaps you are getting senile! The American people choose President Trump for the reason that their voices are NOT heard! May Bannon erase you from politics and your elitist opinions

George, you've had a long and illustrious career. Be remembered for the George Will of the Reagan era. Don't go out on a sour note; it is time to retire.

Yep.

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