Donald Trump’s Biggest Lie: His Promise to Unify America – commentary

-Donald Trump’s Biggest Lie: His Promise to Unify America

Democrats can barely keep up with the anger of their own grassroots supporters

Opinion - commentary -analysisDavid Usborne – New York | Independent UK

Has there ever been a growlier president than Donald Trump? He is the new scary clown, lacing slander and bile with quips about the athleticism of his own brain. He laps up the love while brandishing a rhetorical buzz-saw at his enemies. That’s the media, mostly, but also America’s trading partners. Even its purported allies. He is still hitting out at Hillary, for heaven’s sake.   

In his speech to CPAC, the annual confab of establishment Republican conservatives, he left a trail of corpses, Paris among them. He told the story of a friend who once loved the place but stopped going a few years ago. “Paris isn’t Paris any more,” the person apparently told him. Translate: the people in Paris have given up berets, its streets are no longer strewn with onions.

Germany and Sweden were in receipt of insults too, but in fact it’s the whole world that should be affronted if not downright scared. His nationalism was given fresh flight. “There is no such thing as a global anthem, a global currency, or a global flag,” he boomed. “We are Americans and the future belongs to us… American is coming back, and it’s roaring and you can hear it.”

We can hear him, anyway. You have to rejoice that America still has a system of civilian government. Though notice he now has three generals to join him in the Situation Room when the world goes awry: HR McMaster, as his new (and second) National Security Adviser; plus Defence Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of Homeland Security John F Kelly.

Mix his pugilism with his fascination for weapons and see what we get. “We don’t win any more,” he told the crowd, smiles of naked adoration pasted on their faces in a hotel ballroom just south of Washington.

“When was the last time we won? Do we win a war? Do we win anything? … We’re gonna win big, folks”. Did he have any particular war in mind?

His jibes at the press revealed fresh undertones of authoritarianism. Reporters, he averred, should no longer be able to quote unnamed sources in their stories. And then he had this warning for the media, us striving to shed light on the spasms of his White House: “It doesn’t represent the people, it never will represent the people and we’re going to do something about it.” What is he proposing here, if not some kind of gagging?

His worst joke may be the one about unifying the country. He said that during his inauguration, if you can remember a thing about it. (It seems like a year ago, doesn’t it?) “We’re going to unify our country,” he said at a concert on the eve of his swearing-in.

It’s tragic because he could do that, if he wanted to. He won for a reason. His victory was legitimate, nurtured by a real wave of public disenchantment with the dysfunctions of an elitist government. His job after his election was not to crow about the size of his victory – erroneously, mostly – and not to fight old battles. It was, surely, to ease the nerves of those who didn’t vote for him and explain why the change he represented would be a positive and cleansing thing.

Many of Trump’s speeches do contain elements of surprising moderation. A slight hush fell on CPAC when he emphasised that while he means to gut regulations in America, he wants to preserve those he that thinks are sensible, for instance, for the environment and workplace safety.

But Trump is not your ordinary human. He is a ginger cat who needs to be stroked but also can’t wait to get into the alley and fight. And as he does so, he invites more polarisation, not less. Far from settling down to a different vision of government that may have plenty to recommend it, America instead is caught in a moment of deep political tumult. The more Trump says and the more he does, the more he manages to make those who didn’t vote for him fume and rage.

The resistance army is growing daily. It began with the Women’s March in Washington after inauguration day and burst forth again this week at town hall meetings held by Republicans in their home districts. The fury hit them like a hurricane. This weekend, 100 rallies will be held across the land to protest the Republicans’ pledge, repeated again by Trump at CPAC, to gut Obamacare (never mind they still have no plan to replace it).

The Democrats, meanwhile, can barely keep up with what’s happening. There is this massive surge of energy and anger from the progressive left and the party must find a way somehow to bottle it. The grassroots are demanding that the Democrats in Washington do whatever it takes to thwart Trump, including set an impeachment process in motion. But how much can they do, really? The Democrats are in the minority and can start little on their own.

Doing what some had argued for just a few weeks ago – seeking out areas of possible common ground with Trump, like infrastructure investment, and peeling off a few moderate Republicans to join them – doesn’t appear to be an option any more. It will be oppose, oppose, oppose. That, after all, is what the Republicans on the Hill did to Barack Obama for eight years.

This is the weekend when the much-depleted Democratic Party must get up and dust itself off. It will happen first at a meeting of Democrat governors in Washington – and there are only 17 of them left – and, more critically, at the annual meeting of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in Atlanta, where votes will be cast for a new chairperson.

The front-runner in Atlanta is Thomas Perez, the former Obama Labour Secretary. He may be imperilled by the current commotions, however. While he has a fine record of progressivism, he will be seen by some among the 448 DNC voters as belonging to the party’s own establishment and wrong for this moment. The mood calls instead for his closest rival Keith Ellison, the first Muslim to be elected to Congress, or Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana.

Whoever takes the DNC tiller, the future seems already set, not by them but by the tomcat occupying the Oval Office, whose appetite for adulation is eclipsed only by his need to scrap.

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  • Clyde Duncan  On February 26, 2017 at 3:11 am

    Where the BBC has been Banned, Other Than the White House

    Posted by Jessica Brown | Independent UK

    Trump said much of the media was “the enemy of the American people” in his speech yesterday at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

    White House press secretary Sean Spicer then went on to bar journalists from the New York Times, CNN, Guardian, the BBC and the Daily Mail from attending the daily briefing.

    The New York Times called the move: “a highly unusual breach of relations between the White House and its press corps”.

    The executive editor of the New York Times, Dean Baquet, said:

    “Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties.”

    The press briefing was originally scheduled as an on-camera event, but later on in the day the White House announced it would take place off camera.

    Conservative publications including Breitbart News were allowed access, along with TV networks including CBS, NBC and Fox News.

    The Associated Press and Time boycotted the briefing in protest.

    But this isn’t the first time the BBC has been banned from reporting out of another country.

    •In 2015, the Iranian government granted the broadcaster a licence to report on Iran’s nuclear deal. This is the first time the BBC had permission to report in Iran in six years.

    •A ban on the BBC reporting from Zimbabwe was lifted in 2009 after eight years of restrictions from that country’s government.

    •In 2015, Rwanda placed an indefinite suspension on the BBC after a row [conflict] over its 1994 documentary on genocide.

    •In 2016, three journalists were banned from North Korea after being detained over their reporting, which they said spoke ill of the system.

    The BBC was banned from reporting from Burma for decades, although this has improved in recent years.

    The BBC has commented on the recent White House ban, Paul Danahar – BBC Americas Bureaux Editor stated:

    We understand that there may be occasions when, due to circumstances or space, the White House restricts press events to the established pool. However, what happened today did not fit into that pattern. On this occasion, selected media were allowed to attend the briefing and selected media, including the BBC, were not. The BBC has a representative at every daily White House briefing, so we are not clear on why we were barred from today’s. We have sought clarification from the White House Press Team. The BBC’s reporting of the White House will continue to be fair and impartial regardless.

    Jon Sopel | BBC tweeted Sean Spicer statement on what happened:

    You’re NOT alone there, BBC.

  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On February 26, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    The BBC ban shocked me. I thought that Britain was our greatest ally.

  • Clyde Duncan  On February 27, 2017 at 3:04 am

    The ‘Worst’ German Word of the Year

    What the return of Lügenpresse, a phrase most recently used in the era of the Nazi, says about political developments in Germany and Europe.

    By Adam Chandler | The Atlantic

    On a Tuesday [this is January 2015 and around the time of the Charlie Hebdo massacre], a panel of linguists in Germany declared Lügenpresse the dubious winner in the annual “Unwort des Jahres” competition. The annual, politically charged “non-word of the year” event critiques phrases that have taken on a pernicious meaning in the country over the course of a given year.

    The coronation of Lügenpresse represents a troubling trend. The phrase, which means “lying press” and found most recent use in the Nazi era, has become something of a watchword among Germany’s increasingly vociferous ANTI-IMMIGRANT [AND LARGELEY ANTI-MUSLIM] activists. In recent months, these demonstrators have called on the media to “tell the truth” about what immigrants are doing to Germany.

    Other recent winners include Sozialtourismus (“social tourism”), which in a certain context also relates to immigrants who come to Germany to indulge in state benefits, and Döner-Morde (Döner murder), which dismissively refers to murders of Turkish and Greek people.

    *For a compelling contrast, consider that just last week, the American Dialect Society named #blacklivesmatter as 2014’s word of the year—the first time a hashtag has won.

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