Sunday, April 15, 2018


The New Yorker's Adam Davidson reported from Iraq shortly after the U.S. military overthrew Saddam Hussein, and also covered the financial world as the 2008 crashed approached. He argues that the collapse of the Trump presidency is now as inevitable as those failures.
There are lots of details and surprises to come, but the endgame of this Presidency seems as clear now as those of Iraq and the financial crisis did months before they unfolded.

... I am unaware of anybody who has taken a serious look at Trump’s business who doesn’t believe that there is a high likelihood of rampant criminality. In Azerbaijan, he did business with a likely money launderer for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. In the Republic of Georgia, he partnered with a group that was being investigated for a possible role in the largest known bank-fraud and money-laundering case in history. In Indonesia, his development partner is “knee-deep in dirty politics”; there are criminal investigations of his deals in Brazil; the F.B.I. is reportedly looking into his daughter Ivanka’s role in the Trump hotel in Vancouver, for which she worked with a Malaysian family that has admitted to financial fraud....
And on and on. Right now, the public may not understand how deep the rot goes, as most Americans didn't understand the impending calamities in Iraq and global finance, but Davidson is certain that will change.
It has become commonplace to say that enough was known about Trump’s shady business before he was elected; his followers voted for him precisely because they liked that he was someone willing to do whatever it takes to succeed, and they also believe that all rich businesspeople have to do shady things from time to time....

I believe this assessment is wrong. Sure, many people have a vague sense of Trump’s shadiness, but once the full details are better known and digested, a fundamentally different narrative about Trump will become commonplace.... It took a long time for the nation to accept that [the problems in Iraq and the financial markets] were not minor aberrations but, rather, signs of fundamental crisis. Sadly, things had to get much worse before Americans came to see that our occupation of Iraq was disastrous and, a few years later, that our financial system was in tatters.
But here's the difference: The Iraq War and the financial meltdown affected rank-and-file Republican voters personally. In heartland red America from 2003 on, voters lost children and spouses in what they came to realize was a poorly run war premised on falsehoods. A few years later, the financial crisis cost many of them their jobs and their savings.

Liberals turned against the Iraq War early, some before it began, others as it became obvious that the war was started on false premises and conducted with more bluster than forethought. Liberals were also critical of the Bush administration's rejection of financial oversight long before that see-no-evil approach ended in calamity.

But that's liberals for you: We object to policy decisions that don't personally affect us (or at least haven't affected us yet). We worry about problems before they happen -- how long have we been talking about climate change? We care about the treatment of groups we don't belong to. We object to inequities even when we're on the more favored side.

Conservatives are different. They practice the politics of "what's in it for me?" and rarely game out the long-term consequences. They couldn't imagine how the Iraq War or lack of financial oversight could cause problems because the problems hadn't happened yet -- certainly not to themselves. (Similarly, they can't understand why it's a big deal that Russia interfered in our last presidential election -- their guy won, so what's the problem?)

Conservative voters are never going to care about Trump's corruption because it has no negative impact on them. They haven't lost any money as a result of his dealings in Brazil or Azerbaijan, so why does any of it matter?

It may not literally be true that Trump could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose any votes, but he could certainly fleece someone there, or be fleeced, and his voters wouldn't care, because it's irrelevant to them.


... And along comes Fox's Greg Gutfeld to confirm my thesis.

... Trump's like a Mafia boss? File that under "Duh." ... The fact is, he's a billionaire real estate developer in New York City. You think he never had to deal with actual Mafia bosses? Why do you think he's the way he is now? Sorry, when America hears Comey whine that Trump is like a Mafia boss, they go, "No shit, Sherlock. That's why we like him." ... He may be a Mafia boss, but he's our Mafia boss.

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