The aim is to get Americans’ heads spinning. Have them waste time dissecting statement “X” as Trump moves on to outburst “Y.” For example, “I’ll absolutely do safe zones in Syria for the people.” That was a good one.
Or, “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations.” Six weeks later, Trump reveals that there are no tapes of the conversation. Not bad. Had a Nixonian ring to it.
Noise is the thing — and adrenaline and suspense. There is no content, meaning, history or gravity. Can the president, less than six months into his first term, really hold a 2020 fundraiser in his own Washington hotel? The Oval Office has become the Oval Adjunct. It provides, at taxpayer expense, an ancillary service to Trump properties.
Trump visits Yad Vashem, Israel’s memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, and writes in the guest book: “It is a great honor to be here with all my friends — so amazing & will never forget!”
So amazing! Almost as amazing as the White House’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day statement that did not mention the Jews. Oh, yes, them. There we have it: the unbearable lightness of being Donald Trump. His latest is a “solar wall” on the U.S.-Mexico border. Remember that one.
In “Humboldt’s Gift,” Saul Bellow wrote that the United States is “a big operation, very big.” One thing is certain: It is bigger than this little man.
Trumpism is a form of collective gaslighting at Twitter speed. It is founded on the principle that velocity trumps veracity — perfect for the president’s manic personality. It reflects the president’s intuitive sense — through his own acute experience — of limited attention spans. It seeks to achieve dominance through a whirlwind of individually meaningless but cumulatively manipulative statements.
Max Weber, the German sociologist, contrasted modern “legal rule” with “traditional rule.” In the…