Donald Trump Is The American Caligula… That’s Not A Good Thing

Not A Revelation: Donald Trump thinks he’s King… or, in German — “Kaiser” — the Germanification of the name “Caesar”.

But Donald Trump is such an incompetent, that he can’t even get being a “Caesar” right. He’s gone and modeled himself after another Roman emperor — Caligula.

We keep reaching for the words to describe our times — times that are increasingly indescribable. The word Michelle Goldberg used today is perfect (until the Trumpanistas surpass it): “Debauched”. We live in Debauched Times because the man occupying the White House is a modern, Adderall-huffing, bloated orange Caligula.

Donald Trump has destroyed every bit of common decency we ever associated with ourselves. While the real Caligula probably wasn’t anywhere near as insane as the Caligula in our imaginations (his enemies wrote the histories), the more we experience Donald Trump and his myriad debaucheries, the more we have to look at Caligula and ask “Okay, but what if he really was that bad?”

In addition to killing everyone he feared (including the men who put him in power), Caligula declared himself a god. He replaced the heads on the statues of gods all around Rome with his own head. Most famously, Caligula wanted to make his horse consul. Between and around all that, Caligula epitomized debauchery in every form. If it felt good to him, he did it.

Or, as Caligula himself put it: “Remember that I have the right to do anything to anybody.”

That sounds almost painfully like “I alone can fix it”.

Just as Caligula debauched (and debased) an already debaucheded Roman society, so too is Donald Trump taking our worst instincts and feeding them Trumpian steroids. We stand by, watching (disapproving — horrified even), but, in fact, doing nothing to stop it while the debauchery continues unabated. We have blown past moments of what should have been end-of-the-line absurdity — images that previously would have defined a presidency and ended it on the spot —

Instead, these images have become shards in a massive mosaic that, if you look at it one way, looks exactly like Donald Trump. But, if you turn your head and look at it slightly askew? You see the deeper problem within: Massive, systemic, foundational REPUBLICAN corruption.

This shouldn’t be a revelation (though it apparently is — and that’s horrifying): Our problem isn’t Donald Trump, it’s the whole damned Republican Party. It’s the 1% trying desperately to make minority rule (by them) a permanent fixture of American political and social life. They have already hijacked the judiciary (that would be Mitch McConnell denying Merrick Garland or any Obama judicial appointment a hearing then cramming every doctrinaire conservative shithead into the openings deliberately left behind). They’ve already used two stolen SCOTUS seats to make political gerrymandering a permanent fixture — thus putting the legislative branch in their clutches forever.

Democrats may win the overwhelming majority of the votes but gerrymandering dilutes those votes down to where a handful of Republicans can beat them. With the legislative branch permanently in their hands, the executive is easy — especially when concurrently you’ve been remaking the presidency as a side show Caesar-ship. Just not the right Casear…

America’s Love Affair With “Stupid”, Part II: “Donald Trump, Super Star”

A thought experiment. Put these two things in your mind together — Donald Trump & the word “stupid”. Aside from drawing the direct connection — “Donald Trump is stupid” (an inescapable fact) — let the two things sit for a moment. Yes, Donald Trump is stupid… but how is Donald Trump stupid? In what ways is Donald Trump Stupid? Specifically, what has Donald Trump done, said or tweeted that was stupid? See how we’re not talking about a line anymore, we’re talking about “an environment” — as in, a whole “environment” of stupid?

Patrician George HW Bush — a cynical politician’s cynical politician — chose Dan Quayle as his veep. An attractive young politician from Indiana, Quayle, on the surface, made sense. But Dan Quayle, the human, was a less than stellar example of the species. He was certifiably stupid. Said certifiably stupid things. Did certifiably stupid things, too…

Dan Quayle was not an outlier in Republican stupid — as it concerns vice presidential choices. John McCain outdid George HW Bush in cynicism when he chose Sarah Palin. He outdid Pappy Bush in stupid, too. If McCain had bothered to spend an hour in a room — alone — with Sarah Palin, I find it hard to believe he could have stomached all the stupid. But McCain famously didn’t vet Sarah Palin. That was stupid…

By the time Donald Trump rolled around, the Republicans had made stupid politically viable. You could get up at a meeting of Republicans and say flat out stupid things — and be seen as mainstream. The same wasn’t true for Democrats. Now — to be fair — Democrats are also guilty of stupid. But Democrats are stupid in a very different way. They’re not intellectually stupid, they’re “practical” stupid. That’s a subject for another rant.

Back to Trump. By 2016, Republican culture had become fertile soil for pretty much any kind of stupid.

Keep in mind — as they entered the 2016 race, Republicans were already deeply engaged in a cynical, greedy enterprise — seizing the reigns of power by hijacking the judiciary. As the 2016 race got serious, Mitch McConnell was already refusing to give Merrick Garland a hearing because (McConnell’s explanation — the American People deserved to make that choice, NOT the president those same American People had overwhelmingly chosen). That was flat out stupid. It didn’t make sense. It was bullshit. It was stupid.

And yet — as stupid always does in America — stupid played. And won. McConnell got away with something shockingly stupid because we let him. No shit. We The People let stupid triumph.

Trump’s campaign announcement was stupid start to finish. In retrospect, it was a remarkable amount of stupid crammed into one place at one time. And yet, despite a few days of “outrage”, we allowed Donald Trump’s candidacy to continue.

https://time.com/3923128/donald-trump-announcement-speech/

How could WE shrug off something so stunningly offensive? In this instance, Trump was spouting stupid — and we were accepting stupid. Oh, sure — in the moment we were offended by it. But we stopped being offended by it. We must have — cos we let it slide. We accepted Trump’s stupidity (his racism and bigotry — both products of stupidity) as “just how he is”. Trump was a “different kind” of candidate.

He became a “different” kind of president. A stupid one — exactly as advertised.

For going on three years, we have experienced a presidency steeped in stupidity. Donald Trump says things that redefine the word “stupid” almost daily. He holds to stupid positions based on stupid assumptions and stupid, racist beliefs that result in consistently stupid pronouncements and policy positions. He lies blatantly — stupid, easily disproven lies — delivered gracelessly. Our news media points out the lie — and how stupid it is — yet Trump holds firm. That’s stupid.

We let him get away with it. That’s stupider.

Hmmmmm… maybe our problem isn’t Donald Trump. In Julius Caesar, Cassius says: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves…”.  Which brings to mind another quote, equally prescient: “Stupid is as stupid does”.

Forrest Gump could teach Donald Trump — and us — a ton about what stupid really is.