Trump has been compared to Roman emperor Caligula the original short fingered hedonistic vulgarian, who like Trump was obsessed with gold, prattled on inanely about what he would do as emperor (he once said he wanted to run his horse for senate) and worried about hair loss. However, with the mental imbalance Trump has displayed since taking office, crescendoing in Saturday’s tweets bragging about being “a very stable genius” the comparison is more aptly made with Caligula’s nephew and successor, Nero, who was pyrotechnically insane — literally — and was eventually declared an enemy of the people and banished from the Roman Empire. Nero and Trump are birds of a feather. New Yorker:
Chaotic, corrupt, incurious, infantile, grandiose, and obsessed with gaudy real estate, Donald Trump is of a Neronic temperament. He has always craved attention. Now the whole world is his audience.
Future scholars will sift through Trump’s digital proclamations the way we now read the chroniclers of Nero’s Rome—to understand how an unhinged emperor can make a mockery of republican institutions, undo the collective nervous system of a country, and degrade the whole of public life.
The North Koreans have already devoted themselves to a study of Trump’s Twitter feed as the rosetta stone to his presidency. At a meeting in Gsaadt a few months ago, Kim Jung Un’s emissaries were quoting some of Trump’s tweets verbatim, and seeking insight from them to the workings of the American government and Trump’s psyche. Trump himself seems to regard Twitter as an art form, declaring himself incredibly, “The Ernest Hemingway of 140 Characters.” Under Trump’s reign, his slightest random thought has been elevated to presidential proclamation.
Last week, when Trump returned to Washington from Mar-a-Lago, he set a White House record with a sixteen-tweet day. He behaved less like a President than like a teen-ager locked in his room with an ounce of Purple Skunk, three Happy Meals, and a cell phone. In one tweet, directed at the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un, he arguably narrowed the odds of nuclear confrontation—and did so with a reference to an anatomical feature that is a subject of keen and ongoing concern to the President:
“Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”
It’s an observable phenomenon in human dynamics that when there is no leadership, the people who are under the person(s) who should be leading become directionless and hostile. This is true of families, groups of co-workers, and it’s certainly true of the Trump White House.
And so the West Wing in the era of Trump has come to resemble the dankest realms of Twitter itself: a set of small rooms and cramped hallways in which everyone is racked with paranoia and everyone despises everyone else. Predictably, Trump has reacted to Wolff’s book in the manner of a wounded despot—by declaring that Bannon, once his closest adviser in matters of isolationism and white nationalism, has “lost his mind,” and by declaring war on the written word.
[…] There are no lingering illusions about the President’s capacities: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Trump “a fucking moron” and spared us a denial. Wolff’s book, which leans heavily on interviews with Steve Bannon, makes it plain that pretty much everyone in the President’s circle agrees that he is, in terms of character and intellect, fantastically limited. There is no loyalty or deliberation in the White House, only a savage “Lord of the Flies” sort of chaos. Each day is at once preposterous, poisonous, and dangerous.
When Nero was torching Rome he locked the gates so that he would have an audience for his mad machinations. To get away from him, people began climbing over the walls with rope. In today’s GOP, as Paul Krugman opined in this morning’s New York Times, nobody has the strength of character to even attempt an escape.
The Republicans are like rats in a grainery, what they do not eat they foul. Today’s GOP has become so corrupt that all they can think to do is double down on the latest conspiracy theory and in doing so legitimize it, and ratify the worst formulations that their corrupt and incompetent leader has come up with most recently, either with their silence, or with perverse action, such as seeking to criminalize the work of Christopher Steele.
Never lose sight of the fact that Trump would not be where he is without the Republican party. They own this show and 2018 needs to be the year that dysfunctionalism dies and sane governance reconvenes, for all our sakes. The fish rots from the head down and all of them need to go, not just Donald Trump. It’s been stated any number of times that the GOP has a unified government and they still can’t govern. They are worse than useless, they are destructive. The entire GOP cabal must be deconstructed and defeated, one race at a time for democracy to continue in America, it’s as simple as that.
Trump is not going to change and the pattern of governance by tweet is set in stone. We need to topple the entire foundation, Trump included.