WASHINGTON – Where are the grown-ups? Part II.
It’s way too early to draw tight parallels between the fall of France in 1940 and the opening moments of the era of Trump.
But with President Trump’s election and widespread grief over Hillary Clinton’s Electoral College defeat, it is beneficial to keep in mind – somewhere at the back of the head – the factors that brought about the fall of democracy in France, and in Germany in the last century.
They were class-consciousness, arrogance, hatred, the popularization of violence, unending riot, a corrupted and willful press, and sentimentality about Marxism and anarchy.
The era of Trump has seen the worst outbreak of coarseness, urban riot, arbitrary media and anarchistic behavior since the 1960s.
There is no doubt that Trump’s conduct has been provocative, unprecedented and dangerously so. For the first time, the president has refused to consult the Office of Government Ethics on his appointments.
For the first time since 1947, the president has excluded the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff from the National Security Council and replaced him with the impetuous Steve Bannon, a man completely unschooled in diplomatic and military affairs.
Trump rolled out his controversial immigration orders without consulting anyone outside his inner circle. In a phone call, he offended Australia’s prime minister during an out-of-control rant, and threatened the president of Mexico with, in effect, an invasion of U.S. military forces. Crazy?
The situation calls for moderation. None can be found. In an hour of generated chaos, reactions range from true outrage, to opportunism to political exploitation. Take your pick.
While Trump took the oath, rioters, call them anarchists, burned and smashed Northwest D.C. Several dozen Democratic Congress members snubbed the swearing-in. The next day, an officer of the National Cathedral refused Trump’s handshake during a prayer service. On Wednesday, anarchists took apart Berkeley, Calif., to block a speech by a Trump supporter.
For the moment, moderation is lost in the Republican-controlled Senate. The new minority leader, Charles E. Schumer of New York, was one of a handful of senators who voted against confirmation of Elaine Chao as secretary of transportation. Chao, who was confirmed, will have a large say in the distribution of federal aid. She is also the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Senate Democrats boycotted confirmation hearings on two Cabinet nominees.
Schumer declined a White House invitation to meet with Neil Gorsuch, an appeals court judge whom Trump has nominated to the Supreme Court. Schumer had joined in a voice vote approving the Gorsuch appeals court nomination in 2006.
In a despicable act, thousands demonstrated at Schumer’s home in Brooklyn Thursday to pressure him into opposing Trump. Whatever the motives of the “demonstrators” at the senator’s home were, whoever organized or paid them, their conduct was nothing less than a disgusting attempt at mob rule. Legislation via gangsterism.
Democrats, so-called, should remember that this pouting, marching and rioting did not help in the 1960s, even when there were huge issues to demonstrate about – black civil rights and the Vietnam War.
I know a little bit about it: A scar over my left eye, where a Buffalo policeman’s billy club landed, and sent me bloodied to Buffalo General Hospital to get sewed up. I was demonstrating against the war.
But national impatience with the tumult defeated a great and honest man, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey and elected Republican Richard M. Nixon. The nation is not radicalized, not yet. The Democrats seem to be betting it can be.