GUEST WORDS--There was gale-force bullshit coming from all points of the compass and nonsense was running at floodtide in the newspapers and on TV this past weekend, a sorry couple of days for elite political journalism.
As to the latter, Charlie Rose got a chance to sit down with Steve Bannon, the last heir to House Harkonnen and, despite Rose’s letting Bannon off several hooks, we learned that Steve Bannon is one of those guys who’s read three books and thinks that’s all the books there are, that he’s more than a little batty, and that, as my pal John Fugelsang tweeted this morning, that he continues to look like “a guy who stayed up watching porn until 6:45 and his alarm went off at 7.”
How in the world could Rose have this guy on and not even mention the Mercers, the wingnut billionaire power couple without whose bankroll Bannon would be just another Alex Jones hawking brain pills and chemtrail remover? How could he let Bannon, who made his pile at Goldman Sachs and then made another pile in Hollywood, use the phrase “limousine liberals” without picking up a banana from the fruit bowl and throwing it at him? And how in the name of god could he hear Bannon say this without then picking up the phone and calling his bosses at 60 Minutes and telling them they by god better not send him out to interview anymore of these basket cases without a HazMat suit.
STEVE BANNON: --don't-- don't give me-- this is the thing of the leftists. Charlie, that's beneath you. America's built on our sys-- on our citizens. Look at the 19th century. What built America's called the American system, from Hamilton to Polk to Henry Clay to Lincoln to the Roosevelts. A system of protection of our manufacturing, financial system that lends to manufacturers, OK, and the control of our borders. Economic nationalism is what this country was built on. The American system. Right?
If there’s one thing the 19th century is known for, boy, it’s how we controlled our borders. That’s why all those Irish fleeing the Famine ended up in Madagascar. Yeesh.
Still, this was nothing compared to the desperate and many-pronged attempts by The New York Times to dig out the dung-covered pony from beneath the ever-rising pile. You may recall that Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi took the president* for his socks and underwear last week over a debt-ceiling deal. Ah, says the NYT, this was merely the first tremor in a seismic shift in our political system, wah-dee-doo-dah.
Now in the White House, President Trump demonstrated this past week that he still imagines himself a solitary cowboy as he abandoned Republican congressional leaders to forge a short-term fiscal deal with Democrats.
Although elected as a Republican last year, Mr. Trump has shown in the nearly eight months in office that he is, in many ways, the first independent to hold the presidency since the advent of the current two-party system around the time of the Civil War.
In recent weeks, he has quarreled more with fellow Republicans than with the opposition, blasting congressional leaders on Twitter, ousting former party officials in his White House, embracing primary challenges to incumbent lawmakers who defied him and blaming Republican figures for not advancing his policy agenda. On Friday, he addressed discontent about his approach with a Twitter post that started, “Republicans, sorry,” as if he were not one of them, and said party leaders had a “death wish.”
Please to be pulling the other leg, now. There is nothing in what the president* did last week that differs in the slightest, for example, from the nut-cutting that went on between President Jimmy Carter and the congressional Democrats of his time, and nobody was writing that Carter was shattering paradigms. They wrote that Carter simply was incompetent. ( It also should be noted that stories on the same theme also appeared in The Washington Post and the Associated Press. To quote Les Nessman, three-time winner of the Buckeye Newshawk award, it’s almost like the turkeys are…organized.)
The idea that this president* is a transformational political figure remains an ideological safe space for a lot of journalists who don’t want to face the reality that the American people elected an aging, half-bright, grifting bigot to be President * of the United States. This myth dies hard.
And speaking of hard-dying myths, the Times also dragged out this old chestnut—Paul Ryan: Political Giant.
Paul D. Ryan rode to power two years ago like a hero on a white horse…
Good god, that’s quite enough of that. Let’s skip down, shall we?
President Trump’s fiscal deal with Democratic leaders in Congress — which passed the House with more than a third of Republicans voting against it — infuriated House conservatives, who struck first at Mr. Ryan, but ultimately turned their ire on the Trump White House. By week’s end, the men feeling the lash were Mr. Trump’s Treasury secretary and budget director. If anything, Mr. Ryan may have emerged stronger.
So, Paul Ryan, whose manifest incompetence at even the simplest legislative tasks has contributed mightily to the mess we’re in, is “stronger” now because the Farenthold-Gohmert-Meadows-Steve King Crackpot Caucus has the president* to hawk loogies at for a while? Genius! I understand the desire—the desperate, wishful desire—to pretend that nothing really unusual is going on, or that, if it is, it is merely the unfathomable genius of The American System, but, honestly, people, it really is true. A maniac is at the wheel and we’re all along for the ride.
(Charles P. Pierce is a writer-at-large for Esquire and his work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the LA Times Magazine, the Nation, the Atlantic, Sports Illustrated and The Chicago Tribune, among others. This piece was provided CityWatch by Common Dreams.)