FAMILY CIRCUS

Posted in Quick Hits on March 29th, 2017 by Ed

It's hyperbolic to call Trump the equivalent of a third world dictator. We have functioning institutions, even if they are eroding, and no matter how much he may wish the office of the president confers upon its holder dictatorial powers it does not. Nonetheless, it's not an exaggeration to point out that there are some specific tendencies he shares with the Russian, post-Soviet, and third world strongmen he so admires (they have such great "control" of their countries!)

Trashing the media and using the state as though its purpose is his personal enrichment is old hat. Any half-assed elected leader can try that. Where Trump truly excels is the consolidation of power into an inner circle consisting almost exclusively of family members. This is like, Tinpot Dictator 101. Family members are the only people you can trust not to murder you in your sleep, stage a coup while you're traveling, or (more relevant to the American setting) turn prosecution witness and start testifying against you. Everything about Eric screams "prison snitch," though. I wouldn't be surprised if he started singing anyway.

Nepotism exists in some form in every system of government. It's simply rare for nepotism in the White House to be as blatant as it is right now or for the family members given paid staff positions to be so utterly devoid of talent. Sure, JFK gave his brother an appointed position. But it was difficult to argue that Robert was not qualified for the job. What has anyone related to Trump done except spend his money and shoot endangered animals for fun?

The way the White House has leaked like a sieve during his first 70 days in office was most likely a wake up call that many of the people he thought he could trust during the campaign are actually – surprise! – self interested professionals who would murder their own mothers if it helped their careers. As that sinks in it was only a matter of time before Ivanka moved into the White House. He still has a few kids left to hire, and I wouldn't be surprised if they ended up in various advisory roles before long. Hey, Barron is only 10, but he could be put in charge of cybersecurity or something. He does show grandpa-dad how to use the internet after all.

I suppose I should express outrage, but we've descended so far into pure farce at this point that it would feel insincere to play at surprise.