I wrote about the big man's enduring dedication to The Bullshit, and how much he wishes us ill. https://t.co/KudnSqrdjB
— David Roth (@david_j_roth) July 22, 2020
I guess TNR isn’t conclusively dead yet:
It’s not nearly the same thing as getting used to it, but there is by now an identifiable rhythm to the Trump presidency. That rhythm is jittery, chaotic, and atonal, just one squashed-flat brown note after another. But as the Trump presidency bumbles from one skronking improvisational tantrum to the next, there is also a discernible pattern. Trump only knows how to play a few notes, but he absolutely fucking lives to make noise. And for better or worse, the sounds the man makes are distinctive, to the point where there’s both a bleak comedy and buried burlesque in his staffers’ game attempts to replicate his usual bombast and peevy rhetorical curlicues in his more overtly ghostwritten tweets.
This is what it means to elect an absolutely finished man—someone who cannot grow or care or even reconcile himself to any new thing—to a job like the presidency. Everything Trump does sounds the same, because whether it happens on Twitter or in the quintuple-byline newspaper stories about bleary behind-the-scenes White House upbraidings, it fundamentally is the same. Trump will always and only be upset about the same things in the same stupid way; he will stay mad about them even as the country shudders and cracks around him. It will never be any way but this for him, because Donald Trump will never be any way but this.
Every day unfolds in the shadow of this sour and soggy fact—that recursive and stubborn idiocy is at the heart of why the federal government has effectively and intentionally abandoned the management of a (still) rampaging pandemic because the president thinks it’s both boring and a loser of a campaign issue. This blank, militant incomprehension of the world at large is also the chief explanation for the new battalions of uniformed state agents loyal only to the president who’ve been dispatched to kidnap and gas protesters in American cities because the president saw statues being toppled on the news. Living with the knowledge that we’re being governed by a bottomly malicious dope who actively and openly wishes much of the country ill is unsettling. There is a basic presumption of good faith built into the broader American project: Presidents might be right or wrong, but they are at least supposed to try. But that is not where we are, because that is not the kind of president we have. And so all of this is still very much being worked out from one moment to the next, as Americans try to figure out how to live in a country so manifestly abandoned.
That’s not really new work for many communities, but it is also a lot to try to pick up on the fly. Trump’s presidency has long played as a vicious satire of American politics in the way that it stripped every cheesy grift and smug savagery of its familiar euphemism and disguise: All the violence that previous administrations in both parties had justified with administrative static or ideological fuzz are now scuttling and swaggering hideously in the open. The long-standing technocratic debate over whether and how well it all “worked” was answered in the most unflattering way through the exposure of how it worked. What had once seemed a flawed but extant system grounded in variously compromised institutions was suddenly visible as a series of naked and individuated deals; “working” for any other purpose, least of all a rough approximation of the common good, was simply never the point…
Through it all, Trump’s tweets and damply volatile public presence have always been just what they were; the sheer bulk of the man’s damage has always crowded out subtext. There was never any chance that he would grow with or into his important new job, and he has never even suggested otherwise. He has had exactly the presidency that his public life would suggest—a brazen win, followed by an inevitable decline born of laziness and pure hubristic dipshittery, and finally a catastrophic and vehemently denied collapse. This is the story of his life, and the story of his presidency…