An occasional series on the new nationalists – dingoes and drongos like Trump, Farage, and Bernardi – and other Oz twerps.
Hard core nationalists
It seemed for a while as if all roads from Washington led to Moscow. The level of contact between Trump’s best men and Russia, and their dishonest denials of that contact, caused some, including David Brooks of The New York Times, to say that it was imperative that Trump produced his tax returns to show where he gets his funding from. That proposition of course assumes that the tax returns are honest – which is highly unlikely.
But what decent bank would want to invest in Donald Trump? We know the following. Trump is a compulsive liar. His failures and bankruptcies are such that he never pays tax. Having said that he would fight a fraud claim to the death, he handed over $25,000,000 to settle it. No decent lawyer would let him near a witness box. He is unrestrainedly impulsive and the most blackmailable person on the planet. He is fundamentally stupid and he doesn’t know it. No sane man would want to dine with him and no sane woman would want to be left in the same room with him. He looks like a heart attack waiting to happen. He attracts the worst possible people into his feudal circle. What decent bank would want to do business with Donald Trump? Is it money, doubtless black, that binds Trump so firmly to the Russians?
Trump has of course lied about all this. He says that he has no business with the Russians. Before he met Putin, he gushed in his schoolgirl way about whether Putin might become his best friend. He said later that ‘I spoke indirectly and directly with President Putin who could not have been nicer.’ At the Miss Universe contest in Moscow, he said that ‘I do have a relationship and I can tell you that he’s very interested in what we’re doing here today.’ During the campaign, he said that ‘I never met Putin. I don’t know who Putin is.’ In 2008 Donald Trump Jr said that ‘Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets.’
Against that, one measure of the success of President Obama is the extent of Putin’s loathing of him.
The nationalist cause in Australia took a hit on the weekend with the failure of Hanson in Western Australia. Sensible politicians appear now to be moving to a consensus to give her time and space to show her emptiness and nastiness.
The same symptoms are about to be tested in Holland, France and Germany. The hope is that the frightful example of the United States will put people off nationalism in Europe.
They might also look at the two most powerful nationalists on the borders of Europe – Putin and Erdogan. Neither Russia nor Turkey has ever been decently governed – at least in the way that we understand what decent government is. (As it happens, in each nation the association of the state with religion was largely responsible for that failure.) Both leaders are ruthless autocrats. Putin is just a killer. Thirty journalists have been murdered in Russia in the last ten years. Putin controls Russian television to such an extent that Fox News (the U S state owned TV) looks almost professional. This manipulation makes for popularity ratings for Putin that Trump both admires and envies.
We are coming to grips with the fact that Trump apparently spends a lot of his spare time monitoring the TV to see how they are treating him. There is every chance that he has never read a book in the last ten years, if ever. If ever he goes out of the headlines, it is time to get ready for the next eruption.
But Erdogan looks to be authentically evil. He makes a calculated appeal to the masses, and his indifference to truth matches that of Trump and Putin. He is the most overtly Caesarist leader I have ever seen, and it is as well that his nation is not stronger. Turkey is a painful reminder that we cannot find one Muslim nation that is decently governed.
In the meantime, it looks like the British Government will do its best to combat populism by denying the Scots the right to speak up on their sovereignty, while at the same time doing what they think is their part in supporting populism by denying the British Parliament the right to decide on the ultimate issue of British sovereignty. Mrs May at times sounds disturbingly like a geography teacher.
Finally, do you remember Trump’s outrage over the judicial restraint of his Muslim ban? It’s all gone. He ran up the white flag. The new order replaces the first. He has abandoned his appeal, and he is paying the costs of the parties he abused. Can you imagine the tantrums his aides had to endure to get this concession? While poor Sean Spicer edges closer to oblivion.
It is I suppose something of a comfort to see that preposterous bullshit is not ours alone.