THE WASHINGTON POST

Trump And The Death Of Republican Virtues

A party is united behind an aging New York playboy with no fixed principles but an insatiable urge to be on the front page every single day.

Who's the fairest of them all ...?
Who's the fairest of them all ...?
Garrison Keillor

-OpEd-

For all the fireworks of the French election, please note that Marine Le Pen gave a simple elegant concession speech, congratulating the winner and thanking her supporters and campaign workers. She did not claim voter fraud or a media conspiracy or accuse the government of tapping her phone. She is, after all, French. Liberty, equality ... dignity.

And so our country, the land of the pilgrims' pride where our fathers died, remains No. 1 in blithering tastelessness, naked self-promotion and delusional hypocrisy, thanks to Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and James Comey. North Korea is a close No. 2, followed by Sudan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, the Ku Klux Klan, the Fall of Man and the Republican health care plan.

That was a remarkable photo, Republicans on the White House lawn celebrating the House passage of a bucket of horsefeathers. It looked like the Kappa Delts gathered at the country club for the Eight-Ball Roll-"Em and Martini Scramble. Actually it was the D-minus students collecting a pile of partial term papers regurgitated by dogs and sending them to the Senate to be made into something coherent and perhaps defensible. As the man said, nobody knew health care could be so complicated. Good luck, Senator McConnell! Take your time! Read the whole thing!

Senate approval is an archaic legal requirement — so much easier to simply write an executive order stating that everyone gets the care they need, pre-existing conditions or not, a beautiful deal for less money, and let's move on to something else. Sign another order that cancer has been cured — that would pay for everything.

Big Bird is a costume

This guy is in love with the executive order. It's his idea of a selfie. He sits at his bare desk, grinning, holding up the two-page large-print document with his big bold signature, in a nice leather binding like an Award for Meritorious Achievement from the Federation of Organizations, his smiley vice-president looking over his shoulder, a select group of happy citizens clapping. Last week, he signed one assuring ministers of freedom of speech in the pulpit. Next week maybe he'll order ladybugs to fly away home, their house is on fire, their children are gone.

What is so remarkable this spring, as we all wait for the next shoe to drop, is how completely the Republican virtues we grew up admiring — caution, respect for history, attention to the fine print — have been thrown to the winds and the party has united behind an aging New York playboy with no fixed principles except an insatiable urge to be on the front page every single day, including weekends and holidays. It would be like the Democratic Party electing Big Bird and applauding whatever comes out of his big beak.

Big Bird is a costume. There is a person inside it. He says what is in the script. But if he says whatever is going through his mind and starts ranting about conspiracies and TV ratings and the Civil War (how come?), you have a Big Turkey for a leader. Some people might think it edgy and cool to have an eight-foot president covered with yellow feathers, but I believe that most Democrats would not go along with this, even those who feel the party has gone elitist and needs to regain the common touch.

The American people do not wish their president to be on the front page every single day, especially not for saying stupid stuff. They would prefer government to be effective, functional, honest, rational — in other words, boring. Think of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. You want it to operate quietly without drawing attention to itself. You don't want to read in the paper that when you hold a $20 bill up to ultraviolet light now, it says "Invest Kushner" with a blinking 800 number.

Same with the National Park Service. We don't need to sell ad space on the foreheads at Mount Rushmore. The U.S. Coast Guard is a fine operation, if you ask me. Ditto the F.A.A., and so is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — imagine the complexity of it, administering the oceans and the atmosphere — and yet it goes about its mission without fuss. The White House could write up an executive order — "Let the waves be still, let the tides not encroach upon Mar-a-Lago" — but NOAA would simply build an ark for the president and life would go on as before. And that is the whole point.

*Garrison Keillor is an author and radio personality.

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in
Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Geopolitics

Taliban Redux, Cleaned-Up Image Can't Mask Their Cruel Reality

Twenty years later the Islamist group is back in power in Afghanistan, but trying this time to win international support. Now that several months have passed, experts on the ground can offer a clear assessment if the group has genuinely transformed on such issues as women's rights and free speech.

The Taliban have now been in power for almost five months

Atal Ahmadzai and Faten Ghosn

The international community is closely monitoring the Taliban, after the group re-seized power in Afghanistan in August 2021.

There is legitimate reason for concern. The Taliban are again ruling through fear and draconian rules.

The Taliban’s last regime, in the mid-1990s, was marked by human rights violations, including massacres, mass detentions and rape. The regime collapsed on Nov. 14, 2001, shortly after the U.S. launched its global war on terrorism.

Even after the Taliban officially fell from power, their subsequent two decades of insurgency produced various gross human rights violations, an encompassing term under international human rights law.

Keep reading... Show less
Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS
MOST READ