Fetch the purple toga: Emperor Trump is here

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tags: Trump



Niall Ferguson’s "The Square and the Tower: Networks, Hierarchies and the Struggle for Global Power" is published by Allen Lane.

Wildfires ravage the vineyards. A hurricane lays waste to an island colony. A great port is submerged by flood water. Meanwhile, in the capital the most powerful citizen of the republic behaves ever more erratically. He picks quarrels with athletes. He threatens to tear up treaties. He relies excessively on family members. He throws tantrums at his staff.

In the Senate and the courts, the old constitutional forms continue to be observed, to be sure. But the plebeians sense that the elites are losing their grip. How could it be otherwise? Every week brings a new revelation about the hypocrisy of those elites. They preach civic virtue; they stand accused of sexual depravity.

And, even as the actresses belatedly bring their charges against the debauched impresario, hard-bitten legions continue their wars in distant deserts and mountain ranges. Increasingly, the soldiers wonder what they are seeking to achieve in these far-flung places. They hear with disgust of the shabby treatment meted out to returning veterans back home. But they console themselves that at least there are generals — men like them, seasoned by battle — in the corridors of power.

Five days a week, on average, I reassure myself that everything that has happened in the United States in the past 10 years is well within the range of normal American history. Two days a week, however, I fear I am living through the republic’s final years.

The cast of characters was especially Roman last week. Think of Harvey Weinstein, the predator whose behaviour was for years an “open secret” among precisely the Hollywood types who were so shrill last year in their condemnation of Donald Trump for his boasts about “grabbing” women by the genitals. ...




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