The 47-Minute PresidencyRoundup
tags: corruption, presidential history, Trump
Tom Engelhardt created and runs the Tomdispatch.com website, a project of The Nation Institute where he is a Fellow. He is the author of a highly praised history of American triumphalism in the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture, and of a novel, The Last Days of Publishing, as well as a collection of his Tomdispatch interviews, Mission Unaccomplished. Each spring he is a Teaching Fellow at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.
Recently, I did something rare in my life. Over a long weekend, I took a few days away and almost uniquely -- I might even say miraculously -- never saw Donald Trump’s face, since I didn’t watch TV and barely checked the news. They were admittedly terrible days in which 50 people were slaughtered in New Zealand. Meanwhile, the president indulged in another mad round of tweeting, managing in my absence to lash out at everything and everyone in sight (or even beyond the grave) from John McCain, Saturday Night Live, and the Mueller “witch hunt” to assorted Democrats and even Fox News for suspending host Jeanine Pirro’s show. In his version of the ultimate insult, he compared Fox to CNN. And I was blissfully ignorant of it all, which left me time to finally give a little thought to... Donald Trump.
And when I returned, on an impulse, I conjured up the initial Trumpian moment of our recent lives. I’m aware, of course, that The Donald first considered running for president in the Neolithic age of 1987. He tried to register and trademark “Make America Great Again,” a version of an old Reagan campaign slogan, only days after Mitt Romney lost the 2012 presidential election to a charismatic, young, black senator. He then rode that new president’s “birth certificate” into the post-Apprentice public spotlight amid a growing wave of racism in a country founded on slavery that has never truly grappled with that fact.
Still, the 47 minutes and eight seconds that I was thinking about took place more recently. On June 16, 2015, Donald and Melania Trump stepped onto a Trump Tower escalator and rode it down to the pounding beat of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World” (a song the singer would soon demand, without success, that the presidential hopeful not use). A minute and a half later, they arrived in the Trump Tower lobby. There, a clapping Ivanka greeted her father with a kiss on each cheek -- the first signal of the corporatist, family-style presidency to come. Then, The Donald stepped to the microphone and promptly launched his run into fake-news history.
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