In today’s edition of the American Journal, The Atlantic, James Fallows’ article “It’s Been an Open Secret All Along” raises the preternatural possibility that Trump was voted in as President in spite of it being an open secret that Trump was not only unqualified to perform the job but also rank incompetent.
What warning indicators were blinking ominously and why do intelligent commentators ignore those signals?
Main picture: Donald Trump with former Chief Strategist Steve Bannon in more amicable times
This searing indictment of the voters’ ineptitude is not the preserve of the American people, but is a universal phenomenon. In South Africa’s case, the contagion of corruption, mendacity, state capture and incompetence that courses through its veins is largely as a consequence of wilfully electing a leader, Jacob Zuma, who was facing 783 counts of corruption, to the position as the President firstly of the ANC and finally as the President of South Africa.
Furthermore, in South Africa’s case, there has been persistent unease about whether the Public Protector, advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, was the fit and proper person to fill her predecessor, Thuli Madonsela’s shoes.
As James Fallows elucidates in his commentary on this issue, Trump and fellow politicians are not the only offenders who have been provided with a large latitude in the indiscretions’ department. Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and many others of their ilk have been “pardoned” by society by its judgement of silence. Despite society’s silence, the activities of these sexual predators were an open secret for decades, alluded to in closed company and whispered about in guarded moments. The how of the spread of this knowledge is known but the why remains a flaw in society.
All of the corroborating details that James Fallows provides in his article are based upon the explosive new book by Michael Wolff, entitled Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. Already spiteful, distasteful and repugnant tweets are gushing from Trump’s overworked Twitter account. In typical Trumpian fashion, he castigates somebody negatively by using an alliterative or abusive epithet. In this case, his ire is invoked on Steve Bannon whom he renounces as “Sloppy Steve.” Never one to take prisoners, Trump goes for the jugular in his denunciation by claiming that “When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.” In a reflexive response, the spectre of “fake news” is once again invoked.
Typical theatrical and abusive Trump! Not one to control his emotions, when stung, he blasts with both barrels of a double-barrelled shotgun. Much like the book The President’s Keepers by Jacques Pauw in South Africa, Trump’s cease and desist order on the publication and distribution of Wolff’s book has provoked the opposite response with unprecedented demand overwhelming supply.
In an incendiary assertion, Wolff claims in an article entitled “My Year Inside Trump’s Insane White House”, that what he discovered as he sat “day after day on a West Wing couch” for a year, he came to the realisation that Administration officials do not believe [that] Trump is capable of fulfilling his role as president. (my highlighting).
According to Wolff, the open sesame moment arose when “everybody was painfully aware of the increasing pace of his repetitions.” Wolff maintains that “It used to be inside of 30 minutes [and] he’d repeat, word-for-word and expression-for-expression, the same three stories – now it was within 10 minutes. Indeed, many of his tweets were the product of his repetitions – he just couldn’t stop saying something.” Furthermore, Wolff claims that his “indelible impression of talking to them and observing them through much of the first year of his presidency, is that they all – 100% – came to believe he was incapable of functioning in his job.”
James Fallows sums up Trump as follows: “Based on the excerpts now available, Fire and Fury presents a man in the White House who is profoundly ignorant of politics, policy, and anything resembling the substance of perhaps the world’s most demanding job. He is temperamentally unstable. Most of what he says in public is at odds with provable fact, from the biggest inaugural crowd in history onward. Whether he is aware of it or not, much of what he asserts is a lie. His functional vocabulary is markedly smaller than it was 20 years ago; the oldest person ever to begin service in the White House, he is increasingly prone to repeat anecdotes and phrases. He is aswirl in foreign and financial complications. He has ignored countless norms of modern governance, from the expectation of financial disclosure to the importance of remaining separate from law-enforcement activities. He relies on immediate family members to an unusual degree; he has an exceptionally sparse roster of experienced advisers and assistants; his White House staff operations have more in common with an episode of The Apprentice than with any real-world counterpart. He has a shallower reserve of historical or functional information than previous presidents, and a more restricted supply of ongoing information than many citizens. He views all events through the prism of whether they make him look strong and famous, and thus he is laughably susceptible to flattering treatment from the likes of Putin and Xi Jinping abroad or courtiers at home.”
This is a searing indictment of a man who controls not only the wealthiest country on earth but more alarmingly, the ability to destroy it too, and the rest of the world.
In the case of the sexual predators, the public rupture came with the #metoo campaign. Will the book “Fire and Fury” be Trump’s moment of public rupture or will it merely be the end of the beginning, as Churchill so eloquently phrased it.
None of the above. Trump will serve out his term as President based upon the will of his sycophants. If he somehow prevails and manages to be nominated as the G.O.P. Presidential Candidate for yet another term, only then will he obtain his comeuppance. Anybody but a Republican will be elected as President.