Friday, March 3, 2017

The Weird (and Quite Unnecessary) Graft-On of the Whole Russia Thing

If you've followed the Twitter feeds I recommended a few weeks ago, you know that the Trump/Russia connection goes a lot deeper than election collusion. You ain't seen nothing yet. The natural and proper antipathy reasonable people like you and I feel toward conspiracy explanations is, rightly, delaying dissemination of the whole story. But let's skip that, and step back for a second to consider the larger picture. Imagine yourself in summer 2016, being told that Trump would win, and (after you'd been revived) that the major beef against him would be Russian collusion!

Wait. What??

It's this whole crazy, out-of-nowhere movie, like your evil, conniving boss being kidnapped by Vikings, or your horrid ex-girlfriend being accidentally shot into orbit, or Anthony Weiner's penis turning out to have the magical power to cure cancer.

Russia is completely ... unnecessary. The problem with Donald Trump ought not be that he's a Russian agent of influence (though he appears to be just that, and it is a big, big problem). A clown of Trump's ilk should collapse under the weight of his transparent authoritarian craziness and empty-headed ridiculousness. I grimace at this spaceship, this pink unicorn, this insane non sequitur that we find ourselves in re: the Russia thing, because the next authoritarian demagogue won't come with a Russia story to hang him by.

And even so, we'll be slow to hang. What if that same summer-2016-you was told that, even with this absurd development, it'd still take considerable time and effort for even this stuff to shake him loose? The big lesson here is the surprising persistence of certain infestations.

Much of his base will stick with him to the bitter end. Never forget that plenty of people like autocrats. Franco ravaged Spain; kept the populace in the dark ages for much of the 20th century, impoverished and terrorized, yet his base never deserted him. In fact, I played a gig in his home province on his birthday in the early 1990's, and saw peasants walking around in their formal Sunday finest. I will never forget that sight (never count on redemption).

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