A modest case for Donald Trump. To be the exception may not be all bad

Entirely predictably, a chorus of commentators was affronted that Donald Trump so brutally violated the convention for lofty platitudes or proclaiming change in stately code in his inaugural address.  It was so much better in the days of boomer youth. But was it?   .

JFK for instance, in Ted Sorensen’s imposing words of the famous inaugural of 1961, promised that American would “ pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty”.

Here Kennedy was in fact promising to close a so-called “missile gap” with the Soviet Union which in turned out didn’t exist. Weeks later the  “burden” was borne not by Americans but by US supported Cuban exiles who landed to face disaster at the Bay of Pigs at the hands of  the waiting forces of  Castro. Khruschev as a consequence took Kennedy for a weakling and misjudged Kennedy’s resolve in the Cuban missile crisis which brought the world to the brink of nuclear confrontation  the following year.

So even much admired inaugural speeches don’t always turn out so well.

There’s  a certain exhilaration in Trump breaking all the rhetorical rules.  The only surprise lies in the surprise of the mainstream media and Trump’s specific target,  the Washington establishment of just about everybody already in politics,  mourning for the grace of Obama and fearing loss of status in the digital avalanche of comment and fake news. Trump will try to cling on to the initiative by  feeding his insomniac’s Twitter account from the bully pulpit of the White House –as he’s  just promised to do.

It would be as well not to underestimate him, as Henry Kissinger the archpriest of realpolitik has just told the Times in his own uniquely stately language (£):

“Nixon was a very conceptual thinker and a student of world affairs, Trump is much more instinctual. And Trump beat 16 professional politicians to the nomination and pursued a strategy “universally decried as hopeless and prevailed. A person who can do that is a leader of some significance.

On foreign affairs which Trump virtually ignored apart from a promise to zap Isis, Kissinger says:

“We are teetering on the brink of a new world order. In the past eight years, the world, no matter what they thought of Obama, believes that America stepped back and in that stepping back, a great part of the world has discovered the importance of a role for America, even if they do not like every manifestation of it. So therefore, Donald Trump has an opportunity… The test of Trump will be to what extent he can use his intuition and the conditions he has created to build a new international order.”

Dr Kissinger envisages a grand bargain with Russia but, most important of all in his opinion, will be Mr Trump’s dealings with China. This, he says, will be “the most critical relationship for peace and progress in the world”.

Tim Garton Ash describes the China factor  somewhat less phlegmatically.

“The risk of an accidental naval or air confrontation somewhere in the South or East China seas is far from negligible. And then the question would become: do Trump and Xi have the wisdom, statecraft, sound advice and, not least, domestic political elbow room to step back from the brink?

This is where Trump’s irascible, bullying, narcissistic character could be such a liability. On the other side, the personally much steadier Xi has staked so much of his legitimacy as “core leader” of China’s party-state on his “China dream” (ie making China great again) that he would be under pressure not to back down. Whether the cause is psychological, political or both, so-called strong men often feel they can’t afford to show weakness.

The fear of confrontation is nothing  new; it was orthodox  through the cold war, whether  the president was rhetorically appeasing like Carter or challenging like Kennedy, Nixon and Reagan.

On the dominant domestic side, the liberal  Washington Post identifies  “ five policies Trump might get right, “tax reform , less offshoring by US conglomerates,  greater choice in education to up standards, more defence spending and the big one, massive investment in America’s long neglected creaking infrastructure, “to  get America back to work.”

Aside from the little matter of his narcissistic temperament Trump the president is hard to categorise. A big spending programme on infrastructure is pure Rooseveltian New Deal. If it delivers big it could earn him a favourable place in history. On the other hand his  incantation of “America First” is pure anti-Roosevelt isolationism and border-line fascist.

Richard Nixon was, yes, a crook but a highly sophisticated foreign affairs operator.  Nixon  told Kissinger to deploy “ the madman theory” about  his boss’s temperament to  impress upon the Soviets to deal with him when the going was good, – for later, you never know what he’d do..

So there’s  a precedent for believing  that Trump’s very unpredictability can  be either disastrous or strategic.  Time as they say, will tell.

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  • Peter Ryan

    Not sure how you could characterise “more defence spending” as a positive development of a Trump presidency. That fills me with black dread. Mind you, the fact that catastrophic climate change didn’t cross the pouting lips of the Orange One means we’re probably all f*&%$d anyway.

  • Ernekid

    When you start using that old war criminal Kissinger as a source you’ve lost the argument

  • mickfealty

    Thank you Brian. I missed the actual speech yesterday. But did catch the Obama’s catching the helicopter. The madman theory may cover a lot of things.

    The Dems should drop their Republican lite approach (i.e. constantly looking for the means to impeachment, destroy or delay), and figure out what this lunatic might achieve by disrupting the consensus.

    As for the rest of us, we need to start figuring how to survive/ prosper in this new mad, mad world instead of whinging about/rolling up in a ball over it.

  • LighterSide…

    To be a president with disdain for education and intellectualism, for lofty ideals and fine sentiments may not be all that bad as the world gears up for World War Three.
    One thing about Donald Trump–like Arjuna and Bobby Clarke, he wants to win and doesn’t let playing fair or following the rules interfere with his quest for victory.
    When a major war happens, as it does every 40 years or so(we are overdue, thanks to M.A.D.), one can rattle on about how terrible it is and it could have been prevented and it is senseless, useless, blah, blah. When the war comes, I’d rather be on the winning side.
    People like Putin and the engineers who run China are concerned more about assuring that their nations come out on top than about being a nice guy like the outgoing American president.
    Don’t get me wrong; it pains me greatly to listen to Donald’s assaults on the English language and on common decency. All the same, he my be the one to win the war. He may convince Putin that he has more in common with the West than the East.
    It may be a simplistic analysis, but World War Three will go to the side that has Russia as an ally rather than an enemy, kinda like last time around.

  • Madra Uisce

    After listening to that Trump speech yesterday I was reminded of a poem by Michael Rosen

    I sometimes fear that
    people think that fascism arrives in fancy dress
    worn by grotesques and monsters
    as played out in endless re-runs of the Nazis.

    Fascism arrives as your friend.
    It will restore your honour,
    make you feel proud,
    protect your house,
    give you a job,
    clean up the neighbourhood,
    remind you of how great you once were,
    clear out the venal and the corrupt,
    remove anything you feel is unlike you…

    It doesn’t walk in saying,
    “Our programme means militias, mass imprisonments, transportations, war and persecution.”

  • lizmcneill

    The missiles didn’t go away, you know. There won’t be a winning side. We all lose.

  • lizmcneill
  • the rich get richer

    The reason Trump is President is that the politicians and failed and lied to people for so long . Trump is a desperate throw of the dice by the people…..The politicians did not offer any alternative that the people thought they could trust………..

  • J D

    Walker, I remember you from the the Troubles reporting positively on the British Army despite the obvious reality contradicting your lies.

    So praising Trump should be child’s play in comparison.

  • newniman

    We’ll all lose, but not by nuclear annihilation.

    The global oligarchical dictatorship is all of one class and the National conflict is contrived. Do you really imagine the boot was taken from Russia’s neck after it’s 90’s total subjugation to enable it to become a real threat. The “Unknown Putin? – not a bit of it.

    When they become sufficiently biologically augmented (2 decades?) to no longer be considered human – why not just let the useless eaters starve without any requirment to damage the surface.

    There are now more Billionaire’s in “Communist” China than “Capitalist” USA and Soros has massive interest’s in Russian Oilfields while the Clinton Foundation provided Russian Military research funding.

    Trump was always lying about bringing rust-belt jobs back to the US. Foxconn (a Taiwanese company) are currently kicking hundreds of thousand of Apple Iphone manufacturing jobs in China to the kerb in favour of robots. While the phones may be made in the future in the USA you imagine any Austin Billionaire is going to pay US workers the national minimum wage when even Shenzhen wage rates are too much for the Capitalists?

  • newniman

    lying -> lieing
    requirment -> requirement

  • ScottishClive22

    this is a guy who won the Nobel Peace Prize, so perhaps he has contributed positively to world affairs

  • LighterSide…

    China’s desire to avenge their humiliation at the hands of the Japanese hasn’t gone away either and they have shown every indication that they intend to expand their borders and their sphere of influence by military as well an economic means.
    At some point the humans will fight regardless of the possibililty of nuclear annihilation.
    It’s what humans do.
    Most likely there will be some nukes fired but not an all-out nukefest.
    Time will tell.
    One thing though, as Brian alluded to, the Chinese might think twice about playing nuclear chicken with the Trumpster.

  • newniman

    At some point gullible humans react to posters that state things like “your country needs you” and then trod off to be killed in their millions to be killed – for what?

    Rather than the worry about the “Japanese”, the poorest of China should voice their protest against the “Communist” party:

    “Social inequality is increasing at a far greater pace. China now has one
    of the most unequal wealth distributions of any large economy on the
    planet. The latest World Bank figures rate China at 60th out of 157
    countries, ranked from most unequal to least. On this ranking, China is
    more unequal than the United States (63), Japan (122) and Germany (135).”


  • LighterSide…

    Seems that the Chinese are a little more concerned with the welfare of the group than with individual striving.
    It’s not so much “your country needs you” as those Japs invaded us, raped our women, became very wealthy and technologically sophisticated and sneered at us and looked down upon us.
    Not to mention the arrogant, condescending round-eyes with their ape-like appearance and manners.
    I once thought the the workers of the world might unite.
    I don’t think that anymore.
    Nationalism binds and motivates people more than class solidarity.
    It will be interesting to see if the United States remain united under Trump.
    I’m sure the aliens running this experiment take special interest in the most mixed-race nation on this Earth and the orangutan they just elected.

  • Brian Walker

    Good stuff – we used to be opposite columnists as university

  • Brian Walker

    no, no, E you’re too blinkered… you must learn from your soul enemies too. Elementary…

  • Brian Walker

    Gosh, from what vasty deep did you emerge?

  • Brian Walker

    just a little cloudy this theory perhaps? More work needed? Is robotism the new racism?

  • Brian Walker

    The Women’s Marches were amazing, weren’t they, exceeding all expectations?. 2.5 million in Washington and even 100,000 in London! Big job will be how to translate the first flush into constant pressure to protect social reforms and anti-racism. Myself I’d love to see pressure to scrap the electoral college and keep trying on gun control but it looks like a very long haul

  • Kevin Breslin

    it’s too late baby oh it’s too late.

  • Leinsterlion

    Get a grip you lunatic. “fascism”, hysterical.

  • hgreen

    Murika is already back to work with 4% unemployment. Who’s gonna carry out all these infrastructure and wall improvements, immigrants?

  • Leinsterlion

    The womens marches were organised months ago as part of Queen Hillary’s coronation, thats it.

  • hgreen

    Your head must be screwed on wrong if you think the world needs a misogynist racist.

  • newniman

    They were raped by the gullible Japanese at the behest of the Japanese leadsership. Now they are being raped by the leadership of the same patch of earth on which they were misfortunate enough to be born.
    Nationalism only binds and motivates for the benefit of the upper echelons of that group for their own end. The practically German Saxa Coburg King George V instructed “his” Foreign Secretary to find a reason to go to War with Germany even though the Cabinet could not find such. Two days later war was declared.
    Nationalism (as religion) is the result of mind manipulation by the elite. Class solidarity would be the result of freedom from this manipulation and a beginning to the solution. In other words, the motivation and binding to solidarity of “people” by way of Nationalism is one of the greatest curses to befall humanity but will be incredibly difficult to be free of.

    Those in the US tent cities will never be united under Trump.

    I’m not sure if it is aliens running the experiment or simply a simulation or perhaps that we are all just making it up as we go along but any one of those sure beats faith in the tooth fairy.

  • newniman

    Whatever it is, it is inevitable and at an increasing rate. It will ensure the consolidation of wealth to a decreasing few & Robots only eat AA batteries. If we think the NHS or social housing is an issue today wait a decade (or two).

  • johnny lately

    Contributed positively to world affairs –

    “It is an act of insanity and national humiliation to have a law prohibiting the President from ordering assassination.”

    Was he talking about every head of state around the world or just America and using the the winning of a Nobel peace prize as a yardstick in which to measure a persons moral superiority is pissing on someone and telling them its raining when you consider it was also given to Barrack Obama another Global corporate puppet who carried on the mantle of presiding over America’s never ending state of war on the rest of the world. How many innocent men women and children have been killed by the results of desired regime change and military decisions of both Kissinger and Obama, no-one will ever know, but you can be fairly sure its a very high number just as you can be fairly sure the reasons behind those decisions were purely financial rather than any concern for the human rights of the victims.

  • LighterSide…

    If you’re referring to the Abrahamistic tooth fairy, I agree. Hurrah for the old gods.
    As for the the Marxist tooth fairy, years working in factories and warehouses for low wages, where everyone grumbled and moaned but had little or no inclination to unite has disabused me of the notion that there will be any revolution of the masses.
    My observation of humans shows that they follow basic rules of survival. They form into groups to better their chances of survival and perpetuation of their genes.
    Usually this means bonding with those with whom they share physical space, rather than those many miles away, who speak a different language, have different customs and different facial features.
    From time to time, one group feels the need to dominate or exterminate the one next to it.
    And of course in this post-colonial era, those people from far away have come to live in the countries of their former masters and brought their manners and customs and grievances with them. This greatly complicates things.
    Absent an obvious racial or ethnic or religious marker schoolkids will divide themselves into groups such as jocks, geeks, punks, mods, metalheads, stoners, rednecks, city boys, preppies,etc.
    People form into groups one way or another. And they fight.
    I quite agree with you that the citizens of the tent cities will never unite under Trump, nor will women who don’t feel that abortion is murder, but rather a right they fought for and don’t want to relinquish. Nor will any woman who has had her pussy grabbed. Nor will those who feel that black lives matter.
    The wonderful thing for Mr. Trump is that after those after those Saudi fellers flew into the twin towers, the police forces of the United States were blessed with all sorts of heavy weaponry more than able to quell any sort of violent protest or rioting like in Ferguson, Missouri.
    And the lefties can sing and chant all they like. It really won’t make a difference. Maybe I’m wrong there. This might be an excellent case study in the power of peaceful protest.
    Interestinger and interestinger.

  • newniman

    Abrahamic in particular, all in general.

    Yes, the arming of those Police fellers in such fashion, as the masses clamoured for protection (from an event organised by their own national elite & others) was no mistake.

    There are no lefties in the US, there are just right wing Democrats & ultra right wing Republicans.

    The dissolution of the USSR was foisted on it’s peoples by the Global elite – the vote was 77.85% in favour of it’s maintenance & that % even more so in non Russian republics / non Russian speaking republics.

    Unfortunately I agree with you, there will be no revolution against pepper spray and worse – the masses will eventually be exterminated in the Animal Farm still singing the Soldier’s Song & God Save the Queen. Other than religion, Nationalism really is the lowest form of infantile disease.

    The question is, if they fight, wil;l what they are fighting for make any sense (it generally hasn’t).

  • LighterSide…

    To the question “will what they are fighting for make any sense”, I reply as Joshu did when asked if a dog has buddha-nature.

  • LighterSide…

    One other little anecdote as far as what the fighting’s all about.
    After nine/eleven, there was a radio phone-in discussion here in Canada about the “war on terror” and the heightened security/diminished liberty that ensued. Someone had made reference to the fight against Fascism in World War Two.
    An old lady from Newfoundland phoned in with the correction that “we weren’t fighting against Fascism. We were fighting the Germans, just like in the last war.”

  • AntrimGael

    3 days in and it’s far worse than most of us thought it was going to be. He’s gave the Zionists the go ahead to build more settlements on Arab land, he’s sacked all US ambassadors and started appointing right wing loons to replace them, he’s declared war on the media and said his regime will give out ‘alternative facts’ (lies) and he seems to gave the crazed look of a deranged person who will lead the world into a global conflict. Oh dear…..

  • newniman


    Madness indeed.

    Unfortunately a site search doesn’t easily provide the reply you refer to.

  • LighterSide…

    Not madness at all. Human nature.
    We are primates who can oppose our thumbs.
    The various tooth fairies have filled us with a sense of grandiosity and self-importance…. and guilt, shame and remorse when we do what comes naturally.

  • newniman

    The 36th Ulster was decimated due to…lies…that the gullible internalised (that is a different thing to opposing your thumb).

    It isn’t the tooth fairies that are the problem but those who create them in the first place (and since psycopathy is inherent in the primate that we are that condition will never improve) – I consider that condition as a form of madness applying to the 1%.

    Until the veil is lifted from the remainder – madness is a succinct description to apply to them also. It is unlikely to improve while, in vast numbers, they bury their heads in the “Sun” (even after the age of 50).

    Our disagreement is an example of the futility of existence – let alone Religion and Nationalism.

    If humanity started to think (rather than do what comes naturally) the futility may become much less.

  • Sir Rantsalot

    A great inauguration speech. Signals the end of the globalists destruction of western nations. I had to laugh at all the left could come up with was ‘Hitler’. LOL !
    He is making good on his promises to drain the swamp and bring back jobs. Its still surprising to read comments from people who are so badly uninformed as to think that its DT that wants to start WW3, when the independent news sites have reported in detail on Hillary, Obama, and McCain’s attempts to initiate war with Russia.

  • Enda

    Yes, burning crosses do make for a wonderful sight.

  • Enda

    He won’t be convincing Putin, of anything. Putin, has the best weapon up his sleeve – sex tape.