Look, maybe he is the best thing after sliced beer and canned bread; maybe he's a fascist megalomanic. Probably neither, but whatever. Man hasn't wet his feet in the Potomac yet, nor stood in the secret sub-sub-subbasement of the Washington Monument and swallowed a live mouse while the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court stands beside him and does the same,* and yet I am already hearing much the same tiresome crap I heard about Barack Obama, with the blue paint scraped off and hastily oversprayed in red:
- "The incoming President's pastor is a scary, scary person!" Yeah, yeah, well...preachers thunder from the pulpit. That's kind of their job. Mr. Obama's pastor was a firebrand, remember? This trend will likely continue, so get used to it.
- "The incoming President plans to make himself a King!" This spooky canard dates back to a fellow name of Washington. It is a perpetual and valid concern in U.S, politics, and I wish people paid more attention to it in the years between Presidential elections and Inaugurations, 'cos that's when Presidential power creeps up -- as it has been doing since that nice, frustrated Mr. Washington signed his first Executive Order.
- "He'll wreck the economy!" Maybe. The reality is the economy usually wrecks itself, sometimes with an assist from Congress. A careless Presidential remark will indeed affect the stock market; our best hedge here is that it's harder for the rich to get richer in a recession or depression -- sure, some do, but it's not as easy. Tell me, do you suppose Presidents and Congresspersons (and more importantly, the well-off people who lobby and bankroll them) would be more interested in hard money† or easy money?
- Then we have the calls for assassination. Hey, idiots, do you know how you get an Imperial Presidency? That way. One of the wonderful, distinguishing characteristics of the U. S. federal government is that we have an effective mechanism for the peaceful transfer of power, to which no less an experienced, partisan figure than President Obama has recently alluded. Do you suppose he's thrilled with his replacement? I'll tell you one thing, he does know how the system is supposed to work, and why. And if an incumbent President turns out badly, there are mechanisms for dealing with that, too, like impeachment (a process started against multiple Presidents and often resulting in significant change even without actually removing them) and the more-obscure process of removing an ailing or insane Chief Executive. But with every change of the party in power, the more tinfoil-hatted among the opposition, usually the very same people who have been glowing in their praises for Working Within The System, are suddenly shouting "Off with his head!" I think they're already off their heads, but it's not quite the same thing.
-"He'll turn the country [fascist/communist]!" Yeah, no. This is a symptom of Not Reading Much History. Those changes always occur in a power vacuum (or at least extremely low pressure); in the West, the best known are Russia, with a weak government, ineffectual Czar, the aftermath of a horrific war and a long history of civil unrest; Italy, with a weak monarch and government, and a highly-visible popular movement‡ -- and Russia as an instructive example! -- and, of course, Germany, in the grip of a depression, in the aftermath of losing a terrible war, with a weak government. See a pattern? Now, tell me, have you, Left, Right or Center, ever thought the U. S. federal government was particularly weak? The other thing all examples share is the usurping group had a remarkable degree of Party discipline, ruthlessly enforced, something neither the Dems nor the GOP have ever managed. Unlike the Bolsheviks, Nazis or Fascisti, they haven't even got an organized body of enforcers. (Remember what Will Rogers said about the Democrats? True of their opposition, too.)
- "He'll save us all!" Nonsense. The job is "President," not "Messiah," and the powers are accordingly less. The seas will not commence to recede, those good old $30-an-hour assembly-line jobs with full paid benefits and three weeks off every summer will not return and things will, in general, muddle along in the same direction they were going. Sure, things will get better or worse and the President at the time will be praised or blamed for it, but unless it's concluding a really great treaty with Hateusistan (and convincing Congress to go along) or applying military force, a study of it will reveal low correlation between Executive action and whatever happened.
Gads, I miss Mencken. He had his faults but he mostly lived in the real world and wrote of what he saw there, instead of in his nightmares and dreams. More people need to consider trying that, at least the first part. Maybe an ad campaign? "Reality, it's what's for dinner!" --Fat chance; most people won't even eat their greens.
* I may be a little hazy on the detail of the Inaugural ceremony. Tellya what, you make those suckers swallow a live mouse to get the job (or, in the case of CJ of SCOTUS, keep the job) and you'll find out real quick who's motivated.
† Pun intended.
‡ Not just fascism but Futurism, at the intersection of Art Deco and bloody-handed thuggery.
11 months ago