Thursday, January 12, 2017

A little over a year ago...

...I compared Donald Trump to Joe McCarthy:

Joe McCarthy, another famous Republican bully, began his reign of terror in February, 1950, and didn't get taken down until almost four and a half years later, in June, 1954.

It wasn't original; I had just read a piece in RealClear Politics by Lou Cannon, a journalist and Reagan biographer, "Echoes of Joe McCarthy in Donald Trump's Rise." It was a bit of an "Aha!" moment for me. After yesterday's "press conference," it's worth rereading Cannon's piece. Here's the first paragraph (my emphasis):

He was a Democrat turned Republican who made alarming accusations and liked the sound of his own voice. He used statistics that could not be verified or were demonstrably wrong.  He frightened the establishment, which was slow to combat him, for he had unlimited resources and bullied his critics. He perplexed the press, making so many charges that reporters could not keep up with them. He was at first dismissed as a clown but he built a grassroots following among people fed up with conventional politics.

President-elect Trump totally and completely dominated that press conference yesterday. It was quite a display at what he's very, very good at: manipulating the media and using the spotlight to his advantage. In fact, he's a genius. No wonder he pulled off the greatest con of all time. The reporters assembled in that room were so not up to the task at hand it was almost embarrassing. (It looked like a bunch of eighth-graders trying to keep up with Michael Jordan.)

In many ways, it also reminded me of McCarthy's first days as a Red-baiter. (Here's a great book on the subject.) The Wisconsin senator was so, so successful until . . . he wasn't. And I can't help thinking that at some point Trump's shtick will wear thin. I don't know how long it will take, but it'll eventually catch up to him someday and end badly. It has to. Maybe his poll numbers will be so poor in four years he'll decide not to run for reelection and spin it some other way, but I know -- I just know -- that his luck is going to run out. Unfortunately for the rest of us, it may be a while.

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