Trump is the global brand leader of Im­punity

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - - Viewpoints - De­clan Lynch’s Diary

THERE’S been a lot of classy writ­ing about Trump, and some of it might even be do­ing some good, but I par­tic­u­larly like the Cana­dian writer Naomi Klein’s clear def­i­ni­tion of the essence of the Trump brand as Im­punity.

“How do you hold some­one re­spon­si­ble when their brand is Im­punity?” she asks, the im­punity that comes with great wealth. And last week in an es­say ti­tled Don­ald Trump, Brett Ka­vanaugh, and the Role of the Pam­pered Princelings, she won­dered “how ex­actly do you ra­tio­nalise be­ing lifted up by an in­tri­cate lat­tice work of fa­mil­ial and so­cial sup­ports (tu­tors, prep schools, con­nec­tions at the best uni­ver­si­ties, en­try-level ex­ec­u­tive jobs, cap­i­tal to play with) and then set­ting about shred­ding the mea­gre safety net avail­able to those without your good luck?”

Last week, too, on Twit­ter, Klein put it like this: “Any­one else feel­ing pum­melled by the triple whammy of the IPCC cli­mate re­port, Brazil’s election re­sults, and the f-u of the Ka­vanaugh ap­point­ment? It all feels con­nected some­how: greed cook­ing our planet, elites pit­ting us against each other, while wrap­ping them­selves in im­punity.”

And this was be­fore the “dis­ap­pear­ance” of the jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi into the Saudi em­bassy in Is­tan­bul; nor did she have space to men­tion the ap­par­ently rou­tine man­ner in which Putin rubs out his op­po­nents in Lon­don or New York or Wash­ing­ton; or the strange case of the for­mer pres­i­dent of In­ter­pol, Meng Hong­wei, be­ing in­ves­ti­gated in China for “bribery” and de­tained un­der “a new form of cus­tody”.

So that would turn Klein’s triple whammy into some­thing more like a sex­tu­ple whammy, with a few more wham­mies al­ways on the way — a kind of an orgy of im­punity, all of it “feel­ing con­nected some­how”, seem­ing to take its cue from the global brand leader of the Im­punity phe­nom­e­non.

“Is US iso­la­tion­ism em­bold­en­ing au­to­crats?” they were ask­ing on CNN, not­ing how lu­di­crous are the al­i­bis of the Rus­sians or the Saudis, that they are so far gone they can’t even be ar­sed think­ing up half-de­cent lies to suit ev­ery oc­ca­sion.

By “US iso­la­tion­ism” here, of course, they meant DJ Trump, though for all their virtues, CNN is still at times too grand to en­gage the en­emy di­rectly. Trump him­self has no such squeamish­ness, and will de­clare CNN and any other mem­bers of the free press “the en­emy”, be­cause he knows there’s a war go­ing on — even if they don’t.

In­deed, even if these re­cent out­rages were un­con­nected to any­thing but the in­cor­ri­gi­ble delin­quency of the var­i­ous regimes, the Trumpian brand of Im­punity has been in­flu­en­tial for some time even in cer­tain coun­tries which don’t have “regimes”, as such, coun­tries which used to be “ad­vanced”.

In the pam­pered princelings who are run­ning Brexit, one can see not just the na­tion­al­ist malaise which has been sweep­ing Amer­ica, but this tow­er­ing in­dif­fer­ence on their part to the car­nage which will surely come. Like Trump, a Boris John­son or a Ja­cob Rees-Mogg would have started with such ad­van­tages in life, there is vir­tu­ally no way their abysmal ma­noeu­vrings can cost them a shilling — John­son gets £275,000 a year for his weekly col­umn in The Daily Tele­graph, hav­ing failed so no­tably as For­eign Sec­re­tary, for which he was get­ting £141,000 (or “not enough to live on”).

In this we can see that some of the en­e­mies of jour­nal­ism are jour­nal­ists them­selves. You can see this, too, in the US re­porters who are still some­how dis­ap­pointed that Sarah Huck­abee San­ders is giv­ing them the wrong an­swers, as if they’re ex­pect­ing some kind of Truth to be com­ing out of her, and by ex­ten­sion, out of her com­man­der-in chief. They must know that that game is over, and yet they are still pre­tend­ing that some kind of demo­cratic in­ter­change is go­ing on in those White House press brief­ings. They just can’t let go of their own priv­i­leges, their own ca­reerism, and Trump gets this, and keeps push­ing it.

They are not see­ing what is ob­vi­ous to John Dean, one of the men who drove old Nixie down, and who tweeted last week about the in­tim­i­da­tion of re­porters at the Trump “ral­lies”: “Not sure why the main­stream me­dia takes this abuse. Don’t cover these ral­lies and Trump will beg them to re­turn… he has made me­dia abuse part of his schtick… me­dia is play­ing his game, they should STOP”.

So these “main­stream” jour­nal­ists may be rightly sug­gest­ing that Trump is spread­ing this con­ta­gion, that from Riyadh to Rio he is em­bold­en­ing ev­ery other black­guard out there, but they don’t re­ally un­der­stand it as clearly as Naomi Klein does. They don’t fully re­alise that some­thing has changed pro­foundly in the in­ter­na­tional psy­che, that since World War II there was al­ways this feel­ing that if things got re­ally, re­ally bad, the Amer­i­cans would ar­rive to sort it out for us — and that that is gone now.

It is gone to the ex­tent that if, say, an­other Mus­solini comes along, not only has he noth­ing to fear from “US iso­la­tion­ism”, he will in all like­li­hood be fol­low­ing the play­book of “US iso­la­tion­ism”. He will be look­ing at a man in the White House who is more Mus­solini than the Mus­soli­nis them­selves.

In­deed to get them to con­cen­trate on the true na­ture of what is hap­pen­ing, I would sug­gest that com­men­ta­tors still in de­nial might re-visit and adapt one of their most beloved cliches for this new age of Im­punity — “It’s the econ­omy, stupid” has served them hero­ically for years, ever since James Carville drilled it into every­one work­ing for the Clin­ton cam­paign.

If he was go­ing up against Trump these days, chances are a Carville might try some­thing more like this: “It’s Mus­solini, stupid.”

As Trump him­self once re­marked, af­ter tweet­ing a quote from the said Mus­solini: “Hey, it got your at­ten­tion didn’t it?”

‘Against Trump, a Carville might try some­thing like this: “It’s Mus­solini, stupid...”’

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