America just got took by the guy in the stovepipe hat, standing behind the wagon, with the monkey playing the accordion while he peddles salvation and snake oil.
For those in Asia who are utterly agog watching this carnival of the animals, what you’re seeing is not an illusion. It is a peculiarly American phenomenon that was born in the old west. Remember. This is a man just one step of ahead of the law himself. Like the guy behind the wagon, he’s been run out of too many towns by creditors, violated women, failed university students and various other people who have been bilked, which has enabled him to develop a pretty formidable spiel while on the road.
Not going to happen
Donald Trump is not going to jail Hillary Clinton. Given his version of the post-election conversation between them, he appears more likely to ask her and her husband for advice. Donald Trump is not going to build a wall between Mexico and the United States and Mexico is not going to pay for it. His fellow snake oil salesman, Newt Gingrich, who got his own start convincing the world that a relatively clean congress was irredeemably corrupt, says the wall idea was a “great campaign gimmick.” It will now exit gracefully.
Donald Trump is not going to repeal Obamacare, or at least not all of it. He is going to keep two of its most important provisions – keeping children on their parents’ policies and prohibiting insurance companies from turning down individuals with pre-existing conditions. Before he is done, he is going to accept a good deal more of it, because he is not going to countenance 20 million Americans who suddenly lose their health insurance. They would be in the streets asking for his head. More than 100,000 people, suddenly realizing Trump might cancel the program, rushed to sign up.
Barack Obama? Trump met with him and came away saying he was deeply impressed with the president. He apparently is not the worst US president in history nor was he born in Africa, the lie Trump used for years to advance his political ambitions among the conservative conspiracy class in the US.
What will he do?
It is difficult to know how much more of his campaign rhetoric was just to get the rubes’ blood racing and how much of it will sink from view. Most of it, we suspect. Now we learn via the Washington Post that his executive selection squad is partly made up of lobbyists from Altria, Visa, Coca-Cola, General Electric, Verizon, HSBC, Pfizer, Dow Chemical and Duke Energy. These are the companies that run the country after all and one doubts they’re going to want a wall between the United States and their overseas markets. Nor will they countenance a 35 percent tariff on American goods made abroad for sale back home.
And the little guy? Trump’s tax plan, according to the same Washington Post story, gives 47 percent of its benefits to the richest one percent of taxpayers. Or he may go with House Speaker Paul Ryan’s plan, which gives 76 percent of its tax cuts to the 1 percent, rising to 99.6 percent by 2025. When all these tax cuts fail to restore the luster of shuttered rust-belt manufacturing, how will that be explained?
The promise to dig coal? Coal is no longer economically viable as an energy source, whatever its benefits as a job (and black lung) generator for a diminishing population. Don’t count on coal.
There are real fears about what he will do on climate change – his announced choice to run the EPA is a climate denier – and he will almost certainly appoint deeply conservative judges, although he may want to think twice about any real assault on so-called life style issues, because that may alienate large numbers of Americans who do not want religious extremists telling them how to live or who to marry.
How Trump can manage relations with the Islamic world, NATO and China at a time of diminished US power is scary to contemplate, since we doubt he knows much of anything about the world beyond marketing brochures. And his pal Putin? That is deeply worrying.
There is plenty of breast-beating in the liberal camp about the mistakes the Democrats made in their electoral strategy. But the biggest mistake was to run a conventional political candidate and campaign in the face of a bunch of bunco artists, thieves, thugs and conmen who were willing to tell the most astonishing lies without the slightest hint of shame. This was asymmetrical warfare, carried out by professional swindlers, four-flushers and charlatans.
Trump is going to be joined on the world stage by some of the greatest flimflam artists on the planet, including Rudy Giuliani, who seems to have utterly lost his mind and is apparently agitating for the reconstitution of the House Un-American Activities Committee, the vehicle for anti-communist witch hunts in the 1950s and one of the greatest stains in history on US rights. Sarah Palin has been mentioned as trolling for a place in the cabinet.
When the anxious marks who bought the snake oil wake up and figure out they’ve been conned, what happens then? What are all the people who were shouting Jail Hillary going do if they see her and her husband giving advice on world affairs? When the Mexico Wall slips from consciousness? When he hires half the lobbyists in Washington, passes out handouts to the wealthy, guts safety regulations in the workplace, allows school systems to go to hell in favor of charter schools run by educational charlatans and bends over for a long string of other doodads the special interests want, what then?
What happens when they discover that his wink-wink conversion to right-wing Christianity was another utter fraud? Donald Trump will likely be just another in a long string of big business-oriented presidents who have thought repealing what is left of the New Deal, America’s most successful social program that helped save the country in the 1930s, would allow the masses to waltz to happiness wearing gilded slippers. For 35 years, since Ronald Reagan set out to sell a version of the same snake oil in 1980, the right-wing has been selling trickle-down economics. Nothing has ever trickled down. George Bush called it voodoo economics then and it remains voodoo economics today.
The trouble with snake oil salesmen is that they know a lot about snake oil, and how to sell it by promising the gimpy they will be able to leap in the air and clap their toes together three times. But the gimpy go home, having paid for their elixir, to discover it does nothing for cancer or even rheumatism.
Donald Trump has excelled at selling snake oil. Let’s see what he actually can deliver, aided by Newt and Rudy, Sarah Palin and the folks from Breitbart. Or think of it this way: the snake oil guy is suddenly in the operating theater performing brain surgery.