Day 8, 1454 mind-numbing days to go.
For years I’ve had a theory (hardly unique to me, I am sure) of how badly things can go if the craziest person in the room has actual influence on the rest of the room. This is true in families, at the office, on a sports team, you name it. Want a good example from politics? Dick Cheney drove our US policy toward the Middle East from 2001-2008. How did that go? Thousands of American deaths, hundreds of thousands of deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, enormous expense that the government keep off the books, the American government torturing people, all without making the region more stable or Americans safer. Cheney was delusional, still thinks Saddam Hussein had WMD, and by and large he got his way. Craziest person in the room making decisions is bad for everyone else.
The same idea explains how far right Congressional republicans have gone in the last six years. Republicans who tried to actually keep government functioning were beaten in primaries by people who were ideologically very, very far right, and the rest of the Republicans in Congress got the message – forget trying to be reasonable, support things you had called nutty a year before. Pretend you think President Obama might have been born in Kenya even though you knew better. Vote against Obamacare over and over again as a symbolic measure, because actually trying to govern wasn’t on the menu anymore. Ted Cruz, often the craziest person in the room before Trump announced he was running for president, shuts down the government for nothing but his own gain.
And now there is Trump, clearly the craziest person among the Republican candidates, who figured out just what fears to play to in the Republican base, and who knew right from the start that the Big Lie would work with a surprisingly large part of the populace as long as it was based on hate and stoking fear. His first week wasn’t any different, spewing hate and advocating fear mixed with nonsense policies. A 20% tax on Mexican imports would just be a cost added for American consumers, not something paid by Mexico. Does he know? Care? It’s all about what he can say to get headlines, be a man of action, be the craziest person in the room. Two months from now when there aren’t multiple headlines with Trump in them on every front page and multiple Trump stories on every evening news cast, what will he do to make sure everyone is talking about him all the time? How will the crazy play out then?