Friday, August 18, 2017

August Forebodings

August in an incompetent president's first year has become a time of foreboding. That sense of dread is part of the fallout from voters' attraction to presidential candidates who hide their privilege and lack of preparation behind an engaging populist speaking style.

In 2001, George W. Bush was spending the month of August at his ranch in Texas, clearing brush rather than acting on warnings that al Qaeda was preparing to attack inside the U.S.. In 2003, Al Franken, the comedian more recently turned senator from Minnesota, detailed the ignored warnings leading up to the 9/11 attacks in his serious and funny book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. At Amazon, you can read Chapter 16, "Operation Ignore", by clicking on the bookcover.

Now, a president even less equipped to handle the job is taking a long vacation, and it's hard not to wonder at what threat is brewing while a president distracts himself and the nation with outrageous tweets. It's worth remembering that George W. Bush's popularity, like Trump's, was dropping during his lackluster first year in office. When Bush's popularity shot up to 90% after the 9/11 attacks, he used the popularity to launch an ill-advised war, and get elected to a second term that ended in economic collapse.

At a time when the Trump administration is teetering on the brink, it's easy to imagine a scenario similar to the Bush years, when a president's incompetency unexpectedly played in his electoral favor.

Even without attack from outside, the nation continues to be sabotaged from inside, as anti-government ideology allows incompetent candidates to get elected, and then proceed to mismanage or dismantle government operations.

NOTE: Columnist Paul Krugman, whose columns often have an uncanny coincidence with my own thoughts, addressed August's foreboding in a different way:
Despite this, it may seem on the surface as if the republic is continuing to function normally. We’re still adding jobs; stocks are up; public services continue to be delivered. 
But remember, this administration has yet to confront a crisis not of its own making. Furthermore, a series of scary deadlines are looming. Never mind tax reform. Congress has to act within the next few weeks to enact a budget, or the government will shut down; to raise the debt ceiling, or the U.S. will go into default; to renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or millions of children will lose coverage.

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