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presidenting is hard

possibly fewer
i'm caught in a new sort of anguish. on the one hand, i'm hearing the apparent leader of the united states tell one of the world's largest journalism organisations that his new job is harder than he thought it would be, and that he assumed it would be easier than his life as a businessman [where, let's face it, he'd long since ceased to be an active daily participant] and reality television star. i mean, one look at the before and after pictures of the last three presidents should be enough evidence that, yes, the job is really goddamned hard. all three of those men began their two terms looking somewhat younger than their actual age, and left looking like elder statesmen. come on, there's a reason they do those presidential portraits right after you're elected.

on the other hand, i'm a little surprised at his candour, which is as close to the man admitting he was wrong about something as we're likely to get over the next four or, god forbid, eight years. that said, he hasn't been shy about saying that he didn't know anything when he was mouthing off during the campaign, and now that people are taking the time to explain things to him, and now that he's forced to sit and listen to them over an apparently delightful piece of chocolate cake, he's changed his mind about a few things.

earlier this week, our own prime minister had to explain the nafta agreement and the penalties to withdrawal for him and his country. [trump, true to form, spun this as the other partners convincing him to stay.] keep in mind that prime minister justin trudeau is only six years older than the donald's eponymously named son, and can't claim a whole lot more political experience than his american counterpart. having to explain a trade agreement that trump made a central feature of his electoral campaign is akin to the grandchild who has to explain the internet to a grandparent who's already been using it for two years to forward emails in support of donald trump.

there's a fine rand mcnally store in washington. it is your friend.
[side note :: i suspect that trudeau did not explain that many in canada would love to renegotiate nafta, if only to strip away some of the provisions on the energy trade. before nafta, canada's export vs. import ratio with the united states was 8 to 1. since nafta, it's fallen to 3 to 1. guys, we'll capitulate on the fucking cheese.]

angela merkel had to take the bullet as the first person to explain something to trump, when she apparently had to go over what the geneva convention was, and that it wasn't just a statement of good intentions, but conferred actual obligations on its signatories. germany, the country responsible for the last major expansion of the geneva convention, is now teaching the united states what it means.

but the weirdest spectacle of all [unfortunately not conducted in public] was chinese president xi jinping giving the cheeto benito a condensed lesson on the history of china and korea [which dates from about 108 bce]. i have to admire president xi's economy of words, since this was accomplished in about ten minutes, but the fact that the donald came out of the meeting saying that korea used to be a part of china calls the objectivity of that crash course into question.

yes, mr. trump, presidenting is hard. your avowal that all that had to be done to remedy the situation was for a strongman to push china to take on the bulk of the work always seemed jejune to those of us with functional brain cells, but it's nice to see that you're catching up. i suspect that you're
devout christian. still a bad hombre.
 about to discover that your job only gets rougher from here. and while would love to see you crash and burn like the hindenberg, i know in my heart that that would be a very bad thing.

so, in the interests of security and sanity, i am putting together what i suspect will be an ongoing series of posts on how you can president, packed with information you need to know, but organised in blog post format, with cute pictures, to make it more fun.

so, mr. so-called president, welcome to "presidenting is hard", where you will learn about all the simple things that affect your job, and even get some ideas about what you could do to fix them. [keep in mind, i have even less experience than you do, so you'll want to ask a few other people for their opinions.]

get ready to take some notes. i would suggest doing this on your phone, which will both save paper and keep you from tweeting, thus killing two birds with one stone. [note :: do not kill birds during these lessons. don't let your odious offspring go hunting the bald eagle to extinction either, since your environmental policies are probably going to legalise that bullshit.]

classes will begin shortly, and we will be starting with your current cause célèbre/ bête noire*, north korea.

*ask your buddy marine le pen what those terms mean. she has some free time on her hands.

Comments

Reading the difficulty of the job in the before and after photos of his predecessors would have required empathy, which he doesn't possess.
Kate MacDonald said…
I remember seeing a (very bad) movie about prosecutions following WWII, and one of the characters hypothesizes "Maybe that's what evil is: a lack of empathy". I'd believe it about Trump. I'd also believe that he possesses characteristics of some pretty serious mood disorders, because he seems incapable of feeling or believing anything at more than surface level.

as long as you're here, why not read more?

losers?

just a short time ago, i waxed prosaic about trump supporters who felt betrayed by their candidate pursuing in office the exact things that he said he would. short version: i have no sympathy.

today is a bit different. in the wake of america's bombing of a syrian air strip, in response to a chemical weapons attack by the syrian government, my facebook and twitter feeds were peppered with plaintive shades of "we believed you". these are the people who heard trump say that he wanted the united states to step back and focus on defending its own. indeed, trump did say such things, over and over; america cannot be the policeman of the world. even arch-liberal cynics like me had to admit that this was a refreshing argument to hear from someone outside the paul family, and, could easily have been turned into trump's greatest argument against hillary clinton. [he chose to go another way, which also worked.]

trump also said, repeatedly, that america needed to invest heavily …

don't speak

you might think that it sounds dramatic, but linguistic genocide is something that happens. people in power will go to great lengths to eradicate certain languages, not just for the sheer joy of making the world a lesser place, but as a way of beating down the culture that's associated with it. language has a unique reciprocal bond with culture, and every group that has attempted to break down another has recognised that forbidding a cultural group from communicating in their own language is an extremely effective way to tear apart their culture.

there are lots [and lots and lots and lots] of examples of this sort of thing, some successful, some not, but far too many to cover in one blog post. however, i thought it was worth looking at some languages that have been the subjects of active repression, and what the political consequences of that have been.

devastation :: the native north american languages :: it should come as no surprise that the largest genocide in history [by a ma…

long division

after the united states election last year, there were the usual calls for the country to unite behind the new president. that never happens anymore, because, since george w. bush scored a victory in 2004, having launched the country into a war in iraq for no reason, the people on the losing side of a presidential election have been pretty bloody angry about it. democrats hated bush 43. republicans really hated obama. democrats really hate trump.

it didn't help that trump didn't make the typical conciliatory gestures like including a couple of members of the opposite party in his cabinet, or encouraging his party to proceed slowly with contentious legislation. barack obama arguably wasted at least two and as many as six years of his tenure as president trying to play peacemaker before he felt sufficiently safe to just say "screw you guys" and start governing around the ridiculous congress he was forced to deal with. not-giving-a-shit obama was the best president in …