Saturday, June 09, 2018

What Can Historians Tell Us About What To Expect From Señor Trumpanzee?


I love it when someone puts politics in the context of history. Grayson does that a lot, which is why I look forward to his campaign e-mails (like this one about Cola Di Rienzo, a 14th Century Roman). Miranda Carter didn't go back quite so far in her New Yorker essay comparing Señor Trumpanzee to Kaiser Wilhelm II, What Happens When A Bad-Tempered Distractible Doofus Runs An Empire. Short answer: he ruins it. Slightly longer answer: he overthrown the world order to the detriment of his own country, precisely what Trump is doing right now. Wilhelm II inherited his right to rule. Although Trump didn't get nearly as many votes as his opponent and although the Kremlin helped put him in the White House, there were still something like 62,984,828 Americans who voted for him, 46% of the voters. And many of them still back him. Is it possible for someone with an average IQ to fall fir his con-man routine to back Trump. I didn't like Hillary either, but was she that bad, compared to him?
One of the few things that Kaiser Wilhelm II, who ruled Germany from 1888 to 1918, had a talent for was causing outrage. A particular specialty was insulting other monarchs. He called the diminutive King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy “the dwarf” in front of the king’s own entourage. He called Prince (later Tsar) Ferdinand, of Bulgaria, Fernando naso, on account of his beaky nose, and spread rumors that he was a hermaphrodite. Since Wilhelm was notably indiscreet, people always knew what he was saying behind their backs. Ferdinand had his revenge. After a visit to Germany, in 1909, during which the Kaiser slapped him on the bottom in public and then refused to apologize, Ferdinand awarded a valuable arms contract that had been promised to the Germans to a French company instead.

Not that this deterred the Kaiser. One of the many things that Wilhelm was convinced he was brilliant at, despite all evidence to the contrary, was “personal diplomacy,” fixing foreign policy through one-on-one meetings with other European monarchs and statesmen. In fact, Wilhelm could do neither the personal nor the diplomacy, and these meetings rarely went well. The Kaiser viewed other people in instrumental terms, was a compulsive liar, and seemed to have a limited understanding of cause and effect. In 1890, he let lapse a long-standing defensive agreement with Russia-- the German Empire’s vast and sometimes threatening eastern neighbor. He judged, wrongly, that Russia was so desperate for German good will that he could keep it dangling. Instead, Russia immediately made an alliance with Germany’s western neighbor and enemy, France. Wilhelm decided he would charm and manipulate Tsar Nicholas II (a “ninny” and a “whimperer,” according to Wilhelm, fit only “to grow turnips”) into abandoning the alliance. In 1897, Nicholas told Wilhelm to get lost; the German-Russian alliance withered.

...Trump’s tweets were what first reminded me of the Kaiser. Wilhelm was a compulsive speechmaker who constantly strayed off script. Even his staff couldn’t stop him, though it tried, distributing copies of speeches to the German press before he’d actually given them. Unfortunately, the Austrian press printed the speeches as they were delivered, and the gaffes and insults soon circulated around Europe. “There is only one person who is master in this empire and I am not going to tolerate any other,” Wilhelm liked to say, even though Germany had a democratic assembly and political parties. (“I’m the only one that matters,” Trump has said.) The Kaiser reserved particular abuse for political parties that voted against his policies. “I regard every Social Democrat as an enemy of the Fatherland,” he said, and he denounced the German Socialist party as a “gang of traitors.” August Bebel, the Socialist party leader, said that every time the Kaiser opened his mouth, the party gained another hundred thousand votes.

...In fact, Wilhelm didn’t accomplish very much. The general staff of the German Army agreed that the Kaiser couldn’t “lead three soldiers over a gutter.” He had neither the attention span nor the ability. “Distractions, whether they are little games with his army or navy, travelling or hunting-- are everything to him,” a disillusioned former mentor wrote. “He reads very little apart from newspaper cuttings, hardly writes anything himself apart from marginalia on reports and considers those talks best which are quickly over and done with.” The Kaiser’s entourage compiled press cuttings for him, mostly about himself, which he read as obsessively as Trump watches television. A critical story would send him into paroxysms of fury.

During Wilhelm’s reign, the upper echelons of the German government began to unravel into a free-for-all, with officials wrangling against one another. “The most contradictory opinions are now urged at high and all-highest level,” a German diplomat lamented. To add to the confusion, Wilhelm changed his position every five minutes. He was deeply suggestible and would defer to the last person he’d spoken to or cutting he’d read-- at least until he’d spoken to the next person. “It is unendurable,” a foreign minister wrote, in 1894. “Today one thing and tomorrow the next and after a few days something completely different.” Wilhelm’s staff and ministers resorted to manipulation, distraction, and flattery to manage him. “In order to get him to accept an idea you must act as if the idea were his,” the Kaiser’s closest friend, Philipp zu Eulenburg, advised his colleagues, adding, “Don’t forget the sugar.” (In Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff writes that to get Trump to take an action his White House staff has to persuade him that “he had thought of it himself.”)

More sinisterly, Wilhelm’s patronage of the aggressive, nationalistic right left him surrounded by ministers who held a collective conviction that a European war was inevitable and even desirable. Alfred von Tirpitz, Germany’s Naval chief-- who realized at his first meeting with the Kaiser that he did “not live in the real world”-- consciously exploited Wilhelm’s envy and rage in order to extract the astronomical sums required to build a German Navy to rival Britain’s, a project that created an arms race and became an intractable block to peace negotiations.

The Kaiser was susceptible but never truly controllable. He asserted his authority unpredictably, as if to prove he was still in charge, staging rogue interventions into his own advisers’ policies and sacking ministers without warning. “You cannot have the faintest idea what I have prevented,” his most obsequious aide, Bernhard von Bülow, complained to a friend, “and how much of my time I must devote to restoring order where our All Highest Master has created chaos.”

...The Kaiser wasn’t singly responsible for the First World War, but his actions and choices helped to bring it on. If international conflict is around the corner, it would seem that you really don’t want a narcissist in control of a global power. Wilhelm’s touchiness, his unpredictability, his need to be acknowledged: these things struck a chord with elements in Germany, which was in a kind of adolescent spasm-- quick to perceive slights, excited by the idea of flexing its muscles, filled with a sense of entitlement. At the same time, Wilhelm’s posturing raised tensions in Europe. His clumsy personal diplomacy created suspicion. His alliance with the vitriolic right and his slavish admiration for the Army inched the country closer and closer to war. Once the war was actually upon him, the government and military effectively swept the Kaiser aside. And the gravest damage occurred only after Wilhelm abdicated, in November of 1918. (He spent the rest of his life-- he survived until 1941-- in central Holland.) The defeated Germany sank into years of depression, resentments sharpened, the toxic lie that Germany had been “robbed” of its rightful victory in the war took hold. The rest, as they say, is history.
History was made yesterday as Mueller filed a superseding indictment against Manafort and one of his Russian cronies, Konstantin Kilimnik. Yep, the witness tampering thing-- for both of them. Mueller charged them with "using intimidation or force against a witness to obstruct justice, and also with tampering with a witness, victim or informant."

And Trump may wind up pardoning "thousands" of criminals so he can slip his family and cronies in with them, making it look (he thinks) less self-serving. What a mess! Putin's investments certainly paying off-- in spades! Who thinks the G-7 will become the G-8 just because Señor T requested it?

Let me remind everyone that a new poll by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal found that 25% of registered voters say they will likely pick who they vote for in November based on whether or not they expect that member of Congress to help put Trump in check. I expect that number to get bigger and bigger as we get closer to the elections.

How would you like to see Trumpy in this drag?

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At 2:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

History shows us several such dumbfucktards. History shows us that few of them left their charge intact.

History also shows us that American voters don't know shit about history... nor care about history... nor give a shit that they don't know shit.

Americans are reflected almost to perfection by trump. It's no fluke that we have that turd for our (probably permanent and final) fuhrer/Kaiser/tsar/ceasar.

At 2:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...25% of registered voters say they will likely pick who they vote for in November based on whether or not they expect that member of Congress to help put Trump in check."

And that 25% are the dumbest of all voters because they think someone who is a registered member of either party (of/by/for money, only money, always money) will ever put a check on ANY unitary, much less trump.

The FACT is that the individual's desires are moot. All actions are taken by the party. And all actions taken by the party are dictated by the money that owns it.
Pelosi has already vowed, again, to repudiate her oath of office and prohibit any mention of impeachment. And if you think that even a democrap majority will prevent passage of the nazis' and trump's impulses has been comatose for the past 17 months. see: confirmation votes, tax cuts, bank dereg and so forth. All have enjoyed totally unnecessary democrap support.

So go ahead and swell the democrap caucus. Then go back into your coma. You won't be paying attention anyway.

At 9:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is likely to be the last election We the People will be allowed to participate in. Enjoy it.


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