Saturday, October 19, 2019

Donald Trump Reminds Me of Dewey Butcher

So Turkey and the Kurds of northern Syria are just like "two kids in a lot." "You’ve got to let them fight," said Corporal Bonespurs. But it's been quite an uneven fight. The Turkish Land Forces -- with approximately 315,000 soldiers, and 3,778 tanks, 7,550 armored fighting vehicles, 1,013 self-propelled guns, 697 towed-artillery pieces, and 811 multiple-launch rocket systems -- vs. the YPG, Kurdish men and women with mere guerrilla arms and some US cast-offs.

In that speech Trump reminds me of Dewey Butcher, a man I knew when I was growing up in West Texas. He liked seeing his bully son physically dominate smaller kids. "Siccum!"

Was Trump one of those dads or is he just one of those presidents? While quite possibly a coward himself, he enjoys watching others fight, like a cock-fighter half-heartedly trying to break the habit. The basic cruelty of the proposition just doesn't resonate with him -- "just two kids." Trump is notoriously stingy with his fellow-feeling. Large swaths of the human race just don't register with him. But "do me a favor, though." Always me.

Despite his slightly bored estimation of the damage done in the Turkish Land Forces' invasion of Syria -- "a lot of sand they can play with" -- it's meant (last numbers I saw) displacement for 130,000 persons, with almost 100 confirmed deaths -- some of them summary executions. Untold suffering. To which the Trump doctrine declares, "Get over it!"

Vicious cruelty in a president -- an unwelcome innovation in the office -- has not existed before in our history. I've read a lot of history. Some presidents had a mean streak. Theodore Roosevelt leaps to mind. So did the other Roosevelt. Nixon, of course, and Johnson. All of 'em! They all could be ruthless, but each -- even Nixon -- balanced his ruthlessness with largeheartedness at times (though not always for the same people experiencing the short-end of his presidential stick).

Trump is something advanced a few degrees to the south. What are allies to him but pawns? Expendable -- to be sacrificed not for the greater good but for his personal convenience.

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