It was dismaying that so soon after the New Yorker EIC David Remnick rightly implored Americans, especially those in the media, to not normalize the newly elected demagogic President, that Condé Nast’s top editors assembled for an off-the-record meeting with the then-PEOTUS. No, they didn’t make the perp walk to Trump Tower, allowing themselves to be papped like Dapper Dons being ushered into a precinct house, but they still were used to create a business-as-usual climate for a mudslide of a man.
In his latest smart missive about his longtime nemesis for the Vanity Fair “Hive” vertical, Graydon Carter makes clear he wasn’t on board with the gathering with the Juggalo, writing: “The get-together was off the record. (Not my wish. Nor was the meeting itself.).” Have to assume his fellow top-of-the-masthead colleagues concur with that sentiment, though I wish they’d pushed back more forcefully at the powers-that-be. A for-publication summit would have likely only elicited lies, but at least it would have been journalism done correctly.
Carter is a realist in knowing the freshly minted Administration may hurt Americans who can least withstand more body blows (Farewell, Obamacare), but he remains optimistic that the truth will be the inveterate liar’s undoing.
Perhaps. While Donald Trump may be a sociopath, it takes a village to create a tyrant. He didn’t build it alone. He may have been put over the top by struggling folks in the Rust Belt who think he’s something he’s not, but most of his voters were not conned. Plenty of wealthy people, Christian conservatives and intellectual frauds supported him knowing exactly what they were getting. They approve.
Trump’s messy birdcage of a mind careens from one random thought to the next. He likes to strut and talk big-league. One of his ongoing observations—in tweets and elsewhere—is that “many people” have been calling him “the Ernest Hemingway of Twitter!” These are presumably people who have never read one of Hemingway’s books. In manner and execution, and in his almost touching desire to be liked, Trump comes across not as larger than life but as one of the smaller people on the world stage. He always had a sort of oafish charisma: as we used to say at Spy, a hustler on his best behavior. In small groups, as many can attest, he has mastered the salesman’s trick of creating faux sincerity and intimacy when answering a question by including the first name of the person who asked it. But no amount of grifter charm can conceal his alarming disregard for facts and truth. It’s this combination of utter ignorance and complete certitude that his detractors find most terrifying. Trump not only doesn’t know the unknowns but appears to have no interest in even knowing the knowns. Fact-checkers can’t keep up. How often does Obama play golf? Who cares—let’s inflate the number by 50 percent. What’s the murder rate in a major American city? What the hell—let’s multiply it by 10. The writer Michael O’Donoghue used to say that the definition of insanity is the length of time it takes for a lie to be uncovered. The shorter the period, the crazier you are. By this standard, our president will be setting a new threshold for that definition.•