The central lessons of the Trump administration have been that it is as bad as we thought it would be and that illusions of normalcy are just that-illusions. The odd decent speech, rational appointment or presidential gesture must be understood as ephemeral and frequently a deliberate attempt to deceive. We would be foolish to expect anything else from a regime committed to rolling back our democratic rights. Sadly, we are also learning that too many who have spent their lives in and around politics at the highest levels, even if they are generally critical of Trump, are too deep inside that world to understand this.
Ascribing Emanuel's failure to an inability to get his voice heard in the White House is far from the full story. At key moments, Emanuel's advice was loud, clear and wrong. Emanuel's position, in the end of 2009, that Obama needed to pass something on health care so that he could take credit for some success was wrong-headed and may well have been the moment when the presidency was most in danger of unraveling. Urging the White House to cut a deal with, of all people, Joe Lieberman so that they could get a bill was an extraordinary lapse of judgment, one that was not without serious consequences for the White House.
Recent comments by Rush Limbaugh, Pat Robertson and now US Senate candidate from California Chuck Devore's communication director regarding assistance to Haiti are so hateful, misguided, myopic and, in the case or Robertson, downright strange, that they obscure the question of what they are trying to accomplish by making these comments. Robertson's comments are extraordinarily insensitive, focusing not on the suffering and desperation of the innocent victims of the Haitian people, but on a belief that the earthquake was a form of supernatural intervention as Satan himself has finally extracted his deathly fee for help in liberating Haiti from France.
Today, anti-Americanism in Europe has receded a great deal. Anti-Americanism, as President Obama’s advisor David Axelrod pointed out, “isn’t cool anymore.” This is very fortunate for the U.S. because if it was still cool, the tide of anti-Americanism in Europe today would very likely make that of 2003-2005 look like a Fourth of July picnic. During those years, anti-Americanism was spurred by U.S. foreign policy which, as bad as it might have been, had very little effect on the day-to-day lives of most Europeans. Today, the continent is in the throes of a major economic recession which many would like to blame on the U.S. The implosion of the overheated U.S. economy with its seemingly infinite market for a broad range of consumer goods has dragged down huge segments of global trade while the subprime mortgage problems have created a ripple effect which has devastated the world’s finances. This should be the language of the new anti-Americanism, but so far, it has yet to materialize.
Cheney's presence on the current political scene seamlessly blends unpopular and unsuccessful policy approaches with an unpleasant demeanor in a way that amounts to an enormous political gift to an already extremely popular president. Every smirk and hostile aside from the former Vice-President makes President Obama's job just a little bit easier. As long as Cheney continues to loudly, and bellicosely defend the previous administration, the American people will not forget just how bad things were when Bush was in office. The belligerence, accusations that any disagreement over any aspect of the Global War on Terror was at best undermining our safety and at worst close to treason, unwillingness to question the efficacy of any of Bush policy and overall hostility towards questioning and debate which continue to characterize Cheney's public statements serve as almost daily reminders to the American people of why they were so ready for a change last November.