The crowning moment

The BBC’s New York correspondent asks if US politics is permanently down the crapper.

(My answer without reading further would be hell yes.)

Trump’s victory rally in the East Room of the White House the morning after his acquittal, where Republican jurors stood to applaud, may well come to be seen as a definitive moment – when the party of Reagan truly became the party of Trump.

But the party of Reagan was nothing to brag of. (Neither was the party of Clinton; it just wasn’t as bad as t’other one.) Reagan was elected because he was once a Hollywood B-actor. Not a good reason. He lacked Trump’s venom so in that way he was miles ahead, but the cheery lack of relevant knowledge and mental capacity was very trump.

Striking, too, was how the Attorney General, William Barr, got up from his seat at the event to clap and salute Trump’s legal team, suggesting the wall that should exist between prosecutors at the Justice Department and political operatives at the White House has been flattened.

Ick. I missed that.

So the East Room revelry felt like the crowning moment in the fifth wave of Republican radicalisation. After Goldwaterism in the mid-Sixties, Reaganism in the Eighties, Gingrichism in the Nineties and the Tea Party in Noughties, this was the triumph of Trumpism. His first tweet after his acquittal drove home this point – an animation of election placards reading Trump 2020, Trump 2024, Trump 2028, etc, etc, an age of Trump stretching endlessly into the future.

In other words he’s promising a totalitarian future ruled by him (when burgers made from the fresh brains of infants have made him immortal). No escape.

For me, though, the moment that encapsulated the era came when Trump awarded the presidential medal of freedom to the conservative radio host, Rush Limbaugh. The right-wing talk show host is a high priest of polarisation. Few conservatives have done more to pave the way for Donald Trump. With that primetime ceremonial, the president revealed the chronic state of America’s disunion.

The problem with Limbaugh isn’t just “polarisation,” it’s more the venom and hatred and contempt: the trumpism.

Nick Bryant ends with a question: ” Is the United States beyond the point of repair?” We know it’s not really a question though.

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