Run by goons or not at all

We have to resist the urge to normalize. Brian Beutler at the New Republic points out the media normalization around the Obama-Trump meeting, and how sucky it is.

The political media has relished all of it: the pageantry, the symbolism, the implication that our system of government is sturdy enough to persevere through the ugliest election in modern history and withstand the transfer of control between two men who hate each other.

This all sounds very soothing, and Obama in particular must feel obligated to lead the transition with grace and dignity, irrespective of the horribly racist way that Trump—a leading proponent of birtherism—has treated him for the last several years.

But it is all extremely delusional—Obama’s sanguinity, the media’s wonderment, the supposition that antipathy between the outgoing president and the incoming one—as opposed to the latter’s governmental inexperience and contempt for preparation—would be the reason for a rocky transition. There may be fleeting upsides to lulling the public into a sense of calm, but at some point reality needs to break through all of the pomp.

The situation that confronts us is extremely dangerous, and not just for all the civic dissension Trump has inspired, or for his erratic, unpredictable nature. Apart from all the hiring Trump would have to do anyhow, his offensiveness and grotesque unfitness for office is likely to lead to an unusual number of civil-service departures. Relatedly, most decent, honorable professionals are not going to want to work for the Trump administration. At a nuts and bolts level, much of the federal government is going to be run by goons or not at all. This is on top of the fact that of all the basic things the president is required to do on a day-to-day basis—listen attentively, read closely, speak carefully—Trump lacks the intelligence and composure to do any of them.

That was true of Bush Junior, too, but Trump is much worse.

In addition to the banal chaos that the Trump administration is likely to unleash, we’re facing a moment that threatens equal protection, due process, free expression, democracy—not just press freedom. It’s not a drill. The media undersold the threat to many freedoms before election night, and it would be self-dealing, and a disservice, if the only liberty under attack we rose to defend was one that undergirds our industry.

Resist normalization.

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