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Friday, November 18, 2016


The new abnormal

by Tom Sullivan

Luigi Zingales survived Silvio Berlusconi's tenure in Italy and has some advice for the American resistance:

Mr. Berlusconi was able to govern Italy for as long as he did mostly thanks to the incompetence of his opposition. It was so rabidly obsessed with his personality that any substantive political debate disappeared; it focused only on personal attacks, the effect of which was to increase Mr. Berlusconi’s popularity. His secret was an ability to set off a Pavlovian reaction among his leftist opponents, which engendered instantaneous sympathy in most moderate voters. Mr. Trump is no different.
Pavlovian? Leftist incompetence? Say it ain't so. Zingales doesn't address when an administration is incompetent.

The street protests are counterproductive, writes Zingales, as are the petitions calling for electors to be faithless in performing their duties. Cannot say I disagree.

But believing the Italian experience provides a template, the professor of entrepreneurship and finance at the University of Chicago believes the Democratic resistance should treat Trump "as an ordinary opponent," as Romano Prodi and Matteo Renzi did with Berlusconi. Well. I'm not a student of Italian politics, but I don't recall Berlusconi threatening to use nuclear weapons or waterboard suspected terrorists.

One big fear is that treating Trump "as an ordinary opponent" will merely normalize his aberrant behaviors. If anything, what the left should do is recognize that the game has changed and not fall back on its normally ineffective tactics to oppose a completely abnormal opponent.

Nancy LeTourneau noticed the same tweet I did:

Perhaps some subtlety (and guile) should be thrown into the mix with any political brute force. LeTourneau cites Charles Gaba's (Brainwrap at DKos) comments on how the sitting president is whispering in Trump's ear:

Think about the amount of love of country, and steely-eyed discipline, President Obama must have to do this. Think about how much he must have to clench his jaw and grit his teeth to be willing to patiently guide this racist, misogynistic, xenophobic con-artist egocentric moron through the most basic, rudimentary concepts of executive government…all purely because he knows that like it or not, he’s turning over the steering wheel to the nation over to him in just 67 days for the next 4 years and he’d prefer that the man-child not crash the country into a tree when he takes the wheel.
Secondly, she observes that rather than working at not normalizing Trump, the president himself is working to enforce existing norms in the transition when he says "It’s part of what makes this country work. And as long as I’m President, we are going to uphold those norms and cherish and uphold those ideals."

Trump will never be normal. But rather than pitching out norms altogether in pushing back, perhaps demanding an adherence to and enforcement (where possible) of established norms is required to highlight just how abnormal this man is. If the country is to regain its footing, maybe the left should aggressively define what's normal again and push in that direction while also being the last voice Trump hears.

A little bit of Obi Wan plus a little bit of Han Solo, perhaps.