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Saturday, February 11, 2017

QOTD: Andrew Sullivan

by digby

He's writing at the Atlantic again. And this observation is keen:

There is no anchor any more. At the core of the administration of the most powerful country on earth, there is, instead, madness.

With someone like this barging into your consciousness every hour of every day, you begin to get a glimpse of what it must be like to live in an autocracy of some kind. Every day in countries unfortunate enough to be ruled by a lone dictator, people are constantly subjected to the Supreme Leader’s presence, in their homes, in their workplaces, as they walk down the street. Big Brother never leaves you alone. His face bears down on you on every flickering screen. He begins to permeate your psyche and soul; he dominates every news cycle and issues pronouncements — each one shocking and destabilizing — round the clock. He delights in constantly provoking and surprising you, so that his monstrous ego can be perennially fed. And because he is also mentally unstable, forever lashing out in manic spasms of pain and anger, you live each day with some measure of trepidation. What will he come out with next? Somehow, he is never in control of himself and yet he is always in control of you.

One of the great achievements of free society in a stable democracy is that many people, for much of the time, need not think about politics at all. The president of a free country may dominate the news cycle many days — but he is not omnipresent — and because we live under the rule of law, we can afford to turn the news off at times. A free society means being free of those who rule over you — to do the things you care about, your passions, your pastimes, your loves — to exult in that blessed space where politics doesn’t intervene. In that sense, it seems to me, we already live in a country with markedly less freedom than we did a month ago. It’s less like living in a democracy than being a child trapped in a house where there is an abusive and unpredictable father, who will brook no reason, respect no counter-argument, admit no error, and always, always up the ante until catastrophe inevitably strikes. This is what I mean by the idea that we are living through an emergency.

Many of us haven't really slept well since November 8th. I know I haven't. I feel that my life's been re-arranged in the same way that a personal emergency would do. Perhaps it's more acute for me since I write about politics, I don't know. But I know that most of my friends are still discombobulated and afraid. And in some cases they are getting more afraid as we watch all this unfold.

I knew he was a disaster from the beginning and I have never had a moment of delusion that he was anything but the chaotic, cretinous authoritarian fool he appeared to be. My instincts about such men are well honed and I never questioned them.

What we are living through feels both surreal and hyper-real.