Trump Again

Throughout the Republican primaries I was a regular 2am viewer of CNN. My first impression of Donald Trump was that he reminded me of Michael Moore—and of Lenny Bruce.

(Has anyone here heard of, or listened to, Lenny Bruce, the father of stand-up comedy—dead of an overdose in 1966? Probably not, if you’re under 70 years old. You can hear him here and at many other places. I listened to him on Long Playing Records—33 rpm—borrowed from a London public library. The sketch I remember was about how he liked President John F. Kennedy because he was the kind of guy you could imagine jacking off to a Playboy calendar behind the bathroom door. Poor ill-informed US citizen, Lenny couldn’t know what JFK was getting up to with his brother Robert the Attorney General and their secretaries in the White House Swimming Pool…)

Where was I? Oh yes, discussing the vulgarity and sexual excesses of President Elect Donald Trump at 2am on CNN six months ago. He’d just come out of a confrontation with a dozen other candidates in which, for example, Senator Rubio had said: ”Have you looked at his tiny hands? You know what they say about men with small hands…” and he gave an improvised speech before the press. Trump is no Demosthenes. But he spoke. The others didn’t.

Six months ago, at 2am, thanks to CNN, I probably knew more about Donald Trump, and therefore about the future of the world, than anyone else in Europe. Others have caught up since. I’ve been following their progress, looking (almost) vainly for a light in the darkness. Here’s a couple of glimmers.

The very branché (“trendy”—how modern is that?) French TV pay channel Canal Plus has a forty-minute interview with Emmanuel Todd in which he points out to the French avant-garde that the Anglo-Saxon world has always been 30 years in advance on the rest of the world, and makes, among many other interesting points, this one:

“Predicting what will happen in Russia before the fall of the Soviet Union or in the Middle East before the Arab Spring is one thing. But when it comes to the USA, or even France or Germany—countries in the vanguard of history, the countries which will form the future—it’s not a prophet you need, but someone with a bit of humility, someone capable of observing carefully what’s happening now…” [Climate modellers take note.]

Second witness: Steve McIntyre.

[I do recommend that you send this link to all those (like the once-radical anti-establishment Michael Moore, for example) who are still mourning the defeat of the Democrat candidate. They won’t read it of course, because it’s rather long, and if there’s one thing that characterises us leftists nowadays, it’s that we don’t like any argument that doesn’t fit on a tweet or a placard we can hold up at a demonstration.]

Steve says, right at the end:

I am fascinated by the present U.S. election… As a form of both reassurance and realism to U.S readers, regardless of which candidate wins, I suspect that it will matter much less to future governance than partisans hope on the one hand or fear on the other.

At the bedwetting London Guardian, Simon Jenkins, another elderly white male, makes much the same point. (How long will this two-century-old radical journal let him promote this radical stuff?)


  1. On the subject of small hands, in a discussion I heard it was stated that the journalist who had, 30 years ago, described Trump’s hands as small has for 30 years been receiving pictures, sent by Trump, showing his hands and a written question on the lines of “do these hands look small?”. Makes one wonder a little, no?


  2. Good heavens Geoff, you’ve found a sensible political article in the Guardian. I fear it may be one of those end of day signs the Americans worry about. Keep your eyes peeled for any cats and dogs being overly friendly. Like Melanie Philips striking up a relationship with Jeremy Corbyn. Or Polly Toynbee getting a regular spot on The Grand Tour with Jeremy Clarkson.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. No one does comedy quite like the De,ocrats in the USA.

    Take this comic gem from Paul Krugman in the NY Times

    “Some morning-after thoughts: what hits me and other so hard isn’t just the immense damage Trump will surely do, to climate above all”

    Canute’s courtiers he could control the tides; Krugman thinks Trump can control the climate.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. More comedy gold from the Krg:

    “That said, does it make sense on a personal level to keep struggling after this kind of blow? Why not give up on trying to save the world, and just look out for yourself and those close to you? Quietism does have its appeal. Admission: I spent a lot of today listening to music, working out, reading a novel, basically taking a vacation in my head. You can’t help feeling tired and frustrated after this kind of setback.”

    Imagine if he had had a bad day at the office or a bad hair day. How would the poor thing handle those kind of problems?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Nino: “Makes one wonder a little, no?”


    Er, do you by chance have small hands, Nino?

    Speaking from experience, are you?


    Krugman’s banality is perfectly mirrored by Noam Chomsky in the Independent. That these highly respected left-wing intellectuals should be anti-Trump is no surprise, but why oh why do both of them choose climate change as their weapon of first choice? Is climate scepticism really Trump’s worst characteristic?

    The failure of perspective the utter irrationality, is particularly strange in the case of Chomsky, whose entire political life has beeen spent criticising the liberal élite. Why does the lucidity of our foremost intellectuals desert them when it comes to climate? It’s not complicated, like economics or linguistics. It’s just monster data collection and clumsy interpretation. Why can’t otherwise lucid intelligent people see that?


  7. Is climate scepticism really Trump’s worst characteristic?

    It’s a strange pass, as you say, when it becomes the biggest stick to beat the man with.

    In his youth Chomsky was late to face up to the catastrophe in Pol Pot’s Cambodia. In his old age he’s convinced, way ahead of the evidence, of a climate one. Neither intelligent nor pretty.



    In the BBC article you link to Kerry says:

    “We literally can’t use one hand to pat ourselves on the back … and then turn around and use the other hand to write a big fat cheque … it just doesn’t make sense. That’s suicide, and that’s how we all lose this fight.”

    Well quite. Kerry is a big man, with big hands, unlike Trump. But some things are beyond even him.


  9. Paul: just watched on iPlayer. Thanks for the alert. How do we best deal with “he said it was a hoax” pointing back to November 2012? The guy is going to come under enormous pressure to back off. There again, Kerry’s not wrong that market forces tend to lead to gradual decarbonisation, as Jesse Ausubel has shown has been going on since the early industrial revolution. But eliminating subsidies and cutting off all US money to the UN climate bureaucracy, that would be something else. No wonder there’s a great deal of bleating.


  10. Is climate scepticism really Trump’s worst characteristic?

    It certainly is. Many of Trump’s avowed “policies” have some sympathetic ears on the left e.g. the negative effects of globalization, free trade agreements and immigration. Even Naomi Klein would agree with Trump on the first two. But CAGW has so captured the imagination of western politicians (except for Republicans) that they can all agree (well at least 97% of them) that Trump will be a disaster on that front. Furthermore the US Climate Action Plan is an executive order, and is something Trump can easily change on “Day One” (unlike repealing Obamacare or building the Mexican Wall) with the complete approval of his supporters. It is quite likely that Trump will effectively withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement but have great difficulty in implementing any other of his campaign promises. So left-wing intellectuals choosing climate change as their weapon of first choice does make some sense.


  11. Potentilla: A number of very good points thanks. The ability to do something significant at once with climate by reversing Obama’s executive orders has to be a key point. It also allows those of us watching from the bleachers – as a Brit I’ve no idea what that means but it sounds so good! – to evaluate pretty early how serious Trump and his administration is about restoring some climate sanity.

    Looking at Trump’s choices for his senior team (though with Secretary of State still to come) there does seem to be both climate scepticism and realism about Islam (as I would see it – the Left call it racism of course) front and central. The second is another emphasis I guess it will take a while to feed through into workable policy. And, as Thomas Sowell constantly emphasises, the new administration is going to need brilliant communicators and explainers in all such areas. Politics has got a whole lot more interesting with Brexit and this.


  12. There is much hand-wringing on the left about Trump winning the election but the irony is that much of his appeal to the voters is “telling it like it is”. With the Paris Agreement, western governments are really only paying lip service to carbon emissions reduction. Those on the left who actually think about these things are apoplectic about airport expansions and continued hydrocarbon development:

    One could argue that politicians the world over are lying about what they expect to achieve with the Paris Agreement and Trump would be the only one doing the rational thing. Meanwhile impoverished nations are still hoping for hand-outs and making absurd pledges to demonstrate their commitment to the cause and justify wealth transfers of billions of dollars. From Marrakech:

    “But his (Trump’s) election did not prevent some of the world’s poorest countries from announcing a major emissions-cutting initiative before delegates boarded their planes home. In total, 48 nations promised to cut their carbon emissions dramatically and rapidly move to 100% renewable power as the UN climate summit in Marrakech drew to a close on Friday.
    Bangladesh, Ethiopia and the Philippines were among the countries which said they would now file plans for becoming zero-carbon societies by the middle of the century, in line with the Paris deal’s aspiration of limiting global warming to 1.5C.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.