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?)