The grotesqueness of “presidential” as compliment

Nothing I heard last night convinced me that Donald Trump was presidential except in the way that, like George W. Bush, he turned malevolence into national policy. Note how the Republican side of the room applauded hard enough to sprinkle blood on the House floor when the president announced he wants to repeal and replace Obamacare. He said he wants clear water but appoints an EPA chief who as Oklahoma secretary of state was in such collusion with the malefactors of great fossil fuel giants that for all intents and purposes they ghost wrote his policy memos. He used the phrase “illegal immigrants” in close enough proximity to the word “killing” that a Trump voter living in northern Wisconsin might assume Mexicans drive vigilante-style across Texas towns mowing down Jackie and little Virginia.

As for “presidential” – well. Van Jones said Trump “became president” last night. Howard Fineman, torturing English like the CIA did Khalid Sheikk Mohammed, claimed Trump came off as force that was “normalizable.” “Presidential” is the adjectival form of “president.” Implicit in being elected as president is acting like one. Praising Trump for acting presidential is as silly as praising me for being “professorial” in class. For most of the nineties, Republicans accused Bill Clinton of not being presidential. A decade earlier, Ronald Reagan allowed the National Security Council, operating as if were a junta in Chile, to sell arms to Iran in exchange for hostages, continuing a pattern that was in all likelihood initiated in 1980; the fictional Irani moderates got a free cake too – what a bargain! Yet even Democrats persist contribute to the persistence of St. Ronnie as the apex of presidential style, if not a carbon-based form that was more president than man.

And we’re only six weeks in.

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