It’s Like a Movie

By David Brooks on April 16, 2018

By: Nial O’Loughlin

The daily task of deciphering and explaining the United States has become infinitely more difficult in the Trump era. Reporting in the same way that was done before implies that everything is normal inside an insane asylum, or the alternative is to report that an insane asylum headed by someone who says; my button is the biggest one who is in charge of the most powerful country in the history of the world. In the face of any of these options, one must also address why the public remains largely a spectator in the face of what so many people say is not only a brutal attack on US democracy, but the greatest threat to the world.

Of course there are denunciations and other expressions of dissent that seek to rescue this country every day – and this comes not only from progressives and traditional conservatives, but from within the establishment itself- along with, from time to time, some of the largest demonstrations in the most recent history of this country repudiating the Trump regime.

Some believe that the scandals and investigations are leading to the dwindling of the days of the regime. A couple of days ago John Brennan tweeted, “Your kakistocracy is collapsing after each pitiful step. As the nation of greatest greatness known in history, we have the opportunity to get out of this nightmare and we are committed to ensuring a better life for all Americans, including those you’ve cheated so tragically.” But there is something very, very troublesome when a former head of the CIA, among so many other veterans of the country’s political leadership, warns against the threat called Trump.

But day by day cruel assaults against immigrants, women, minorities, the arts, civil rights, the environment and even government institutions are allowed to proceed. There is still – despite the fact that the vast majority disapprove of this regime in the polls – too much silence. And even when the silence is broken, the opposition noise has not been enough to repel – with some exceptions – the frontal assault against almost everyone here and around the world. The commander-in-chief has just sent missiles against Syria in what many define as an illegal act, but there were no mass protests. Without greater resistance, that translates in fact into the viewers becoming accomplices.

The same happens abroad, where governments of the world, with some notable exceptions, do not condemn the violation of human rights, norms and international agreements committed by the government in Washington. By not doing so, they become accomplices, as has just been shown in the recently concluded Summit of the Americas. Historians remember other moments in which the collusion of democratic governments with regimes that proclaimed themselves superior with the right to unilateral wars and brutally repress all dissidents led to human disasters. Here, every day there are reports on this regime supported by white supremacist sectors, some openly neo-Nazi, that has threatened to use nuclear weapons to kill millions of human beings, and that inside and outside of this country carries out a massive persecution of immigrants with sadistic tactics that include tearing children from the arms of their mothers. “My son tells me every day ‘I’m afraid mommy’, we just want to live and work here because we had to leave our countries for the same reason, to escape fear. What do I say to my son, how do I explain this? “Asks a Guatemalan mother who is in sanctuary in a church in New York, in an act of resistance against these policies.

Suddenly, one has the feeling all this has to be a movie that could not be possible that we are reporting this every day. It cannot be so openly brutal, where the political debate is of temper tantrums and insults (forgive the high school students for the comparison). It has to be a review of a fictional film, and not a non-edited documentary.

But is it a satirical movie, a bad melodrama; is it one of horror, or just a tragicomedy? Depends on the day. For now it’s like a mix of Dr. Strangelove, Kubrick, with Wag the Dog (with De Niro, Dustin Hoffman and Willie Nelson, in which to distract from a personal sex scandal of the president, a damage control team manufactures a fictitious war), and The Godfather (in his new book James Comey, the former head of the FBI, compares Trump and his environment to a mafia family).

It would not be difficult to write the script. As it was confessed by many satiric comedians that have become the most trusting reference on day by day basis with all the material Trump provides at this political conjuncture.

Such a film could include even positive surprises for the bilateral relationship with news like this one reported by humorist Andy Borowitz in a satirical note published in The New Yorker:” Mexico surprised the world (…) by agreeing to pay for the psychiatric care of Donald J. Trump. The Mexican president said he had authorized the payment despite, criticism in his country that such treatment could be more expensive than the border fence. He argued that ‘when the security of the world is at stake, 800 dollars an hour is cheap’ “.

And a happy ending to the movie could be contemplated; a porn star saves the United States. Stormy Daniels decided to break the silence and confront the president by revealing her sexual adventure with Trump and the attempts to silence her, and with that helped to detonate a federal investigation. There are many that say this is more dangerous to the future of this regime than other issues. Now there is a perception that porn stars could save the country from the presidency by expressing the truth.

But for every serious filmmaker (as for journalists), the question is, how and when will the public respond once they leave the movie theater to the street? Will there be an echo of May 1968 in Paris?

Source: La Jornada, translation Resumen Latinoamericano, North America bureau