Faustian Bargain Hunting

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So if you meet me have some courtesy

Have some sympathy, and some taste

Use all your well-learned politesse

Or I'll lay your soul to waste

Sympathy for the Devil, The Rolling Stones

Trump’s a narcissist, a racist, a misogynist. He’s hopelessly inarticulate and intellectually vacant. Lately, he appears to be decompensating. Why is he still the President?

For starters, there’s fear. His closest aides and confidants, scared to death that he might detect their disgust from a sudden look of revulsion or an offhand comment, remain paralyzed, his press secretary, a prime example. How she trots herself out to repeat (what she surely knows is) the distortion of the day is a marvel of verbal jujitsu. It’s not easy to take tough questions from reporters and make it look like they’re the problem. There are other denizens of the West Wing who wouldn’t dare push back for fear of expulsion from the inner circle. (It’s rumored they’ve started a 12-step group for sycophants.) Oh well, they signed up for the job, might as well make the best of it. Pretty soon they’ll be on the lecture circuit making $10,000 a speech. Thanks for leading the way Sean.

Then, there’s self-interest. The Republican members of the house, with few exceptions, are prepared to follow their commander-in-chief down any hallway in the funhouse. Tortured policy throw downs, rants about minority groups, incomprehensible positions thought up on the spur of the moment, claiming allegiance to dictators, supporting an accused child molester for a senate seat. You name it, the amen chorus of feckless politicians is there for their President. Disloyalty would be out of the question, 2018 being around the corner as it is. Putting up with an insane person for a few years won’t kill them, as long as they can bring home a few morsels of legislation to appease the folks back home. The most craven of the bunch, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, pretend they best serve the people by looking the other way or agreeing to support misbegotten legislation. Lending respectability to shameless behavior has become their stock in trade. As standard bearers for the Republican brand they might forfeit their exalted rank if they dare confront the President, someone they know full well is a lunatic. Ignoring mischief - and maybe treason - coming out of the oval office is just part of the gig.

Money? The root of all evil has grown into an oak, branches reaching into the corporate bloodstream with toxic levels never seen before. The board rooms are rife with tension. Intelligent men and women - knowing the leader of the free world has the temperament of a hormone-intoxicated 12 year old and the tools to incinerate the planet – discuss the pros and cons of attending a meet and greet at the White House. If Trump knows they’ve turned down the invitation, the prevailing sentiment goes, he will send out a tweet jeopardizing the company’s long term cap investments. The group comes to its senses quickly. By five they’re on their way to the party. Compromising their principles? Not really. It’s simply the free market making America great again.

Then there’s the parlor game crowd. Middle class get-togethers with snacks and a six pack of Blue Moon, watching the country – and the world – go down the crapper. “Did you see what he bellowed at the press conference?” “He’s crazy, man.” “Can’t keep up with his tweets.” “He should be impeached.” “Can’t believe this is happening to our country.” Hand-wringing, shrugs, chills, guffaws, until CNN is turned off, the entertainment portion of the evening coming to a close. The conversation turns to more local concerns. Buy or lease the BMW? The country house pool needs work. The heavy lifting as the kids head off to the Ivies. Thank God the market is doing well. Through the roof, in fact. At least Trump is doing something right. You got to give the Devil his due.

Pass the chips please.

College administrators and faculty, their fiery and defiant forbears notwithstanding, seem oblivious to the role higher education could play in aggressively challenging the Trump agenda. They seem more concerned with enrollment numbers than enrolling in a just cause. To wit, a recent on-line solicitation sent to college staffs from “eCampus News Events”, inviting them to a seminar entitled: The Growth Marketer’s Approach Toward Maximizing Enrollment and Donations. University administrators and professors alike – with some noticeable exceptions - are in league with the corporate world as they toady up for endowment and grant dollars from rich donors who demand fealty to their version of success. Their message to their students? Get good grades, graduate, get ready for market. No distractions with causes or protests or the like. Making America great again one automaton at a time.

If the public exhibits a twinge of conscience, perhaps remorse, for their support of an executive order that terrorizes immigrants, Trump is on duty to assure the bargain stays intact. Lobbing new grenades daily, he distracts us from yesterday’s gross violations of democracy and decency. We are dazed and confused.

James Baldwin’s comment is prescient. “You got to remember when the Devil’s doing all he can to make you forget.”

The world may very well receive its last tweet from the netherworld.

@realSatan666 Don’t blame me. You’re the ones who elected him. Make yourself comfortable. No need for principles or courage. Take your time. I’ll be waiting for you.