Last November, the Electoral College (not to be confused with the majority of voters—which of itself should not be confused with the majority of eligible voters) didn’t elect a new president; they elected a new paradigm of “Rule by Fools,” otherwise known as an idiocracy. They put into the Executive Office a model of buffoonery based on a self-promoting caricature of an immoral fool with money, a fool who so believed in himself and in his ability to obfuscate, cheat, deny, lie and bully his way into power that he actually did it with the witting and unwitting help of millions of other fools. In so doing, he and his enablers remade the presidency into a paradigm of an idiocracy, predicted in a 2005 film of the same name by Beavis and Butthead creator Mike Judge.
In an interview with the Telegraph’s Tim Stanley in January 2016, Judge recalled the moment he was struck by Idiocracy’s concept after witnessing two women fighting and swearing in front of their kids at Disneyland.
“And this was in 2001, so then I started thinking about 2001 [the 1968 Stanley Kubrick sci-fi movie],” he explained. “What if instead of this pristine high-tech world that [Kubrick] had envisioned, what if it was just like The Jerry Springer Show and giant Walmarts, and what if that had been the movie made in the ’60s? So I thought that’s what I would do. And a lot of it was kinda based on stuff that was already happening.”
The Telegraph’s Stanley noted, with dead-on prescience 11 months in advance of the election, the salient consistency of Trump’s modus operandi. “He’s a snake oil salesman. They’ve always existed, always will. In American mythology, it’s the guy who rides into town with the promise that he can cure all ills with an ointment that only requires a little faith to work and 12 installments of $19.99. The sad fact is that snake oil only sells if there’s a market for it. That implies that a significant number of consumers are suckers.”
At the core of every myth or legend there are some events or characters—sketches or shadows in their own time—that take on an aura of legitimacy as a willing or desperate or delusional public embraces what they want to see while discarding that which makes them uncomfortable. Truth is usually the first discomfiting aspect to be ditched. And so it was last November.
The truth behind Trump’s rise to idiocracy was pitched out a window of Trump Tower as surely as Russian attorney Nikolai Gorokhov was thrown out of the window of his fourth floor apartment last month in Moscow before he was set to testify on behalf of Vladimir Putin’s longtime foe Sergei Magnitsky. Like Putin, Trump has no problem dispatching Truth with extreme prejudice, as long as he can get someone else to do the dirty work.
As one example, here’s a portion of the transcript of a discussion this Sunday morning (April 2) between ABC News’ Martha Raddatz and U.S Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, that illustrates Trump’s willingness to put his toadies out in front of major issues, detaching himself from any real policy positions. The italics are mine:
RADDATZ: “You really think that you and President Trump are saying the same things? Let me tell you one thing President Trump recently said. He defended Putin after Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly called him a killer, saying there are a lot of killers. Do you think our country is so innocent?
So, how does the U.S. maintain its role as the moral conscience of the world, to use your words this week, if the president won’t condemn what’s happening inside Russia?”
HALEY: “Well, Martha, this is what I can tell you, the president has not once called me and said don’t beat up on Russia, has not once called me and told me what to say, has not once...”
RADDATZ: “But he isn’t beating up on Russia. Should he be beating up on Russia, again?”
HALEY: “I am. I am beating up on Russia...”
RADDATZ: “So he doesn’t need to?”
HALEY: “Well, it’s ― of course, he’s got a lot of things he’s doing. But he is not stopping me from beating up on Russia. He’s not stopping me from talking about the pressure that China needs to be putting on North Korea. He’s not stopping me on how we’re working together to defeat ISIS.
Right now, General Mattis and I are working on peacekeeping reforms and stability with those issues. So, the president has not disagreed with one thing I’ve said. And that means he supports everything that I’m saying. And I’m going along with everything that I know this administration believes in.”
RADDATZ: “You know, you take over the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council this month. And let me read some things you say you want.
You say you want to emphasize the role of human rights, that you intend to challenge members, not just to talk the talk, but walk the walk. Russia is going to be at that table having supported Syria’s President Assad in killing Syrian civilians, what you have called war crimes. Putin has jailed and killed dissidents in his own country. You talk tough. But again, doesn’t President Trump have to start talking tough?”
HALEY: “He has his people talking tough. And that’s what we’re doing is right now we’re saying whatever we need to say. Look, he’s the president. He can say what he wants whenever he wants…”
In the Beatles song, The Fool on the Hill, the fool was the smart one, seeing with the eyes in his head the “world spinning ‘round,” causing the sun to rise and set. In Trump’s idiocracy (which recently employed a fool from the Hill, Devin Nunes), the spinning is happening from the press room podium and in the soundbites of a cabinet filled with willing fools. Idiocracy: the new paradigm.