Monday, May 15, 2017

"Nobody Cares About This Except You"

There was a very interesting and thought-provoking article in last Thursday's Washington Post. The print title was "For President Right Now, No Profit in Learning from Past," while the online title was "Why Trump Expected Only Applause When He Told Comey, ‘You’re Fired.’"

The bottom line of the article is summed up in the print title: Donald Trump is a man who lives entirely in the present, which allows him to blithely shrug off things he said and did in the past as if they never happened ... because to him, they didn't, and therefore they don't matter. Only the present matters. Here's a key quote from the article:

"Confronted with his past statements that stand in direct conflict with his current positions, Trump has always reacted not with remorse or embarrassment. Rather, a look of almost innocent surprise sweeps over his face and he says, as he has to reporters who remind him that he once promised to release his tax returns but then decided that he never would, 'Nobody cares about this except you.'"


"'I’m just not interested in the past,' Trump has said. 'I’m interested in the present.'"

Philosopher George Santayana famously said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." That's why we study history - to learn what has happened before, to see what worked and what didn't, and to identify and avoid making again the mistakes of those who came before us.

Of course, paying attention to the wrong historical precedent, or interpreting it in the wrong way, is not a good thing, either. Historians Richard Neustadt and Ernest May made this point in their excellent book Thinking in Time: The Uses of History for Decision-Makers, which ought to be required reading for anyone in government. But that's no excuse for totally ignoring historical precedent. Were Donald Trump not so totally driven by the now, by what he sees on his favorite, fawning Faux News programs, he might have realized that his ham-handed firing of FBI director James Comey would draw immediate (and not completely inaccurate) parallels to Richard Nixon's firing of officials during the Watergate scandal.

Sadly, many millions of people - like Trump - don't care about the lies and the distortions and the nepotism and the ignorance ... people who are so blinded by a visceral hatred of Hillary Clinton and the liberal elite that they'll swallow anything Mr Trump says and then ask for a bigger second helping.

And yet, Mr Trump is wrong when he says that nobody cares about things. I care very much about getting to the bottom of possible Russian interference in the 2016 election. I care about Mr Trump's total lack of transparency about his family's business dealings and how they could affect his presidential decision-making. And I am not alone. Many other people really do care ... people who actually care about the Constitution and about flagrant abuse of authority by a narcissistic and delusional president.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



eViL pOp TaRt said...

DJT cares nothing about the past because that is the Pretrumpian era. I also want to see some definite answers regarding Russian influence. Since when did Putin become a good guy?

John Hill said...

Today is going to be a good day! The best day!
And Donald will say some good things. He has the best words.
He has lots of words, really good words.
He had good words yesterday, too, but they no longer matter.
Today's words will be better words.

I can't wait to hear today's words!

Grand Crapaud said...

I don't but the idea that Vladimir Putin is suddenly our friend. It's not just the past; it's the recently present as well.
I'm not a cart horse wearing blinders.

Anemone said...

History is so interesting! It takes a boring, overliteral person to dismiss it as being irrelevant. The President's words are just words. lacking substance.

Mike said...

I care too.