Chemi Shalev

Trump Is Talking Like a Tin-pot Dictator, Pleasing Netanyahu and Other Die-hard Fans

Imagine commentators in 1939 Berlin explaining how the Fuhrer was invigorating his base.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the press in front of a Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner during its unveiling in North Charleston, South Carolina, February 17, 2017.
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP

America has been caught for days between shock and awe and horror. In the days of Donald Trump, the inconceivable is becoming the norm. Negative developments that were supposed to take months, even according to pessimists, are happening in the blink of an eye.

Public opinion is convulsing, American elites are preparing for the worst and world leaders can’t believe their eyes or ears. The president of the United States is talking like a tin-pot dictator, like an enemy of democracy, and the only people celebrating are Islamic fanatics, white supremacists, complete anti-Semites and one Benjamin Netanyahu.

“We had a meeting of hearts and a meeting of minds,” the prime minister said ecstatically after his first summit with the president, a statement that said more about him than anything else.

Less than 24 hours after Trump’s press conference with Netanyahu, which was farcical in and of itself, the president once again broke his own negative record. If you thought Trump was out of tricks, he made it abundantly clear that his ability to shock is infinite. In a 77-minute horror show, Trump showed that he does not occupy the same reality as the rest of the world. He either invents or is fed lies and fabrications that he embraces and then cannot let go. His perception of international affairs, including nuclear confrontation, is that of an 11-year-old boy, and an underdeveloped one at that.

He is completely lacking in self-awareness. He cannot admit a mistake. He cannot accept criticism. He cannot tell truth from falsehoods, reality from delusion or the difference between the presidency and “The Apprentice.” He is obsessed, to the point of lunacy, with the “reviews” that his performance gets in the media.

Never mind that Trump succeeded in painting himself as a racist by asking an African-American reporter to arrange a meeting for him with the Congressional Black Caucus, and as an anti-Semite, by berating an ultra-Orthodox journalist who dared ask him about recent outbreaks of anti-Semitism.

“I am the least anti-Semitic person you’ve ever seen in your entire life,” Trump said, in a statement that’s a top contender for the title of most ridiculous presidential statement in history. He didn’t condemn anti-Semitism, of course, because he doesn’t want to and because he’s now equipped with an exemption given him by the Israeli prime minister in a shameful fact that is probably making generations of proud right-wing Revisionists spin in their graves.

Another 24 hours went by and Trump was back at it, this time describing the most renowned news organizations in America – that are also the most respected in the rest of the world – not as his enemies, but as enemies of the American people. Less than a month after his inauguration, Trump is saying in public what only the paranoid Richard Nixon dared say, and only in private.

He aligns himself with enlightened past and present leaders like Stalin and Putin, encourages freedom-hating dictators around the world, inflicts untold damage on American’s image in the Western world, casts doubt on the resilience of the U.S. Constitution, tries to terrorize American journalists and causes millions of Americans to look at the mirror and ask themselves: How in God’s name did we get to this point?

The analysts and political strategists jumped into action, of course, explaining that this was all part of a genius move in which Trump diverts attention from his difficulties in the White House, from his glaring conflicts of interests, from the scandal of his ties to the Kremlin, which some believe could bury his presidency. He’s invigorating his base, these objective observers opine, throwing them their favorite red meat in the form of media-bashing and providing a scapegoat to explain his mistakes and failures.

Excuse the patently preposterous analogy, but one can just imagine the same kind of commentators sitting in the breaking news studios in Berlin on January 30, 1939, after Adolf Hitler’s speech to the Reichstag, saying that there were indications that the Jews were indeed responsible for the hyperinflation that struck Germany and some of them were definitely looking to bring the German people to heal. And in any case, that is what Hitler’s followers believed and his delivery was as spectacular as always. He held his audience in the palm of his hands, and you shouldn’t take his threat to annihilate the Jewish people too seriously. It’s a staple trick of his, which only proves how the Fuhrer is still the fabulous magician he always was.

Trump’s voters may still be at his side, but that’s the extent of it, because his approval ratings are the lowest in recorded history. Trump is also starting to lose his hold on the more responsible fringes of the Republican Party, starting with, unsurprisingly, Senator John McCain, who lambasted Trump in Munich on Saturday without mentioning his name, warning of growing racism, intolerance and yearning for authoritarianism. One or two more moves by Trump, and McCain will start voting against him, as will a few more conscientious Republicans, in the process exposing most other GOP lawmakers as crass opportunists willing to sell their country down the river for a few questionable ideological gains.

On the other hand, Trump may be approaching the abyss at breakneck speed, but he hasn’t gone over the cliff yet and can still stop in time. If he gets his act together, starts to conduct himself calmly and rationally, listens to his experienced advisers and distances himself from the loons that currently surround him, he can quickly get away from his nightmare launch and revert to a more or less normal presidency. He is, after all, only on the first of his 48 months in office and people have notoriously short memories.

If he doesn’t, there will be ever increasing Google searches and discreet congressional probes into the first two articles of the Constitution, which grant Congress the power to impeach a president and remove him from office for committing a crime, as well as into the 25th Amendment, which allows the vice president and a majority of cabinet members to declare a president unfit to serve in office. By the time we get to that stage, the only people sorry to see Trump go will be Netanyahu, Steve Bannon, Ron Dermer, white supremacists and a few Jewish settlers, who were slow to wake up from their dreams.