On Boxing Day, Donald Trump’s 110th day of vacation of the 11 months of his presidency, the Wall Street Journal counted a total of 40 days that he spent at Mar-a-Lago, the Palm Beach resort he owns for the super-rich, and another 40 spent at another high-class vacation spot, Bedminster in New Jersey, one of the largest and most exclusive golf courses in America, also a part of his fiefdom.
The Manhattan real estate developer has not given up any of his leisure time since he became the 45th president of the United States, which required the use of a lot of manpower and money for his protection and that of his family—half of which, moreover, are directly involved in state affairs.
In many ways, all of this is just the continuation and expansion of his usual private business. Like the recently approved tax bill, a reform of the tax system that will allow his own dynasty, together with the other great families of American capitalism, to add even more to their fortunes.
And what about the rest of his time, when he is not on the golf course?
Whether he is at his resorts or at Camp David, whether at his official residence at the White House or in the Oval Office, Trump spends many hours with the television on, watching Fox News programs that flatter his presidency and inspire his tweets in which he boasts about his decisions—of course, all extraordinary and unprecedented. But he also watches the news channels and talk shows he considers hostile to him, but which are simply doing their job—first and foremost, CNN and MSNBC. These are the primary sources of his juvenile and verbally incontinent tweets against his opponents.
Maybe this is only a matter of style. But one should always remember that the style defines the man.
Trump is a president who described white supremacists and those affiliated with the KKK as “very fine people,” and instructed his ambassador to the U.N. to “take the names” of the countries that voted against a decision he made. He is a president who ridicules other heads of state and government leaders, who blabs about “fake news,” and who is trying to destroy everything, from parks to consumer protections, that are a matter of public expenditure—which was not much to speak of in the first place in America, where, as a result, those who now have little or nothing will have even less.
Each and every one of his acts, his choices, and his now innumerable tweets, if made in other times by any other president in power, Democrat or Republican, would provoke a political catastrophe.
As a result, the media have proclaimed his imminent downfall many times, after each of his missteps, pointing at his approval numbers, which have been highly negative since the beginning of his presidency. His downfall didn’t come. It’s just like during the electoral campaign, when his performances, completely beyond the pale and often indecent, first in the Republican primary then in the one-on-one debates with Clinton, often convinced people his exit from the political scene was inevitable.
It didn’t happen, and then the unthinkable did—his victory against the universally touted Clinton.
And now? After a year in which the word “impeachment” was uttered many times in the halls of Washington and in newsrooms, it seems more likely that Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller will be fired than that Trump himself will be indicted.
At this point, given that a second year is coming that will be even more of a roller coaster ride, we need to try to reason more in political terms than in the emotional ones that have prevailed until now. That is, we should no longer cling to the hope that the next one of his innumerable missteps will prove fatal, or that Mueller’s investigation will put him out of commission for good.
A political breakthrough is possible, through the mobilization that has started to take shape from the recent victory in Alabama, a land of Republican (and today Trumpist) extremism, by the Democratic candidate, Doug Jones.
We can say that the campaign for the midterm elections this November has already started with Alabama, where the impossible has been shown to be possible.
Not only because of the high turnout of blacks voters—which is, however, itself an important political fact—but also because of the more decisive profile assumed by the Democratic Party, where the voices of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders now seem to be getting more attention than those of centrist Clintonites. Trump’s extremism has had one merit at least: that of amplifying the voices that have been demanding a truly “Democratic” party, and not one that stands for a “light” version of Reaganism, as the Democratic Party has for much to long.