Saturday, January 28, 2017

Trump as Tricky Don: Why it's better to compare Trump to Nixon than that German dictator

One aspect that makes Trump so difficult to combat is that he has little sense of ethics or fairness. While he is not book-smart and seems to have some type of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, he can be cunning to the point of cruel.

That was seen in his first week in office, when he signed a dozen orders or memorandas to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, allow the Dakota Access pipeline, curb abortion funding, eradicate environmental regulations, build the wall along Mexico, and expand the definition of who was a criminal who could be deported. He also ordered all federal employees to stop sending out information on social media and not speak with the media or Congress.

The flurry of executive orders and memos had opponents reeling to respond. Trump signed the order on abortion the day after the historic Women’s March, surrounded by only men in his office, in a show that seemed vindictive. His calls to study whether illegal immigrants voted in the millions against him appeared more targeted to divert much of the media’s attention away from the orders and the Russia scandal.

“What he’s going to do at a policy level is much, much worse than most liberals understand,” CNN commentator VanJones told Rolling Stone. “It's going to be a counter-revolution from above, against everything we care about – from climate to women's rights, to Social Security, to health care. At the same time, he will do a lot of things, optically, to throw the media off and to surprise people and delight people and entertain people. You're going to have a lot of bread-and-circuses from Trump.” 

It won’t do much good to try to portray Trump as a “cartoon character of…Hitleresque hatemonger,” Jones said. That “means that all he has to do is be slightly better than that and everybody's shocked.” He preferred to think of him as “Tricky Dick on steroids.” 

I know many compare Trump to the German dictator, and there are some similarities, especially when he calls for a Muslim ban and registry. But I still tend to agree with Jones that it's better to stick to the Nixon comparison. 

Call him Tricky Don.

Tricky Don works since Trump is slippery, even cunning to the point of being evil. But he hasn't gone Hitlerean evil yet, so bringing up the latter will just cause people who have reserves about Trump to automatically discount your criticism. The Nazi age is too dark to most people to contemplate, while the Nixon age was more a political crime, one more people are willing to consider. And it's important to get as many people questioning Trump's legitimacy as possible.

While some called Tricky Don’s war on the press worse than any modern-day president, he still had a ways to go to reach the level of Tricky Dick Nixon, wrote Stanford communications professor James T.Hamilton.  Nixon often bypassed reporters with live TV events and publicly criticized them as “biased elites” and “the enemy,” Hamilton wrote. But he went beyond that to use the IRS, CIA, and FBI against journalists, as well as other illegal tactics.

Nixon spent hours each day studying media reports and counseling aides on how to manipulate the press, wrote author and University of Maryland journalism professor MarkFeldstein in Poisoning the Press. He told aides it was “good politics for us to kick the press around.” Press Secretary Ronald Ziegler called all TV networks “anti-Nixon” and threatened they would “pay for that, sooner or later.”

Sound familiar?

Nixon and his henchmen went beyond verbal attacks. Federal prosecutors proposed a law making it a felony for reporters to use unauthorized sources in their stories. Nixon ordered aides to “pick the twenty most vicious Washington reporters” and leak false reports to make them look bad. “Just kill the sons of bitches,” he reportedly said. First on that list was columnist Jack Anderson, who took questionable actions himself like infer that Spiro Agnew’s son was gay to attack his father. The journalists were targeted with tax audits, lawsuits, and criminal prosecution, Feldstein wrote. Some experienced suspicious home burglaries in which nothing was stolen but their notes were reviewed. 

Nixon also approved illegal wiretaps to listen to their phone conversations, and his Justice Department took three TV networks to court on antitrust charges. In addition, Nixon requested that FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover write “a run down on the homosexuals known and suspected in the Washington press corps,” so he could use that information against them. 

So look for such retaliation to occur against the press today. And be ready to support the media and call out Tricky Don and dirty-trickster plumbers like Stephen Bannon and Kellyanne Conway.

Like Tricky Don, Nixon could be bigoted himself, calling Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg “the Jew” and even aide Henry Kissinger “my Jew boy.” And like Trump, those who hoped that Nixon would temper his vindictiveness when he ascended to the White House were wrong.

Trump's campaign slogans were even similar to Nixon's, noted Jacob Thomas YantWhile Nixon said he was aligned with the "non-shouters and non-demonstrators," Trump often said in his campaign that “the silent majority stands with Trump." Nixon claimed to have a “secret plan” to end the Vietnam War, similar to Trump’s hidden plan to “defeat ISIS.” Nixon’s “Bring Us Together” slogan in 1968 was similar to what Trump said when he continues to claim he is going to “bring our country together.”

Furthermore, Nixon began the “War on Drugs” in 1971 that led to African-Americans being incarcerated for minor drug offenses, while most whites were “given much more leniency for similar offenses,” Yant wrote. Trump seeks to pit groups against each other in a similar way as Nixon.

Eventually, we need to get in the public's mind that Trump is worse than Nixon and should be driven from office, as Nixon was. We have a nonviolent, legal blueprint to remove him from office since it was done some 43 years ago. We should use it to our advantage.

1 comment:

  1. Tricky Don, I like that. You may have something here. Trump is as bad a president as we have had in modern times, but you can't say he is like that German guy yet. So comparing him to Nixon would click with more people.