August 2, 2019
Television news is a window into a dismal present, a summary of the characteristics of a culture in crisis. Nightly we see shootings, instances of police brutality, floods and other signs of climate disaster and, to remove all hope for the future, Trump’s latest demented threat to make it all worse.
For entertainment, we can be spectators at the contest between the United States and the United Kingdom for the status of most self-destructive nation. The elevation of Boris Johnson has allowed the UK to close the gap. He and Trump are in a competition to determine who can more completely isolate his country from the rest of the world. Not being at Trump’s level of ignorance and inexperience, Johnson’s bad ideas are more clearly manipulative. According to a profile in The New York Review of Books, he didn’t make up his mind until the last moment whether to support or oppose the Brexit referendum. However, even Boris, of Eton and Oxford, has his lapses, apparently believing that, after withdrawing from the EU, the UK still would be a member of its governing council, the sort of delusion one would expect of Trump. By design or lapse, the Two Stooges are leading their people to the cliff edge.
As different as they are, a description of Johnson’s performance applies as well to Trump’s: “an act, a turn, a traveling show.” That show is designed to entertain and fire up the base: “In this theater of the absurd, it never matters whether the stories are true; what matters is that they are ludicrous enough to fly under the radar of credibility and hit the sweet spot where preexisting prejudices are confirmed.”
Meanwhile, the Democratic candidates are having such fun tearing each other down, and even trashing the Obama administration, and the House leadership is so determined to oppose impeachment, that the odds of another four years of decline and danger on this side of the Atlantic are increasing. Actually, “leadership” is the wrong word for Speaker Pelosi. She appears to waiting for a popular demand for impeachment.
48. Fintan O’Toole, “The Ham of Fate,” August 15, 2019 Issue