“A genuine reserve of rage and fixation with particular policies”

James Butler on the LRB blog (June 12), comparing Boris Johnson and Donald Trump:

…whereas Trump has a genuine reserve of rage and fixation with particular policies, Johnson’s desire for power is unimpeded by such attachments.

I take this for a grudging admission that Trump does have convictions, after all, and is capable for holding them for a long time. To his critics, they are merely “fixations,” perhaps, or bad ideas imbibed with his mother’s milk – but even so, it’s a concession that something is long-term and immutable about the man. If so, at least some of his alleged flip-flopping is a question of tactics.

From Butler’s June 4 entry:

Trump’s insistence on recognising… the political dimension of such international institutions as Nato and the WTO, the political power of the media and business, and the politicised nature of such institutions as the American judiciary, ought to be a gift to the left. In saying out loud what politicians tend to say quietly, Trump offers the opportunity for a left-wing opponent to broach what is normally taboo in political life… Anti-Trumpism can too easily oscillate between a recognition of the systemic problem and a hankering to re-establish the silence of the taboo.

Well observed. Speaking of the two extremes – recognition and silence – you can’t put the toothpaste back into the tube, and – as Russians say – you can’t ungrind ground meat. But you can shove the cat back into the bag, or at least try to, and pretend it’s never gotten out, and get others to pretend likewise.

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