Veep succeeds because it’s such a perfect parody of the way Washington operates. Now Washington parodies Veep! John Oliver should follow Jon Stewart into retirement, because Oliver and his fellow humorists cannot possibly be as entertaining as real life. Even Stephen Colbert, one of the cleverest satirists to come out of The Daily Show or any other show, resorts to obscenity now, apparently testing whether Bill Maher’s brand of humor may not suit his talk show better than plain spoken wisecracks.
If satire fails, let’s just send Melissa McCarthy out to do Sean Spicer again. At least Spicey invited people to laugh at him when he took his job as Trump’s press secretary. Tonight I said to a friend that Trump is a strongman pretending to be president. He responded, “No, he’s someone pretending to be a strongman, pretending to be president. At bottom, he’s a showman, an impulsive egoist pretending to be a strongman, and that character happens to have been elected president.
What do you think will happen to The Donald? Jack Kennedy took on the deep state and lost. So did Richard Nixon. Both had political skills that exceed by far the skills of our current chief executive. Another big difference is that most people still trusted government during Kennedy’s administration. Pre-Vietnam, our country had more agreement about fundamental assumptions built into its politics. We still believed we were part of one country.
Ten year’s later, after Johnson and during Nixon’s administration, trust and agreement had eroded quite a lot. Nevertheless the sense of betrayal among citizens had not attained twenty-first century levels. I don’t want to understate the level of dissatisfaction with the government’s war policies during the sixties, but the process of disintegration in the American republic had only begun. This process, conceived the moment Kennedy died in Dallas, progressed substantially by the time Nixon resigned more than ten years later. Only crimes on the scale of 9/11 and its aftermath could create current levels of anxiety, hate, and hopelessness.
Donald Trump is completely ill equipped to handle the position he’s in. It’s not because his ego is too large, or that he’s impulsive, or that you can’t rely on him, or that he lacks self control. None of these shortcomings would be fatal in his competition with the deep state, in a political environment as divisive as this one is. His key weakness appears to be that he does not realize the nature of his situation. His advisors as well seem unaware of his situation, and equally incapable of framing it or drawing useful conclusions. If his administration did have this awareness, or these analytic capabilities, it could not possibly act the way it does.