Barack Obama was right about many things in his eight years as president but on one question he was wrong: Orange is the new Black. The orange-visaged one is the White House’s newest tenant and may inspire other Americans to copy that sunset tan. He may, along the way, also free his fellow citizens (a.k.a. subjects) from the aching confines of a cloying civility imposed by political correctness. So it is entirely possible that Senator Ted Cruz will continue to be affectionately known as “Lyin’ Ted” even on the Senate floor and Marco Rubio as “Little Marco” for his lack of inches. Retired brain surgeon and housing secretary-designate Ben Carson may well become “Pyramid” Carson to all and sundry.
But that is the least of it. Now that the election has been won and conceded, what can the world expect from Donald Trump’s administration? One thing Americans are apparently going to deal with frequently is great deals for the family business. It’s sure to make the head of the family a true billionaire, if he isn’t already one, as many people suspect. For instance, in India, according to The Washington Post, “The president-elect is involved in at least 16 partnerships or corporations.” Trump Tower Mumbai at 75 floors will be his greatest Indian erection. Not surprisingly perhaps, he has said relations between India and the US would be “the best ever”. But maybe not, for his Pune project is said to be in trouble over failures to obtain the required permissions. All the same, it’s possible he’ll be a regular visitor because someone has to inaugurate those projects. Oh, and there are over 100 projects in another 17 countries. Will the world see an unexpected burst of super-friendliness from the United States after it kicks out all the Mexicans and rapists?
The president-elect has started to announce his administration picks but the initial signs are not promising. His attorney-general is Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, one of his earliest and most constant supporters. Sessions was turned down for a federal judgeship in 1986 on account of his allegedly racist beliefs. He has stoutly denied holding such beliefs, but it’s worth noting that the nomination was defeated by a GOP-controlled committee in the Reagan administration, which even today is held up as the high water mark of Republicanism. Two GOP members joined the Democrats on the committee to stop Sessions. Now he’s going to be America’s chief legal officer.
At the same time as the Sessions announcement was the nomination of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, fired from his Pentagon post in the Obama administration, as National Security Adviser. This is a most sensitive post as the incumbent has direct access to the president at all times and the NSA’s take on the various intelligence reports the Oval office receives is often decisive. The office thus carries an awesome responsibility. Flynn has been described as a regular habitué of the right-wing fever swamp of Islamophobes and conspiracy theory wing nuts whom he quotes as support for his views. Like his mentor, he “exhibit(s) a loose relationship with the facts”, according to The New York Times. His subordinates at the Defense Intelligence Agency created a class of “Flynn facts” to describe his dubiously sourced diatribes on Islam, which he believes is a political ideology not a religion. He was also closely with the Kremlin-funded Russia Today TV channel.
At Trump’s right hand will be vice-president Mike Pence, so devout a Christian that he might even support a ban on masturbation on the grounds that it kills potential human beings. Add chief strategist Stephen Bannon of Breitbart.com lineage and you have a hard right praetorian guard that would make Attila the Hun look like Caspar Milque Toast. Then there’s former New York mayor Rudi Giuliani, Butthead to Trump’s Beavis, and Newt Gingrich, one of America’s greatest arbiters of modern morality. He headed the impeachment of President Bill Clinton for his lies on the Monica Lewinsky affair while he himself was cheating on his wife with a Congressional staffer.
There are doubtless others to be fitted in and who knows what they believe or bring to their office? But outside GOP circles, never mind the liberal universe, the feeling of unreality must persist. This cast of characters would be admirably suited to anchor one of Saturday Night Live’s wild parodies of the American right. It’s when you realise that they will effectively be running the world’s most powerful nation that you wake up in a cold sweat.
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