eBook time — ANU Historical Journal II 2019 and 2020. And Trump.

I can hardly do a thorough review of these two eBooks as I downloaded 2020 just yesterday and 2019 just now — because I searched my Calibre library and found I had not collected it before! (So that makes 2676 books now!)

There are various ways to read these two journals, as you will see on the ANU Press site.

I like the range of often very interesting articles and reviews in these journals — or I at least have found much that I look forward to reading. Today I focus on Number 2 (2020) for one item in particular: Professor David Farber, University of Kansas: ANU Allan Martin Lecture 2019—”Trump’s Republic: An American History.” You can read it alone online. In good lecture fashion Professor Farber outlines his argument thus:

In thinking about Trump’s republic and its antecedents within the United States, I want to consider three interrelated American histories. First, I will give a brief historical outline of the cultural underpinnings of the modern American conservative movement—a dynamic, fractious political culture that Trump has fully embraced and refashioned for the contemporary political moment. Second, I will more briefly examine a linked, overlapping but not congruent political formation, right-wing populism, that Donald Trump championed most visibly during his 2016 campaign and that he continues to foreground in his presidential rallies, Twitter feed, and in his general contempt for such constitutionally protected institutions as Congress and the free press. Finally—and very much linked to the performance of Trump’s right-wing populism—I will ponder the history of humbuggery and spectacle both in American culture and in American politics, and consider how and why in contemporary times Trump has been able to use such venerable tools of democratic and market culture to such powerful effect.

I urge you to read the whole thing. Fascinating, and much that I had only known imperfectly before about the nature of conservatism and populism in America. Underscores too the fact that much about the USA really is alien to us here in Oz, with our still British-framed constitutional monarchy — which I must say old age is making me respect rather more than I did when I voted for a republic in 1999 or whenever that was!

“Humbuggery and spectacle” — indeed, indeed. Now it is no secret that I have come to admire Donald Trump less and less as time has gone on. I now see him as America’s self-inflicted wound, her dreadful mistake, a curse on world order. And I know while many of my regulars here and my Facebook friends will agree with all that, some won’t. But wherever you are on that spectrum I think you will learn from, even enjoy, Professor Farber’s lecture.

One more snippet:

Donald Trump, who had long made his living humbugging investors, bankers, customers, contractors and anyone else within his wobbly orbit, saw in this chaotic cultural realm an opportunity to reach for the political stars. Not unlike P. T. Barnum and other spectacular flim-flam men then and now, he had an advantage over most, though not all, people who sought public office—he was without shame or conscience. Trump was the demagogic figure of ‘low arts’ that the founding fathers feared. He was also the demotic figure that the authors of America’s constitution believed they had fenced in: Congress, the Supreme Court and the Bill of Rights were all aimed at checking and balancing the power of an unhinged demagogue….

As for my record, see blog posts tagged Donald Trump!

Quotes: 2020: “But it is nothing compared with yesterday, when I took on Donald Trump’s oft-repeated claims to be a “stable genius” who “aced” an intelligence test — actually a dementia diagnosis instrument. This is no mere eccentricity — Trump’s behaviour in this is a clear sign of personality disorder, in my inexpert opinion….” Or in 2017:

“Mind you his performances sometimes suggest he might have been smoking something. Take just one example:  Trump Goes to CIA to Attack Media, Lie About Crowd Size, and Suggest Stealing Iraq’s Oil. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing!

“I love you. I respect you,” said the president, who ten days earlier likened U.S. spies to Nazi Germany for their role in publicizing an intel dossier packed with allegations that Russian intelligence services have compromising information on him.

“There is nobody who feels stronger about the intelligence community and the CIA than Donald Trump,” Trump said, speaking before the wall at CIA headquarters engraved with black stars for the officers who died in the agency’s service. “You’re going to get so much backing that you’re going to say, ‘Please don’t give us so much backing.”

The substance of Trump’s speech focused on the fight against what he called “radical Islamic terrorism,” echoing his inaugural line that it be “eradicated off the face of the earth.” While Trump did not offer any details on how he would do that, he hinted at a more aggressive approach in prosecuting the war on terrorism….

White House spokesperson Sean Spicer used his first press statement Saturday to deliver an angry broadside against the media and reports of the inaugural crowd size. “These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong,” he said.

Trump claimed between 1 and 1.5 million attended the inauguration; estimates put it closer to 250,000 attendees.

“I have a running war with the media,” Trump said. “They are among the most dishonest human beings.”…

“God help us if this is the garbage we can expect for four more years! “

Well, turns out we have been living through that kind of garbage for the past four years, over and over and over again.

No, I am not a fan.