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Trump's Presidency

An Assessment of the Initial Caligula Presidency



[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] F [/yt_dropcap]or five weeks now we all have been observing, mystified and incredulous, the spectacle of a deranged president and his administration, whom I have dubbed “The Caligula Presidency,” ready to “deconstruct” the world structure that has governed the Western world for seventy years or so after World War II. The very survival of democracy seems at stake. Perhaps it’s time to make a preliminary assessment and ask ourselves what do we really know for sure by now.

Well, we know this: that a number of Trump’s campaign aides have links to Russia, that Trump habitually lies about everything (crowd size, the weather, about things he has said and what others have said), that his word is not trustworthy, that he has said he does not know Putin but at the same time has stated that he does know him, that Russia almost certainly interfered with the US presidential election.

The first question that arises is this: if Putin is indeed blackmailing Trump, is that by itself enough to brand Trump a traitor of sorts? Yes, if the evidence comes up that he was working with the Russians to rig the election, then he’ll be in trouble no matter how much he cries “fake news.” He may be led out of the White House in handcuffs. To be sure, that has never happened before in American history, and he will continue to be considered innocent till proven guilty, but there is always a first time. We never thought we would see a sitting president resign in disgrace in 1973.

Meanwhile his approval rating sits at 38%, the lowest of any beginning president in memory. Proportionally, and as expected from a psychopathic liar and narcissist, the paranoia increases by the day and insults via tweet have become more frequent. Consequently, he has made numerous enemies, all those whom he can least afford to have as enemies at the moment: the press, the New York Times, The Washington Post, the CIA, just to mention a few.

The second urgent question that arises is this: will all this damaging stuff, not excluding the psychiatric one, move enough politicians in Congress, in both parties but especially within the Republican party, to initiate an impeachment procedure, or perhaps a forced removal? Pence would take over, Ryan would become vice-president, and Trump is put to pasture. Almost an idyllic scenario, but perhaps too idyllic; we need to keep in mind the “tremendous” ego of the king of the deal and reality shows galore.

Let’s look briefly at the charges that could be levelled to impeach Trump or force him to resign. In the first place he would have to be deemed incompetent to carry on the functions of his office. We are getting quite close to that. Then there is the above mentioned suggestion that he may have committed treason via collusion with Russia. Those ties are both political and financial. So he could be charged with enriching himself while holding office. What increases the suspicion that such may be the case is that he has already violated the emolument clause which forbids sitting presidents to have conflict of interests and retain financial interests with foreign powers in order to enrich themselves. Based on that single charge, an impeachment procedure could be started tomorrow.

The method of impeachment is actually rather simple: the House impeaches or brings forth the charges, the Senate conducts the trial. Two presidents have been impeached by the House but acquitted by the Senate: Andrew Johnson, (who followed Lincoln), and Bill Clinton. The charges have to be considered “High Crimes and Misdemeanors,” a rather non specific reference, assuming that one knows what a crime or misdemeanor is when one sees one.

As things stand now Congress, which is controlled by Republicans, is in no hurry to start any impeachment procedure. The House Judiciary committee has blocked calls for an independent inquire. Congress are happy to pass bills pleasing to their sponsors and are using the chaos in the White House as a convenient cover for the disservice they are doing to the country and the people as a whole. But that could change with the next congressional elections in two years.

Perhaps things will change sooner than we think if the “alternate enemy,” the press, say the “Failing New York Times” of the “Overrated Washington Post,” as Trump dubs them, uncover something salacious and the GOP turns on him. In ancient times, even the Praetorian guards and the Senate turned rather viciously on a couple of emperors. For example leaked video of a sitting president being urinated upon when conducting his Beauty Pageant in Russia, may start things rolling. He will continue to deny it, as he has already done, but it will not be the being urinated upon that will bring about the impeachment, but the lie about it. At that point the Republicans may relent and let the Democrats do the dirty work they are so reluctant to initiate. After all, they created the Frankenstein.

So, which will bring Trump down: treason, conflict of interests, unpopularity, sheer incompetence, derangement? Hard to say. Historical events are hard to predict. He may engineer a war to gain a long-term boost, or at least have Bannon think of a good one, one involving civilizations and continents, one for which he will take credit, if not responsibility. In that case his sycophantic Congress may hold on to him a bit longer, till he has destroyed and “deconstructed” the whole traditional US government apparatus. The danger, of course, is that once a deranged president has started a third world war, replacing him will be an exercise in futility. It will be too little too late. Then we shall see the return of the gods. Meanwhile stay tuned.

Professor Paparella has earned a Ph.D. in Italian Humanism, with a dissertation on the philosopher of history Giambattista Vico, from Yale University. He is a scholar interested in current relevant philosophical, political and cultural issues; the author of numerous essays and books on the EU cultural identity among which A New Europe in search of its Soul, and Europa: An Idea and a Journey. Presently he teaches philosophy and humanities at Barry University, Miami, Florida. He is a prolific writer and has written hundreds of essays for both traditional academic and on-line magazines among which Metanexus and Ovi. One of his current works in progress is a book dealing with the issue of cultural identity within the phenomenon of “the neo-immigrant” exhibited by an international global economy strong on positivism and utilitarianism and weak on humanism and ideals.

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