Potential election winner Donald Trump has been complaining about his TIME “Man Of The Year” cover, which labeled him the next leader of the “divided states of America.” Speaking to the Today Show, Trump whined that “When you say divided states of America, I didn’t divide them. They’re divided now.” He added later, “I think putting divided is snarky, but again, it’s divided. I’m not president yet. So I didn’t do anything to divide.”
New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow took Trump to task for his obvious attempts to dodge responsibility for exacerbating the deep rifts that cut through American society for his own personal gain:
Donald, thy name is division. You and your campaign of toxicity and intolerance have not only divided this country but also ripped it to tatters.
This comports with an extremely disturbing tendency of Trump’s: Denying responsibility for things of which he is fully culpable, while claiming full praise for things in which he was only partly involved.
As my mother used to say: Don’t try to throw a rock and hide your hand. Own your odiousness.
But Trump delivered the lie with an ease and innocuousness that bespoke a childish innocence and naïveté. In fact, his words disguised cold calculation. That is the thing about demagogy: It can be charming, even dazzling, and that is what makes it all the more dangerous.
Demagogues can flatter and whisper and chuckle. They can remind us of the good in the world because they have an acute awareness of the ways of the world. They can also love and be loved. They can reflect our own humanity because they are human, but their ambitions do not bend toward the good.Their ultimate end is distraction, which allows domination, which leads to destruction.
Blow uses Trump’s TIME complaints as evidence of how the real-estate rapist is using demagoguery to further divide the American people through two separate misinformation campaigns, feeding divisive lies to his supporters that distort the truth and distract them from what’s really happening under their own noses. The first he calls the campaign of “bread and circuses” – Trump’s rallies, his twitter feuds, the public-relations stunts like the Carrier deal or his meeting with Japanese investor Masayoshi Son – are all explicitly designed to take attention away from Trump and his second campaign – filling his cabinet with Nazi scumbags, conspiracy theorists, and greedy billionaires – “a cabinet full of fat cats and “mad dog” generals, a virtual aviary of vultures and hawks” as Blow puts it.
It’s a mark of how easily Trump has succeeded in manipulating the media that his two-pronged campaigns are as effective as they are. The mainstream news, which propelled him to the presidency in the first place with their refusal to properly hold him accountable for his lies, presenting his obviously false statements as if they were an opinion worthy of consideration and falsely equivocating the ridiculous Clinton email scandal with Trump’s outrageous bribing of public officials and using his own charity foundation as a money laundering operation.
They still haven’t learned their lesson. Take this little snippet from a different article in today’s New York Times, from an article about on-campus harassment after the election:
Bias incidents on both sides have been reported. A student walking near campus was threatened with being lit on fire because she wore a hijab. Other students were accused of being racist for supporting Mr. Trump.
Being told that you are racist for supporting a racist who appoints racists is absolutely not the same thing as receiving death threats for expressing personal beliefs. But it’s that kind of false equivalency that muddies up the waters and allows Trump to get away with his tricks.
Blow finishes his moving condemnation with this key warning:
That is our challenge: To see clearly what this deceiver wants to obscure; to be resolute about that to which he wants us to be resigned; to understand that Time’s man of the year is, by words and deeds, more of a madman of the year.
Madman of the year, indeed.