The Pentagon reported last week that Trump’s failed attempt to influence the midterm elections comes with a hefty price tag. Diverting five thousand active duty American troops to the Mexican border—more troops than the entire U.S. rotation currently serving in Iraq— for the purpose of “protecting” the country against an imaginary “invasion” by a group of poor refugees from Central America, will end up costing the U.S. taxpayer over 200 million dollars.
The report was released even as Trump himself amazingly lost all interest in the so-called “caravan” after the election returns came in on November 7. Our troops, forced to fulfill their “toy soldier” role for Trump, will start returning home this week, long before the “caravan” arrives.
Derided as a political “stunt,” Trump’s action was criticized as an abuse and betrayal of the military for political purposes, which it was. But it was also an abuse and betrayal of the American public. And it’s an abuse and betrayal that is happening at all levels of our federal government, right now, day by day, even as you read this.
While nearly all of our media focuses reflexively on whatever vitriol emanates from Trump’s Twitter feed, the wholesale decimation of our government, and an unprecedented, colossal waste of hundreds of billions in U.S. taxpayer money is happening “under the radar,” right before our eyes. But that is hardly being discussed at all.
Fintan O’Toole, in an article titled “Saboteur In Chief” for the New York Review of Books, explains how Trump’s practiced diversion, distraction and gaslighting, his daily, on-cue outrages and Twitter spew, all of which dominate the media’s day-to-day coverage of this administration, don’t really impact anyone’s pre-baked attitudes about Trump at this point. But they serve another, more important function by creating and maintaining distraction. Despite Americans’ expressed (and voted) disapproval, what continues from Trump, in spite of Americans’ wishes, is a masked, steady, and wholly intentional dismantling of our government functions and services, paid for by working American taxpayers out of every paycheck they earn.
Trump’s flaunting of his own most shameful qualities deflects the damage that any revelation can do to him. When he displays his vices so openly, the drama of revelation leads only to a shrug of the shoulders: tell us something we didn’t know. His outbursts normalize the outrageous—habit, as Samuel Beckett has it, is a great deadener…
Instead of distracting us from the lurid and the sensational, Trump is using them to distract us from the slow, boring, apparently mundane but deeply insidious sabotaging of government. He is the blaring noise that drowns out the low signal of subversion.
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