Mitch McConnell and his Republican cohort are, most surely, to the Trump regime what Ghislaine Maxwell was to Jeffrey Epstein. They are the enablers, participants, and cheerleaders of a president who, through avarice, incompetence, and blithe ignorance of science and looming dangers, may wind up doing more damage to more Americans than any other living human being.
Trump is a man who dragged the U.S. out of the World Health Organization and publicly ridiculed his chief medical expert in the middle of a global pandemic that is killing his countrymen at the rate of a 9/11 death count every two days. Trump is a man who pulled the nation out of the Paris climate agreement at perhaps the most critical moment in humanity’s most perilous period on earth. Trump is a commander in chief who wants to pull thousands of U.S. troops out of Germany, thereby weakening our NATO allies and strengthening the hand of the Russians. And in the midst of the worst racial strife the U.S. has seen in a half-century, Trump is the sort of man who found something better to do than pay his respects to the most revered person in the U.S. House of Representatives, Georgia Democrat John Lewis, the son of sharecroppers.
The American Century, a term coined by Time Inc. chairman Henry Luce, is most surely drawing to a close. The beginning of the end started perhaps around the time of the invasion of Iraq. Americans had the world’s sympathy after 9/11, and their leader then squandered it all on an ill-fated adventure in the sands of the Middle East. The cost was not only hundreds of thousands of lives, but trillions in treasure. I’ve written this before, but you can draw a straight line from the Iraq invasion to the upheaval in the rest of that part of the world, to the migrant crisis, to populism, to the election of Trump. A worldwide recession that almost brought the global economy to its knees, thanks to the gambling of Wall Street banks on subprime mortgages, didn’t help our reputation one bit.
Mitch McConnell and his Republican cohort are, most surely, to the Trump regime what Ghislaine Maxwell was to Jeffrey Epstein.
The American passport, once the gold standard in international documents, is now toxic. Because of the bumbling response to the coronavirus, which continues to bumble, Americans are not welcome in most civilized corners of the world and may not be for some time. Brazil now accepts U.S. visitors. Americans can’t go to Europe. They’re banned there—with the exception of Albania, which has beautiful beaches, if you’re interested. Americans have become global pariahs, courtesy of Trump.
An almost delicious irony is that Mexico, so regularly trashed by the president, has now closed its border to Americans. And those “shithole” African countries? They have coronavirus-related deaths that are proportionately a fraction of America’s. They aren’t accepting U.S. passports, either. (By the way, if you wish to get a French passport, a love of the culture is mandatory. At your immigration interview, you’re as likely to be quizzed on your appreciation for wine, favorite native dishes, and most recently visited art galleries as you will be French kings, the pillars of French democracy, and the lyrics of “La Marseillaise.”)
Even the mighty American dollar, for decades touted as the world’s reserve currency, is being tarred. Goldman Sachs this week issued a warning on the dollar, referencing the social and political uncertainty as well as the nation’s billowing debt.
Trump foolishly steered America away from its traditional allies and its traditional global obligations, moves that were both unnecessary and ill-advised. And now we are alone. You’d be hard-pressed to name a single stalwart ally of the U.S. as the nation battles the pandemic and the human and economic devastation that it will leave in its wake.
Well, we do have Russia. Or at least Trump has Putin. Or more precisely, Putin has Trump. The president’s inexplicable inability to broach the subject of Russia paying the Taliban a bounty on American soldiers’ lives in Afghanistan to Putin is perhaps the most reprehensible chapter in Trump’s endless book of horrors. His explanation to Jonathan Swan of Axios on HBO this past week was moronic at best. He explained how the Soviet Union became Russia as if to an idiot—simply because this is the way his intelligence chiefs explained it to him.
We had our chance to use our soft power (and our hard power) to mend a troubled world, and we blew it. So here we are. It’s not impossible to think that the American Century is now close to the end of the end. We are most surely at the dawn of the Chinese Century, and we better get used to it.
Just as Epstein came to a bad end, and my guess is that Trump will, too. Character is destiny. Trump has no character. But his destiny may prove eventful. Should he get booted out of office come November, there are legions of United States attorneys and a particularly eager New York district attorney savoring the moment Trump is not protected by the likes of William Barr, his personal stooge and litigation P.P.E. Any number of legal experts believe that if justice is allowed to run its course, Trump could himself wind up in a facility not unlike the one Maxwell now occupies. A change of address from the White House to the Big House—as they used to call it in old Warner Bros. gangster films—may be in the cards. Should that happen, he can join not only Maxwell but others from his corrupt regime. It will be a homecoming of sorts. And finally, there might be a shade of orange that would suit him.