Ezra Klein is starting to panic: “I am, for the first time since I began covering American politics, genuinely afraid.” In a recent article, he rehearses numerous reasons Donald Trump’s nomination is now an enormous dilemma for the country as a whole–and for the world.
What will it mean, for instance, should Trump’s unrestrained and Putin-like vindictiveness intersect with the powers of the American presidency? What will be the consequences for his domestic opponents? His foreign opponents?
And would he use a tactical nuclear weapon in the Middle East? When Trump attains access, not just to vast funds and a team of lawyers (as he has enjoyed his whole life), but to the most powerful military and intelligence services in the world, what is this mercurial and temperamentally panicky man capable of toward those who cross him? Nobody knows.
Here’s Ezra Klein:
[T]he unifying theme of Trump’s convention is that the leader of the opposition party should be thrown in jail. Trump didn’t like the Washington Post’s coverage of his campaign, so he barred its reporters from his rallies and threatened to use the power of the presidency to bring an antitrust suit against the Post’s owner, Jeff Bezos. He was upset that Ohio didn’t vote for him, so he sat its delegation in the cheap seats, even though the state is hosting the convention. He was angry about an interview his ex-ghostwriter gave to the New Yorker, so he sent his lawyers after him. He hates the protesters who interrupt his campaigns, so he said he would look into paying the legal fees of a supporter who sucker-punched one of them. Imagine Donald Trump with the powers of the presidency. Imagine what he could do — what he would do — to those who crossed him.
I am stunned at the Weimar resonances of this American moment. And yet we’re not even in recession. Has eight years of a black president really scorched the psyche of white conservative identity, entitlement, and privilege so fundamentally that revenge translates into enthusiastic support for a Putin-like figure?
I think of something Pat Buchanan wrote back in December of 2013:
Is Vladimir Putin a paleoconservative?
In the culture war for mankind’s future, is he one of us?
Buchanan’s answer was yes.