“There is nothing so fretting and vexatious, nothing so justly terrible to tyrants, and their tools and abettors, as a free press” (Samuel Adams in 1768).
However tense we may be with Trump as president, our republic is still functioning and we’re at peace. Yet something isn’t right, is it? One of its core values–the freedom of an oppositional press–is clearly under assault.
Because a full-on, Putin-style takeover of America is still in the cards with this president, and Trump’s Twitter GIF of him taking down CNN forecasts it.
We’re one Reichstag fire away from this Trump take-down.
By this time next year, we may find ourselves whispering under our breath Shakespeare’s line, “all that is solid melts into air.”
That line will take on an especially horrific character if Trump’s Reichstag fire is an exchange of nuclear weapons between himself and Kim Jong Un.
So the question isn’t whether our press freedoms, our Constitution, and the separation of powers will hold-up under Trump for a couple of years in peace time, but in war.
A major war, perhaps with nuclear weapons, is the sort of crisis that a free press is being softened-up for right now. The knock-out blow on press freedom will come, not in peace, but in war.
Trump’s video is thus as telling as when Hitler announced publicly that war between the great powers would mean the extermination of Jews from the continent of Europe. Trump’s not articulate. He’s not going to speak his intentions that directly and explicitly. But he’s going to post a GIF that symbolizes them. And that’s what he did.
In that GIF, Trump has now announced that he means to conduct a mauling from behind of the press–and when freedom of the press goes, the rest of the republic will follow.
So the video is not humorous, it’s literal. It’s psychologically telling. Trump’s instinct is to distract, then maul and dominate.
It’s thus plausible that sometime over the next three years Trump will gather Putin-like powers to himself in the following manner: first, he’ll maul Kim Jong Un or Iran, initiating a first-strike on one of them, perhaps with nuclear weapons, bringing on a major global crisis. Then he’ll act on his domestic enemies, conducting a rapid-fire take-down of the press (federal marshals shutting down The New York Times for leaks or “treason,” shooting or disappearing a few prominent journalists, etc.). From there he’ll consolidate power, ultimately crippling the separation of powers and ending free elections.
At that point it will be Trump’s America. He’ll own us. He’ll do exactly as he pleases. But it will all be achieved in crisis, not peacetime.
The summer of 2017 is in the eye of the storm. It’s calm, we tell ourselves. Trump’s not effective as a peacetime president. He can’t get anything done. He’s therefore harmless.
That’s our mistake. We shrug at his antics, failing to marshal organized, serious resistance to him in peacetime, focusing on distractions, and turning our backs on him.
Then we get hit.
That’s what Trump’s Twitter GIF means. He’s forecasting his modus operandi for how he means to deal with the press in a time of crisis or war. He intends to soften-up his enemies with distractions, then maul and dominate them. We’ve been warned.