Since Trump’s inauguration and subsequent push to roll over the judiciary and muzzle the media, there have been no shortage of stories branding the new President the second coming of Adolph Hitler or, more appropriately appearance-wise, Benito Mussolini.
Indeed, I’ve made the comparison myself a time or two, but those who frequent these pages will recall that my assessment always comes with the caveat that Trump is no Hitler. Why? Simple: because “The Donald” is a halfwit. An imbecile. A buffoon. And almost certainly a puppet of a foreign government and if not, at least a Pinocchio of a bigoted Geppetto known to the public as Steve Bannon.
This assessment was confirmed on Friday.
Now, as we all look nervously ahead to Trump’s next certain failure, WSJ is out with a new opinion piece called “So Much for Donald Mussolini” – no, really. The image under that headline is:
WSJ – who has been on a veritable crusade over the past several days to malign the GOP – is angry on Tuesday not so much at Trump and/or Republicans, but rather at the media (and apparently at Yale) for suggesting that Donald Trump might be Mussolini when in fact, it was more likely he’d turn out to be a weak-willed fool.
On the bright side, democracy is working.
Well, that was fast, if predictable. We’re referring to the conventional wisdom that has moved without a moment of self-reflection from declaring Donald Trump to be a dangerous fascist to a hopeless incompetent.
Not too long ago our leading media lights were using Mussolini and Hitler analogies to describe the new American President’s threat to “democratic norms.” The Washington Post rolled out a portentous new slogan, “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” Academics like Yale’s Timothy Snyder and Dartmouth’s Brendan Nyhan have used the theme to become mini-media celebrities predicting that America in 2017 is ripe for 1930s European tyranny.
So much for all that. The real story of the Trump Presidency so far is that the normal checks and balances of the American system are working almost to a fault. The courts have blocked Mr. Trump’s immigration order, albeit with some faulty legal reasoning. Congress has rejected the House health-care bill, his first big legislative priority.
The FBI and the House and Senate Intelligence Committees are investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. Mr. Trump’s Attorney General has recused himself from the FBI probe, and the President’s nominee for deputy AG is held up in a Republican Senate.
The permanent bureaucracy is leaking like a tent in a monsoon, and Mr. Trump is getting the worst press of any President since the final days of Richard Nixon. Mr. Trump may rage against the press, but the Alien and Sedition Acts aren’t coming back. Rest assured that if Mr. Trump’s Internal Revenue Service ever does to liberal groups what President Obama’s did to the tea party, the media will provide nonstop coverage.
The greater likelihood has always been that, as a rookie politician, Mr. Trump would be too weak and ineffective, not too strong. He lacks a solid party base, and the inertial forces of government resist any change that means lost power. His Presidency is young, and perhaps Mr. Trump will still find his bearings and make some progress on his reform agenda.
We can’t say the same about the lost credibility of the many worthies who sold American institutions short while predicting fascist doom. They were always more partisan than principled. As for those quaking Yale and Dartmouth professors, their students should demand a tuition refund.