As well as being a long-time fan of Don Winslow’s books, I’ve recently become a fan of his transition into political activist. Both have a take-no-prisoner’s approach to their subjects and, in the case of his opposition to Trump, he voices concerns that probably wouldn’t be voiced if somebody like Winslow wasn’t voicing them.
The subject of Trump’s fitness for office is the shadow over this entire presidency but also the very American notion of a presidency. I’ve made this point numerous times in recent years. The person carrying in Trump’s Diet Coke every day probably has more psych evaluations that the guy with his tiny orange thumb on the nuclear trigger. In no other walk of life would somebody be allowed into such a high position without undergoing serious psychological tests. It’s madness.
Then again, American politics is madness. Trump has craftily unspooled the thread of complacency that is the American system of conventions that lack any underpinning in matters of law. The saddest part is that no president will seek to undo the damage that Trump has done and make themselves weaker politically. It means that this administration will go down in history as merely the watermark where egregious and mendacious politicians last topped the defences. What’s scary about Trump isn’t Trump but the thought of a Trump with a degree of competence. What’s really scary is Tom Cotton, though I think the length of his neck might stop him becoming electable. That sounds trivial but it isn’t. I believe people vote for people who look right for the office. Trump did. Cotton doesn’t. He looks like he should necking some high leaves in the African wilderness.
Regarding Trumps health, though, there’s something deeply problematic about holding people up as symbols of their nation. Trump as America can’t be allowed to look ill. The same has been true of previous presidents. The result is a nation that doesn’t have a true appreciation of weakness. America must be best in all things, even when it’s demonstrably the worst. For people like myself, who enjoy American culture more than I enjoy culture in the UK, it’s all such a disappointment (though there is, admittedly, a pleasure in writing and thinking about this disappointment). A nation founded upon Reason is, my eyes at least, the pinnacle of our achievements as a species. Yet when we have that, we allow ourselves to slip back into old habits of religion, superstition, and, in the case of Trump, celebrity which is the worst of both religion and superstition.