Monday, May 27, 2019

The Abdication of King Donald the First.


/ˌlez ˌmäjəsˈtā/
noun: lese-majesty
the insulting of a monarch or other ruler; treason.

Elsewhere in the world, lèse majesté is a very serious business. In Thailand (from Wiki):

… lèse majesté is criminalized by Section 112 of the Thai Criminal Code. It is illegal to defame, insult, or threaten the king, queen, heir-apparent, or regent. The lèse-majesté law has been on the statute books since 1908. The punishment is three to fifteen years of imprisonment per count and has been described as the “world’s harshest lèse majesté law” and “possibly the strictest criminal-defamation law anywhere”.

So what does that have to do with the price of tea in China? Or, for that matter, what does it have to do with substance closer to home? Please bear with me. I’m going to give you some snippets and then, with those as an evidentiary base, I’m going to get to the target article.

Pomp, plump, and flattery

Trump arrives in Japan eager for flattery and pomp. “President Donald Trump arrived in Japan on Saturday eager for a visit salted with flattery and pomp — particularly as he escapes a hostile political environment back home.”

King Donald presents sumo trophy

Sumo, golf and barbeque: Trump and Abe bond after a tweet underscored divides. Trump “relished presenting the gleaming, oversized President’s Cup trophy topped with a spread-winged eagle – which he said he purchased himself – at a sumo wresting tournament, or basho, in Tokyo. He was seated on a small chair during several bouts, watching with interest as the loin-clothed wrestlers brawled.”

(Scriber would like to see the receipt as evidence for Trump’s claim about purchasing the trophy.)

NK missiles? “What me worry?”

Trump says he’s not ‘personally bothered’ by North Korea missile tests. ‘President Donald Trump refused to back away from his positive assessment of North Korea on Monday, saying he wasn’t “personally bothered” by the regime’s recent short-range missile tests despite the contradictory views of his Japanese hosts and his own national security adviser.’

Bridges and roads? “What me worry?”

The Real Reason Trump Walked Out on Democrats. ‘On Wednesday morning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi charged that President Donald Trump was “engaged in a cover-up.” In response, Trump claimed to have been so wounded that he called off a meeting about, and any further discussion of, the $2 trillion infrastructure bill the two sides had been considering.’ ’He is looking for every excuse, whether it was ‘Let’s do trade first’, or whether it was ‘He’s not going to pay for any funding,’ or … ‘There are investigations going on,’ ” [Senate Minority Leader Charles] Schumer told reporters afterward. “But now that he was forced to actually say how he’d pay for it, he had to run away, and he came up with this pre-planned excuse.”

King Donald ascends the throne of America

So now we get to the focus. In brief it is this. Everything I’ve said above is evidence that Donald Trump intends to be the King of the United States. Moreover, he is acting the part, increasingly, day by day. For example, you cannot have lèse majesté if there is no majesty to lèse against. And by invoking “treason”, Trump plays the role of the monarch.

When governing is found to be a weary exercise, kings or princes have an option - abdication. Ted Gup explains in The abdication of King Trump (h/t Sherry Moreau).

In recent weeks, nearly all the talk in Washington centered around impeachment – would they or wouldn’t they? Now the nation faces a new worry – abdication. That’s right, the President who imagines himself a king, and expects others to treat him the same way, has declared that he will have nothing to do with Congress on infrastructure legislation – perhaps the one area where he could have won bipartisan support – so long as the Dems insist on holding him accountable. In effect, Donald Trump has announced that he has abdicated, having no longer any wish to serve.

Fittingly, the word “abdication” has two meanings. The first applies to when a monarch relinquishes his throne (in Trump’s case, not likely); the second, when anyone in a position of authority chooses to neglect or ignore his duties. The latter is what this petulant President has said he will do so long as anyone dares question him. He has announced, in effect, that America now has a government in absentia.

To understand what happened last week, it is best viewed through the lens of medieval times, which is the domain in which our President/king resides. What House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did by accusing him of a cover-up amounted to what monarchs call “Lese Majeste” – an insult to the sovereign. (For Trump, there is no real issue of constitutionality. The only separation of powers he seems to recognize is that which he has doled out between his advisers, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, and his son Don Jr.)

So in threatening to eschew all manner of presidential engagement, save the pomp and circumstance for which he lives, he has simply shed all pretense and shown his true self. State dinners, motorcades, the pandering of Fox & Friends and endless ego-stroking were all that he ever wanted. Even on the campaign trail, nothing was further from his mind than finding solutions to the nation’s problems.

He has become a case study in the old adage, “be careful what you wish for.” One can be forgiven for wondering if it had even occurred to him that certain responsibilities might come along with holding office. How utterly inconvenient for tweeting and tee-off times.

And now we have the worst of all possible worlds: an abdication that leaves some 327 million Americans in limbo.

The problem is that Trump, in his own inimitable way, has created a most imperfect vacuum for the nation. For the foreseeable future the presidency will be both vacant and occupied, with the country reduced to waiting out his tantrum and deciphering its future from a fusillade of tweets and campaign-like rants.

Meanwhile, the nation’s bridges are left to crack, highways buckle, tracks heave, illicit drugs proliferate, medications grow ever-more expensive; diplomats scratch their heads and hind parts, idled by kingly disinterest, allies wonder whether we have their backs or should watch their backs, enemies salivate, polar ice caps slip into the sea, and poor, poor Doral Country Club – under Trump’s storied management – continues, like the rest of us, to struggle.

Finally, I admit that much of my motivation for this post was trying to figure out why Trump was going off about “treason” charges for his perceived enemies. Scroll way back up to the definition of lèse-maj·es·té. You too will share my revelatory moment. America is inching its way toward becoming a monarchy, toward one that is not particularly beneficent.

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