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A country where any little boy can grow up to be president


One of Trump’s weirdest verbal tics is his habit of claiming whatever crazy-ass thought has just meandered through “mind” is something that “lots of people are saying.” An example from this morning:

“People say we have the best relationship of any president-president, because he’s called president also,” he went on to say. “Now some people might call him the king of China. But he’s called president.”

This would be an endearing thing for a five-year-old who was pretending to be president to say, while playing with his friend the pretend-president of China. For the actual president of the United States to say it would and should cause a massive panic in the political system, except our political system, like a routinely abused spouse, has gotten used to this kind of thing to the point where it seems practically normal.

This is also a very nice illustration of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ cental point in his recent essay on Trump as the first white president:

To Trump, whiteness is neither notional nor symbolic but is the very core of his power. In this, Trump is not singular. But whereas his forebears carried whiteness like an ancestral talisman, Trump cracked the glowing amulet open, releasing its eldritch energies. The repercussions are striking: Trump is the first president to have served in no public capacity before ascending to his perch. But more telling, Trump is also the first president to have publicly affirmed that his daughter is a “piece of ass.” The mind seizes trying to imagine a black man extolling the virtues of sexual assault on tape (“When you’re a star, they let you do it”), fending off multiple accusations of such assaults, immersed in multiple lawsuits for allegedly fraudulent business dealings, exhorting his followers to violence, and then strolling into the White House. But that is the point of white supremacy—to ensure that that which all others achieve with maximal effort, white people (particularly white men) achieve with minimal qualification. Barack Obama delivered to black people the hoary message that if they work twice as hard as white people, anything is possible. But Trump’s counter is persuasive: Work half as hard as black people, and even more is possible.

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