Two comparisons worth a closer examination, being between Donald Trump and (a) Richard Nixon, and also (b) Fascists:
First, Hunter S. Thompson, who said of Nixon that he was "a man with no soul, no inner convictions", has his own colorful memory of Richard Nixon:
"The Nixon I remembered was absolutely humorless; I couldn’t imagine him laughing at anything except maybe a paraplegic who wanted to vote Democratic but couldn’t quite reach the lever on the voting machine.”That surely is reminiscent of Donald Trump recently doing his impersonation of a disabled newspaper reporter, which should help remind us of the fact that conservatives, except for a few warped examples of mockery, such as these, don't seem to have much of a sense of humor.
But wasn't Nixon, as many have noted, actually just a liberal in conservative clothing, the president who brought us the Environmental Protection Agency, the famous opening up of China, and Wage and Price Controls? Liberal, Schmiberal, the man had no ideology and did pretty much only what he thought was politically expedient at the time, which is what all those programs were. For example, there were also those stories of Nixon seeking reassurance from Henry Kissinger just before the China trip that historians would indeed treat him kindly for doing it.
And when it comes to Trump, his politics also have been all over the map, and those accusations that he was once a liberal, while having some truth to them (remember him famously telling Wolf Blitzer in 2004, back when he wasn't running for anything, that the economy always seems healthier under the Democrats), seem to give him more credit than he deserves for thinking things through. Actually, he, somewhat like Nixon but with less thinking involved, just says what he thinks and feels, at the moment, will impress his followers, at that moment.
Which brings us to what Mark Bowden says about what he learned about Trump from interviewing him, in his recent (and wonderful) Vanity Fair article:
He has no coherent political philosophy, so comparisons with Fascist leaders miss the mark. He just reacts.Yes, he certainly does, but the Fascism comparisons "miss the mark"? Not so fast, Mr. Bowden! You may be giving into that modern-day prohibition about referencing WWII Axis-types when discussing latter day misbehavers.
First of all, Fascism is a "coherent political philosophy"? Here's what George Orwell said about that, in his "What is Fascism?" back in 1944, when Fascism itself was in full bloom:
Except for the relatively small number of Fascist sympathizers, almost any English person would accept ‘bully’ as a synonym for ‘Fascist’. That is about as near to a definition as this much-abused word has come.In a word, Bingo!
The popularity of Fascism that arose after WWI was, for the most part, a reaction against the failures of the past. In the words of Wikipedia, "Fascists view World War I as having made liberal democracy obsolete, and regard total mobilization of society under a totalitarian single-party state as necessary to prepare a nation for armed conflict and to respond effectively to economic difficulties" -- not so much a coherent philosophy as merely a thoughtless gut response of lazy thinkers to the times they live in.
That sounds pretty Trumpian, to me.
One more irony regarding Trump mocking that disabled reporter is that, if everyone thought it was okay to make fun of people with infirmities, everyone would be making fun of Trump for his seemingly-overt "Cluster B" personality disorder.
Oh, wait! We do!
Okay, well, nobody's perfect.