With White House effectively a fortress, some see Trump’s strength — but others see weakness
Deborah Berke, dean of the Yale School of Architecture, said the White House barricaded as if it were a military base, with multiple layers of black fencing surrounding the limestone Georgian structure, conveys the opposite message and represents a physical violation of democracy.
“I think the need to fortify your house — and it’s not his house; it’s our house — shows weakness,” she said. “The president of the United States should not feel threatened by his or her own citizens.”
Protests spark intense debates over the proper role of the military, media and police in American life
The events of the past week have both deepened and exposed rifts between those who serve in uniform and their commander in chief, as well as between the police and those they have sworn to protect. They’re also raising questions about the role of the free press in American society.
America is a nation of laws – but also norms. It’s a republic that’s thrived because of institutions, but those are ultimately only as strong as the people who lead them. The laws, the norms, the institutions and their leaders are all under intense strain against the backdrop of the worst civil unrest since 1968, the worst economic crisis since 1933 and the worst public health crisis since 1918.
David A Graham/Atlantic:
Trump Has Imprisoned Himself in the White House
The president is trying to project strength, but instead is betraying weakness.
The administration has undertaken a contradictory dual strategy. On the one hand, as my colleague Anne Applebaum writes, the president wants to gin up fear among people far from the protests. On the other hand, he wants to show that he has matters under control. To that end, Attorney General William Barr has aimed to “flood the zone” in Washington, D.C. (Barr seems to be leading the effort in part because, while Pentagon leaders blanch at Trump’s attempts to send the military into the streets, Barr has a vast legion of law-enforcement officers at his command, and shares few of the compunctions of the military brass.)
It seems to me that the biggest problem with The New York Times’ decision to publish Tom Cotton is the assumption that everything he says is in good faith. That's a problem with their political coverage: assuming GOP public officials do what they do in good faith. (Pro tip: It's about keeping power.)
They clearly make the same mistake with Bill Barr. Barr deserves no good faith benefit-of-doubt at all.
Tom Cotton Is Not Trying to Persuade You. He's Trying to Bludgeon You.
Some arguments backing the New York Times' decision to publish the senator's screed betray a dangerously naive view of how authoritarian rhetoric operates. Many more are just dumb.
But there was also another argument in play, and it betrayed an attitude towards the rhetoric of authoritarianism that is dangerously naive. It's a variant of the "sunlight is the best disinfectant" argument, and it holds that fascist rhetoric like this should be widely and loudly trumpeted so that it can be dismantled using Facts and Logic. Throw it into the "marketplace of ideas," where its value will swiftly plummet. But this represents a comprehensive failure to grapple with the nature of fascism, which is not bound by concerns about what is true or even what was said five minutes ago. It cannot be defeated by Reason. It continually shape-shifts and changes form, rejecting previous bedrock principles in favor of their opposites whenever it is convenient. It is necessarily absurd, because it is just an elaborate costume for a very simple message: "Obey, or I will hurt you."
Jean-Paul Sartre illustrated this in 1946, a time when the world had become well acquainted with the form.
Chris Truax/USA Today:
After St. John's: Will Trump do anything to stay in power? And what will we do if he does?
Trump has crossed the line from verbal attacks to lawless use of force on people. Whoever gave the order, he's president and he's responsible.
It’s been said a lot over the last few years that this or that is how authoritarianism begins. Well, Trump’s attack on the protesters around St. John's isn't how authoritarianism begins. It’s what authoritarianism is. But don’t just take my word for it. Intelligence analysts are growing increasingly concerned that Donald Trump’s actions fit a pattern. As former CIA analyst Gail Helt told the Washington Post, “This is what autocrats do. This is what happens in countries before a collapse.”
Trump’s Approval Slips Where He Can’t Afford to Lose It: Among Evangelicals
Polls and private concerns from top social conservatives show the president’s standing with the cornerstone of his base isn’t what it used to be. A photo op with the Bible was supposed to help fix that.
President Trump needs every vote he got from white evangelicals in 2016 — and then some. Hoisting a Bible in the air may not be enough.
Unnerved by his slipping poll numbers and his failure to take command of the moral and public health crises straining the country, religious conservatives have expressed concern in recent weeks to the White House and the Trump campaign about the president’s political standing.
Their rising discomfort spilled out into the open this week when the founder of the Christian Coalition, Pat Robertson, scolded the president for taking such a belligerent tone as the country erupted in sorrow and anger over the police killing of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis.
Speaking on his newscast, “The 700 Club,” the televangelist whose relationship with Mr. Trump dates to the 1990s said, “You just don’t do that, Mr. President,” and added, “We’re one race. And we need to love each other.”
ANTIFA AIN’T THAT
I have known many of society’s ne’er-do-wells: a myriad of drug dealers, Venice crack den regulars, Portland gutter punks, DC tweakers, straight edge punks with more scars than skin, body modders, tattoo fiends, seattle protestors, Food Not bombs, hackers, phreakers, freegans, and yes, quite a few Antifa, as well as Black Bloc. Let’s get Black Bloc out of the way first, since that’s usually who gets mistaken for Antifa.
The initiation for Black Bloc is pretty complicated, follow along carefully. 1) You show up in all black with you face covered, then 2) You throwdown with the police line.
Congratulations, you’re Black Bloc.
Erik Larson’s book about Churchill is called The Splendid and the Vile. He’s more than qualified to weigh in.
The George Floyd protests will not help Trump win reelection. Here’s why.
Let’s check the polling
But the current racial unrest, sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man, in police custody, will probably hurt Trump’s reelection prospects more than it’ll help, for several reasons.
Ah, polling. Well, let me tell you about polling:
1. It is not too early to look. While polls are more accurate from 100 days out, recent elections show they were pretty good 300 days out.
2. National polls matter. Don’t lecture me about the Electoral College—you’ll be missing what’s going on. If you have a big lead nationally, you are competitive in Texas and Ohio. And if you’re competitive there, you’re 9 points ahead in Wisconsin. And if you’re ahead there, you’re winning.
Masha Gessen/New Yorker:
Donald Trump’s Fascist Performance
Trump thinks power sounds like this: “Our country always wins. That is why I am taking immediate Presidential action to stop the violence and restore security and safety in America . . . dominate the streets . . . establish an overwhelming law-enforcement presence. . . . If a city or state refuses . . . I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them. . . . We are putting everybody on warning. . . . One law and order and that is what it is. One law—we have one beautiful law.” To Trump, power sounds like the word “dominate,” repeated over and over on a leaked call with governors. It sounds like the silence of the men in uniform when they are asked who they are.