By Peter Eisner
A dictator in an orange jumpsuit once confided in me with one of the aphorisms he understood about power and politics: “You have to create a problem in order to solve it.”
The political theorist was Manuel Antonio Noriega, the deposed Panamanian general serving a 30-year federal prison term in Florida at the time on conspiracy charges.
Donald Trump, that most inept would-be strongman, might understand the phrase though not its origin. Fabrication and conspiracy are hallmarks of Trump’s leadership.
“This American carnage stops right here and stops right now,” Trump said in his inaugural speech in 2017. “Weird shit,” former president George W. Bush was heard to remark on the dais.
The excrement and lies were followed by a storm of the same consistency.
Two years later, spouting offal at a rate of seven to a dozen lies per day, Trump appears in his first Oval Office speech to the nation. In a prime-time talk, he will look into the camera, look at each of us, stripped of his fawning MAGA people, isolated from the throngs. How convincing will be his lies?
Will he convince us that the poor people marching toward the southern border in search of freedom are a menace, amounting to a national emergency?
Will he look into the television lens, knowing that each of us can see every glint and tick of his mien, and declare that the Democrats and Barack Obama are responsible for the overflowing detention camps close to the border, responsible for wrenching migrating children from their mothers and fathers, responsible for death?
Will he claim that he has the power to order the U.S. military to build a wall that a majority of Americans know is unneeded?
This is the first time that the 45th President of the United States dares to sit at the Resolute Desk and speak to each of us from the Oval Office.
A national emergency is a step toward the Noriega route – a strongman approaches dictatorial powers. So far, Trump has been stymied by a significant impediment: The U.S. Constitution. May it always reign.
Look deeply into Trump’s eyes, America, and ask if you believe him. Can this man fix the problem he has created?
A man who was light years brighter than Noriega, Trump and most of us, Einstein by name, knew the answer to such a question.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.”
Look into Trump’s eyes and you will know – “the solution lies elsewhere, once you are gone.”
Peter Eisner, journalist and author, co-wrote with Michael D’Antonio the book, The Shadow President, The Truth About Mike Pence.
How are these men related?
Read on….My story in Newsweek.
As Newsday’s Latin America correspondent, I reported from Panama before, during and after the 1989 Panama invasion. The United States spent hundreds of millions of dollars to attack a country that offered little resistance.
By Peter Eisner
A little triangulation:
- Wilbur Ross was vice chairman of the Bank of Cyprus, often cited as a depository for Russian money laundering.
- Bank of Cyprus’s largest shareholder was a Russian billionaire, Dmitry Rybolovlev. In 2008, Rybolovlev bought a mansion — once the largest private house in the United States — from a gentleman named Donald Trump for $95 million. (Trump’s profit more than $50 million).
- White House now blocks information about the bank, Trump and Russia.
We are told that there is nothing to investigate. Forget about it.
The Miami Herald
What would happen now, if a terrorist event or confrontation draws the United States into conflict, and Americans naturally seek to rally around the flag, or react fearfully to what has taken place?
The course has been drawn — dissenters will be blamed, the “so-called judges” and courts, “illegals,” anyone who has spoken against the president of the United States are to blame.
Either by design — it would not be the president’s; it might be the last lips close to his ear — or by accident, this republic will face a challenge it has never seen.
The prospects are raised in Paul Krugman’s column in the New York Times. He writes what is obvious–this president will use any calamity as an excuse to grab unprecedented imperial power:
“What we see here is the most powerful man in the world blatantly telegraphing his intention to use national misfortune to grab even more power. And the question becomes, who will stop him?”
Who then will stop him? Congress, Republicans who worry only about their power, who?
The answer is a challenge to complacency and to patriots of any stripe. After 9/11, twisted minds used public fear and manipulated a falsehood: that Iraq was the threat. A trillion dollars or more later, a million lives later, here we are, says Krugman. It depends….
“..on whether enough Americans are willing to take a public stand. We can’t handle another post-9/11-style suspension of doubt about the man in charge; if that happens, America as we know it will soon be gone.”
The danger is with us.
By Peter Eisner
Seems like a fine day to point out how I, along with millions, am an American by the choice and search of my ancestors for freedom. My paternal grandfather, Louis Eisner, came to this country one hundred eleven years ago, fleeing Jewish persecution in Russian-controlled Poland. He did not undergo extreme vetting — which might have determined that he had at one point attended a few Bolshevik organizational meetings.
Ten years later, in 1916, he became an American citizen and pledged loyalty to the United States, and renounced allegiance to the Russian leader of the moment, Czar Nicholas II. It was a year before the Russian revolution.
Here’s to American freedom and democracy!
By Peter Eisner
I have seen people of goodwill writing petitions and appealing to the good sense of the president of the United States. “Look at my case,” they implore, “look at the suffering, look at …” (And Trump has answered that no one has a bigger heart than he has — huge)
Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times wrote an emotional column entitled — Mr. Trump, Meet My Family — that included pictures of his immigrant family and their story. At the end of his piece, he writes:
“Mr. President, please remember: This is a country built by refugees and immigrants, your ancestors and mine. When we bar them and vilify them, we shame our own roots.”
Many decent people — Americans are a decent people — have beseeched and petitioned this president to listen to reason and emotion. Such petitions, I do believe, fall on deaf ears.
I was left thinking of the introduction of Jim Morrison’s song written, impossibly, 48 years ago, Soft Parade, with The Doors. (Coincidentally, the song opens with a person begging for refuge)
When I was back in seminary school, there was a notion there that you can petition the lord with prayer, petition the lord with prayer, petition the lord with prayer….YOU CANNOT PETITION THE LORD WITH PRAYER.
Donald Trump will feed on dissonance and anger, and will not be swayed by entreaty and prayer. A petition is a document of conscience, of good faith. Understand, this man is self-referential and cares not for your petitions and prayers.
Elsewhere on the same New York Times opinion page, Maureen Dowd interviews Michael D’Antonio, my friend and colleague, who is among those who has confronted Trump in lengthy interviews and has come closest to shrinking him.
Some of Michael’s comments:
“Donald’s manic without being depressive,” he muses. “The only thing you can do is keep him distracted for a day and then one more day so that he doesn’t do anything disastrous.”
Just like Obama and May, D’Antonio says, “a lot of people over the years have tried to mollify him and accommodate him day by day. And eventually you get a year behind you. Everybody else wants stability, but he thrives in turmoil.”
This president has received his first judicial rebuke. There will be more. The Roberts Supreme Court looms. How will Chief Justice John Roberts operate? — he has shown signs of concern for his legacy.
It will not long before this president questions once more the legitimacy of judges, anyone who stands in his way.
“You cannot petition the lord.”