Unintended consequences


I came late to the Law of Unintended Consequences, usually believing—naively, as it turned out—that the results of our actions were what folks usually intended.

Gradually I came to recognize that the corruptions and abuses of Netanyahu actually lent support to Anti-Semites hungry for evidence of Jewish wrongdoing. Perfidious and, worse, self-defeating.

Along came Trump—a character whose aggressive self-positiveness is familiar to any New Yorker looking at the behaviors of a lot of its real estate moguls. He knows better than any expert, and he has no need, use for or patience with the sagest advisor.

And his unintended consequences?

As of the dawn of July 16, 2018, any indictment—in whatever form—was sure to be shot down by his collaborators (in both houses) in Congress. Robert Mueller stood little chance, but then the opossum-coifed Trump rode to his rescue through his embrace of our enemies and the repudiation of our most trusted friends. And this is the patriot who obtained five deferments, attacked fallen and captured heroes, scorned athletes whose familials fight and die for our country and literally and figuratively embraces figures presumably contemned by evangelists and other religious mystics. O tempore. O mores!

These cannot be labeled “interesting times.” That was then. Now we’re looking at both farce and tragedy.

Trump is now vigorously clearing the path for whatever message Mueller delivers. It almost—but not quite—renders the November elections moot. But, still, it needs to be said that these elections are bound to be critical to whatever resolution surfaces from our bizarre saga.

Imagine an indictment featuring obstruction of justice (the firing of Comey because he wouldn’t abandon the Flynn inquiry—which, as you’ll remember—resulted in an admission of criminal wrongdoing by that patriot). How ironic is it that all these champions of America wind up working for our enemies? Benedict Arnold was a piker compared to the folks we see on TV every day.

Today we face, I think and hope, a very different climate than obtained pre 7/16. Trump’s Helsinki press conference bids fair to become a crucial signpost along his road to perdition. Of course this sounds like wish-fathering thought, but still …

And so the band plays on, yet no evidence of disaffection surfaces from the rednecks, bikers, racists, evangelists and others who’ve embraced our President. Why does “deplorable” resonate?

Donald Trump is, to me (and I may be indulging an unforgiveable conceit), a familiar type. Quintessentially New Yorky. I met tons of Trumps in bars, stadiums (I will eschew the pretentious stadia), police precincts, street corners and stoops. These guys have all the answers—to every human possibility; have never asked a question; think themselves the smartest guys (and we’re talking guys here, guys) in any room; and have a street-tempered cunning that makes them—all at once—formidable, arrogant, roughly eloquent, absolutely positive and convinced and utterly scornful of your views. And they often combine these qualities with a coarse likeability that often passes for charm.

These guys are inventive. In 1975 they chanted “Codd (the police commissioner) is a fish; Beame (the diminutive mayor) is a shrimp.” They reach the apotheosis of expression in the Yankee Stadium addressing the home team’s opponents. In this forum, your race, sexuality (real or imagined), family, religion or most sacred held beliefs become currency for the marketplace of ideas, freely and loudly exchanged.

In the meantime we have to pay strict attention and measure our words and actions in such a way as to avoid sending aid and comfort to our enemies.

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