Opinion: We are living in a Twilight Zone episode

This is how it goes these days.

Last week, after Donald Trump tweeted a deeply personal, classless attack against two cable-news personalities, it seemed that we had reached an embarrassing new low point in presidential behavior, a level of crassness that even Trump himself might be challenged to beat. That seemed particularly true after evidence surfaced that Trump had attempted to use the National Enquirer to blackmail those two personalities into providing more positive coverage.

Silly, silly me for thinking that Trump couldn’t and wouldn’t top that performance, and soon.

Over the weekend, Trump retweeted the video above, which shows him decking and repeatedly punching a figure labeled CNN. Such a message, at a time of rising concern over the use of violence as a political tactic, coming from the person of the president himself, is just mind-boggling. It’s apparently true: When Trump is attacked, he strikes back 10 times as stupidly.

Let’s deconstruct this latest incident a bit:

The original video comes from the days when Trump, a C-list celebrity, was dabbling in the world of “pro wrestling” with his friend Vince McMahon. In other words, what you see above is a doctored video of a confrontation that in itself was fake and staged, posted by a reality-TV star as part of his assault on media that he considers fake because it dares to report things that he does not want to see reported.

It’s also worth noting that the doctored video originated from a specific alt-right social media account that also publishes other anti-CNN material, such as this post depicting it as a Jew-dominated network:

You might want to note a few other things as well.

See the small flag next to the poster’s Twitter handle? That’s the Russian flag.

See the letters “FSB” next to the flag? That’s the Russian acronym for the Federal Security Services, the Putin-era successor to the KGB.  Those tidbits are intended as professions of loyalty, which shouldn’t be surprising given its alt-right source. Nor is it surprising to see the perpetrators of such vile material celebrating their success in penetrating mainstream culture via the office of the president:

 

Trump’s supposed target in all this is of course the media, but that’s not where his bombing campaign is doing the most harm.  Over the years, the presidency has been occupied by its share of incompetents, hacks, rakes and crooks, but throughout it all the office itself has survived untainted. Trump is in the process of destroying the aura of the presidency, demeaning it as an institution respected by Americans of all political ideologies.

And because the American president is viewed as the embodiment of the country that elects him, Trump is doing the same to the country as a whole.  Every few years, the Pew Research Center surveys citizens of 37 nations about their attitudes toward the United States and world leaders. According to its research, 64 percent of citizens in those countries had a favorable view of the United States at the end of the Obama presidency; after a few months of Trump, that has fallen to 49 percent.

Under Obama, 64 percent also had confidence that the U.S. president would do the right thing in world affairs. Today, 22 percent have such confidence in the U.S. president. Notably, the dropoff is most profound in those nations that in the past have been most closely aligned to the United States.

Two nations reported greater confidence in Trump than in Obama. In Israel, that increase was 7 percentage points. In Russia, it was an astounding 42 percentage points. Overall, both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping have higher confidence ratings than Trump.

That represents an almost catastrophic decline in American “soft power,” in our capability to influence world affairs on our behalf without turning to force of arms. Through Trump’s antics, we are in the process of forfeiting global leadership, with politicians around the world fleeing from association with the American president and thus with America itself.

Some Americans may attempt to dismiss such findings by boasting that they’d rather have a president who was feared by other nations than one who is respected or liked. That’s nonsense. To the degree that our allies fear Trump, they fear him in the way that you would fear a five-year-old waving a loaded pistol in a crowded room.

I don’t know what we’re going to do about this. Trump shows no capacity for change, and Republican leaders in Washington who assured us during the campaign that they would be able to constrain Trump have proved to be as feckless as the referee sprawled on the canvas in the video above.

It’s like something out of the Twilight Zone. In fact, it’s like one specific episode of that classic TV series, this time with young Anthony Fremont as president.

 

Reader Comments 1

2879 comments
elgrunir
elgrunir

Here's a MOAB: SHEEEEEEETZ

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

I know this may sound a little catty, but wasn't that MOAB we dropped on those Muzzies supposed to send a message to the Norks?


TBS
TBS

Didn't it work?

skydog12
skydog12

Country girl Nikki Haley in front of the UN is trying her best to get us in a war with N Korea. 

She is saying a country that sent an American back home in a comma, will start a nuclear attack. 

The kid went to Korea and stole a poster. He was arrested. I believe he hung himself in jail, resulting in a comma.


The Koreans are a problem with their missile testing, but to go to war over an American thief in their country is crazy.


Trump must go.


elgrunir
elgrunir

It's how they became relevant---the Iraq War.

TBS
TBS

Well in context it's more than just that one guy but the US isn't going to war with NK.

Trump and Haley just talking tall

And those so-called non Trump supporters cheering as loud as the Trump supporters only serve to make me laugh even more

Tense times? Yes

Trump orders a strike based on what we have seen as of today? No

skydog12
skydog12

@TBS

@TBS

I hope you are right. I don`t think we will go to war over in American death, but that is what Nikki was angling towards in front of the UN.

Just another brick in the N Korean problem.

Another factor will be how big a deflection Trump needs as the investigation gets closer.

I don`t think we will send troops, but knowing our history, we will rain missiles down on them at the drop of a hat.

War gives McCain and others a woody.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

Sunnier skies driving Greenland surface melt

In the past two decades, the Greenland ice sheet has become the biggest single contributor to rising sea levels, mostly from melt across its vast surface. That surface melt is, in turn, driven mostly by an uptick in clear, sunny summer skies, not just rising air temperatures, a new study finds.

What’s causing the decline in cloud cover isn’t yet clear, but the work shows that understanding what’s behind the trend and developing ways to better represent clouds in global climate models will be crucial to predicting how much Greenland will melt in the future.

http://www.salon.com/2017/07/04/sunnier-skies-driving-greenland-surface-melt_partner/

In order to save the planet, we'll have to figure out how to manufacture clouds and block out the sun.

schnirt 

elgrunir
elgrunir

We'd just need enough control of particulates, humidity, and temperature...easier said than done on a large scale.

td1234
td1234

@Visual_Cortex Go for it. I have my jack boots shined, Red Trump hat ready and am well armed 

OldJacketFan
OldJacketFan

@td1234 @Visual_Cortex 

LMFAO!!!!!!!!!!! chicken breast thumping at it's best!!! You'd urinate all over yourself if someone was shooting at you! 

stefpe
stefpe

@td1234 @Visual_Cortex 1) Nobody suggested a friggin revolution; your unhinged and uneducated fellow trump voters lost their damn minds over nothing and

2) You might be well armed but I bet you couldn't hit the inside of a barn.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@stefpe @td1234 @Visual_Cortex

Hardly matters what kind of shot he is. If these rah-rah handgun bozos ever wind up shooting a human being it's generally themselves or a family member at close range.

TBS
TBS

Lol....

And would only get laughed at even more

That comment only illicits laughter

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@Nick_Danger @td1234 @Visual_Cortex

Why, they dressed as minorities and interrupted commerce!

We joke, but yeah--today's conservatives would have rightly seen the Boston hooligans as anti-corporate terrorists. (It WAS an actual corporate target, the East India Company.)

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

DAYUM!

More millennials are having strokes

This trend differs based on where one lives in the United States

Not all of Mitchell Elkind’s stroke patients are on social security. In recent years he has treated devastating attacks in people as young as 18. And he is not alone. A growing body of research indicates strokes among U.S. millennials — ages 18 to 34 — have soared in recent years.

But an analysis by Scientific American has revealed significant differences in where these strokes are occurring, depending both on region and whether people live in rural or urban settings. The investigation, which used data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), was reviewed by five stroke experts and found that the West and Midwest have seen especially worrisome increases among younger adults. Moreover, large cities appear to have seen bigger increases than rural areas. The analysis employed hospital discharge data from 2003 to 2012 from the AHRQ’s Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) database.

http://www.salon.com/2017/07/05/more-millennials-are-having-strokes_partner/ 

DebbieDoRight
DebbieDoRight

Is anyone really surprised that he broke his promise? I mean he IS a republican.

elgrunir
elgrunir

They're staying out of the limelight so that Trump won't try to pick up on any of them.

Kamchak
Kamchak

Bolton's an effing idiot.

He had no respect for the UN, so it was pretty stupid to appoint him as US ambassador to the UN

elgrunir
elgrunir

-Michael- Bolton would've been a better choice, and I don't know what he stands for besides agonizing songs.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@Kamchak

They deserve little respect in my opinion. They're a costly do-nothing body.

Kamchak
Kamchak

@FIGMO2

I prefer Eye wonder's neighbor's Chihuahua's opinion.

Just sayin'.   

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@Kamchak

He had no respect for the UN, so it was pretty stupid to appoint him as US ambassador to the UN

Not if you're looking to demolish our relationship with the UN it isn't.

It makes perfect sense. Just like putting a climate change denier in charge of the EPA or an enemy of publicly funded schools in charge of Education or a viciously anti-civil rights guy in charge of Justice.

TBS
TBS

Bolton sucked

All the two right foot clod hopping will not change that

Big mouth who only impresses the simple minded conservative

But he sure impresses the Fox crowd and those who might read any OpEds he put out

Kamchak
Kamchak

@FIGMO2

I don't require your permission.

Schnirt-a-doodle-dooooooooooooooooo

Juuuuussssssssssst schnirtin'.   

TBS
TBS

Whining about the UN for issues your own country overlooks when it's advantageous for them is effn stupid.

That's troll and moron .. maybe both territory

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@gotalife  Yep.  And she was Downeast as well - that's not exactly full of liberals like Portland.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@gotalife

That's pretty funny. 
My gosh, there were so many people who just wanted to talk about this one thing! Who would have thought that my party looking to destroy so many people's lives would be topic A! It is a puzzlement!

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

Bolton wasn't popular with either side, but that didn't stop my appreciation for his efforts to push ethics reform in the U.N. and expand on human rights around the globe.

I had no problems with Samantha Power pursuing the same goals. Many of hers were a continuation of Bolton's. 

Didn't agree with her on Libya, but that's water under the bridge.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@OldEngineer @Eye wonder @FIGMO2

Is there a rule against that?

My response are usually late because I'm elsewhere doing OTHER things.

I make a comment. Five or six liberals respondm and I respond to their responses upon my return.

I'm in no rush.

You?

TBS
TBS

Bolton sucked

It is what it is

End of story