Wednesday, 07 Dec 2022

Trumps eternal quest for attention has led to the announcement of a presidential bid | Rebecca Solnit

Trumps eternal quest for attention has led to the announcement of a presidential bid | Rebecca Solnit


Trumps eternal quest for attention has led to the announcement of a presidential bid | Rebecca Solnit

The incredible shrinking Trump announced, in the most predictable news of the year, that he's running for president again. In his eternal quest for attention, he had to be dissuaded from doing it before the recent election, so he wouldn't do what he most aspires to do, which is to steal attention from everyone else, including the candidates in the party he may or may not still head but definitely disrupted.

He would like lots more attention from you and me and everyone else, and he would also like some qualified immunity from all the criming he did during his last presidency. By the way, he stole a lot of classified documents and tried to steal an election and there should be lots of legal consequences for both of those more newsworthy things, though I wouldn't bet on that. I'd much rather talk about everyone and anyone else, but within the parameters of this assignment I will have to talk about them talking about Trump.

There was a whole fear-intoxicated storm of regular people worrying about Trump running again as soon as he'd lost in 2020, their apparent assumption being that nothing much would change in the political landscape and his standing in it over the next four years - even though he'd just lost by seven million votes, a remarkable achievement for a sitting president. Paid pundits who believe they can prophesy the future also tend to believe it will look just like the present, only more so - hello, "red wave", which turned out to be a bunch of people in red Maga hats waving bye.

The road we're on is not linear; you're probably dizzy like me from the hairpin turns and the precipices. People fall off it all the time into the abyss below, as one does when driving a straight line on a curving road. The pundits apparently assumed that Trump's once-strong standing was permanent, but while true-believer Maga folks keep buying what Trump is selling, a lot of other people who tried out what was on offer have moved on, including Rupert Murdoch.

Meanwhile, by demanding Republican politicians demonstrate loyalty to himself and his big lie, Trump has managed to splinter a political party once renowned for its internal discipline. "We underperformed among independents and moderates," said the former Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, "because their impression of many of the people in our party and leadership roles is that they are involved in chaos and negativity and excessive attacks." The Washington Post yesterday referred to what's going on in the Grand Old Party as a "full scale brawl", though I thought the brawl/frat party was 2017-2021, and this is the bickering and the hangover.

There is only one unchangeable fact in politics and life in general and you could fold in evolutionary biology and economics and the leftovers in your refrigerator: things change. Medieval philosophers were fond of the image of the wheel of fortune, which was an allegory of fickle fate before it was a gameshow: those who rode the wheel up eventually ride the wheel down. They do. I give you tech's latest whiz kid, crypto-mogul Sam Bankman-Fried (who just reportedly changed his own net worth from $10bn to $0 while also losing many billions of other people's money in investments he managed). Let me offer as well the shrunken valuation of Tesla, Meta (AKA Facebook), Amazon (first corporation to lose a trillion in value), Alphabet (aka Google), Microsoft and all the rest.

Things change, but apparently a lot of tech companies did business as though low interest rates were eternal and then, surprise, they went up and stocks went down. People invested in cryptocurrency as though it was only going to go up, and then speaking of surprising, the wheel turned, and a lot of them rode all the way down into the mire. When they get there, they can say hi to Elizabeth Holmes, former CEO of Theranos, now awaiting her prison sentence, and former Trump campaign heads Paul Manafort, serving seven and a half years, and Steve Bannon, appealing his four-month sentence. Wheels turn. At least the Dutch tulip bubble left people with tulips. By the way, climate is much more important than all of this and all of them.

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