Fareed Zakaria: GOP is a banana republic ‘platform to support the ego, appetites of one man and his family’


May 17, 2017

Fareed Zakaria: GOP is a banana republic ‘platform to support the ego, appetites of one man and his family’

by David Edwards

CNN host Fareed Zakaria lamented on Sunday that the U.S. Congress could no longer be considered a check on the power of President Donald Trump because the controlling party had become a platform that caters to the whims of the President and his family.

“Donald Trump in much of his rhetoric and many of his actions poses a danger to American democracy,” Zakaria explained. “American democracy has a series of checks intended to prevent the accumulation and abuse of power by any one person or group.”

“But there is one gaping hole in the system: the President,” he continued. “The President in effect sits about the law. The Justice Department works for him.”

According to the CNN host, Congress’ power of impeachment is the only “real check” on the president.

“Since Trump’s own party controls both chambers of Congress, there has been little resistance to him there,” he noted. “It appears the Republican Party is losing any resemblance to a traditional western political party. Instead, turning into something more commonly found in the developing world: a platform to support the ego, appetites and interests of one man and his family.”

Zakaria pointed out that the courts and the media provide limited limited checks on the Presidency, but Trump “has relentlessly attacked both.”

“The media must cover the administration’s policies fairly but it also must never let the public forget that many of the attitudes and actions of this president are gross violations of the customs and practices of the modern American system,” Zakaria insisted. “They are aberrations and they cannot become the new norms. That way, after Trump, the country will not start the next presidency with tattered standards and sunken expectations.”

Watch the video below from CNN.

I have tried to evaluate Donald Trump’s Presidency fairly. I’ve praised him when he has appointed competent people to high office and expressed support for his policies when they seemed serious and sensible (even though this has drawn criticism from some quarters). But there has always been another aspect to this Presidency lurking beneath the surface, sometimes erupting into full view as it did this week. President Trump, in much of his rhetoric and many of his actions, poses a danger to American democracy.

The United States has the world’s oldest constitutional democracy, one that has survived the test of time and given birth to perhaps the most successful society in human history. What sets the nation apart is not how democratic it is, but rather the opposite. U.S. democracy has a series of checks intended to prevent the accumulation and abuse of power by any one person or group. But there is one gaping hole in the system: the President.

During his famous interviews with David Frost in 1977, Richard Nixon made a statement regarding Watergate that has been mockingly quoted ever since. “When the President does it, that means that it is not illegal,” he said to Frost. Nixon was a smart lawyer and a close student of the Constitution. He was basically right. The president, in effect, sits above the law. The Justice Department, after all, works for him. Refusing to follow certain ethical guidelines in separating himself from his business empire, Trump told the New York Times, “The law is totally on my side, meaning, the President can’t have a conflict of interest.” Most lawyers say he is right. The rules don’t really apply to the President.

There is just one real check on the President — impeachment — and it is political, not legal. Since Trump’s own party controls both chambers of Congress, there has been little resistance to him there. One might have hoped for more, and perhaps we will see it. So far, it appears that the Republican Party is losing any resemblance to a traditional Western political party, instead simply turning into something more commonly found in the developing world: a platform to support the ego, appetites and interests of one man and his family.

There are other, less potent checks on the power of the president. Some are structural, others simply a matter of morality or precedent. Trump has sought to weaken many of these, both before the election and now in the White House.

Trump said that he would like to change laws to make it easier to sue journalists. He announced that he hoped to jail his opponent. He spoke approvingly of the mass deportation of Mexicans in the 1950s. He proposed a travel ban on an entire religion, to bar all Muslims from entering the United States. He advocated that the U.S. military torture prisoners. And he called into question the integrity of a judge because of his Mexican heritage.

Image result for James Comey

Director James B.Comey–The Man who dared to stand up to the 45th POTUS defend the FBI

Once in power, Trump has continued in this vein, taking actions that weaken all sources of resistance. He summarily dismissed FBI Director James B. Comey, reportedly over his investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties with Russia. If true, the firing would be a shattering blow. The nonpartisan agencies of the executive branch are jewels of the modern U.S. system. They were not always impartial, and they are certainly not perfect, but in recent decades they have acquired a deserved reputation. When I travel from Eastern Europe to China to Latin America, democratic reformers tell me that they look to these agencies as models when trying to strengthen the rule of law in their own countries.

There are only two forces left that can place some constraints on Trump — the courts and the media — and he has relentlessly attacked both. Every time a court has ruled against one of his executive orders, the president has ridiculed the decision or demeaned the judges involved. To their enormous credit, the courts have not been deterred from standing up to the President.

That leaves the media. Trump has gone at them (us) like no President before, smearing news organizations, attacking individual journalists and threatening to strip legal protections guaranteed to a free press. We will survive, but we must recognize the stakes.

The media should cover the administration’s policies fairly. But they must also never let the public forget that many of the attitudes and actions of this president are gross violations of the customs and practices of the modern American system — that they are aberrations and cannot become the new norms. That way, after Trump, the country will not start the next presidency with tattered standards and sunken expectations. The task is quite simply to keep alive the spirit of American democracy.

Image result for fareed zakariaThe Handsome and Urbane Fareed Zakaria– Host of Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN
Fareed Zakaria writes a foreign affairs column for The Post. He is also the host of CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS and a contributing editor for The Atlantic.

9 thoughts on “Fareed Zakaria: GOP is a banana republic ‘platform to support the ego, appetites of one man and his family’

  1. Trump may be a greedy, egotistical, narcissist but, I strongly believe, his real problem is that he’s embarrassingly ignorant about everything – which makes him easy prey for the alt-rights, grifters and sycophants that have his ear.

    Trump has never said anything that indicated there was an active mind under that ridiculous hair-do. Ever since he launched his political career he’s spouted nothing but empty boasts, personal insults and easily disproved, fact-free nonsense. But what do we expect when the man gets his news from Fox & Friends?

    The reputation of Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania is damaged irreparably by greedily accepted the donation of Trump’s father to admit an idiotic brat and granted him a diploma which he did not deserve.
    _____________________
    LaMoy,

    Your 45th POTUS is an idiot. We have one in Malaysia today.But will fix our problem.

    This is my view about American politicians today: Indecision, gridlock, muddled thinking, and sheer incompetence seem to rule the 45th Administration while the media in turn is fueling discord to boost revenues selling sound bites to a gullible audience. Lessons of history are lost on the American people. They make people like me to dislike inept and corrupt American leadership. There are too many smart asses, in the media too, around for America’s own good.

    As I see it, America is the underpinning of global security. It was by choice made Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower after the end of World War 2 when America defined the international financial system, security structures for its military preeminence, and trading arrangements which gave its strategic advantages for American companies and banks. It also created the United Nations, dominated by the Security Council where the US, Britain, Russia, France and China have veto powers.

    It now has rivals in Putin’s resurgent Russia and economically driven China; it faces global terrorism, cyber warfare and a possible nuclear Armageddon (if North Korea becomes a nuclear power). The choice is clear: either stay engaged with the world or retreat into your raccoon as in Trump’s Go it alone Foreign Policy which is founded on presumed military superiority.

    The lessons of Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia and Afghanistan are lost. America’s militarism, to put it mildly, has failed. Drive this message into the Humpty Dumpty thick head of your 45th POTUS.

    Hold your politicians in The House, Senate and The White House for the dysfunction in Washington DC. Their failure to work together in the dire times when security threats are real can be very costly. Do Americans want another 911 before you act? It is really a shame that America is in a mess and its political system is totally dysfunctional.

    Yet there is no competent leadership in the White House and Congress to fix the problem. Tell me what you think the Shining City on the Hill is today.–Din Merican

    • William F. Buckley tried to keep the kooks, fascists and utopian libertarians out of American Conservatism, but failed in the
      long run ?

    • Din:
      America is in very serious trouble. There are a lot of things in America today that don’t make sense. If the American people were educated properly, with a full unfiltered understanding of history, with no bias-ism, over half of the nation’s problems, I believe, would diminish and there would be such a thing again as ‘common sense’. Instead, too many of us have become arrogant a**holes, aren’t we? And we elected a narcissist a**hole as president. The unhinged behavior of Donald Trump is beyond comprehension of most normal people and yet he has so many die hard supporters. It is the question that launched a thousand think pieces. Even Trump surrogates were not prepared to answer it. Sean Spicer literally hid in the bushes (sorry, among the bushes).

      Trump is exactly as he appears: a hopeless narcissist with the attention span of a fruit fly, unable to maintain consistent beliefs or commitments from moment to moment, acting on base instinct, entirely situationally, to bolster his terrifyingly fragile ego. Like all extreme narcissists, he feels a gnawing sense of inadequacy and thus requires constant adulation, admiration, and reinforcement for his oversize, hypersensitive ego. Like all extreme narcissists, he is exquisitely attuned to offense, to any hint of being the dominated party or the loser, and incredibly vengeful when he feels he’s been crossed, which is frequently. Like all extreme narcissists, he sees every interaction, every situation, as a zero-sum contest in which there will be winners and losers. Like all extreme narcissists, he is prone to building a fantasy world in which he is always on top, always the winner. And like all extreme narcissists, he sees other people only through the lens of how they reflect or affect him.

      But Trump is not an ordinary narcissist. He is the POTUS. Many narcissists are quite well-regulated. Using other people to one’s advantage takes not only in-the-moment charm but an ability to think ahead. Succeeding requires fooling other people, and fooling other people requires an ability to hold a complex social map in one’s head, to sustain a consistent performance over time. Trump does have some crude cunning to manipulate people in the moment. He can sense what they want and what will elicit their approval. But he lacks any ability to hold beliefs, commitments, or even deceptions in his head across contexts. He is utterly unable to step back and put his gut emotions in larger perspective, to see himself as a person among people, in social contexts that demand some adaptation. He is impatient with attempts to influence him to take a larger view.

      Trump lies all the time. To say “lie” seems to suggest a certain self-awareness, an ability to distinguish performance from reality, but Trump shows no signs of possessing that. He is utterly terrified of and hostile to weakness, which helps explain why he mocked John McCain for being taken prisoner, why he mocked a disabled reporter, why he’s been so consistently racist. Somewhere in his reptile brain, he views being captured, disabled, or persecuted as weakness, as being dominated. It also explains his fondness for autocratic strongmen – the ones who dominate. But these attitudes, these instincts, do not seem to yield persistent beliefs or principles. He is highly attuned to dominance and submission in the moment, but each moment is a new moment, unconstrained by prior commitments, statements, or actions. Trump defies our theory of mind because he appears to lack a coherent, persistent self or worldview. He is a raging fire of need, protected and shaped by a lifetime of entitlement, with the emotional maturity and attention span of a 6-year-old, utterly unaware of the long-term implications of his actions.

      We are not accustomed to having someone so obviously disordered in a position of such power. Trump is surrounded by not only members of his administration but Congress, the press, pundits, conservative ideological groups, industry lobbyists – all eager to invent stories to make sense of his behavior. Politicos and journalists need a story in which Trump’s stumbling and grasping can be construed as a savvy media strategy, a “distraction” from some other wrong-doing he has going on, or a “pivot” from his current omni-shambles. Those are all versions of political maneuvering with which they are familiar. They need for Trump to want things, to be after things, to have a plan. Politicians, journalists, analysts, the public – everyone wants some kind of story, some Theory of Trump. And so Trump surrogates try to provide it, scrambling to weave a coherent narrative around his careening, erratic lies.

      This is an utterly terrifying conclusion. A Machiavellian Trump – one who was merely acting the fool, manipulating the public and media in service of some diabolical long-term agenda – is less frightening than a purely narcissistic and impulsive one. No agenda guides him, no past commitments or statements restrain him, so no one, not even his closest allies, much less the American public or foreign governments can trust him, even for a second. He will do what makes him feel dominant and respected, in the moment, with no consideration of anything else, not because he has chosen to reject other considerations, but because he is, by all appearances, incapable of considering them.This makes him extremely vulnerable to being manipulated by whoever happens to talk to him last, whoever butters him up and makes him feel important.

      It’s one thing when that involves a wild Twitter accusation or the firing of a staff member. All Trump’s crises so far have been internal and self-inflicted, more or less. But providing intel secrets to Russia? What will happen when he gets into a confrontation with North Korea, when Kim Jong Un deliberately provokes him? Will his response be considered strategic? Will he be able to get information and aid from allies? Will he be able to make and keep commitments during negotiations? There’s no sign of hope for any of that. More likely he will prove, as he has in literally every confrontation of the past several years, congenitally unable to back down or deescalate, even if doing so is clearly in everyone’s best interests. More likely he will be desperate to maintain face and will listen to whatever his security staff whispers in his ear. More likely he will make rash and fateful decisions with insufficient consultation and no clear plan. That’s who he is: a disregulated bundle of impulses, being manipulated by a cast of crooks and incompetents, supported by a Republican Party willing to bet the stability of the country against upper-income tax cuts.

      And we can’t compare Najib with Trump. For Najib is just a strong monkey, forgive me to say that, but Trump is the POTUS, the most powerful man on the planet with the code to the nuclear bombs that can destroy the earth 10 times. This is the scariest thing.

  2. CNN host Fareed Zakaria lamented on Sunday that the U.S. Congress could no longer be considered a check on the power of President Donald Trump because the controlling party had become a platform that caters to the whims of the President and his family.

    There may be many countries worldwide which have elected leaders and parliaments and the above comments of Fareed Zakaria on USA may also equally apply on them.
    In most countries the elected reps may not be as independent in their thinking as rakyat is expected to believe as they may be there just to support the leaders’ actions regardless whether right or wrong or fair to the voters who trusted and voted them to power.
    Can there be a greater fraud of the trust of the voters be it USA or in other countries as independent thinking may not be allowed or done for self interest?
    Blame may also be on voters who elect these self serving candidates even when it may have been evidenced of their undesirable activities. Some leaders consider their positions as personal property and estate which can be inherited by family members on his departure.
    It is not how leaders are chosen but how leaders behave.

  3. 1. 100,000 -5zeros
    2. 1,000,000,- 6 zeros Million
    3. 1,000,000,000, – 9 zeros Billion
    4. 1,000,000,000,000, – 12 zeros Trillion
    5. 1,000,000,000,000,000 – 15 zeros – Quadrillion

    Yes it is the problem of zeros and the MSM has conveniently left it out. From the Civil War which produces A. Lincoln’s Greenbacks backed by Government Guarantee, to JFK’s Silver Certificates, then on to the Act that restricted commercial banks from also being investment banks have all a part in the history of the US and its future. The financial and banking crisis in 2008 added to the debt of the US to a point where in doubled to 20 Trillion under the previous Administration. Then you have the Credit swap derivatives that is more than number 5 in the chart generating an interest of close to US500 Billion a year.
    The question for the current administration is do you want see the debt double or is there something that needs to done. This is the real battle The rest is just a side show.

  4. It is harmful to your mental health to keep hearing only what other people talk about Trump. Hear it yourself directly from the source will keep your mental function:

    • Yup actually hearing the idiot in his own words, the whining , wallowing in victimhood and of course the churlish faux everyman speak, is why Trump gets so angry with his surrogates.

      But really who could actually mount a credible defence of this idiot ?

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