Donald Trump is in the habit of telling citizens he doesn’t like to go back to the countries they or their antecedents came from. In the case of his Mar-a-Lago chum Lana Marks, he asked nicely. The Senate foreign relations committee has recommended that her appointment as ambassador to SA be confirmed. She should be headed over as soon as the full chamber agrees.
The daughter of a Lithuanian Jew who emigrated to SA in the 30’s, Marks is seen as an unusual choice. Perhaps she will be a good one. Good people have represented vile leaders. Herbert Beukes, Pretoria’s man in Washington in the late 80’s springs to mind. His heart was in the right place and he let you know what he thought of PW Botha.
Marks is a supremely talented entrepreneur and networker. The Marie Antoinettes of this Gilded Age may buy her handbags priced at four times the US median family income, but she is not one herself. She simply knows how to take advantage of her customers’ grotesque values.
It is much to her credit that, as she told the Senate committee, she speaks three of SA’s four most-spoken languages. One has to wonder, though, what, in whichever tongue, she will say on behalf of a minority regime run by a short-fused bigot for whom Africa is a scatological epithet.
Trump and the claque of snarling lickspittles that is his Republican Party control the White House and the Senate against the wishes of most Americans as expressed at the ballot box. Abetted by a constitution that gives disproportionate voice to the emptiest and least diverse parts of the country, they have imposed themselves on the majority through gerrymandering, lies, deliberate attempts to keep people of colour from the polls, campaign finance laws designed to facilitate state capture by their thieving croneys, and — let us not mince words — treason.
Former special counsel Robert Mueller may have sounded his age in congressional hearings last week, but his report stands: Trump knowingly, and happily, accepted Vladimir Putin’s help to get elected and then tried to impede the ensuing investigation.
When its id is under control, this is a wonderful country, which is why I became a citizen. But the id — a seething incubus of flag-wrapped bigotry, paranoia, resentment and cross-burning fundamentalism — is always lurking, gun in hand, ready to be triggered like Marvel’s The Hulk. This Hulk is a hero to none save the Trumpistas. They are counting on it to return them to power for another four years.
Any other president riding an economy as hot as the present one would be looking at almost certain reelection, especially given the opposition Democrats’ unerring aim for their own feet. But Trump isn’t any other president. He’s a demonstrable sociopath. Most Americans know he’s unift. He has never broken 50 per cent in respectable opinion polls and never will when the votes count.
His only hope is to unleash the beast in hopes of eking out another win in an electoral college that magnifies the clout of the Trump rump at the majority’s expense.
In Orwell’s 1984, Big Brother revs up his version of Trump’s MAGA hat people with two-minute hates targeted at someone called Goldstein. Trump’s Goldsteins have names like Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley — the so-called “squad” of progressive first term House members. They hate America, they want to destroy it, they should go back to the countries they came from, Trump brays to his infatuated mob, then looks on obscenely as it takes up the chant “Send her back, send her back”.
Ambassador Beukes had to contend with daily protests against apartheid. Maybe Ambassador Marks should have to endure the same, protesting the moral squalor of the regime she serves.