Monsters Under the Bed

Allegedly, a frustrated President Trump recently asked, “Why is this happening.” As portrayed, the question was a victimy outburst in response to much bad news.

So, what is this he is worrying about and why is this happening? This is an a la carte menu of monsters under the bed that people are tending to blame on him, whether deserved or not.

We all make own choices as to what to worry about but there is something for everyone, and monsters under beds don’t have to make sense, they just have to lurk.

The Trump administration appears to be in shambles. The Chief of Staff has resigned, and replacing him was not smooth. The level of comprehension for most people ends at “it sure looks like the President and all around him are in deep shit.”

The Secretary of Defense, a stability figure, has resigned. He wanted to leave in late February so he could meet some important commitments, but the President is now kicking him out on January 1.  Suddenly, our troops are leaving Syria and half of them are leaving Afghanistan. It’s not that many people care deeply about either country but we were there and now we are not. What changed?

There is much anguish about partisanship and polarization. Likely they are two words for the same thing at least in a political sense. They are also words for selfishness and the unwillingness to compromise. Showboating beyond measure with not much governing.

The Congress and the White House flunked their government-shutdown standoff in a dispute over a campaign promise that is far more symbolic than effective. Just when the President threatened to look like a grownup, Fox and Friends and Rush Limbaugh went bat shit and Ann Coulter threatened his masculinity.  Au revoir better angels. The wall has always been a political charade, but apparently it has not yet become embarrassing enough to be abandoned.

There are so many ongoing investigations of the President that even media efforts to sell clicks and page views with “you can’t tell the players without a program” stories are too complicated to follow. The acting Attorney General appears to be a hack who is too open to manipulation by the President.

The Federal Reserve is raising interest rates, which most believe is just the right thing to do and an entirely reasonable response to a ten-year period of rates that were kept artificially low. This made the President unhappy so he threatened to fire Fed Chairman, Jay Powell, which he can’t even do.

The stock market, in a seasonal reversal, is waking up the bear that has been in a 10-year hibernation. Quarterly 401(k) statements will appear in early January igniting a California forest fire of fear. Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, a 17-year veteran of Goldman Sachs who should have known better, roiled the markets still further by calling the six leading Wall Street CEOs to be sure they had enough liquidity. Kind of like hearing your doctor ask if the priest has been called.

There is no respite overseas. If not catastrophic, Brexit is at least unknown. The EU itself seems financially unsustainable. France has had over a month of recreational riots in which the “gilets jaunes” set fire to things but only on Saturdays. We are in a trade war with China. Angela Merkel, another stability figure, is on her way out. Italy never stops being Italy. Vladimir Putin doesn’t even need a sentence; his name alone suffices.

The migrant caravan – somebody’s publicity stunt (I can make a case for either left or right as to whose it is, but I have zero belief that it was spontaneous) — was portrayed as an invading army but credibility diminished when reparations were requested.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in addition to being 85 now has lung cancer, which provides little comfort to those who worry about a right wing Supreme Court.

If these are not enough monsters under your bed, add to your list: privacy-big tech-hacking threats; the sentencing of Michael Flynn; or Catholic priests seeming to continue their sexual misbehavior.

Can you predict any of the outcomes? Nope. Nobody can. Cable news might try to sell you an outcome but it can’t tell you an outcome.

Are all of these real issues? Certainly not to everyone. Someone concerned about an attack at the southern border might have little concern for Justice Ginsburg’s health. It is not necessary to be anxious about all of them; a few will suffice to turn anxiety into fear.

So here is something I learned in the 2007-2008 financial meltdown. When things look really bad, the questions change. People stop asking, “how low will it go?” or “will it come back?” They only ask one question: “when will it end?” Today the “when will it end” question puts the focus squarely on the president. It ends when he ends.

As fear increases, the situation worsens for Donald Trump. His this is the fear he has stoked by not realizing that monsters under beds don’t have to be real. They just have to lurk.

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Haven Pell

At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Without hesitation, Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

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  • Since it’s Christmas, I’ll choose many things as contributors to the chaos from your menu and then add some, to wit:

    Ann Coulter, Brexit, Chief of Staff, Fox & Friends, Rush Limbaugh, Firing Secretary of Defense PLUS LAME CHOICE TO SUCCEED MATTIS, Steven Mnuchin bad optics call to banks, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, TRUMP!

    I’d like to add “Merry Christmas” but feel obliged to add that if ever we needed a Savior, it’s now!

    • Thanks for the comment Barry. Merry Christmas. The earth might much a bit but it seems likely to resume spinning on its axis.

  • All the monsters are acceptable thus far as long as they lead to Trumps being pushed out of office, preferably in the 2020 election, and as long as the replacement is not also something lurking under the bed

  • What a difference a few miles to the west makes. He’s been clearing out the monsters here. Maybe the Appalachians protect the heartland.

  • Bravo, Mr. Seaman! I agree that Trumperama is responsible for everything that we have seen go haywire in the last couple of years. I include the weather! And thank you Haven for articulating the broad array of monsters that either are or may not be long under the bed. I hope 2019 does not become as pivotal as, say, 1929. Gonna be a wild ride.

  • Haven, to judge by his current NYRB essay, ‘Justifying Diversity’ the sleep of reason seems to have overtaken Noah Feldman.

    If you read it, you may be moved to give him a lawyerly nudge.

    Merry Christmas

    • Thanks for the comment, Russell. I will try to get to the story so I understand better what you are saying.Don’t get your hopes up about the impact of my nudges.