From Esquire, by Charles P. Pierce:
“Remember when you were writing a term paper in eighth grade, and you realized that it was supposed to be 1,500 words, and you only had 1,200 in you on the DEW Line or Quemoy and Matsu? You reached for the poetry to pad it out, didn’t you? And your poetry owed far too much to Rod McKuen, didn’t it? Admit it, you slackers.
‘You have come from the rocky shores of Maine and the volcanic peaks of Hawaii, from the snowy woods of Wisconsin and the red deserts of Arizona, from the green farms of Kentucky and the golden beaches of California.’
That came at the end of what seemed to be an endless State of the Union address by the President* of the United States. We were told in advance that his main theme would be unity, which was hilarious enough in theory, but which turned out to be downright depressing in practice. A lot of attention will be paid (justifiably) to this passage in which the president* seemed to be threatening to stop being president* if Congress kept doing its job.
‘An economic miracle is taking place in the United States and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics, or ridiculous partisan investigations. If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation.’
And if it fits, you must acquit.
‘It just doesn’t work that way. we must be united at home to defeat our adversaries abroad. This new era of cooperation can start with finally confirming the more than 300 highly qualified nominees who are still stuck in the Senate, in some cases years and years waiting, not right.’
OK, put aside the fact that his administration* hasn’t seen fit to put people up for something like 21 percent of the jobs in the government, or that it seems like half the Cabinet is there on temp jobs. This mendacious little stanza was belied by a spectacular denial of the political reality that has existed ever since El Caudillo del Mar-A-Lago came down the escalator in 2015.
‘But we must reject the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution and embrace the boundless potential of of cooperation, compromise, and the common good.’
Quite simply, if it weren’t for the politics of vengeance and/or retribution, this guy wouldn’t have got any closer to the White House than the afternoon tour.
This is a president* who revenged himself on the Khan family, on everybody who ran against him in the Republican primaries, and who kept Michael Cohen on retainer to threaten to destroy anyone who crossed him. This is a president* who was taught about politics by Roy Cohn, who reinvented the politics of vengeance and/or retribution for the television age. This is a president* who slow-danced with Roger Stone, the master of the dark arts of vengeance and/or retribution, and the man who embedded “his time in the barrel” in the political encyclopedia.
Vengeance and/or retribution is the central animating force in this president*’s life. Without vengeance and/or retribution, he would be a lifeless lump of pasty goo in the middle of a fairway in Florida.
The rest of the speech was lost on me after that moment. That was the gaslight that blinded me to all the others—the horrible and fantastical border porn, the grotesque misinformation regarding the abortion laws passed in New York and proposed in Virginia, the pumped-up disinformation campaign about the glories of his administration*. All of these were awful, but they were predictably awful. They were awful things that have been awful in his awful speeches for two awful years.
That business about the perils of the politics of vengeance was astonishing in not only its brass-balls-i-ness, but also in its barely disguised threat to bring the temple down on his own head if he thinks the hounds are baying too loudly in his ears. If he’s going down, he’s going down bloody, and he’s going to take a lot of important elements of the government down with him. And that, my fellow Americans, will be his final exercise of the politics of vengeance.
Oh, and Stacey Abrams was great.”