This Is Not a Consolation

There are people who are currently consoling themselves with the notion that the president-elect is an empty vessel of sorts. They imagine that maybe he won't be so terrible, because he's easily influenced by the people around him.

I cannot state this more firmly: That should not be a consolation. That is a grave concern.

Because, even if it is true, the president-elect has surrounded himself by people with very dangerous and destructive ideas.

Mike Pence is an extreme right-wing ideologue. Rudy Giuliani is an extreme supporter of militarized policing. Steve Bannon is a white nationalist—and a self-described Leninist:
"Lenin," he answered, "wanted to destroy the state, and that's my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today's establishment." ...He included in that group the Republican and Democratic Parties, as well as the traditional conservative press.
If Trump is an empty vessel, these are the people whose ideas are going to fill it.

Some people, many of whom I deeply respect, have posited that President Obama was operating on this premise when he held a perplexing press conference yesterday. That he's hoping to flatter Trump into taking his counsel. That might work in the short-term, but, eventually, Obama goes away—and the people who are left behind will have Trump's ear.

Trump, as I wrote repeatedly during the campaign, is a deeply insecure man. And because he is so insecure, he doesn't have the strength to stand up to confident characters in his inner circle.

There is no solace in the idea he's a weak, empty vessel. There is only more reason to resist.

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