On Friday, it is indeed a time bomb with a head, two arms and two legs that will be moving into the White House.
While “a bomb on two legs” is a somewhat disrespectful way to start an article on the new president of the United States, never have we seen such a level of uncertainty – and incredulous dismay – accompany a transfer of power in the United States. This man may well have gotten 46 percent of the American vote on Nov. 8, but he scares almost everyone… whether it be in the United States or elsewhere.
Eight years ago, there was also anguish and uncertainty while the world economy hung over the abyss following the housing loan crash. But in the beginning of 2009, the anguish was coupled with a sort of euphoria and hope after the election of a black candidate, whose admittedly messianic campaign made us believe in miracles.
There was no miracle in the Obama presidency, for which a fair assessment will be made with the necessary hindsight. But still, as of January 2009, there was a willingness to tackle problems head on with a classic economic stimulus plan and classic communication. There was an exceptional orator who wrote his speeches himself, believed in the power of reflection, of persuasion, of explanation, and who intended (naively) to find compromise with the opposition.
The man was talking about solidarity, progress, rights and freedoms, the balance of powers, respect for minorities … in a classic way that respected the time-honored canons of liberal democracy.
But Hurricane Trump of 2016 is something else, both in form and in substance. This man seems determined to treat politics as if nothing has existed before him, and to overthrow all existing codes.
The Donald Trump after Nov. 8, 2016 is identical to that of before the fateful date. Those who had hoped the man “would become presidential” with time will get little for their efforts.
Since Nov. 8, just as before Nov. 8, he has the same disdain for discussion, the same nearly autistic manner of making everything about his munificent person, the same constant improvisation, the same contempt — without patience or decorum — toward criticism. The spectacle of his Jan. 11 press conference, when he refused to speak to a media outlet whose work he disliked, was telling.
Even in taking on a presidential posture, it is the same threatening gesture with a pointing finger saying “shut up!” He is the same bull in a china shop. From this some legitimate questions emerge: Will Donald Trump break everything, given the radical nature of his statements, his intentions and his program?
Does he want to abolish President Obama’s famous health care law overnight, for which he announced that there will be a replacement as quick as magic? Can he erect, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, his famous wall of separation with Mexico? And enforce the massive and immediate expulsion of millions of undocumented immigrants? Declare a trade war with China? Repeal 10,000 regulations with the stroke of a pen?
Each of these measures is filled with conflicts, contradictions, impossibilities (…to which he can always respond to with more leaks, blaming his opponents for what does not work).
Beyond his program and his actions, Trump is also, by virtue of being who he is, a time bomb, because of his conflicts of interest, his unlikely alliances and his hidden dependencies.
The Russian factor — the hacking, the Kremlin’s alleged aid in his election, the possibilities of money or sex-related blackmail — weighs on the Trump presidency even before it has begun. Never have we seen an American head of state so vulnerable against a partner in international relations.
Although Trump has qualified — along with a good portion of the press, naturally and with the necessary caution — the “revelations” of the site BuzzFeed as “fake news,” nothing that appears in this report by a respected ex-spy for the British MI6 seems unbelievable when we look coldly at the figure, his declarations and past actions, his admitted leanings, his conceptions of business, of society and of human relations.
Donald Trump is a complete subversion of politics as practiced in the West until 2015. In this, he reflects his time and justifies all the prevailing concerns on the future of democracy.