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Point of View: As Caligula Used to Say

Wed, 01/24/2024 - 17:14

Some Iowa voters have told Zeynep Tufekci, a Times columnist, that they like Trump because, as one interviewee told her, “It’s good not to be liked — being strong is better.”

Which brought to mind what another bully, Caligula, used to say, “Oderint dum metuant,” i.e., let them hate me as long as they fear me.

The thing is, though, that what we really have to fear is not so much Kim Jong Un’s nuclear missiles, or Iran’s, or Russia’s, or China’s, or India’s, or Pakistan’s, or Israel’s, or . . . well, the list could go on, but an alarmingly hot climate that if the world’s countries do not cooperate in ameliorating it, will do us in.

Unless wise heads — not hot heads, like Trump — prevail, the world will probably end, then, with a whimper, not with a bang. Will brawn or brains win out, Buckminster Fuller used to wonder. We’re still wondering.

How do you respond to those presumably all-knowing Trump acolytes who told Tufekci that Hamas’s savagery and Netanyahu’s scorched-earth response, and Putin’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine, would never have happened under Trump’s watch? Would he have been less arrogant, and thus wiser, in dealing with the Palestinians than Netanyahu? Hard to believe. Would he have averted the invasion of Ukraine had he “made a deal,” as some of the Iowans posited he might have done, i.e., had he effectively ceded some of that sovereign country to Putin?

The economy would do well under him, those whom Tufekci interviewed said. Well, the economy is doing well now. Everybody’s working, wages are good, inflation’s down. What’s the problem? Joe Biden has been over all a good, steadfast president. And when I think of Trump’s management of the economy, I think first of how he raised taxes on Long Island’s middle-class homeowners — and presumably California’s also — by limiting deductions that had cushioned somewhat the blow in high-tax states.

No, we don’t want a strongman, we don’t want a dictator. If you’re happy with one, move to Russia, China, Hungary, Turkey, India. . . . This is a country founded upon the rule of law and basic fairness. Do you want a disgusting, sore-losing blowhard who disdained the Constitution and fomented an insurrection to lead it? A sore-losing blowhard who probably looks upon his true believers, not as “beautiful people,” but as losers? If you’re drinking his Kool-Aid, I have a bridge to sell you.

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