Wednesday, May 03, 2017

How to Survive the Next 100 days: Ten Easy Survival Tips

By William Hausdorff and Eric Segall


President Donald Trump (three words that in a sane world would be the dictionary example of an oxymoron) just completed his first 100 days in office. Social media writers have poured forth summaries, takes, and opinions about this surreal stretch of mismanagement and incompetence (with a new Verdict essay by Mike Dorf focusing on legal incompetence). Rather than look backward, however, we felt it might be helpful to provide hints for how to survive (better) the next 100 days. We should note at the outset that this is no easy assignment.

Your two authors have been friends a long time and made it through Watergate, the Iran Hostage Crisis, the Iran/Contra scandal, Bush v. Gore, 9/11, and last November 8. No warranties, but here are ten small suggestions for trying to maintain some degree of sanity through the second hundred days of the man who did not think being President of the United States would be a hard job.

1. If you use Twitter personally and/or professionally, the best bet is to simply never look at it between midnight and lunchtime. That one fleeting gander is often just too painful for late nights (wards off sleep), and the first awakening moments (too jarring and ruins the rest of the day).

2. Some of us might like to but just cannot ignore the Supreme Court altogether (it is our work) and for many letting go of Judge Garland would require expensive and time-consuming therapy. The answer is to find silver linings in RBG's vigor, Clarence Thomas' silences (it would be more painful if he spoke), and the fact that, although Gorsuch is likely going to be terrible (the Mr. Freeze of the Supreme Court), he is no Bill Pryor. Although Gorsuch swears allegiance to “the law” (which obviously will not help him in most hard cases), that is better than Pryor’s dogmatism about Roe v. Wade (the “worst abomination in the history of constitutional law”), and Pryor’s southern affection for ruling against criminal defendants, especially capital defendants) at every imaginable turn (28 of 28 capital defendants have lost where there was a reported decision involving Judge Pryor).

3. During the next 100 days, there will likely be a lot of talk about “Emoluments,” “travel bans,” “injunctions” and “appeals.” Trump will tweet a lot (see hint 1) about unelected judges ruining our country. The best bet here is to focus on the wins (lower court judges are thwarting Trump’s tantrums left and right), and hope Justice Anthony Kennedy keeps swaying further and further away from the Republican Party.

4. There is little question that Trump poses an enormous risk to world peace and there is little solace to find in his Pyongyang-esque ravings. However, as to domestic peace and prosperity, you might sleep just a tad easier knowing that in all likelihood our current Vice-President is far worse than the Tormentor-in-Chief. As one of us observed a while back, the former shock-jock, Mulan-hater, woman-despiser, same-sex marriage punisher Pence, as President, might just appoint folks like Huckabee, Falwell, Jr., and Robertson to key government positions, not to mention his own wife as Chief of Staff because apparently this pious VP can’t trust himself around women at mealtimes. It is a slender reed but domestically, it could be worse.

5. To mark his first 100 days, Trump held a rally in Pennsylvania where he blatantly lied about the arena being full and people being turned away outside, compared immigrants to a vicious woman-killing snake, promised over and over that the wall will be built (yes it will, yes it will) and lambasted the “failing New York Times,” and the “fake news media.” His performance was chilling to the bone. So, and this is key, for the next 100 days, at least, do not watch him on television. Doing so will evoke a serious and unhealthy physiological reaction including elevated cortisol levels, high blood pressure, nausea, excessive sweating, and possibly uncontrollable urges to blurt out strings of four letter words. Nothing to see and no real cure for the exhaustion and depression to follow. You will be tempted but just say no.

6.  Adopt a new country and follow its politics closely. Pick places where elections have recently or will shortly introduce new signs of hope in the country, such as France (unless it implodes in ten days), Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Colombia, Tunisia, and Gambia. Conversely, avoid reading about countries with relatively recent changes in government that are bound to disappoint in the near term (e.g., the UK, Brazil, Poland, Turkey, Philippines).  If you are really stressed you might want to focus solely on Icelandic politics.

7. If foreign affairs is not your thing, start paying attention to politics in those states where interesting things might be happening. We suggest focusing your attention on states such as California, Hawaii, and Washington, where state officials appear to relish challenging Trump administration policy pronouncements on immigration, sanctuary cities, global warming etc.  Conversely, avoid listening to the news from states such as Florida, Alabama, Kansas, Texas or Maine.  Each has crazed, bizarre figures or extreme zealots playing the role of governor, and frankly they are not likely to be a source of pleasure in the near term.

8.  There is considerable evidence that language structure can affect how you think, so banish certain words from your vocabulary (and thus from your thoughts) for the next 100 days when you refer to the current White House occupant.  Avoid…
--any noun ending in “…ick”
--“malvado payaso naranjo” (if you’re thinking in Spanish; otherwise just avoid “evil orange clown”)
--“hoser/hosebag” (if you’re thinking in Canadian)
--“Bannon”

9.  Take perverse pleasure in any articles that contain the words “Jared” and “portfolio” since they are obviously absurdist farces devoid of content.  As many observers have pointed out, his supposed “portfolio” is so ridiculously large that Jared clearly is spending his time building his business anyway. Focusing on Jared is a bit unpleasant, but much less painful than directing attention towards his much less funny father-in-law.

10.  Finally, if you really must follow the news cycle, subject anything Trump says or tweets on a topic to a minimum 3-day quarantine period in which you pretend it simply didn’t register.  We have already learned the pattern: if outrageous, it will be widely lambasted by the adults in the room on the second day, and then on the third or fourth day it will be withdrawn accompanied by “I didn’t realize” or “you see, it worked,” or our favorite “this is harder than I thought.” At that point the “real” policy—usually the status quo--will likely be clearer and you can tune in again.

Bonus advice: New Zealand has a lot going for it.

4 comments:

Shag from Brookline said...

Hey, guys, don't expect me to engrave these in stone and carry them to the mountaintop before the second 100 days expire. But I appreciate your thoughts.

Hermeneutically yours,

Mo

Joe said...

Liquor might help.

Shag from Brookline said...

It's sometimes quicker, at least in verse. But is it sobering in dealing with an authoritarian teetotaler? At least a drinker will be sober in the morning but that teetotaler will still be an authoritarian. [Contest: substitutes for "authoritarian" beginning with the letter "a". First prize: One week free at Trump hotel in DC. Second prize: Two weeks free ....]

Joe said...

This thread seems a bit dead, so just will toss out a recommendation:

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/la-ca-warwick-downing11-2009jan11-story.html

It's a young adult novel, but as is often the case, adults can enjoy it too. It's about a 14 year old lawyer who helps her grandfather (older than Shag) fight the good fight in early 1970s Colorado. Gorsuch reference!

"The Trials of Kate Hope" ... since the next generation might be needed to do it right next time.