“Weekly Dispatches” is a weekly round-up of some of the best and brightest political reporting the Internet on a given theme, brought to you every Friday to better catch up on your dialectic over the weekend. If you’ve got any ideas or recommendations for topics to cover, send an e-mail to Pink Elephants at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those of you who still insist on comparing Trump to Hitler despite what a bungler he clearly is, imma need you to stop right now: you’re giving Darth Cheeto waaaaaaay too much credit.
Hitler was a war hero and a skilled politician for whom the consequences of Germany’s losing the first World War were deeply personal, and for whom the politics of ethnic resentment were born out of circumstances where the stakes for his nation were far higher than our own.
In the years before the second World War, Germany had been brought to its knees by external forces who hoped never to see the nation restored to its former, pre-war greatness. And they succeeded, all too well: Germany was nearly on the brink of extinction when Hitler began his rise to power.
Don’t get me wrong: America is in dire straits, to be sure. But having never seen vast portions of our nation reduced to rubble, then handed a shoestring budget to rebuild by those who waged the destruction and expected to be grateful, I’m not sure our nation would put such a person in power without the threat of such a thing looming large on our consciousness.
Even the most apocalyptic predictions issued forth by the most apoplectic right-wing pundits fail to conjure up the same level of palpitations such as, say, watching Mexico deploying ground forces to reclaim territory north of the Rio Grande on the nightly news might. We’re just not there, and, Lord help us, may we never be.
At the same time, in Donald Trump we are dealing with an exceptional problem, and exceptional circumstances. But they are not without precedent, and it would be remiss to believe otherwise.
|To his credit, at least Berlusconi's hair is real.|
Back in 1994, a thoroughly disgusting media and real estate mogul named Silvio Berlusconi came through Italy’s prime minister elections like a wrecking ball with a cartoonish blend of blunt misogyny, casual racism, and thoroughly corrupt business practices, miraculously sweeping the election and eventually becoming Italy’s longest-serving prime minister.
During Berlusconi’s tenure, Italy, which had fallen apart after years of austerity politics, became an even bigger shitshow than it already was, hollowed out from within by even more severe austerity measures and the rewriting of the books by Berlusconi and his cronies.
Today, Berlusconi’s legacy is still felt, as the centrists from both parties refuse to learn from their mistakes and resume the dog-and-pony show once again.
Let’s not make that same mistake, shall we?
Rula Jebreal, "Donald Trump is America’s Silvio Berlusconi” The Washington Post, 09/21/15
Back in the halcyon days of late 2015, when the presidential election had just begun and the dark days of Cheetocratic rule seemed as real a possibility as David Bowie dying unexpectedly of fucking cancer, reporter Rula Jebreal was already drawing comparisons between Trump and Berlusconi, warning the public not to underestimate his appeal. Little did we know that she was our proverbial canary in the coal mine...
Evgenia Peretz, “La Dolce Viagra" Vanity Fair, 05/31/2011
Like Donald Trump, Silvio Berlusconi has a taste for Lolitas that nearly got the best of him in both the court of law and the court of public opinion. Vanity Fair covered the story with incredible detail, up to and including the way Berlusconi, backed by a sympathetic court system, literally wrote and rewrote legislation to let him off the hook time and again.
David Broder, “Being Anti-Trump Isn’t Enough" Jacobin, 03/28/17
Writing for Jacobin, journalist and author David Broder examines the flipside of Berlusconi and Trump’s appeal: the neoliberal, austerity-driven politics that “drained the swamp” of much that makes life livable for the poor and working classes. In both Italy and the United States, Broder argues, the politics of the Third Way are in fact the politics of the third rail, and to indulge them further is to deepen the divide between labor and capital with increasingly disastrous consequences.