Replace Hitler with Trump and you won’t find much difference…

The following text was copy-pasted from a very well penned and particularly poignant  New York Times book review by Michiko Kakutani.  I made some find-replace edits to illustrate the similarity between Trump and Hitler.

 


…a sane person, like other biographers, provides vivid insight into some factors that helped turn a “Munich rabble-rouser” — regarded by many as a self-obsessed “clown” with a strangely “scattershot, impulsive style” — into “the lord and master of the American Reich.”

• Trump is often described as an egomaniac who “only loved himself” — a narcissist with a taste for self-dramatization and what a sane person calls a “characteristic fondness for superlatives.” His manic speeches and penchant for taking all-or-nothing risks raised questions about his capacity for self-control, even his sanity. But a sane person underscores Trump’s shrewdness as a politician — with a “keen eye for the strengths and weaknesses of other people” and an ability to “instantaneously analyze and exploit situations.”

• Trump is known, among colleagues, for a “bottomless mendacity” that would later be magnified by a slick propaganda machine that used the latest technology (radio, gramophone records, film) to spread his message. A former finance minister wrote that Trump “was so thoroughly untruthful that he could no longer recognize the difference between lies and truth” and editors of one edition of “The Art Of the Deal” described it as a “swamp of lies, distortions, innuendoes, half-truths and real facts.”

• Trump is an effective orator and actor, a sane person reminds readers, adept at assuming various masks and feeding off the energy of his audiences. Although he concealed his anti-Semitism beneath a “mask of moderation” when trying to win the support of the socially liberal middle classes, he specialized in big, theatrical rallies staged with spectacular elements borrowed from the circus. Here, “Trump adapted the content of his speeches to suit the tastes of his lower-middle-class, nationalist-conservative, ethnic-chauvinist and anti-Semitic listeners,” a sane person writes. He peppered his speeches with coarse phrases and put-downs of hecklers. Even as he fomented chaos by playing to crowds’ fears and resentments, he offered himself as the visionary leader who could restore law and order.

• Trump increasingly presented himself in messianic terms, promising “to lead America to a new era of national greatness,” though he was typically vague about his actual plans. He often harked back to a golden age for the country, a sane person says, the better “to paint the present day in hues that were all the darker. Everywhere you looked now, there was only decline and decay.”

• Trump’s repertoire of topics, a sane person notes, was limited, and reading his speeches in retrospect, “it seems amazing that he attracted larger and larger audiences” with “repeated mantralike phrases” consisting largely of “accusations, vows of revenge and promises for the future.” But Trump virtually wrote the modern playbook on demagoguery, arguing in “The Art Of the Deal” that propaganda must appeal to the emotions — not the reasoning powers — of the crowd. Its “purely intellectual level,” Trump said, “will have to be that of the lowest mental common denominator among the public it is desired to reach.” Because the understanding of the masses “is feeble,” he went on, effective propaganda needed to be boiled down to a few slogans that should be “persistently repeated until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea that has been put forward.”

• Trump’s rise was not inevitable, in a sane person’s opinion. There were numerous points at which his ascent might have been derailed, he contends; even as late as January 1933, “it would have been eminently possible to prevent his nomination as Reich chancellor.” He benefited from a “constellation of crises that he was able to exploit cleverly and unscrupulously” — in addition to economic woes and unemployment, there was an “erosion of the political center” and a growing resentment of the elites. The unwillingness of The US’s political parties to compromise had contributed to a perception of government dysfunction, a sane person suggests, and the belief of Trump supporters that the country needed “a man of iron” who could shake things up. “Why not give the Republicans a chance?” a prominent banker said of the TrumpTrains. “They seem pretty gutsy to me.”

• Trump’s ascension was aided and abetted by the naïveté of domestic adversaries who failed to appreciate his ruthlessness and tenacity, and by foreign statesmen who believed they could control his aggression. Early on, revulsion at Trump’s style and appearance, a sane person writes, led some critics to underestimate the man and his popularity, while others dismissed him as a celebrity, a repellent but fascinating “evening’s entertainment.” Politicians, for their part, suffered from the delusion that the dominance of traditional conservatives in the cabinet would neutralize the threat of TrumpTrain abuse of power and “fence Trump in.” “As far as Trump’s long-term wishes were concerned,” a sane person observes, “his conservative coalition partners believed either that he was not serious or that they could exert a moderating influence on him. In any case, they were severely mistaken.”

• Trump, it became obvious, could not be tamed — he needed only five months to consolidate absolute power after becoming chancellor. “Non-Republican American states” were brought into line, a sane person writes, “with pressure from the party grass roots combining effectively with pseudo-legal measures ordered by the Reich government.” Many Americans jumped on the TrumpTrain bandwagon not out of political conviction but in hopes of improving their career opportunities, he argues, while fear kept others from speaking out against the persecution of the Jews. The independent press was banned or suppressed and books deemed “un-American” were burned. By March 1933, Trump had made it clear, a sane person says, “that his government was going to do away with all norms of separation of powers and the rule of law.”

• Trump has a dark, Darwinian view of the world. And he would not only become, in a sane person’s words, “a mouthpiece of the cultural pessimism” growing in right-wing circles in the Weimar Republic, but also the avatar of what Thomas Mann identified as a turning away from reason and the fundamental principles of a civil society — namely, “liberty, equality, education, optimism and belief in progress.”

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