Nota Bene: Impeaching the People

From Andrew Sullivan’s essay on two new books about the impeachment process:

The founders knew that without a virtuous citizenry, the Constitution was a mere piece of paper and, in Madison’s words, “no theoretical checks — no form of government can render us secure.” Franklin was blunter in forecasting the moment we are now in: He believed that the American experiment in self-government “can only end in despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other.” You can impeach a president, but you can’t, alas, impeach the people. They voted for the kind of monarchy the American republic was designed, above all else, to resist; and they have gotten one…

Screening Room: ‘The Final Year’

The Final Year, which tracks Barack Obama’s foreign policy team in his presidency’s pell-mell final year as the shadow of the Trump victory looms darkly, is opening in wider release this week.

My review is at Film Journal International:

…[Director Greg Barker] highlights three key players: chief speechwriter Ben Rhodes, United Nations ambassador Samantha Powers and Secretary of State John Kerry. Although Obama offers a few to-the-camera remarks, for the most part he remains in the background as the leader whose policies these three power players need to mesh with their own beliefs and wrestle into some coherent and actionable policy. Powers and Kerry perform their jobs with such a sense of can-do urgency that even when the frequently hubristic Rhodes says that they “felt like a pickup team…to change the world,” one’s eyes don’t even necessarily roll…

Here’s the trailer:

 

Reader’s Corner: ‘Fire and Fury’

My review of Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury, currently on backorder at bookstores around the country and potentially turning into the president’s Harvey Weinstein moment, is up now at PopMatters:

Here we are, just 12 months into the presidency of Donald J. Trump and already just about every writer in the nation has sharpened their pens into knives. But despite the reams of Trump denunciations that have hit screens and bookshelves, none will probably be seen to have cut as deep as Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury…

Screening Room: ‘The Final Year’

The documentary The Final Year, which tracks Barack Obama’s foreign policy team in the pell-mell last year of his presidency, opens this week in limited release for Oscar consideration.

My review is at Film Journal International:

…[Director Greg Barker] highlights three key players: chief speechwriter Ben Rhodes, United Nations ambassador Samantha Powers and Secretary of State John Kerry. Although Obama offers a few to-the-camera remarks, for the most part he remains in the background as the leader whose policies these three power players need to mesh with their own beliefs and wrestle into some coherent and actionable policy. Powers and Kerry perform their jobs with such a sense of can-do urgency that even when the frequently hubristic Rhodes says that they “felt like a pickup team…to change the world,” one’s eyes don’t even necessarily roll…

Here’s the trailer:

 

Reader’s Corner: Bannon, Trump, and the ‘Devil’s Bargain’

As the D.C. news circuit scrambles to dissect the court turmoil in the White House to see how long Steve Bannon may or may not survive, it’s instructive to read Joshua Green’s Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency.

My review is at PopMatters:

Years from now—assuming that books are still being published and we aren’t just wandering dazedly through a burnt-out cultural void of screaming memes—the books written about the 2016 US Presidential election will fill even more shelves than those written about Watergate. They will discuss the strategies, the major players, and the trendlines that led to this decision or that. Some books will also analyze how, in 2016, a fury-fueled flim-flam man broke almost every rule about presidential campaigns and became the most powerful man in the world. Those authors will argue with good reason that 2016 was the election that changed everything…

Weekend Reading: March 10, 2017

childrenreading1

Reader’s Corner: Orwell and Trump

orwell1

My article “Forget Orwell: No Book Will Prepare You for the Trump Years” was published earlier this week at Medium:

After Donald Trump’s human smokescreen Kellyanne Conway announced that the president was simply presenting the world with “alternative facts,” the connection was quickly made to George Orwell’s 1984. There is good reason for this. (And while one should be happy for any resulting increase in sales of the book, we shouldn’t presume that it will be any guide to the remaining years of the Trump presidency. More on that below.)…