For the ancient Greeks logos meant reason, dialogue and debate. It could also mean speech, the power of language for good or self-gain, an aspect demagogues know well and the sophist Gorgias (5th century BC) warned against.
‘The Greeks had a word for it’ is an English expression and they often did. ‘Hubris’ would be the word to understand an overweening bombast with no time for dialogue or debate and a penchant for bullying and humiliating others.
Governing, however, requires patience, respect for opposition, dialogue and accommodation — qualities notably absent in the current American president. His favorable poll rating at only 41 percent (the lowest of any president Gallup has tracked and they have since Eisenhower) and facing a barrage of criticism for the inept and chaotic first three weeks, Mr. Trump held a surreal press conference, then retreated to a rally of his supporters in Florida … undoubtedly arranged to soothe his bruised ego.
At the rally, the First Lady began her introduction for her husband by reciting the Lord’s Prayer. For a notorious philanderer, with numerous instances of unwelcome advances, a businessman with a history of sharp practice (including stiffing club members in a case only recently decided against him) and absolutely no particular record of religious observance, it was quite a beginning. Yes, the Greeks had a word for it … hypocrisy’s origins lie in Greek.
The chaos in the White House is represented at a presidential news conference as a ‘well-oiled, smooth running-machine’. We are informed that the resignation of Mike Flynn was because ‘he didn’t tell our vice president properly and then he said he didn’t remember’ to quote Mr. Trump. But then why did the president wait so long when he knew about it at least two weeks earlier?
In late January, acting Attorney General Sally Yates informed the White House Flynn had lied to the White House. As well, given his experience in intelligence, Flynn himself must have known conversations with the Russian ambassador were routinely recorded. So why was he so cavalier in his dealings? Was he ordered by Mr. Trump to set the Russians at ease after the proverbial spitting in the soup by the departing administration? Notably, Flynn’s call was made the same day (December 29) the sanctions were imposed. He did establish a record of sorts … for shortest tenure, having been in office 23 days.
Vice Admiral Robert Harward, who was offered Flynn’s job has declined. Interesting that Harward spent some early years in Iran and actually graduated from the Teheran American High School — his father, a Navy man was posted there. Many reasons are offered as to why he declined but it is also possible he didn’t see eye to eye with the anti-Iran view of this administration. Then too, a chaotic White House is hardly appealing.
Trump’s reluctance to fire Flynn is not that difficult to discern: he was his point man on Russia, and the most ardent advocate of a policy reversal. That Russia is being asked to leave Crimea, and Trump is now 100 percent behind NATO signal an end to any quick accommodation with Putin.
Meanwhile, illegal border crossings have suddenly soared — not on the Mexico side but to Canada. Afraid of Trump’s anti-Muslim ban (currently in flux), many awaiting residency are not taking any chances on a court resolution. They are crossing into Canada, looking for a police officer to surrender to, and asking for asylum. There have sadly been cases of frostbite among the ill prepared who have lost fingers and toes. Such is the desperation.
On the other end of the scale, the Trump family’s luxurious lifestyle and global business interests have already cost the U.S. taxpayer upwards of $11 million in transportation and Secret Service protection, a sum expended in less than a month. At this rate, it hardly matters how much less the new presidential plane will cost due to President Trump’s haranguing. By way of comparison, President Obama’s yearly travel costs averaged $12.1 million over his eight years, according to the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch.
In the real world, Vice President Mike Pence and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis were scurrying to Europe to reassure allies of U.S. commitment. All the same, the German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, at the start of the Munich Security Conference, lectured the U.S. to keep away from torture and not make the war against terrorism into a war against Islam.
Such is the running of the ‘well-oiled machine’.
Dr Arshad M Khan (http://ofthisandthat.org/index.html) is a former Professor whose comments over several decades have appeared in a wide-ranging array of print and electronic media. His work has been quoted in the U.S. Congress and published in the Congressional Record.