Donald Trump is ending his term in fury and carnage. The capture of the Capitol, on January 6, by his supporters, whom he had heated to white, will remain the symbol of these four years which shook American democracy. To summarize this unique mandate – in the double sense of the term – we have chosen to publish a selection of the weekly columns of our correspondent in Washington, Gilles Paris. They appeared every Sunday on Lemonde.fr.
A willingly ironic tone
Keeping up with Trump’s White House requires marathon skills. During these four years, Gilles Paris has gone the distance and at the same time succeeded in keeping his journalistic cool. Avoiding easy indignation, he sought to understand the mechanisms at work in this completely convoluted White House, trying to go beyond the deluge of presidential Tweet. But he also needed to catch his breath and find another rhythm, another tone. Over the weeks, he summed up the presidential hyperbole in short, willingly ironic chronicles that captured the substantive core of the Trumpian mandate.
Rereading these four years in some 165 chronicles gives the impression of having lived through an accelerated political era, led by a president in permanent overheating. The mention, in March 2017, of Trump’s homage to President Andrew Jackson (1829-1837), “First populist in American history” who “Had been brought to the White House by a raging crowd who had practically ransacked the building”, has taken on a whole new resonance since January 6.
Behind the show
In these chronicles emerges the portrait of a president who takes himself for a “Very stable genius”, unable to listen to voices other than his own or those of his most base flatterers, and very quickly locks himself in denial, as in protection. But behind the show, complacently relayed by social networks, appears, according to Gilles Paris, a clear strategy: “The transformation of executive power into an augmented presidency for the sole benefit of Donald Trump and his followers. “
No one seemed to be able to stop this chief disruptor who believed he was above the law. The Democrats were struggling to adjust their opposition, despite the resumption of the House of Representatives, and the first impeachment instead reinforced the image of omnipotence of the president, whom he contemplated every morning in his mirror. As for the Republicans, if they initially thought they could coax him into contact with American institutions, they quickly engaged in a competition of cowardice and servility, terrified at the idea of being excommunicated by a volley of Tweet . “Le silence des cowards” was the title of one of the chronicles.
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