Trump Hall


Literary and historical analogies to the new administration in Washington have been flying as fast and indiscriminately as the hastily scribbled Executive Orders fly from the Oval Office desk. 1984, Brave New World, The Plot Against America, the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany (you know, the ones who perpetrated a Holocaust against everybody), a banana republic, a tin-pot dictatorship, the Fall of Rome. Pick your favorite dystopia. All have had their moment as the metaphor du jour. But since the shocking events of this past week and the rise of Stephen Bannon as the power behind the Throne I can’t help thinking of the Tudors. Henry VIII and his henchman Thomas Cromwell, the protagonists of Hilary Mantel’s brilliant novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, Continue reading “Trump Hall”

The Trigger-Warning Election


Trigger Warning – this Presidential Election contains material that may be disturbing and traumatic for women who have been the victims of sexual abuse or rape, for immigrants who feel unwelcome in our country, for African-Americans who face racial discrimination, for Hispanics who face the assumption that they are not real Americans, for Muslims who fear that they are perceived as terrorists, for children who are victims of bullying… oh heck, this list is getting cumbersomely long, lets just say this election may be disturbing and traumatic for anyone who possesses a shred of humanity. Continue reading “The Trigger-Warning Election”

Braggart in Chief


It has come to this. Among the cacophony of opinion pouring forth from editorials, blogs, columns, and endless TV chatter this Presidential Election season, the one that really seems to get to the heart of the matter comes from a primatologist. Yes, Jane Goodall, famed for her studies of chimp behavior, is now the foremost political analyst in the land.

In the October issue of Atlantic James Fallows writes that Goodall told him “Trump reminds me of male chimpanzees and their dominance rituals.” What, I wonder, made Fallows seek Continue reading “Braggart in Chief”

The End of Reality

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Poster for The Truman Show

In the movie The Truman Show there is a moment when Truman realizes that the horizon he sees is just a backdrop that rips open to reveal the real world beyond. His entire life has taken place on the stage set of a reality TV show. Something like that actually happened last week. But it didn’t happen to just one person; it happened to an entire nation. Now the truth is out. The United States of America doesn’t really exist. It is USA: The Reality Show! Continue reading “The End of Reality”

The Trumping of America


I started these Dispatches five years ago with the idea of trying to explain the curious ways of Americans to the English. I viewed the carnival of American politics with the ironic eye of an outsider. In the last Presidential Primary season I wrote this piece imagining the Republican debates as a kind of reality TV show. I presumed I would write in the same vein this year. The 2016 campaign promised another season of harmless entertainment before Continue reading “The Trumping of America”