By John Grant
President Donald Trump go soft at the last minute and decide the 150 Iranian souls expected to die in an attack that was “10 minutes away” should live? We’re told the planes were in the air when he had his magnanimous, humanitarian moment. It reminds me of the story told by Fyodor Dostoevsky about being in front of a firing squad as a young man, ready to die — when at the very last moment, a messenger arrives: “The Czar has commuted your sentence and given you life. All praise to the Czar! Say thank you and get on the cattle train for Siberia.”
It may be an odd analogy, but what connects these two stories is the inner life of Donald Trump, a mind-space we’re doomed to imagine, a space where the man is in a toga seated on a golden throne just loving his power to give a thumbs up or a thumbs down on the lives of others. Nero was also a celebrity emperor; his talent was poetry and playing the lyre, not strutting around for the cameras and acting mean, firing people. Mr. Trump tells us he’s sticking with his earlier position that the innocent Central Park Five be executed; maybe he could get a pardoned SEAL team killer to do extra-legal executions, then keep pardoning the operative while declaring “executive immunity.” A woman advice columnist now tells us how he violently pressed her up against the wall in an elite department store dressing room and crudely shoved his little donald into her private parts. Smooth. The woman has broken with the #MeToo trend and says, “It was all my fault.” Sorta like the American people who elected Donald Trump and will, little doubt, at some point feel his arrogance shoved deep into the sad delusions of their lives. Like the last line in Jimmy Buffet’s “Margaritaville”: “It was our own damn fault.”
Given the president’s immense capacity for lying and dishonesty, no one should believe a word of his tale of magnanimous commutation. The more plausible story is that, when faced with the downing of a $130 million drone (which was probably in Iranian airspace when shot down) the master of making bankruptcy and chaos smell like a bed of roses in his gold-lined bedroom, got together with his team of chicken-hawk warmongers and called up the Pentagon (whose acting civilian leader just resigned) and ordered a tough-guy raid to show the USA is not to be trifled with.
In this scenario, the duo of John Bolton and Mike Pompeo are giddy with visions of regime change by Christmas. I imagine a cluster of nervous generals led by Joint Chiefs boss General Dunford trekking over to The Situation Room and saying:
“Mister President, do you understand what you have just ordered?
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