Trump advocates beer summit: Kevin Drum beat us to it. Only in an administration like this could a guy with the name "Mad Dog" be a moderating force.
Apparently, Mad Dog Mattis told Trump the Gardener that torture doesn't work. Live and direct from the New York Times confab, Tom Friedman takes things a bit further:
FRIEDMAN (11/23/16): Trump said Mattis told him of torture: ''I've never found it to be useful.'' (Many in the military and the C.I.A. have long held this view.)Not only has he abandoned torture. He's stolen Obama's beer summit!
He quoted Mattis as saying, ''Give me a pack of cigarettes and a couple of beers and I always do better'' than anyone using torture. Concluded Trump, ''I was very impressed by that answer.''
Drum makes the more serious point. It's astounding that Trump the Gardener was willing to tell the New York Times that he abandoned his stance on torture because of what one guy said.
Is that what actually happened? We have no idea. But Trump felt free to attribute this state of super-cluelessness to himself, right there in public.
Let's get clear on the nature of our new historical epoch:
With the ascension of Trump, the gatekeepers are totally gone. Gone with them are all previous standards, assumptions, expectations, boundaries, safeguards and practices.
At one time, party gatekeepers wouldn't have let a person like Trump become a major party nominee. Nominees were picked in smoke-filled rooms. Whatever you may have thought of the practice, the people in those smoke-filled rooms refused to pick a nominee who may, simply put, be crazy.
Slowly, primaries replaced the bosses. During the same era, Imus, Stern, Limbaugh and Jones began replacing Cronkite and Brinkley. (Later, after Jones, along came Bannon.) Craziness is an industry now. And there are no bosses in smoke-filled rooms to protect us against our bad judgment.
American voters never had to evaluate a person like Trump. American voters were never exposed to such a nominee. It simply wasn't allowed.
Something else is true. There was a time when American weren't asked to evaluate the ridiculous claims of people like Limbaugh and Jones. It was hard to hear crazy or ludicrous claims. For the most part, such lunacy wasn't allowed. Crazy people and ludicrous hustlers weren't allowed on the air.
As it turns out, we the people are susceptible to these new viral strains, against which we have no defenses. By the way, our own tribe's deeply limited judgment has been playing a key role in this far-flung cultural breakdown.
We liberals! We used to laugh at the way the ditto-heads would swallow whatever Rush said. When Thanksgiving break is done, we'll focus on all the things our own tribe's cable stars have done, and have refused to do, in the run-up toward our strange new world under our President Trump.
We'll focus on what our own favorites have failed to do. Because she's our most celebrated corporate star, we'll focus on Rachel's work.
Trump the Gardener abandoned torture this week. By the time Thanksgiving is done, he may have spoken to someone else, and it may be back on his rake.