It’s Saturday, Aug. 5, 0647 hrs. I’m at the airport in Hamburg, waiting to board the first of two flights back to America.
I just climbed out of the three performances at the Wacken Festival, the first European shows I’ve done in the age of Trump. I understand that I was in front of young music fans, but just mentioning his name elicited a reaction completely antithetical to the desperation-sets-in pep rally he flopped through in West Virginia a few days ago. I don’t want to be like Sean Spicer and get attendance numbers wrong, but over three nights, a lot of people wandered into my tent, and if they are in any way demonstrative of Germany’s youth, comrade Trump might not want to visit his non-friend Chancellor Merkel anytime soon.
I’ve been trying to figure out what’s behind comrade Trump’s recent flailing. Keeping his Putin First policy on display when he complained about having to sign the bill to put further sanctions on Russia was interesting but hardly surprising. He has to act out for his handlers in Moscow, I get it, but when he says that he is disappointed in the sanctions because they limit his dealmaking latitude with Putin, it shows that his head is still in the private sector, where he has failed over and over.
I wonder if Trump understands that the bill he signed prohibits him from lifting any sanctions without congressional review. Any move he makes to serve his Russian keepers will be immediate front-page news and all the ingredients for a perfect political firestorm. His own party is trying to contain him.
I would like to know what Trump understands about the very real storm gathering around him. Publically, he says all this Russia business is nothing but a proverbial witch hunt. I don’t think that’s true, but I don’t think Trump is necessarily lying, as far as he knows, when he says that. Judging from his clueless remarks about almost every issue, from the Paris Agreement to NATO, I get the idea that, while he might not be stupid, he isn’t all that interested in the fine or even medium print on seemingly anything that would be in an American president’s purview. His apparent lack of concern as to governmental mechanics and what his job entails shows up in his tweets, his hires and his increasingly bizarre statements.
What keeps coming to my mind is that it’s possible he’s so easily played that, no matter what evidence you showed him that his interactions with Russian operatives and shady businessmen disadvantaged him, he wouldn’t understand or allow himself to admit he was a sucker. If you’re going to turn someone, the last person who should know is the one you’re turning. Comrade Trump is in so many ways the perfect mark. You loan him money he’ll never be able to pay back and compliment his greatness and he hops into your boat, unaware of the hook in his mouth, thinking you’re lucky he’s giving you the time of day.
Could it be that Trump’s myriad detractors are giving him far too much credit, and what they’re really witnessing is the takedown of a man whose hubris and inability to see outside of his lackey-packed perimeter will cause him to be the last person in the room who finally gets it?
I don’t know if Trump is a frog in a pot of ever-warming water or just a man about to hit the history books as America’s greatest elected failure.
If Trump thought he could be in trouble, wouldn’t he, like his son-in-law Jared, hire much better legal help than what he has around him presently? What if comrade Trump has resisted showing his tax returns not because they will reveal some highly questionable international finance movements but because they will show that he’s not nearly as rich as he tells us, is in debt to foreign lenders, and that he’s fucked? What if all the branch-shaking of Robert Mueller’s investigation actually renders Trump, his stacks of cordwood kids and truly odd son-in-law as mere dupes, and throws the hot light on Paul Manafort, a man who actually knows how all this shit works?
I don’t know what Robert Mueller will find in his investigation, but I’m sure whatever’s there, he’ll bring it to light. I don’t know if Trump is a frog in a pot of ever-warming water or just a man about to hit the history books as America’s greatest elected failure.
While comrade Trump enjoys his 17-day vacation in New Jersey, no doubt resting up from all the hard work he’s been putting in, things in Washington are moving right along. Forget Robert Mueller’s Operation Relentless Justice for a second and consider that the Republican-stacked Senate just blocked Trump from making any recess appointments, should he want to knock Attorney General Jeff Sessions off his perch and attempt to remove Mueller. If that’s not writing on the wall, I don’t know what is.
It could be that, post-vacation, Trump will return to a GOP that is showing more and more that it digs him less and less. Froggy’s water might be getting hotter.
Many hours later, I’m at my desk in Los Angeles. The almost 11-hour flight was blessed with an extra three-plus hours of sitting on the ground while the plane went through repairs. Zooming all over the world for work reads like a lot of bending and folding, and it is — even more now, considering how unfun airports have become. But as I drag myself through these multicontinent knotholes, I conclude that it’s always worth it.
I have spent a lot of my life getting to and from places, often not being in one location for longer than 24 hours, for weeks at a time. The older I get, slowing down seems like the most dangerous idea. Having more past than future, it’s equivalent to stopping, which is, at this point, capitulation and resignation to mediocrity. I’m not running from my life. I’m chasing it.
Look for your weekly fix from the one and only Henry Rollins right here every Thursday, and come back tomorrow for the playlist for his Sunday KCRW broadcast.
More from the mind of Henry Rollins:
Make America Filthy, Hungry, Broke and Stupid Again
Ask Yourself What Side of History You Want to Be on
Don't Let the Trump Show Distract You From What's Really Going On