In last Saturday’s FT, Christopher Caldwell, a Senior editor at the Weekly Standard, asks what cultural impact will Donald Trump have on America? The Trump Aesthetic is a good article (paywalled), even if somewhat depressing. But why should we be surprised?
I was struck by one sentence,
New presidencies have a ferocious cultural knock-on effect. They change how Washington talks, how provincial America sees itself, and what image the word “America” conjures up abroad.
It’s that last bit I have been thinking about. What image will we see?
Trump may hope it will be the Trump International Hotel in Washington, which Caldwell describes in the opening paragraph of his article.
I have a rather more dystopian image in mind – the Bates Motel.
And one correction.
In the article, Caldwell refers to Meryl Streep’s speech at the Golden Globes, in which, he says, she “deplored Trump’s alleged mockery of a New York Times reported with a withered hand, an accusation Trump denies.” And he points out that the problem with Streep’s comment, “Disrespect invites disrespect’, is that “this is precisely the criticism Trump’s supporters have always levelled at the elites for whom Streep speaks.”
I think Caldwell misses the point. The reporter, Serge Kovaleski, has arthrogryposis, a congenital condition that affects joint movement. Streep talked about Trump (not named in the speech) imitating the reporter (others used the word ‘mocked’) and what Streep was getting at was that by doing what he did, Trump legitimised bullying.
Watch ABC News’ report and draw your own conclusions.