Charles Sykes (at the Bulwark) spoke of “a revelation” that he has experienced, courtesy of Trump. “The heart of politics is not about the policy,” he told me. “It’s about the values. I can disagree with you on eight out of 10 issues, but if you’re an honorable, honest, empathetic human being, we can do business.” Trump is none of those things. Joe Biden is most or all of them — and will get Sykes’s vote in November.
But real conversation happily is still possible among us, that which Donald Trump is not capable of. I take the following example of a real conversation from Dostoevsky’s The Possessed. You might say, in the manner of Charles Sykes, that if you are an honorable, honest, empathetic human being, you can have a real conversation. Our President can’t. And for four years I’ve missed it, our country’s president as a man talking with men. He’s not a man, and there are no men about him, only sycophants pulling his strings and leading him on.
Varvara Petrovna: Listen, Stepan Trofimovitch, of course I’m ignorant compared with you on all learned subjects, but as I was travelling here I thought a great deal about you. I’ve come to one conclusion.”
Stepan Trofimovitch: “What conclusion?”
VP: ”That you and I are not the wisest people in the world, but that there are people wiser than we are.”
SP: “Witty and apt. If there are people wiser than we are, then there are people more right than we are, and we may be mistaken, you mean? Mais, ma bonne amie, granted that I may make a mistake, yet have I not the common, human, eternal, supreme right of freedom of conscience? I have the right not to be bigoted or superstitious if I don’t wish to, and for that I shall naturally be hated by certain persons to the end of time. Et puis, comme on trouve toujours plus de moines que de raison, and as I thoroughly agree with that…”
VP:“What, what did you say?”
SP: I said, on trouve toujours plus de moines que de raison, and as I thoroughly…”
VP: “I’m sure that’s not your saying. You must have taken it from somewhere.”
SP” “It was Pascal said that.”
VP: “Just as I thought…it’s not your own. Why don’t you ever say anything like that yourself, so shortly and to the point, instead of dragging things out to such a length?