How is Donald Trump doing?
In the past couple of weeks, this question has been making the rounds in political and punditry circles pondering the first six months of the new US President.
The answer depends on whose point of view one has in mind. From Trump’s point of view things are going well for him. He has managed to keep himself at the center of global media coverage almost non-stop, thus satisfying his seemingly insatiable craving for attention. At the same time, he has made it impossible for political foes to challenge him in the field of policies. Not doing anything in that field, he is not exposed to scrutiny and criticism. To avoid being labeled as a do-nothing president, however, he fills the policy vacuum with a deluge of tweets and an avalanche of executive orders while highlighting his few surprising successes, including the ability to name a man of his choice to the US Supreme Court.
Trump has turned the political debate in the US into what sociologist Malinowski calls “phatic communion” or “content-less conversation”, a process solely aimed at keeping the conversation going without conveying any discernible meaning — something like what Irish dramatist Samuel Beckett did in his plays.
The Trump method, if one might call it thus, has two planks.
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