Whatever one thinks of the criminal prosecutions and state “civil” suits against Donald Trump (and there are good reasons to question many aspects of them), they represent the powerful state that he has not disavowed, except perhaps in occasional and incoherent baby talk, as long as he was running it. And there is something special about the way he sells this sort of state, provided he runs it, to his followers. America was in terminal decline before him, in four years he made it great again, it’s not great anymore since the election was stolen from him, but he will quickly make it great again if the election is not rigged.

Exactly like he sees elections, he will only think the trial jury is fair if it renders the right verdict. He apparently says it with no shame (“Jury for Donald Trump’s Hush-Money Trial Takes Shape: An Oncology Nurse, a Software Engineer, a Teacher,” Wall Street Journal, April 16, 2024):

After court, Trump headed up to a Harlem bodega for a campaign event. Asked by reporters about the jurors that have been selected, the Republican nominee said, “I’ll let you know in about two months.”

Politicians and rulers are typically ordinary Joes with more dangerous incentives, and I don’t want to propose any other as a Platonic model. But on the probability distribution, there is something special in Mr. Trump’s character and the way he deals with truth and reality, as an article in the current issue of The Economist would suggest (“Truth Social Is a Mind-Bending Win for Donald Trump,” April 18, 2024). Just the article’s artwork (much better than mine with DALL-E) is worth the detour. Three excerpts from the article:

Since shares in Donald Trump’s media firm began trading publicly on March 26th, their value has slid by more than half. …

The performance of Mr Trump’s stock [in his media firm] so far represents the purest demonstration of his power not just to bend reality, but to convert illusion into reality—and also, maybe, of how Americans are coming to confuse the two. …

What Mr Trump has called “truthful hyperbole”, and others call lying, has been central to his success. When he built Trump Tower it had 58 floors, but in numbering them he skipped ten to claim 68 instead. This tactic has occasionally caught up with him, most severely in the $355m penalty imposed on him in February after a New York judge found Mr Trump had lied for years to secure loans and make deals—trebling the size of his penthouse apartment, for example, and valuing his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida based on its potential for residential development, though he had surrendered the rights to develop it as anything but a club.


By Pierre Lemieux and DALL-E