July 23, 2024

Chris Honoré: ‘American Carnage’ revisited

Donald Trump 2017 Inaugural
Donald Trump delivers his 2017 inaugural address. C-SPAN screen shot
July 11, 2023

How is it that the indictment of Donald Trump and growing evidence of his misdeeds may actually strengthen him politically?

By Chris Honoré 

In his 16-minute inaugural speech in 2017, Trump portrayed a sinister vision of America that he titled “American Carnage.” It was dark, chilling, and we can now only fully grasp what it portended.

Chris Honoré

But finally, after four years of chaos and dissembling, the word “accountability” has come into play with the recently unsealed 37-count indictment detailing the malfeasance of Donald Trump, charging him with a stunning, willful obstruction as he refused to return to the nation’s National Archives top-secret files, so potentially compromising that I’m certain our intelligence community will likely never know fully if our adversaries penetrated the porous Mar-a-Lago resort in order to gain access.

From the indictment we learn that some boxes contained nuclear program vulnerabilities, classified maps, information that put our national security at risk, as well as jeopardizing the lives of those who clandestinely gather such information.

What his actions reveal is the essence of a man of a profound egotism, arrogance, narcissism and greed, compounded by a stunning lack of understanding of the honor bestowed upon him when elected president.

Remarkably, he was, from the initial Access Hollywood recording, no stranger to us. Often, over the four years of his tenure I thought of the Martin Scorsese film “Good Fellas.” We knew about the $25 million fine for his scam university and the payoff to a porn star, watched him extort Ukraine for information about Biden, saw him impeached two times and see that he continues to rhapsodize about the cruel dictator of North Korea. Have we forgotten those weeks (months?) of COVID denial?

And the carnage even now continues as he denigrates the Department of Justice, his vitriolic language echoed by fellow Republicans using their hollow, profoundly irresponsible go-to word: “weaponization” of the FBI and the DOJ.

Realizing that I have asked this question before, considering what has now been revealed by a special prosecutor, I have to ask how it was possible for this morally bankrupt man (who would be king), who cared not a whit about our democracy, was elected president and then went on to create a cult of personality that transformed the Republican Party in his own authoritarian image?

In a recent New York Times article by columnist Damon Linker, I came across comments that only add to the puzzle regarding the gravitational pull of Trump while touching on the recent indictment.

Linker writes: “Hard as it may be for some of us to believe, Mr. Trump’s indictment by the special counsel (Jack Smith) on federal charges could well boost him further, placing him in a position of even greater advantage against his rivals for the Republican nomination.”

How to understand that as possible further indictments await (Georgia and the Jan. 6, 2021, coup attempt, which Smith is still investigating) that Trump remains, by a sizable margin, his party’s front-runner? This continues to raise the question: Do we as a nation, to our core, still believe that no individual is above the law? Is this not a vital cornerstone of our democracy?

Yet, according to Linker, there are millions of Americans (including members of Congress such as Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan) who defend Trump and continue to denigrate and politicize the indictment.

Linker, reaching for an explanation (recall that in the recent presidential election 74 million Americans voted for Trump), suggests that America “has a history of lionizing outlaws — folk heroes who defy authority … and claim to speak and channel and champion the grievances and resentments of ordinary people against those in power,” (aka, “the woke elite.”)

Perhaps Linker is right and his comments simply explain in great part the existence of Trump’s base, and the reflexive loyalty he commands. Or is the answer far more complex, having to do with what is no longer a latent wish for authoritarianism instead of democracy?

Email Ashland resident Chris Honoré at

Picture of Jim


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