Hits and Misses

Hits and Misses

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Duly Noted: Philip Roth on Donald Trump

In The New Yorker issue of January 30, 2017, Phillip Roth was interviewed about his 2004 novel The Plot Against America and its possible relevance to our new president.  Roth suggested that a more relevant book about Trump's presidency would be Melville's "The Confidence Man," which, Roth observed, could just have well been called "The Art of the Scam."

"I was born in 1933," Roth continued, "the year that F.D.R. was inaugurated.  He was President until I was twelve years old.  I've been a Roosevelt Democrat ever since.  I found much that was alarming about being a citizen during the tenures of Richard Nixon and George W. Bush.  But, whatever I may have seen as their limitations of character or intellect, neither was anything like as humanly impoverished as Trump is:  ignorant of government, of history, of science, of philosophy, of art, incapable of expressing or recognizing subtlety or nuance, destitute of all decency, and wielding a vocabulary of seventy-seven words that is better called Jerkish than English."

What is most terrifying about Trump, Roth concluded, "is that he makes any and everything possible, including, of course, the nuclear catastrophe."  That throw-away "of course" is the more chilling because it's so matter of fact.

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