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The fascination which Trump exercises on so many of us probably has something to do with the disjunction between what he proclaims to be the truth, and the reality

This summer, whether you be hiking in mountainous areas, lolling about in a sea or visiting the foreign capital of your choice, one thing is certain: you’ll be hearing about Donald Trump. He has never failed to make daily headlines, right from the start of his campaign (the racist slurs about Mexicans being rapists, neatly counterbalanced by his own recorded comments about seizing vulvas as a recommended method of seduction) through to almost everything he’s done since he’s been president: banning immigration from Muslim countries where he has no business interests, but hob-nobbing and sword dancing in Muslim countries where he does; lying about paying wads of hush money to a porn star with whom he had sex just days after the birth of Donald Jr.; slashing the size of national parks to allow mining; defending outspokenly racist demonstrators; imposing immigration restrictions that allow police to seize small children from Latin American mothers trying to cross the border; imposing metal tariffs that could plunge the world – including the US – into another economic recession; praising an unpredictable Korean dictator who runs the world’s deadliest labour camps, keeps a large part of his own population at or below starvation level and murders members of his own family, in exchange for a handshake photo with said tyrant; and, last but not least, planning to ban abortion completely (the only other country which did this was Romania under the Ceaucescus, with tragic results for hundreds of thousands of unwanted orphans) and promoting sexual abstinence in schools as the only acceptable method of contraception (this is not only odd, coming as it does from a serial adulterer, but research done on existing Christian pro-abstinence schools has revealed a marked increase in anal sex among their teenage pupils). And as for Trump’s ties to Russia, let’s not even go there (Robert Mueller, the Special Counsel for the Department of Justice, is doing that for us).

The source of the fascination which Trump exercises on so many of us – we tend to gawp at his latest blunders like people passing a car crash – probably has something to do with the disjunction between what he proclaims to be the truth, and the reality which gives him the lie. In Catalonia, we know the feeling well: the previous Spanish government – and, at the time of writing, the current one – persist in accusing a cultural activist and 15 elected politicians (eight in distant jail, seven in even more distant exile) of violent rešbellion for organising a referendum in which the violence was all but monopolised by imported Spanish police. The reaction of many people here to this is similar to that of many Americans towards Trump: there is some outrage, some frustration, but the topmost feeling is one of sheer incredulity. Having said which, there is an important difference: the judges and politicians responsible for the unlikely charges against Catalan leaders are professionals who got where they are because they wanted to be there. According to the journalist Michael Wolff in his book ‘Fire And Fury’, the key to Trump’s incompetence is that he never expected to be president: he ran for the post to raise his profile sky-high in order to launch a TV network. He even guaranteed that he wouldn’t win to his wife (who didn’t want him to). It makes you wonder which is worse: an accidental president who does nothing but create accidents? Or a government and judiciary that knowingly and deliberately creates a situation which is patently absurd?

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