August 12 to 17 will be remembered as the week when Donald Trump abandoned the presidency of the United States. Confronted with the need to unite his country and relieve its pain, he chose division for its people and salt for its wounds, just as Adolf Hitler chose division and salt in Germany’s time of need.
Here are my selections for Sunday’s best reading.
In an especially brilliant piece of writing, The New York Times’ Frank Bruni argued that this was the week that Trump resigned. “He abdicated his responsibilities so thoroughly and recklessly that it amounted to a letter of resignation.” It could even be argued, wrote Bruni, that his presidency never really began. “He was more interested in justifying himself.”
Fiona Helmsley—a writer of essays, poems and fiction whose audience is more populated by 1980s-era feminists than 1950s-era white guys—has offered a portrait of Trump as seen from the dark corners inside a decaying house next to a gas station on a street that became a major thorofare, the house she grew up in. She understands as few do why the people in those houses are devout followers of Trump. It has to do with shame and perhaps helps to explain Charlottesville. In my college course on Trump this would be required reading.
Speaking of the 1950s—which we weren’t—the United States military as long ago as that understood perfectly the elements necessary for effective leadership. America’s armed forces survive or fail on good leadership and have long required leadership courses in schools for fledgling officers.
Peter Leschak, a wildland firefighter from Minnesota who trains other firefighters, says those elements apply to all leaders, military or civilian. He provides a list of what good leaders do and asks us to judge which of them President Trump exhibits. Warning: you might find the result depressing.