There is an old Punjabi saying that if your granary is full, even your idiot sons will be regarded as smart. In a broader sense, even in a global context, power and wealth will tend to make the leader of a country taken seriously, irrespective of the general criteria for other people. Which brings us to President Donald Trump, who is using all the pageantry and resources of the world’s most powerful country to break most of the recognized norms of national and international behavior. And even though some of his closest advisers might consider him a ‘moron’ (as did his former secretary of state, Rex Tiller son, who was fired with a Trump tweet) Trump is still walking tall. The mid-term election results might even give him more ammunition to be a polarizing figure by putting all the blame on Democrats for wrecking his national agenda. Even though Trump has been President for less than two years, he has created enough material for three books about him, each written by Obama-time intelligence/security chiefs like James Clapper, director of national intelligence, Michael Hayden, director of national security agency and the CIA respectively, and James Comey, whom Trump fired as head of the FBI. Needless to say, all these books are highly critical of Trump, and the President regards them as part of a conspiracy against him by the ‘Deep State’. As Tim Weiner explains in his review of these three books in the New York Review of Books: “The Deep State, to Trump, is a secret brotherhood of military and intelligence officers secretly manipulating the body politic, and is still run by the leaders of the American intelligence organizations under President Obama, along with unnamed sinister forces still resilient within the Justice Department… To the president, they are not defending the republic but running a slow-rolling coup d’état.” His firing of Jeff Sessions as the country’s attorney general is an example of such paranoia. And the ongoing investigation by the special counsel, Robert S Mueller, the FBI director from 2001 2013, into the Russian connection between the Trump campaign and Moscow operatives is part of this ‘conspiracy’, aided and abetted by the media, who are ‘enemy of the people’ and spreading ‘fake’ news. The craziness and, by implication, the dangers of the Trump White House are clearly brought out in another book, written by Bob Woodward, titled: Fear, Trump in the White House. Woodward was the co-author, with Carl Bernstein of, The Final Days, about the rot in the Nixon presidency. If Woodward is right, the world is witnessing a “nervous breakdown of the executive power of the most powerful country in the world”, but still Trump presidency is coursing through. And what would explain that? One important reason is that he has tapped into the fears and insecurities of many white Americans Woodward writes in his new book that John Kelly, Trump’s Chief of Staff, reportedly had said, “I’m the one guy standing in front of the president trying to protect him [president] He’s an idiot. It is pointless to try to convince him of anything. He’s gone off the rails. We’re in crazytown. I don’t even know why any of us are here.” But apparently Kelly has adapted himself to Trump’s craziness, as he is still there professing loyalty to his boss. If Woodward is right, the world is witnessing a “nervous breakdown of the executive power of the most powerful country in the world”, but still Trump presidency is coursing through. And what would explain that? One important reason is that he has tapped into the fears and insecurities of many white Americans. For instance, to take the most recent example, he has been playing up the danger from refugees heading towards the Mexican border to cross into the United States. Which he has called an invasion of the US and ordered deployment of thousands of troops to stop this “invasion.” In the process, he has been implying that high profile US businessmen, like George Soros and Bloomberg, of Jewish background, are encouraging/financing such refugee exodus into the US, casting aspersion on their patriotism; having declared himself a nationalist working to make America ‘great again’ and to secure it from internal and external forces trying to bring down the United States. And these also include his political foes, like the Democratic Party, keen on welcoming all the refugees from across the border from Mexico, which includes criminals, rapists — might even be terrorists. And it has fallen on Trump to rescue the country from all these malign people. In his rambling way of putting together this over-riding fear of the US being in some serious danger from all sorts of people and forces, Trump has created a narrative of sorts that tends to give a certain coherence and sense of urgency with himself as a messiah. And this is where the danger lies for the rise of a fascist order seeking to operate outside the US’ well-established institutions. Trump’s penchant to increasingly take recourse to presidential executive orders is a clear example. The writer is a senior journalist and academic based in Sydney, Australia Published in Daily Times, November 12th 2018.