Hitler is past master of throwing up verbal smoke screens to conceal his intended moves. He knows equally well the effectiveness of massive oratorical assaults that shake the nerves of his victims and opponents and break down their resistance. He knows how to give pledges that will be broken later but will serve temporally to divide and confuse and to create the illusion of Security. He uses insults and lies in the same manner as his generals use Stuka planes and tanks to break the respectable but often weak front of his adversaries. He contradicts himself constantly but his contradictions often produce the effect of a psychological pincer-movement which crushes the best defenses of logic and ordinary morality.
It is in that unhappy context that I offer these sober stocking-stuffer suggestions:
- The Dictator’s Learning Curve: Inside the Global Battle for Democracy, written in 2012 — and
“prescient,” as Fareed Zakaria recently told us (4 minutes well worth watching).
- The Despot’s Apprentice . . . Donald Trump’s Attack On Democracy.
- Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win.
America’s brand ranked #1 worldwide under Obama. Now the headline is: Germany Takes Top ‘Nation Brand’ Ranking, As U.S. Drops to Sixth.
According to a survey of 20,185 people in 20 countries conducted this past July:
. . . global perception of the United States saw a substantial decline over the past year, causing the U.S. to drop from first to sixth place in Anholt-GfK’s annual Nation Brands Index (NBI).
Germany moved from second to first place; France rose to second place from fifth; and the U.K., which lost some ground after the Brexit vote, improved its score and maintained its third-place ranking.
Japan saw a large (2.12-point) jump in its score and made the top 10 ranking for the first time since 2011, tying with Canada for fourth place. Italy rose to sixth place, from seventh.
Switzerland, Austria and Sweden maintained their eighth, ninth and tenth places, respectively.
Who would have thought, in 1945, that one day Germany and Japan would outrank us in world esteem?
We have a lot of work to do to regain our footing. I don’t believe Steve Bannon, Jared Kushner, Donald Trump, Kellyanne Conway, Sam Clovis, Sean Hannity, and Vladimir Putin are the bunch we need to do it.
And — given, as the latest evidence, their terrible tax plan — I don’t think the Republicans in the House and Senate are, either.