Tom Ricks interview - a sober look at repercussions of Trump's mentality (Fresh Air)

Here’s an interview worth listening to for an informed overview of what’s happened in Washington these days.

Churchill, Orwell And The Fight Against Totalitarianism May 22, 2017 TERRY GROSS, HOST: ...President Trump has given generals prominent roles in his administration - James Mattis, secretary of defense; John Kelly, secretary of Homeland Security, H.R. McMaster, national security adviser and Michael Flynn, the national security adviser who was forced out after 24 days. My guest Tom Ricks has covered these men and is going to talk with us about them. Ricks is a former Pentagon correspondent for The Washington Post. He's written five books about the military and America's wars. His best-seller about the Iraq War, titled "Fiasco," kind of became the title of the war itself. Now Ricks writes the blog The Best Defense for Foreign Policy magazine. He also has a new book called "Churchill And Orwell: The Fight For Freedom." It's a dual biography of Winston Churchill, who led England through World War II, and George Orwell, who's best known for his dystopian novels "Animal Farm" and "1984." The theme that unites these two men is standing up against totalitarianism, Hitler and fascism, Stalin and communism. Ricks says their writings have a lot of resonance today. In fact, "1984," Orwell's novel about a totalitarian state whose Ministry of Truth has on its wall the slogan ignorance is strength became a best-seller after President Trump's inauguration.

... GROSS: You must be wondering what's going to happen at Fox News now, especially after the death of Roger Ailes. RICKS: I think there's a special place in hell for Roger Ailes, for Sean Hannity and for Bill O'Reilly. I think they introduced a feeling of thuggishness into American discourse. And ultimately, I blame that on Rupert Murdoch, who I think has done more to poison American political life than any single person since Jefferson Davis. GROSS: You wrote a column nearly three years ago for Politico that was headlined "Why Am I Moving Left? I Used To Be Right Down The Middle, But America's Changed And So Have I." You wrote this when you were in your late 50s. So what do you mean when you said you were moving left? RICKS: I had a lot more faith in America 25 years ago than I do now. I thought we were moving generally in the right direction. I thought we were handling race better than we had in the past. I thought we were confronting some of our historical flaws better than we had. And I thought the American middle class was really moving AND getting its just desserts. It was doing well. Since then and after 9/11, I have seen the American government panic in response to 9/11. I've seen us go to war on false premises in Iraq. I have seen us go backwards on race in America, especially since Trump has been elected. People now feel it's OK to say racist things and other things that used to be seen as too extreme to be in polite company. And also, income inequality has really become a huge problem in America that we're not facing. And we have seen basically the middle class not move forward economically in about 30 years while the top 1 percent of this country has been making out like bandits. And I see, ultimately, our political system stymied and not able to deal with any of these questions, I believe, because of campaign finance - has basically made Congress unresponsive to the American people and more responsive to the interests of the top 1 percent. It struck me in the election that no matter whether Trump won or Hillary Clinton won, Goldman Sachs would win. And they have. ...