I admit it: I sometimes feel like writing about Keith Richards. I’m a fan. But since there are few situations when writing about Keef isn’t a non sequitur, I mostly confine myself to brief Facebook appreciations of say, the slashing rhythm guitar on “All Down the Line,” or the delicate arpeggios on “Love in Vain.” Would that Politico’s John F. Harris had my discipline.
He doesn’t, and so he’s inflicted on readers a column on “What Keith Richards Can Tell Us About Beating Our Donald Trump Addiction.” Richards was a notorious heroin addict throughout the 1970s. After a bust in Toronto in 1977, he got clean.
According to Harris, we Americans are Keith and Donald Trump is our smack. We need to kick the habit. It’s not an original thought, but he’s not entirely wrong. The left is addicted to the rage Trump drives in them. And though he says Trump’s supporters need the cure too, he’s really talking to lefties. In defeat, Harris wrote, Trump “is managing to tighten his grip on the consciousness of those who loathe him.” (Seriously, listen to Democrats and the media. If anything they’re more grim and resentful than ever. You guys just won the presidency -- swing, baby!)
“Trump addiction, Harris said, “is mostly metaphor.” Yes, and he’s asking it to work harder than any beast of burden should have to. I suspect that’s why he dragooned Keith into the effort. But Keith doesn’t really add much.
Harris focused on a Richards quote that’s more about staying clean than getting clean:
“You know, after 10 years on that stuff, you live in this other world, where everybody you know’s one,” Richards once said. “So the cats would come around and try to sell you stuff, so I started to get off — my high for a while was watching their faces when I said ‘no.’ ‘Hey man, just a taste, man.’ And just when they couldn’t make a sale just to watch their face, that would be my high.”
Good for Keith, but what’s Harris’s point?
“There is a chance to borrow Richards’ technique during the Trump-Biden transition,” he said. “It starts with a recognition that Trump’s power is not political in the traditional sense but psychological.”
To Harris, “Trump’s power — just like Keith Richards’ drug transactions — requires two sides to work. His hold on supporters will wane at the same time his hold on political foes and the news media does. Just say no and watch their faces.”
That’s it? Harris went all the way back to the 70s and dug up junkie Keith for that insight? He might have just opened a couple of fortune cookies.
It takes two to tango. Don’t rise to the bait. Don’t let him provoke you. Liberals couldn’t do it in the first place. Why does Harris expect them to succeed now? And, as Harris notes, Trump’s “supporters are attracted to him precisely because he so easily outrages his opponents.” Is that going to change? Whether it’s Trump speaking or someone else, you don’t have to be a MAGA head to at least nod approvingly when someone shows the media/academia/Democrats the same contempt they show the rest of us.
And speaking of contempt, Harris is a founding editor of Politico. His column purports to offer “weekly perspective on politics in a moment of radical disruption.” Instead, he serves up this empty take. He should have more respect for his readers. But (wait for it!) you can’t always get what you want.