Never before has the late Andrew Breitbart’s axiom that “politics is downstream of culture” seemed more apt. The culture of celebrity, reality television, cable-TV food fights, and Twitter now defines national politics at its highest level.
The latest high-profile spats are characteristic of the Trump era. The fight with Anthony Scaramucci has a performative aspect you’d expect of two showmen. One is the master, a former reality TV-show host who cashed in his notoriety for the presidency. The other is an up-and-comer, who made the most of notoriety gained by brief proximity to the master, including a brief appearance on a reality TV show himself (and whose wife may yet get on “The Real Housewives of New York City”).
The Greenland flap is classic, too. It’s sticky because the notion of buying Greenland is funny, like a story line from a political spoof. Trump’s enemies don’t understand how entertaining his fans find this kind of thing. Then, somehow, it becomes a real diplomatic incident, with insults and hurt feelings on both sides and a presidential trip to Denmark canceled for now (although usually these disputes are papered over when the glare of the controversy abates).