There's an interesting logical conundrum in this. I may be misreading Harrington somewhere, but on the surface it seems that the argument is something like this:
a) Obama is normal. Probably Clinton would also have been normal, but that's not stated.
b) Trump, however, is not normal.
c) By engaging in dialogue with Trump, Obama renders Trump normal, at least in the eyes of some audience
The normal Obama normalizes the abnormal Donald by not immediately and persistently treating him as abnormal. This is despite the fact that Obama raised funds for Clinton's nomination and so forth and clearly opposed Trump's election in some way. For whatever reason, the abnormal Donald does not or does not so potently abnormalize the normal Obama.
Why is the Donald abnormal? I'd love to see this described more precisely, but I think that I can do most of this intuitively: he is blatantly racist and sexist and makes all sorts of outlandish and preposterous statements, statements that really do not bode well.
Apparently abnormal does not mean atypical here, given the long history of violent racism and preposterous statements. Apparently it does not mean fiat killings, bombing of civilian populations, exposure of civilians and American troops to radiation, payments made out to ISIS--on and on in grotesque and unsubtle ways. It appears that all of this is at least to Harrington normal, given that Obama is apparently normal by virtue of his ability to normalize Donald Trump.
I do recognize that Harrington is criticizing Obama here. I also suspect that he does not mean to tell me what his words appear to have said, and that he would like to be taken differently. I am just not altogether sure how. And, especially given the sudden raft of this atypical "normalization" in so many written pieces, it seems like there is a shared error in all of it.
It seems like a lot of people imagine that we all are in utter agreement or at least useful agreement about this "norm." Were that the case, we would have all elected some normal candidate, and by a landslide. But even on this site, we are not going to agree about who that might have been.
This also raises dark suspicions. If a large sector of the populace is abnormal, but fiat killing is normal or at least does not make the perpetrator abnormal, just what am I to make of Harrington's insistence that the corporatist Obama treat the corporatist Trump as an Other, as abnormal or impenetrable or outside of dialogue or inhuman? (I am flailing a bit at terms, but Harrington provides only abnormal, which is not self explanatory).
We need a resistance here, surely; but it seems that we might want to get some of the terms straight as well, or we are apt to once again take the typical for normal.