You’re not only a powerful man, you’re a handsome man.
Has everyone more or less recovered from the sorry spectacle of Trump’s televised photo-op cabinet meeting? Well, you shouldn’t have. You should still be throwing up in your mouth, like I am. You should be fixing to have the same stroke I’m bucking for. You should all be strapped into chairs with your eyelids pried open, Clockwork Orange style, and made to watch this again and again:
I was already regretting my decision not to wear adult diapers when the “meeting” kicked off with Trump himself claiming to be the most accomplished President in history, though, well, he allowed that maybe FDR did about as much in his first hundred days – and then he has each sorry bag of guts in his bloated cabinet “introduce” themselves, by saying something snivelling and fulsome (hey! a chance to use “fulsome” properly! Some good came out of this shit show after all!) in praise of the Man of the Hour. Can you imagine issuing an order to staff that they were all to take a moment in front of the cameras to slather you with praise? Can you imagine taking that order? Have you ever seen so many people surrender their dignity at the same time?
Look, I’ll admit it’s kind of fun to watch Trump yank the choke chains on the various empty suits in his boob-filled brigade of bootlickers, at least when it comes to the cabinet members I despise, which is of course practically all of them. It’s a hoot to see Reince Priebus, perpetually on the chopping block and almost visibly quivering, utter the crushing assertion that it’s a blessing – a blessing – to be able to carry out Trump’s agenda. It was great to see Mike Pence grind his teeth as he avowed that serving as Donald’s Veep is the greatest privilege of his life – he’s probably wondering how long before he gets to be President. Then there’s Jeff Sessions, whom Samantha Bee has dubbed an “apple-cheeked hate-goblin”, with that shit-eating grin, talking about what a yuuuuge success everything has been so far, and how Donny has sent exactly the right message to a thunderously approving electorate (“Great success” agrees Boss Trump, agreeably).
Yet some of these people led substantial lives before sidling up to Trump and getting his slime all over them. Rex Tillerson, say – I don’t like him, I don’t like what’s going on at Foggy Bottom, and I’ve always thought he looks like he should be sucking back bourbon and back-slapping J.R. Ewing over at the Oil Baron’s Ball, while Cliff Barnes seethes quietly in a dark corner, not running State into the ditch – but this? The man ran Exxon, for the love of God, and now the Trumpster has him sitting there in short pants with a propellor beanie on his head.
Only General Mattis held firm, reserving his praise for those in the military he oversees.
Meanwhile, Trump sits there beaming. Have you ever seen a man who appears the bigger idiot when he’s smiling? He looks a little like a cartoon cat, you know, Sylvester after he just popped Tweety Bird in his mouth, just before Grannie gives him the Heimlich. His eyes get all squinty while his stupid little pie-hole stretches into this slit of a cranial opening, like a toad’s. As the praise became ever more lavish, ever more shameful, I was waiting for someone to scream “I CAN’T TAKE THIS ANYMORE!!!!!” and lunge across the table, or at least flee the room, thence to abandon D.C. altogether on the fastest jet he could improperly commandeer from the Air Force.
Some pundit out there (can’t remember which – am I reading too much punditry?) compared the whole thing to this Python skit:
If only somebody had said “splunge”, I could die a happy man. Instead, it got so bad that Kim Jong Un might have called a halt to it, while wondering, in a rare moment of insight and reflection, whether any of these lackeys was really cabinet material. I know I commanded all of you to sing sonnets to my greatness on pain of death, but Jesus, guys.
Meanwhile, I was reminded of Johnny Carson’s immortal line some years ago about some set of Congressional hearings or other, investigating some routine Republican scandal or other: “Tough day on the Hill – Teddy Ruxpin took the 5th.”
Except Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III wasn’t taking the 5th. He wasn’t asserting executive privilege, either. He just wasn’t going to answer questions, you know, in case the President ever did invoke privilege – we wouldn’t want to spill all the beans and then realize we should have claimed privilege after all, right? He did everything to squirm out from under direct, simple questions, short of declaring that he was coming down with the vapours from all the untoward pressure these Yankee carpet-baggers were unfairly exerting upon little old him. Why, he wasn’t stonewalling, he was ready to answer more questions than there are black-eyed peas in the Sovereign South, it’s just that my word, he couldn’t, on account of a policy that he was sure was kicking around Justice somewhere, and might even be written down.
See, this is why I’d be a bad guy to have on a committee. I would have hurled a glass paperweight at his little Southern-fried elfin forehead.
You just get so tired. The sheer tonnage of the outrageous transgressions of every law, norm, and fundamental tenet of human decency dilutes your energy and keeps distracting you from one to the other, whether it’s sacking investigators, meeting with sketchy Russians, holding cabinet meetings that look like something from the salad days of Saddam Hussein, or trying to gut health care in secret so as to hand a tax break to the 0.01%. We’re being carpet bombed. Dear Leader will fire the special counsel and nobody’ll notice because Mitch McConnell will be standing there at a podium announcing that they just passed the American Health Care Act by a 62-48 margin in the 100 seat senate, by way of a special rules change that allowed the Koch brothers to cast five votes each by proxy.
It’s trite to quote Yeats at times like these, yet has there ever been a time when The Second Coming seemed more apt? Just watching the Donald haul his overstuffed haunches around the White House grounds, with that strange, stooping, laboured gait of his, seems evocative of that famous last line, endlessly quoted and pilfered over the decades, endlessly relevant.
The Second Coming
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?