It’s exhausting, isn’t it? No sooner has Trump wrapped up his bloviating midterm push, with it’s theatrical deployment of the Regular Army to the border, and its overtly racist harangues, than he was threatening to cut off Federal support to California because it was their own damned fault the State was burning to the ground. His subsequent visit to the coast was a much-covered clown show in which he kept referring to the immolated town of Paradise as “Pleasure”, a pained Governor Brown wincing at his side, and advocated better raking of the forest floor to keep the fires away – you know, like they do in Finland.
Over the weekend he taunted retired Admiral McRaven for failing to get Osama bin Laden as soon as he should have, accusing the military hero of being a “Hillary Clinton fan”. Then his daughter, still holding down a job in the Administration, was found to be engaging in just the sort of e-mail hi-jinks that inspired the famous “Lock her up!” chant, the one Trump incited repeatedly as he savaged Hillary Clinton for her private email server, again and again and again. Then just yesterday, miffed that a Federal Court ruled that he can’t rewrite immigration laws by executive order, he railed against the 9th Circuit and promised to “look into it” and register “a major complaint”, implying that he thought he could do something to punish an unruly judiciary. A short while later he released a bizarre and incredibly crass official statement affirming American solidarity with Saudi Arabia, whether or not its Crown Prince personally directed the murder of a Washington Post journalist – which “maybe he did, and maybe he didn’t” – because the Saudis spend tons of money on US weapons, the amount of which, and the jobs thus created, then being massively exaggerated. Having just absorbed that, the weary news junkie was confronted with the breaking story that Trump had tried to order the Justice Department to prosecute his political enemies, raising the spectre, yet again, of vindictive totalitarian control of the Federal law enforcement apparatus.
Along the way, three Senators launched a law suit to get Trump’s appointed lackey removed from the post of acting Attorney General, while Trump continued to tweet his ridiculous praise of the Saudis for keeping the price of oil at bay, thus reinforcing America’s new role as Mohammad bin Salman’s cheerleader and P.R. Department. Now we learn that Trump, apparently frustrated at the way the Defence Department keeps using its deployed forces on the border in fairly passive support operations, rather than dispatching them to face down immigrant caravans with bayonets fixed, has issued orders for the troops to get directly involved in immigration enforcement, pushing the law to its limit and all but guaranteeing more Federal lawsuits, this time concerning the limits imposed by the Posse Comitatas Act.
This is all since last Friday! It’s only Wednesday! I’m afraid to check on what’s happened since I tuned out for a minute to write this post.
We all look forward to a return to sanity and an end of Trump, when things can calm down and a proper sense of gravitas can be restored to the role of President. We know it’s possible, because it used to be that way, once, during a distant era that we can still just barely recall. Remember those days, a hundred years ago, when Obama’s biggest scandal was wearing a beige suit on a diplomatic visit to China? Remember when the political fireworks were about policy issues like budgets, and health care, and whether the auto industry deserved a bail-out? Remember when Obama, whatever you thought of his policies, was sure to do his nation proud on official occasions like Veteran’s day, or the Centennial of the day WWI ended, and in doing so was bound to be greeted with high respect and genuine affection in the countries America once counted as unwavering friends and allies? You remember, don’t you? How Obama stifled tears at a press conference following what was then the latest mass shooting? How he went to the funeral for the people murdered by a white supremacist in their church in Charleston, and sang a pitch-perfect rendition of Amazing Grace from the pulpit to raise the congregation’s spirits? I know it seems impossible to believe now, but all of that really happened, and could happen again. Like all fevers, Trump Disease will break. It will! I promise! I’m fiercely, determinedly and unshakeably sure about this.
Yet I still worry. I fear we’ve grown dangerously inured to the Trump Era’s unrelenting, rapid-fire drumbeat of scandals, outrages and outright horrors. I’m afraid that it’s become an addiction, that the body politic, having fully adapted to the constant infusions of adrenaline mixed with toxins and narcotics, has become a quivering, slobbering junkie.
If you’ve spent the last two years riding backwards on a rollercoaster in the dark, the neon glowing all around you, with a heavy metal band screeching in your ears, fireworks exploding overhead, the kid sitting next to you punching you repeatedly in the groin, and bystanders on the ground taking random shots at you with hunting rifles, how well do you adjust when the Sun comes up, the sound and fury ends, the cab rolls gently to a stop, and the guy at the amusement park bids you to get out and go away, ‘cuz the ride’s over?
Do you wobble over to a handy bench and wait for the world to stop spinning, grateful, after all that puking at negative-G, to still be alive?
Or do you quickly become bored with normality, and immediately start craving the next ride?
I can’t quell the anxiety that when when Trump is finally gone, America will linger near the gate at the amusement park, eager to get back in and line up at the rollercoaster, just as soon as the place reopens for business. It’s an old saying that “Russia needs a Czar”. The fear that I can’t tamp down is that after years of this shit, the sense of what’s normal is irrevocably changed, there is no “reset” button, and now, God help us, America needs a Trump.
Note: the Trump Train indeed kept rolling while I typed. I now learn that The Donald has started a Twitter feud with the Chief Justice of SCOTUS, in a norm-shattering war of words between the President and the Chief Justice.