Perhaps one or two people out there will have noticed that I haven’t posted anything for a while. In a way, I’ve been hibernating through the lock-down, padding about in my three-storey house between my various collections of toys – giant 27″ Mac on the third floor, big screen TV and associated boxes on the second, monster stereo on the first – while trying not to become too anxious or upset. The latest round of rant-worthy Trumpisms have been equal parts infuriating and terrifying, you see, and hard to write about without blowing a gasket. These days, every time Donald is a completely incompetent, nattering, jabbering, feckless, and borderline sociopathic A-hole, people die. Every time Mitch McConnell demonstrates the breathtaking extent to which even now, as his citizens die en masse, he’s little beyond a deeply immoral cynic, intent only upon maintaining the wealth and social standing of all the superannuated white men who put him where he is, people die. They die by the thousand, every single day, especially if they’re old, or poor, or unfortunate enough to be going through life as people of colour in America (and it looks as if you might as well shoot yourself and just get it over with if you’re all three). As we used to say when we were kids, it’s all so miserably, frighteningly awful that it’s not even funny.
So I’ve been in no shape to hoot and holler like I usually do. The main thing, I’ve been figuring, is to resist the impulsion to completely lose your shit. As well one might.
And I’ve done pretty well! For example, when these beer-bellied hillbillies crawled out of the woodwork to menace the Michigan legislature with a display of racist gun-toting force, I held it together.
I maintained my composure even when Trump started egging them on, with his seditious “LIBERATE MICHIGAN” tweetstorm:
The nincompoop was conflating social distancing with liberal assaults on white America’s beloved gun rights, but he didn’t get my goat. I shrugged it off.
Then, when Donald was tweeting shit like this, instead of working the problem, failing which he could at least have shut his yap for ten minutes, did I lose it?
Unh-uh. I did not. Think of the discipline required; the sheer tonnage of stuff to be upset about in just this one Trumpian stream of consciousness would normally have set me off to screaming so loud you would have heard it from where you are. Forget everything else and just think about the stupidity of believing that journalists win Nobel prizes, not Pulitzers, and that the way you spell that is “Nobles”. Ponder, for a second, what that means about the state of the American polity, and the mortal danger that attends the occupation of the Oval by a moron of that calibre. Really, I should have gone up like a trod-upon land mine. But nope!
Did the little capillaries all over my trembling adrenalized body pop, rendering bright scarlet the former whites of my eyes, when Jared planted himself in front of the cameras and did this?
No!! Or how about when Mike Pence did this?
When the casualty total surpassed the losses of the entire Viet Nam War, I noted the milestone with a sort of mournful equanimity, took a deep breath, and moved on. When Donald stood up at one of his execrable press briefings and recommended that folks drink Clorox and shine ultraviolet light up their own wazoos to fight the clever bug, I barely skipped a beat. That’s our Donnie! Likewise when the dumbass tweeted his joy at the reemergence of best buddy Kim Jong Un, after the little bastard’s mysteriously prolonged absence from public view:
Of course Donnie was happy to see Kim back in the saddle. Of course Donnie had been worried sick when his favourite little roly-poly totalitarian strong man went missing. That’s our Donnie!
Look, I even kept a grip on myself when this happened:
I mean, OMG! Jesus Ball-busting Christ! Jabba the President had hopped right over that line in the sand, he’d done that unspeakable thing that he must never, ever do, not on my watch buddy boy, and taken a swing at my beloved Nicolle Wallace! Even then, I kept a grip on myself! Did you see me succumb to the almost inevitable spasmodic convulsions? No, you didn’t. I could have ranted ad nauseam about this low-down, filthy assault on my precious Nicolle. I could have rushed to exclaim that the reason she was booted off The View (something she jokes about often on her daily show on MSNBC) was because she was neither stupid enough nor abrasive enough to fill the chair now occupied by conservative dumdum Meghan McCain, being obstinately fair, calm, articulate, well-versed in current affairs, and averse to shrill bickering. I could have dug around the internet to find the contemporary commentary, like, say:
I could have posted screed after screed! Yet there I was sitting calmly in my swivel chair, barely saying anything beyond “well how about that?”
Through all of it I’ve kept my cool. You didn’t hear a peep out of me. The State Governors pleading for federal help that will never come; hapless Jared botching the effort to spur the acquisition of PPEs, ventilators and such; the horrifying, always mounting death toll; the cretinous Red State Governors agitating to get everybody back out of their houses and participating in the economy, apparently in the conviction that when it comes to GDP, you’ve got to steel yourself to the acceptable military losses; the jarring fact that America, the erstwhile mightiest nation in history, couldn’t even muster up a sufficient quantity of cotton swabs, let alone the tests needed to process their scrapings and get the pandemic under control; the realization that after wasting another month in which urgent, sweeping measures ought to have been taken, neither Trump nor any of the boobs in his entourage had any plan whatever to stem the viral tide, and they didn’t really give a rat’s ass; through all of it, not a single anguished utterance.
Why now then? What causes me to hammer away on my keyboard all of a sudden? What finally broke me? Well, I’ll tell you what it was, it was this, a relatively little thing, really:
I’ll let the author of the piece, Aaron Rupar, set it out for you. I haven’t got the heart.
During the interview with Muir, Trump tried to deflect questions about his administration’s failures with regard to obtaining personal protective equipment and deploying an effective coronavirus test by pinning blame on former President Barack Obama. This talking point is absurd, but he has largely gotten away with making it during press briefings.
It took Muir just one question to demonstrate that Trump has no defense beyond deflection.
“What did you do when you became president to restock those cupboards that you say are bare?” he asked.
“Well, I’ll be honest, uh, I have a lot of things going on,” Trump began, in a soundbite tailor-made for an attack ad. “We had a lot of, uh, people, that refused to allow the country to be successful. They wasted a lot of time on ‘Russia, Russia, Russia’ — that turned out to be a total hoax. Then they did ‘Ukraine, Ukraine,’ and that was a total hoax. Then they impeached the president for absolutely no reason.”
He’s been busy, OK? He’s had a lot to deal with, and a lot of horribly unfair adversity to weather. You can see the bind he’s been in.
For some reason, that’s what finally did it for me.
Maybe it was the despair that comes from knowing that if America never gets this catastrophe under control, we here in Canada may be comprehensively fucked no matter what we do. Maybe it was the eerie sense that this moment, this sad, pouty little “the dog ate my homework” whine from the President of the United States, was perfectly emblematic of how Trump has so damaged the American system that they may never bounce back from this. It came over me like something I’d mused about, but never actually believed until that instant. They could be done as a world power. We could be living through one of those moments that people rarely appreciate as they’re happening, when world history takes a turn, and nothing is ever the same afterwards. One day, historians may speak of Trump’s presidency in the same terms used to describe the sack of Rome.
The point at which really, it was all over.