Our delinquent 4th grader of a president, who treats the ship of state like a toy sailboat rigged with firecrackers, did us proud last week as he arrived in Israel from Saudi Arabia and announced he had just returned from the Middle East.
A brief respite from mortification came several days later in Brussels when Gauthier Destenay, husband of Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, joined the spouses of other NATO leaders. Turkey’s first lady looked as grim in that photo op as Pope Francis did in his with the Trumps, but Destenay’s presence was a proud moment for gay visibility, if you ignore his conspicuous omission from a White House photo caption.
Alas, the funny memes about orbs and hand-slaps during 45’s foreign trip did not dispel the threats his far-right regime poses: Recalcitrance on the Paris climate accords that isolates America from the other G-7 nations. A radical upward redistribution of wealth disguised as a healthcare bill that the Congressional Budget Office says will rob 23 million people of their healthcare. An attorney general who demands the harshest criminal sentences, undermining recent bipartisan movement on sentencing reform. A HUD secretary who says poverty is a state of mind. (Should Ben Carson really bring that up when his boss’s state of mind is a matter of global concern?)
Trump is the first president since World War II to raise doubts about America’s willingness to defend her allies. A man who made a career of skipping out on his business obligations brazenly lectured heads of state as if they were contractors. A man who flatters tyrants was eager to insult Germany. A man who cannot restrain his compulsive boasting put at risk highly sensitive information regarding the defense of America and the nations that shared it with us.
Back at home, a cruel budget was released that would decimate the social safety net, slash public education, hobble diplomacy, and jack up the defense budget based on the oft-repeated howler that the largest military in the world is a weakling getting sand kicked in its face. Trump’s budget may be dead on arrival as some declare, but many of its destructive proposals are popular with congressional Republicans.
Set aside the daily parade of revelations from Russiagate. The machinery of our government is in the hands of a spoiled princeling who holds himself above the law and demands loyalty to himself instead of the Constitution, a bully given to demonizing the independent press whose scrutiny of public officials is a bulwark of our republic, while he fills his press room with right-wing delusion dealers.
This is not normal, and is funny only in a dark, alarming sense. Captain Jack Sparrow, whose “swishbuckling” piracy has returned to movie screens, would be a steadier commander-in-chief.
We can take some comfort from the signs of Republican chickens coming home to roost. One is the latest uproar at Fox News, this time over Sean Hannity’s reckless conspiracy mongering, while a Fox News crew confirmed Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs’s account of his assault by Montana Congressman-elect Greg Gianforte. The Capitol Hill presence of Gianforte, whose apology failed to make him fit for office, will be an albatross around Speaker Ryan’s neck and a reminder of the raw thuggery that Trump rode into power.
House Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows (R-NC) feigned surprise when the CBO finally released its scoring of the American Health Care Act that Meadows helped write. He choked back tears after reporters showed him that the state waivers he supported could drive patients with pre-existing conditions out of the market.
Even if we buy the sincerity of Meadows showing compassion for those who are suffering, his display does nothing to alter his party’s heedless and inhumane attitudes and behavior. I can only quote immortal songstress Ella Fitzgerald: “Now you say you’re sorry for being so untrue. Well, you can cry me a river, cry me a river, ’cause I cried, I cried, I cried a river over you.”
Those who would turn America to splinters can cry all they like after we have driven them from office; but we need hard work and strong candidates, not just t-shirts and marches, to deliver that shove.
Richard J. Rosendall is a writer and activist. He can be reached at [email protected].
Copyright © 2017 by Richard J. Rosendall. All rights reserved.