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Category: Politics

'Wulf at the Door
From the very beginning, we thought the Trumpmonster would trip over its own missteps. But each time the monster said something or did something that would have immolated another politician, it was somehow able to pass through the firestorm untouched by the flames.

Its base, which holds the entire Republican Party in its grip, would only shrug at the monster’s behavior. “That’s why we like him. He says what he (and we) believes.” Never mind that what it believes is repellant and wrong.

As its campaign went on, there seemed to be a new outrage every week. And each time we expected that story would, at last, be the one that destroyed the creature. I don’t want to name all of those stories, nor enumerate each of the torrent of lies that spill from its puckered maw, nor count every revelation of its callous selfishness. I’m sick of it, and tired, and I have almost stopped hoping that people will finally wake up to the awfulness.

Pundits went broke predicting the demise of the creature, and each time I believed them because I wanted it to be true — and because it would have been true for anyone else. But on it went, a monster spewing and threatening and laying waste to the hard-won gains civilization had made. Finally, I stopped believing the pundits and dared to let despair creep into my thoughts.

Then came last week, and this time the story felt different. First came the op-ed piece in the Times written by someone on the inside of the White House. Then came Fear, Bob Woodward’s carefully researched book of presidential reporting. The monster itself did its part by dishonoring the 3000 dead lost to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Michael Cohen, the President’s longtime fixer, was now openly shopping his tales of Trump secrets. Kavanaugh was accused of attempted rape as a teen. And then, the big one: Manafort flipped.

Now, nothing will come of any of this immediately. Just as with all the other transgressions and unmaskings of the monster, no immediate price will be paid. Still, there seemed to be something different about this blitz of bad Trump news. I am trying not to be duped by hope again, but this time I cannot help but feel that a corner has been turned, and now we are beginning our long journey back to The Good.

It is the Manafort plea agreement that makes the most difference. Robert Mueller, as cold and relentless as the mythic hero Beowulf, has now made this bold thrust toward the underbelly of the Orange Grendel. The monster, alone with its TV in the White House, went uncharacteristically silent, and I could imagine it trembling at the prospect of his own inevitable undoing.

This Beowulf will not dispatch his Grendel with the swift certainty of his namesake, but I believe that the end for this monster will be just as remorseless and sure. Mueller and his retainer of implacable prosecutors are moving steadily and with great care toward their goal, and neither the monster nor anyone else knows when and where and how they will deliver justice.

So I have new hope, but I must wait. "The Wheels of Justice turn slowly, but grind exceedingly fine,” the saying goes. I am content, even as the ugliness continues to worsen and our democracy becomes more strained, to look forward to that return to The Good — or at least to The Normal.

The truth will out as it always does, and we will go to work to repair the damage. The Orange Grendel will be nothing but a bad memory — and a dark reminder that it truly can happen here.
Mixed Messages
Bob Woodward says
I should be scared
But he might be
In error

Then Trumpster says
That it's all good
And that fills me
With terror
Thanks for Asking, Though
I got a letter from Mike Pence today. He wanted to make sure I was on board to help keep the Republican majorities in Congress.

He cited his party’s commitment to such virtues as a strong military, small government, and low, low taxes. He also mentioned the Republicans’ unshakable belief in personal responsibility.

Not so fast there, Mike. I’ll grant you that the GOP wants to shrink services and soup up the war machine, but promote personal accountability? I don’t think so. As proof of your devotion to this principle, you and your pals point to your unwillingness to help people who don’t deserve it. It’s a tough love thing, you seem to be saying. We wish we could help, but you’re on your own, cousin. No extra charge for the life lesson.

Your version of personal responsibility, in other words, emphasizes theirs rather than yours. You’ve already got your piece of the rock, so there’s no need to prove that you deserve it. The have nots, on the other hand, have to be carefully monitored so they don’t get away with anything, no matter how teeny-tiny.

I am not a Republican, though I’m right with them on many of their issues. If we are going to have a military, I think it should be strong. Otherwise, why bother? But it shouldn’t be any larger than it needs to be. Same with the government. It should be as large as it needs to be, but not any larger. And everybody’s for low taxes — as long as we can afford to pay for the things we need.

When it comes to individual responsibility, however, I have to part ways with the right wing and head in the exact opposite direction. I’m not a member of any party, really, but I do like the Democratic Socialists. If any party is the party of personal responsibility, they are. Unlike the Republicans, they do not focus on the enforcement of other peoples’ duties. Instead, they emphasize the duties we all have toward each other.

Which makes sense, right? That’s the whole idea behind the social contract. We (through our government) promise to look out for each other so we can all be safer and more prosperous and maybe even happier. That is our personal responsibility — not just the simple, selfish obligation to see to our own survival.

I hope the veep doesn’t consider this Republican version of responsibility to be a high principle, because it ain’t. Rather, it’s a suspiciously convenient excuse not to give a damn about anybody but yourself. It elevates self-interest to an ideal, making it easy to dismiss the less fortunate as undeserving. According to your view, if they were deserving, then surely they’d be doing much better than they are. It’s the ultimate catch-22 — you’re only entitled to help if you don’t need it.

So, Mr. Vice President, I must decline your invitation to help the Republicans stay in power. In fact, I hope every last one of them gets thrown out at the earliest opportunity and sent packing back to their various Shires. That said, if any of them find themselves unable to find work or make ends meet, I hope their replacements have the wisdom to provide some sort of government assistance.

Even though they don’t deserve it.
Waiting for the Fat Lady
Say what you want about Richard Nixon, he did have an opera written about him. Nixon in China, written by the estimable composer John Adams, premiered in 1987. After opening to mixed reviews, it has come to be accepted as a significant work and has been widely performed throughout the world.

I will predict right here that nothing Trump does will inspire an opera. Nor a light opera nor a situation comedy nor even a bad country and western song. I do, however, see a possibility that his sojourn in the Presidency could be turned into a daytime soap opera. Indeed, the stories coming out of this freak show right now are daytime drama ready.

As the White House Turns would have all the elements necessary for this brand of low theater. Picture Trump as the archetypal selfish, ruthless patriarch of a dysfunctional family of spoiled losers. He’d be the Don, if you will, of a mob of grifters, and somehow he has been elected President of the United States. That role would fit Donald like a snakeskin loafer.

He surrounds himself with an extended family of crooks, sharks, and spies who are endlessly tangled in webs of their own making. It’s not so much a crime family as a family for whom crime is simply in the blood. Acts of betrayal are central to the culture of this family, and it is from that fertile muck that a steady supply of petty plot lines would spring. Is that Hollywood calling?

Against this background would be paraded a succession of cheap scammers, tin pot dictators, and aging porn stars — all angling for a shot at the big time. Fred Trump, the bad seed at the root of all this ugly crookery, might also appear. He is long dead, of course, but his racism and venality live on. I can see his ghost returning to counsel everyone to resort to humiliation and self-dealing no matter what the crisis of the day happens to be.

As distinguished from the stories told by operas, there will be no high tragedy or grand, world-changing events in this tale. There will be nothing grand about it at all, unless you count the grand larceny. But could it really work? General Hospital is the standard here. It has run continuously since 1963, but to me As the White House Turns would be fated to a much shorter run. Once the thrill of the cologne has faded, people will find there is nobody to root for among this band of lowlifes. The show will go the way of Never Too Young and A Flame in the Wind — and just die.

I can imagine, however, that producers of the show (just in case a quick finish became called for) might film a last episode ahead of time. They would want to tie up the major plot lines and provide some kind of closure for those still paying attention. The process of impeachment would be too long and drawn out for one episode, so allow me to suggest an alternative plot device: a simple public hanging for the crime of treason.

It would be the perfect farewell episode. Would Melania show up or just watch from her nest in Trump Tower? Would the Supreme Court, led by Trump appointees, step in at the last minute to save his bacon? Would Mike Pence name the ghost of Fred Trump as his new Vice President? Would Congress do anything…either way? I’d prefer to miss the whole thing, but if I had to watch just one installment, that last one might be it.

No, we are not living in the middle of an opera right now, but someday soon, I hope, the fat lady will sing. The sooner we bring this tawdry drama to a close, the better off we’ll all be.
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Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon