When Donald Trump was elected president, I urged people not to spend their every waking moment shrieking the sky is falling. There was no doubt in my mind that a time would come when he would do something so wrong, so dangerously stupid, so narcissistically bizarre, that it would be time to drop the hammer. But if it was a constant shrieking, we would be inured to it in days.
Stalin’s admonition came to mind, a single death is a tragedy but a million deaths is a statistic. All Trump had to do was spew lies and nonsense constantly and they would become background noise.
Since he began holding daily coronavirus press briefings, which would likely have been conducted by Drs. Fauci or Brix, or perhaps some other spokesperson from the Centers for Disease Control under any other president but are led by the president because how else is he supposed to run for re-election during a pandemic, he has persisted in doing what he’s done regularly from the start: Spewed idiocy. Called names (“nasty” being a perpetual favorite, whether as noun or adjective). Contradicted himself with neither the slightest recognition nor shame. Lied. What else is new?
Given his extremely limited command of the mother tongue, and the occasionally technical requirements of dealing with life and death decisions, there was little doubt that he would sound like a blustering fool. Given that he chose to spend his late afternoons in front of a podium and television cameras, there was no doubt that it would be on display for all to see. Given that there was understandable interest and concern, as deadly pandemics are wont to cause, there was no doubt that many who hadn’t given it much thought before would turn to the president for guidance.
They may not have cared much before. Maybe they were too busy working to feed their families. But putting his face, his words, in front of the public in this time of dire straits did something no amount of shrieking about feelings by the unduly passionate could ever achieve. They watched as a president of the United States uttered inanities, lies and plain old stupidity.
Had the “resistance” not inured us to constant complaining about Trump, there might not have been a ready backlash from the right in his defense, prepared to believe whatever was offered to stem the complaints of impropriety. Trump kept calling it a “perfect” call, maxing out the limits of his rhetorical prowess. The word “beautiful” is reserved for his health care plan and the wall Mexico is going to pay for that will surely stem the tide of unlawful immigration.
I remember being told in unpleasant terms how wrong I was, that every burp and fart by Trump must be met with the extreme outrage it deserved. Long-time friends shunned me for the inadequacy of my hatred of Trump, not to mention refusal to devolve to emotionalism as they found reason to be heartbroken by every sad story. And needless to say, every sad story was Trump’s fault, because we never had sad stories before Trump.
But now we’re in a pandemic and not even the most fervent apologists can make dead bodies go away. There are plenty to blame, but pointing fingers at the incompetence of New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio doesn’t cut it because he’s not the President of the United States of America. Where are those millions of tests? Where are those N95 masks? Where are those ventilators that aren’t being saved for federal use, as Jared Kushner explained with the blank stare of someone saying the most cluelessly idiotic thing without any sign of understanding just how nuts it was?
I was told yesterday that the good people of the hinterlands, who were ready to suffer more Trump rather than the alternative, had reached their limit. Trump was on full display as the fool he was and they could no longer ignore it, no longer turn away and pretend it was just Trump being Trump. By holding his daily briefings, by standing at the podium when people were watching because their lives, their jobs, their family’s welfare depended on it, Trump put himself on full display. Trump did to himself what the other team, for all its shrieking, was unable to do.
Or so I was told.
When the unthinkable happened and America elected the least competent person imaginable to be president, it had been my hope that at least something good would come of it, that Congress would realize that Trump was the price we would pay for their inability to work together for the common good. My hope was that the idiocracy of the left would realize that America didn’t want to be reinvented as a social justice Utopia and would rather suffer Trump than their passionate tears. My hopes, as is obvious now, were dashed. None of these lessons were learned.
I struggle to watch the daily briefing. My tolerance for stupidity is limited, and there’s no real point to squandering time and attention on the daily mewling of someone I would not be inclined to talk to in person. My wife has taken to staring at the screen as one would stare at a deadly car wreck, occasionally muttering, “did he just say that?” As the numbers of people infected, or people dead, climb, the sound of Trump’s voice has been reduced to a dull ache.
For all the screaming and outrage, will it be the dull ache of Trump’s voice that will bring him down? That and the dead bodies? It remains unclear whether this will be the end of Trump, even though he’s made himself the focus of scrutiny and conclusively proven himself to be a most unworthy president. After all, there still remains the problem of whether America hates the alternative to Trump more than the fool we know who failed us in a pandemic.