I once did an internet search on a musician I was considering doing a project with, and I found intense chat-room volleys discussing him, with one side insisting he was the worst asshole in the music business, while others argued with equal vehemence that he was merely one of the worst.
You don’t find that argument about Donald Trump. There is no wiggle room about “one of.” Aside from those who adore him with an unquestioning religious fervor, the people I associate with know in their bones that he is not only the very worst president in our nation’s history, but also the worst of all possible imagined presidents.
What even fictional president would throw paper towels at hurricane-stricken Puerto Ricans, for Christ’s sake, or insist his administration did “a great job” there, despite the thousands of preventable deaths that resulted from its chaotic and uncaring response to the disaster? Who the hell taunts POWs for getting caught? Who mocks the disabled or the relatives of our war dead? Who bullies and insults our allies, while rouging his ass to meet with Russia’s ex-KGB-head oligarch-in-chief?
We’ve had presidents who started unjust wars, authorized illegal burglaries, and ignored the American part of Japanese-American and locked thousands up. But Bob Woodward, who has covered nine presidents—and whose reporting acumen helped topple one—has never before issued a warning call like his book Fear about Trump, which he condensed on CBS: “You look at the operation of this White House, and you have to say, ‘Let’s hope to God we don’t have a crisis.’”
Puerto Rico was a crisis and remains one, but we assume Bob means an existential crisis, one involving nukes, war and a cheap grifter of a leader who mistakes his self-serving animal cunning for “stable genius.”
Recall that over a short span of time this year, Trump was calling North Korea’s leader “Little Rocket Man,” telling the UN Assembly that the U.S. might “have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” and then had a brief one-on-one bromance with Kim, in which the sheer magnetism of the Trump presence achieved what decades of negotiations failed to with the duplicitous dictatorship, so that Trump could then tweet “There is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea.” Which would be great for the U.S.—and the world—were there anything but evidence to the contrary.
Trump, of course, is calling Woodward’s book “a work of fiction. If you look back at Woodward’s past, he has the same problem with other presidents.”
Feel welcome to weigh that quote against what one president told Woodward in recent weeks: “I think you’ve always been fair.” And that president, of course, was Donald J. Trump, who cannot open his pie hole without a lie or contradiction falling out. (As compiled by the Washington Post, 5,000-plus verifiable lies so far.)
It isn’t just my fellow lefties who think Trump is a malodorous trash fire; loads of conservatives do, as well. Businessmen regard him as a scam artist. The editorial boards of several newspapers that had backed only Republicans for decades declared candidate Trump unfit and unqualified for office. His political opponents did, too, until he became president, and then they hitched their fat-cat-serving agendas to his crazy comet.
Consider the man nicknamed “Lyin’ Ted Cruz” by candidate Trump, who also insulted Cruz’s wife and intimated Cruz’s father might have been involved in John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Cruz in return called Trump “a sniveling coward.” But these days, Cruz is counting on Trump to help him keep his Senate seat in November.
John McCain never drank the Trump Kool-Aid, and even in his coffin, he stood as a conservative rebuke to Trump. Longtime Republican strategist Rick Wilson—author of Everything Trump Touches Dies—quit the party over Trump, as have others. In recent weeks, nearly every living person who has headed our national security operations—a pretty conservative bunch—spoke out against Trump’s anti-democratic impulses. People in Trump’s own ever-churning administration have been quoted as calling him an “idiot” and “a fucking moron.”
Yet I have conservative friends and relatives who hail “the Trump Experiment” on our democracy, plus evangelical relatives who regard him as the savior of our morality, despite Trump paying hush money to the strippers and Playboy playmates he was banging while his third wife was having his fifth child and despite his own mouth being the corroborating witness to women’s claims that he groped and assaulted them or burst into dressing rooms to ogle teenaged beauty contestants.
You can present Trumpites with every fact at your command, but they are in a post-fact existence. This isn’t any new place: The more people rely on belief, the less reality has to do with anything.
This sort of behavior probably dates back to before the discovery of fire, but a classic case was the Millerites of the 1800s. Their leader, William Miller, predicted Jesus would return to scourge the Earth with fire by early 1844. That time came and went with no discernable scourging, so a series of new dates were set and passed without incident. Each time the movement lost followers, but those who remained became all the more certain in their faith that godly wrath was just around the corner.
That’s likely the sort of person you’re dealing with now if you’re trying to talk sense to a Trump supporter. If all Trump’s lies, Putin-smooching, pussy-grabbing, hissy fits and security breaches, as well as the nonstop catapult of corrupt, incompetent hacks exiting his administration, haven’t changed their minds, you won’t either. Believe me, I’ve tried.
Trump isn’t on the ballot this November, but our government’s constitutional checks and balances are. There was a time when Republicans put country over party, when a man of character such as Barry Goldwater would tell Richard Nixon when it was time to stop disgracing the presidency and take a hike.
Don’t look for that to ever happen with toads such as OC’s Mimi Walters or Dana Rohrabacher, the latter of whom is also so enamored of Russia and Vladimir Putin that he probably has a tramp stamp that reads, “Your Name Here” in Cyrillic.
Not only have they and other congressional Republicans failed to exercise their oversight responsibilities on the runaway executive branch, but, as of this writing, they are also ramming through a historically truncated and slapdash appointment of a Supreme Court justice whose distinguishing qualification is that he believes the presidency should be unfettered by judicial oversight.
I should talk here about your responsibility to do your civic duty to inform yourself and vote in the fast-approaching midterms, but let’s cut to the point: If you don’t vote, go fuck yourself.
Because if you don’t, that’s what you’re saying to the rest of us, to your kids, to the future of the planet and to the ideals of truth, compassion and decency to which our nation has aspired. Act like a responsible citizen, damn it. If you don’t vote, you get the crappy government you deserve, but you’re also saddling the rest of us with it. Don’t do that, please.