TRUMP’S LATEST OUTRAGE.
IT DEMANDS … WHAT?
- Option A - Go to the seashore.
- Option B - Go bonkers.
“I picked Option B – Go to the seashore,” I said. “That’s the Problem.”
“How could that be a Problem?” the opossum observed. “Doesn’t take more than a couple of minutes for the Grouchy One to drive you there. And a summer day isn’t to be wasted, especially when it’s not even summer anymore.”
The Grouchy One is one of the two Humans I live with, the other being the Nice One. Had she the time to make the trip from our house in Newport to Ocean Drive, that would have turned a good summer day in fall into a great summer day in fall.
“What was she doing?” Mr. O asked.
“Writing letters to voters in the so-called swing states, urging them to vote,” I said. “There’s an organization called “Swing Left” that identifies voters who might persuaded to go to the polls, and gives you advice about how to write and send them nonpartisan letters.”
“Which explains why she’s the ‘Nice One,’” Mr. O said. “By the way, what was the ‘Problem’ that made you question whether you should be sitting on the rocks, taking in the rays and watching the waves?”
“The ‘Problem’ was what – at the time - Trump’s latest outrage,’’ I said. “And it was a doozy, so terrifying, so depraved, so destructive, that once you heard about it, you knew you should drop everything else you were doing and take emergency action.”
“A bit of advice, Phoebe,” Mr. O said. “You might reconsider using a word like ‘doozy.’ It’s more than a little outdated and suggests that you are, too.”
“Would you rather I say something like ‘Scarier than an opossum’s tail?’ ” I said, and regretted immediately that I’d descended to Trumpian rhetoric.
“What kind of emergency action were you considering because of this latest ‘doozy’?” Mr. O asked.. “Write a letter to your congresswoman? March in September? Demonstrate in Portland? Click on Twitter? Hop a bus to Washington? Pick up the phone? Post on Facebook? Emote with emojis? Ask Alexa?”
“Exactly,” I sighed.
As the sun went down, the warmth hung in the nearly windless night air, and we talked more about PTSD (Post Trumpiod Stress Dismay).
Trump will say something horrible; occasionally he actually will do what he says. And what he says and does will demand action.
He’ll make a racist comment. He’ll insult someone. He’ll sign an executive order opening up wilderness areas to logging. He’ll belittle somebody. He’ll break a sacred tradition. He’ll abuse his office. He’ll lie. He’ll commit a crime.
And life will go on.
THIS HAS BEEN going on for four years.
It happened in 2016, when a tape emerged in which Trump bragged about how his celebrity status enabled him to grab “pussies” and otherwise violate women. That prompted outrage and predictions of defeat. And Trump won.
Trump fired his FBI director, hosted Russians in the Oval Office, separated immigrant children from their parents, put the kids in cages, and outrage followed outrage followed outrage. The result, each time? Nothing.
Trump publicly kowtowed to Putin. Trump was impeached. Trump mishandled the pandemic, weakened climate change regulations, urged military “domination” of anti-racism protests.
The volume of outrages has become so immense that it’s hard not only to keep track of them, much less triage their relative seriousness, so that often they are barely noticed in a relentless seven-days-a-week news cycle.
RECENTLY, MR. O and I looked through of a transcript of one of Trump’s campaign rallies, this one in Bemidji, Minnesota on a Sept. 19 so little noticed it might as well have been1720, instead 2020.
Trump crowded supporters into a hanger in Minnesota, putting them in danger of spreading or being infected by Covid-19, then undertaking a two-hour harangue of insults, lies, boasts and taunts, while encouraging and condoning violence, racism and treason.
He began with warning: Minnesota will be “overrun and destroyed” by refugees if Joe Biden is elected president; he mocked a reporter who, months earlier, had been shot in the leg with a rubber bullet while covering a protest: “It was the most beautiful thing.”
He disparaged Somalian-born Congresswoman Rep. Ilhan Omar: “That’s a beauty. How the hell did she win the election?” At another point, he said: “Look at Omar. She came in here. Did she marry her brother?”
He mocked Sen. Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, about the pronunciation of her name: “No, my name is Kamala. Like comma. I remember that. Like a comma.”
Trump praised Robert E. Lee, the traitor who led the Confederacy’s secession from the United States in attempt to preserve slavery, calling him a “great general.”
Trump speculated that if reporters treated Biden like they do Trump, “He’d melt. If they ever did a number on, this guy would be there, he’d be laying on the floor crying ‘Get me out of here, Darling. Where is my wife? Get me out of here, please Darling.’”
The commander-in-chief veered off into a long discussion of “Air Force One” jetliners that transport presidents, disclosing one of their most features: “The great thing about those beautiful planes, they have more televisions than any plane in history. We have televisions in the closet, on the ceilings, on the floors…”
AT THE 1 HOUR, 55 MINUTE MARK,, Trump congratulated Minnesota residents on inheriting “good genes” from their pioneer ancestors: “They were tough and they were strong. You have good genes. You know that, right? You have good genes. A lot of it’s about the genes, isn’t it? Don’t you believe?”
Long, long ago, imagine the effect that any one of those comments – praise of superior genes, admiration of a traitorous general, scaremongering immigrants, insulting an opponent’s name, celebration of the shooting of a reporter – had they been spoken by a President Bush, a President Clinton, a President Obama.
But Trump has made outrage routine.
Wake up. Listen to a fresh outrage on the radio or TV. Take a shower. Morning paper’s headline: “Latest Trump Outrage.” Do the dishes. Work (if you have work). Eat supper. Six-o'clock News: “Trump’s Latest Outrage Stirs Outrage.” What’s on Netflix? Have we seen that series? It’s a new episode. Off to bed. Final iPad check: “Sources: Secret Memo Details Latest Trump Outrage.” Power down the iPad. Sleep though the night.
“Incidentally,” Mr. O said, “what was that recent Trump outrage, which put you into full I-Can’t-Stand-It-Gotta-Do-Something mode?”
“He wouldn’t commit to accepting the election results – unless he won,” I said.
“Trump’s been saying that since 2016,” Mr. O said.
“This time was different,” I said.
“How so?” he asked.
I told him about the press conference at which Brian Karem, a reporter for Playboy magazine, had phrased the question in a way which caught everyone, except Trump, off guard.
REPORTER: Mr. President, real quickly. Win, loser, draw in this election. Will you commit here today for a peaceful transfer of power after the election, either … transferal of power after the election. And there has been rioting … there’s been rioting in many cities across this country, your so-called red and blue states. Will you commit to making sure that there is a peaceful transferal of power after the election?
TRUMP: Well, we’re going to have to see what happens. You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots. And the ballots are a disaster.
REPORTER: I understand that, but people are rioting. Do you commit to making sure that there’s a peaceful transferal of power?
TRUMP: We want to have… Get rid of the ballots and we’ll have a very peaceful… There won’t be a transfer frankly, there’ll be a continuation. The ballots are out of control. You know it, and you know who knows it better than anybody else? The Democrats know it better than anybody else.
“So, Mr. O, do you see what I mean?” I asked.
“What really surprises me,” Mr. O said, “is that apparently, there’s still a Playboy magazine, and they have someone covering the White House.”
“Seriously,” I said, “here’s a guy who won’t commit himself to a ‘peaceful’ outcome if he doesn’t win. Nobody in the history of the country – no candidate, nobody who counts – has ever said any thing like that!”
We just sat there, not saying anything, listening to crickets and the other creatures who make late-summer, early fall noises, and every once in a while, breath of air drew a cord out of the wind chimes.
“You're right,” Mr. O said, finally breaking the conversation.
“Right about what?” I asked him.
“ No,” Mr. O said, “You made the right choice. The threat Trump’s making to democracy is real, and we have do all of the things just plain citizens do. In the meantime….
“In the meantime?” I interrupted.
“Go to the seashore on a summer day, especially when it’s actually fall,” Mr. O said. “We can’t let Trump take that away.”
They show him to be a scheming, but bumbling businessman facing bills of $300 million, as well as a serial tax dodger, who paid just $750 in taxes in each of two recent years, and no taxes in 10 others.
Millions of other Americans, who do pay their taxes, have picked up his share.
It’s an outrage.