'Now Is the Winter
of Our Discontent'
Trump at Three Weeks & Counting
OKAY, I GET IT. Nobody likes to listen to me or anyone else whining about the weather, especially if you live where the conditions being complained about aren’t relevant.
And to be sure, here in New England, winter comes with the territory, so be quiet.
True, the February skies are sunless. The trees, deprived of their leaves, are Halloween caricatures, bony limbs clawing at brooding skies. The colors are all wrong: blacks, browns and grays. Even the snow doesn’t stay white; absorbing the air’s soot and (I’m ashamed to say) yellow marks of passing dogs.
But this is not what has made this winter one of discontent. It’s Trump.
I don’t mean to go all Shakespeare on you. I’m only a dog, not an English major. And before I wrote this, I had to look up the cliche quotation about winter, and sure enough, if you’re going to refer to this opening line from Richard III, Act 1, Scene 1, you need to add a second line, which is about summer:
Now is the winter of our discontent
Made summer by this sun of York…
Leaving off that second line could be misleading and prompt a late-night insult from the Tweeter-In-Chief:
Fake literature: Liberal blogger-mutt misquoted The Bard to make Trump presidency seem like winter, when Billy S really is saying: It’s SUMMER IN AMERICA. Sad!
But as we shall see later, this famous soliloquy, which Trump, with his shriveled attention span, wouldn’t bother to read to the end, is chillingly appropriate. Shakespeare has a nose for tyrants and villains, ancient and modern..
Where was I?
BARELY THREE WEEKS IN, and Trump already has plunged America into a endless season of shadow and shade. The sun itself has fled, if not from the sky, from our psyches, transforming a joyful, vital and optimistic democracy into a dungeon of depression, division, suspicion and strife.
And really, he’s accomplished this even before the awful things he promised as a candidate have yet to be rolled out. Other than his immigration crackdown – the botched keep-‘em-out executive order and the roundups of “illegals” that began at the end of last week – the full nightmare of Donald Trump hasn’t happened.
Obamacare remains in place today, so thousands aren’t dying - yet. Medicaid and Medicare haven’t been block-granted (i.e. starved of funds); tax “reform” has not yet shifted dollars from the poor and middle class to the rich; schools are still public; civil rights are enforced law; feeble, but real environmental protections are the rule; and law-and-order thuggery is still incubating in the cruel hatcheries of The Donald’s and The Jeff’s imaginations.
BUT ALREADY, Trump has done a number on our collective spirit, wrapping an entire country, and much of the world, in a cloak of twilight and torment.
So many lies. About crowds, crime rates, terrorism, the media, judges and his predecessor, the Sun King. There is never an instance, never a Tweet, never a speech, never a comment that doesn’t contain a fib, an exaggeration or a twisted fact, along with repeated insults, tantrums and put-downs. Even what purports to be the positive agenda of his presidency comes off as bullying and threatening.
Much about Trump remains hidden: his tax returns; the reason he’s so attracted to Putin; his refusal to separate himself and the country from his private businesses; and whether Bannon is the president-in-fact.
But more astonishing, to me, is how much of Trump is in plain view. What you see, what you hear, is what we get. Trump the president is just as awful as Trump the candidate promised.
SO, WHERE DOES that leave me, a simple, sweet mixed-breed dog, offering my services, humbly, to a bewildered nation?
When I first started this blog, I thought that my central contribution would be as a dog, who could offer my extraordinary canine senses – an astonishing power of smell, sharp hearing and quick eye for sudden, distant movements – to scout what Trump was up to.
But you don’t need an extra power of smell or a poet’s sensitiviity to follow Trump’s Trail. It’s in plain sight every day, seven days a week.
To illustrate this point, I went hunting on the Web for a picture showing a scowling, glowering Trump. I found it easily on the White House site. I expected to find a phony, Photoshopped picture of a pretend president pleasant and smiling. Instead, I found this picture that shows the actual, menacing one.
WRAPPING things up, let's resume our “winter of our discontent” theme, and that passage from Richard III.
Yes, the speaker starts off talking about how conditions in the kingdom are better than they once were. But quickly, his real intentions are revealed. He hates peace, loves war. He feels an outcast, because he has some physical deformities; and with that chip on his shoulder, he's cooking up some really evil plans. Here are excerpts. You may get a kick about a line about how dogs react to him, which I've underlined:
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
Deformed, unfinish'd, sent before my time
Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,
And that so lamely and unfashionable
That dogs bark at me as I halt by them…
…and therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous,
By drunken prophecies, libels and dreams….
Wow. Pretty close, and a real bummer.
But the point here is not to lose hope.
I’m an optimist. Really, as a dog, I have no choice. We get fed the same exact bowl of kibble every day; some of us have to share our households with cats; most of us must wear collars, even without having attended divinity school.
Still, as a dog with a long evolutionary history, I believe – and I think my sometimes pal, Cat, will back me up here – I know there are threats, and they are real. We do have to understand them, so that we can survive those who would do us harm.
My role, and yours, is to stay optimistic. Let’s face up to the real dangers, and do something positive every day to ensure a successful outcome.
And remember: let's not be permanently discontented: winter isn't forever.