Even my bent-out-of-shape mind balks at commenting on the latest chapter in the tragicomic Tweetster Trump saga.
Seriously, even if all the world is a stage, these actors have gone rogue. The antiheroes of literature usually displayed one tragic flaw — greed, narcissism, egoism, an insatiable hunger for power. Now we have a conglomerate who, tweet by tweet, is making a mockery of our government, our world leadership and, saddest of all, the office he fought so hard — no holds barred — to attain.
There’s little left to say about his recent behavior, which includes shredding and demeaning the media, telling lies by the dozen, using violence as a metaphor.
His spokeswoman, squirming uncomfortably, insists he abhors violence in all forms, forgetting this remark made during the campaign: “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and still not lose voters,” followed by others describing punches in the face and worse.
Still, today I’m less worried about him and more worried about me.
I used to enjoy following politics on several levels: entertainment, human nature, articulation, personalities, clash of intellects. The quid-pro-quo cloak-and-dagger machinations of getting legislation written and passed fascinated me. The scandals, tempests-in-teapots, thunder and glory, shock and-awe heightened an appreciation of government that, nevertheless, maintained some form and function.
Gone with the wind. Now, when I turn on the TV before dawn, I’m looking for titillation. What tweet awaits the voracious commentators who will gnaw that bone all day, unless a plane crash, mass shooting or terrorist attack pushes the blond, uh, bombshell off the lead?
I’d almost prefer stunned outrage than boring nitty-gritty about health care or taxes. In a perverse way, I enjoy seeing Republican congressmen and women avoid direct answers, the pivot being an answer itself.
But I pity them, too. They are, for the most part, decent Americans serving their country in difficult circumstances, rather like a popular mayor embarrassed by a son caught with drugs, or charged with DUI. They must weigh allegiance to their constituents against loyalty to the president. Their jobs are on the line — jobs that pay well, with perks and great health care. So they squirm. And waste energy on nonsense.
But, outrageous as the tweets are, something worries me even more. I don’t think our president and commander-in-chief knows what the hell is going on in the world.
Only now, I hear hints that his understanding of health care legislation is so rudimentary, he couldn’t pass a pop quiz on its tenets. He speaks of China and North Korea, Syria and Iraq as though mouthing a synopsis he skimmed before the mic went on.
That’s the reason for no press conferences — to hide his meager grasp. But his advisers know to tread carefully, because when his competence is questioned, he goes berserk — especially now, when he’s tired, frustrated, aggravated and inundated with horrifying possibilities. Like impeachment. Perhaps a nuclear attack on our allies — or us.
I really do not think Mr. Trump had a clue what the presidency entails, beyond the pomp and power. Bet if he copped a mulligan, he’d be outta Dodge in a New York minute. Because right now, he’s up a tree and out on a limb, with no parachute.
He’s meeting with the world’s savviest political minds at the G20 summit. Here, he won’t receive a royal Saudi welcome. No Iowa-style adulation. Here, he’ll be expected to make sense, not silly wrestling videos. Here, not just CNN but the international press will be waiting, wits sharpened, questions prepared, recorders in hand, to vindicate their American counterparts.
No fake news to be made here. Just the possibility of serious mistakes.
As for the “Russia thing,” this promises to keep all eyes off the prize for many months. I am almost afraid what will be revealed, how many heads will roll. Because I like the pomp and power, too, from the vantage of a proud spectator who still feels chills when the flag is unfurled and the uniformed band plays “Hail to the Chief.”
I shook hands with John F. Kennedy when he was a presidential candidate and interviewed Bill Clinton in a Vermont diner. The glow lingers.
“Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown,” lamented King Henry IV. Wouldn’t America be greater if this would-be king traded his in for a cap and rode off into the sunset?