We sensible Americans have spewed nothing but outrage, vitriol and sarcasm since the Trump administration moved into the still-undrained swamp that is Washington. And rightly so. Only the cherry blossoms remain intact.
But that doesn’t mean nothing good has ensued because any change offers a learning experience. Boy-oh-boy (girl-oh-girl as the Me-Toos say), have I learned a lot. Thank you, Mr. Trump, for the education.
A few high points:
My parents followed politics closely, especially during and after World War II. Arguments with friends became heated. Booooring, I thought, and retreated to Mary Poppins. But now I follow every twist, turn, inconsistency, fabrication down to the minute details.
Cable news makes this easy. Repetition hammers home every point. The two sides to every story are represented with the same vengeance (on different channels) as opposing linebackers at the Army-Navy game. Thanks, Mr. Trump, for awakening an interest.
I learned how many smart folks work behind the scenes at think tanks but stay visible as “analysts” employed by these networks. Does any university yet offer a major in “News Analysis” (so much sexier than Poli Sci) for articulate students who can sit up straight, fold their hands and offer informed opinions through an inch of lip gloss?
I have learned so much process it’s oozing from my ears. Like what must transpire to get legislation passed, hindered by partisanship rather than desire for the most beneficial outcome. Right now, Congress puts re-election before the common good. Don’t know why, since with unemployment low and new jobs created every day, the losing suits shouldn’t have trouble finding something, even if they go back to community college to learn a trade. Of course that would mean giving up fabulous health insurance, a travel allowance, the best tables at capital steak joints, spiffy interns, other perks.
I learned that the law is an exciting profession, especially given the scandals rampant in government. When I was a Duke undergrad, attorney wannabes had to be fast readers and have good memories. Law sounded a bit stodgy. Now, with every detail instantly available online and the media clamoring for conclusions — not to mention the hourly rate — the law seems more enticing. My grandson thought so. He graduates from law school next May, so I’ll soon get an inside scoop. Besides, those lady attorneys, even prosecutors on government salaries, wear fabulous clothes.
I learned that evangelicals are to be applauded for separating church and state, as the Founding Fathers mandated. This means POTUS need not conform to the same moral standards required of clergy, according to their spokesmen.
On that subject, I also learned that the attorney general invoked a Bible passage as justification for separating children from parents seeking asylum. Its gist: Obey the law. Does that mean that stonings, beheadings, crucifixions and other atrocities carried out (legally, I assume) during Biblical times are possibilities? Ask Sarah Huckabee Sanders, daughter of a minister self-described as a “pre-millennial evangelical,” herself mother of three, tasked with choking out words defending the AG’s reference.
I learned how current situations confirm that art imitates life imitates politics. Then-Press Secretary Sean Spicer hiding in the bushes outside the White House to avoid reporters; Rep. Devin Nunes delivering a document to White House grounds under cover of night; former White House staff secretary/alleged domestic abuser Rob Porter a hot item with beauteous Communications Director Hope Hicks — all, purely Shakespearean, as is Veep Mike Pence, biding time in the wings. How many term papers have investigated the Bard’s portrayal of complicated father-daughter relationships? Read up, Ivanka.
I never learned the exact meaning of “constitutional crisis” but surmised that those oft-referenced Founding Fathers (no mothers, unfortunately) burning the midnight oil (literally) in the back rooms of Philadelphia during the sweltering summer of 1787 could not fully predict how the right to bear arms would be applied 231 years hence. I cannot believe that such wise men would condone contemporary applications.
All in all, I learned that the current state of governmental affairs (no pun intended) is a mess, exhausting and discouraging, slowing progress — the recent summit with Kim Jong-un notwithstanding. Referencing art once again, I’m reminded of Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” where Richard Burton and Liz Taylor pull each other and their marriage to bloody shreds while a naïve young couple look on. Seems like the American people are that audience — an audience that clicks the remote each morning for a new lesson. I can’t wait for the exam on Nov. 6.
Contact Deborah Salomon at firstname.lastname@example.org