What a week. I’m no great intellect, but I do have enough experience to recognize a con when I hear one. “Build the wall! Build the wall!” was the battle cry trumpeted throughout the land, followed by “Mexico pays! Mexico pays!”
How, exactly? Details, details — even when the Mexican president scoffed, “No way.” After all, this was a campaign, when promises spring up faster than mushrooms after a summer rain. Nobody really believed Mexico would ante up a couple of billion to keep their “rapists and drug dealers” from heading north. Besides, this joker had no chance of winning the election. So the promise fell moot.
Seven months have passed with hardly a mention. The president probably wanted to forget, since he was too busy hiring and firing. Decent help is hard to get these days.
Now, with his approval circling the drain, like a petulant child POTUS is threatening to close down the government if Congress doesn’t fund construction of the wall.
“Don’t worry. We’ll be reimbursed (by Mexico),” he insists with that facial expression indicating discomfort. Surely no sentient human believes this desperate promise. Just assembling land rights, designs and materials alone would take years. This isn’t like putting up a baby gate from Walmart, Mr. President.
The immigration specter was reinforced a few days later, when Trump pardoned the Arizona sheriff known for racial profiling. And then Harvey struck Texas. The first TV reports of evacuation and rescue showed a preponderance of Hispanic, probably Mexican, victims. Convention centers, schools, churches — even bowling alleys — became shelters. Furniture and bedding showrooms accommodated the displaced. Good Samaritans brought inflatable rafts, canoes, Jet-Skis to remove the stranded from flooded homes. The governor declared all Texans a family. And President Trump, sensing a moment, gushed, “We love you. We will take care of you.”
Did he mean both documented and undocumented? Spanish-speaking, or only English? How about dreamers? And when it’s over, who gets deported? The two teenage boys who lifted an old woman’s wheelchair onto a makeshift raft? The señora who trudged through waist-high water for a child’s dog?
Is this irony — or poetic justice?
Then, while the country waited, the rescuer-in-chief announced a visit removed from ground zero so as not to distract. Yet when he landed in Corpus Christi, a crowd awaited. “What a turnout, what a crowd,” he beamed, because the crowd mentality stokes his fire. He praised officials, promised quick and unending aid, and then — I still cannot believe it — began congratulating everybody, including himself, before somebody kicked him under the table.
The president did not mention the victims’ suffering, their losses or the death toll (including one police officer) until 24 hours later — and then stilted and emotionless, by teleprompter. Instead, he described the flood as biblical, the biggest, the worst, catastrophic, incredible, the superlatives without which he cannot construct a sentence.
I’m sure Trump will return, but not to hug the Mexican and African-American children fussing in a gymnasium full of sodden, stressed souls. Remember, this president won’t even touch food with his hands, fearing grease and germs.
I wanted to scream: “This isn’t the political version of fantasy football, Mr. President. Get real. Get honest. Get practical. Get involved.”
As for bringing Melania: In her battle jacket, ponytail, sneakers and FLOTUS baseball cap, she looked like a camper dressed by L.L. Bean for a field trip. If she displayed any warmth or sympathy, the cameras missed it. Come back, Melania. Ladle soup. Wipe noses. Fill bottles with formula.
Sadly, it has taken seven months of upheaval and disillusionment to convince “the base” that their hero — like Hamlet, Oedipus, Achilles and Michael Corleone — harbors a tragic but obvious flaw: Way beyond hubris and egoism, he is head-over-heels in love with Donald J. Trump, the man and the image, who can do no wrong, submits to the rules of no society, and believes he is the true Midas.
He is not of the people, for the people, by the people. He is above the people — especially poor people or differently complexioned people or followers of Middle Eastern religions. He doesn’t give a damn about “making America great again,” whatever that means. He just wants to make Trump the greatest, barring even Muhammad Ali, forever.
Right away, the pundits said Hurricane Harvey would enable this oft-caricatured figurehead to dig deep and show his humanity, his true self.
They were right. And he did.