Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Trump fatigue

I suppose it's possible to think that the ship of state would right itself if we'd just let him be. If no one would say a thing about his blasting "sick" Obama for wiretapping him, about crowd size at his inauguration, about three or four million unregistered Clinton voters--if we simply shrugged our shoulders and said, "Well, that's our man," and went on with our lives. Maybe that's so. Maybe we just ought not watch or listen or read.

We could just give him a pass when he fires the head of the FBI, the man charged with looking into Russian interference in the 2016 election. We could just let that go and breath more easily.

But the irony is so rich: Gen. Michael Flynn, in serious trouble with the law, screaming "Lock her up!!" at the Republican convention; or Trump himself insisting, day after day, that Hillary willingly gave away national security secrets. I guess we could not care.

We're 120 days, give or take a few, into a Presidency that has just about killed off the rest of us, the spectators. The high drama is unending. For just about all of that time, surf's up on breaking news. We used to say that among the Republican candidates, Trump daily takes all the oxygen out of the room. Today, it's different. Today, he takes it out of the whole nation, the culture. I'm tired. We all are.

"At certain times Donald Trump has seemed like a budding authoritarian, a corrupt Nixon, a rabble-rousing populist or a big business corporatist," or so wrote David Brooks in yesterday's NY Times ("When the world is led by a child"). But Brooks rejects all those descriptions and calls up his own: "At base, Trump is an infantalist," he says, a little boy. "Immaturity is becoming the dominant note of his presidency, lack of self-control his leitmotif."

David Brooks, a conservative, is right about a ton of things, and once again he's on the money here. He's been reading the latest Presidential interviews, and what he finds is that, like a child, Trump can't hold on to a thought. Because he can't, he has great trouble getting hold of the complexity of the problems we face ("No one knew that health care was as complex as it is"--oh, really?).

Like a child, Brooks says, Trump creates a life from his famous falsehoods in order to live in a world he's fashioned for himself. He lies about just about everything. "I'm a very smart man," he says, perhaps to convince his audience, but just as definitively to remind himself of his being a very smart man.

He appears to have no idea how he's being read and lacks the ability to see himself as others see him. He simply assumed that Democrats would love his firing of FBI Director Comey, Brooks says, because of what Comey did to Hillary right before the election. That Democrats felt cheated in Octber is not at issue; that Dems would tolerate a President who cans his FBI chief under the circumstances the President finds himself in requires a level of smarts Brooks says is beyond boy Trump.

President Trump didn't give away national security secrets to the Russians because he is an agent of the Russian government. He did what he did because he was bragging. He lacks the self-control to restrain himself from his own worst tendencies. "There is perpetually less to Trump than it appears," Brooks says.

A friend of mine, a retired woodworker, told me he meets with a round table of other old bucks every Tuesday at a greasy spoon in some town near his home in central California. They get together to hammer out world issues over a cup of coffee. He says there are lefties and righties in the bunch, so for the last year their conversations haven't lacked ardor. Passions soar.

But lately, he says, the Trumpians aren't saying much. They're not dissing their man yet; they're not turning on him, but neither do they beat up any more on those who do. Their silence, he says, is telling.

For President, we have a man who is a child, David Brooks says. That's why no one knows what'll happen today. No one. Not even the President. And it's why the rest of us--supporters and not--are getting tired. It may not be a high paying job, but child care
 is dang hard work.

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