Every evening on television, beginning at five, we are inundated with advertisements for wonder drugs. Most have side-effects so terrifying one wouldn’t dare try them.
This week’s “press conference,” donated to us all by one Donald J. Trump, president-elect, is exactly the same. Listening to his ideas, one wouldn’t dare try them.
Let us hasten to admit that the triumph at the press conference was all Trump’s. His was a completely masterful performance. For weeks he’d been promising to address the conflict of interest controversy. He didn’t. He had a lawyer do it for him. The results of this extra-judicial presentation were just exactly what Mr. Trump wanted: no information worth believing, no solutions that could possibly satisfy either both houses of Congress or ethics fantasists.
What we did see – again! – was a stage full of props that, in the end, were absolutely meaningless.
What we heard was Trump, at home on the range, hunting buffalo – i.e., long-used and irrelevant attacks on Hillary (why he should care at this point is beyond us), the press, the intelligence operations of the US Government, and once again kind words for Mr. Putin.
No matter how any of us voted, we have to admit that no one can side-step pitfalls with the ease and sincerity of Mr. Trump. He simply swatted down relevant questions sent forward by the press to talk about his own wonderfulness, his restated campaign promises (did buffalo ever roam south of the border?), his beautiful family and its various uses. He shared with us his bi-partisan generosity in refusing two billion dollars “to do some deals” with someone in Dubai – “a good friend” whose name he managed to mangle – because he didn’t think it would look right. What a guy. And he offered us a schedule of activities that would be presented either “simultaneously” (as in repeal and replace) or perhaps within two weeks of taking the oath, or at least within four, or maybe in the his first year.
Old Trump hands know that almost nothing promised will be delivered as advertised.
Yet in the few weeks between the election and the press conference, the Donald has managed to rub our furs the wrong way again and again and be neither criticized nor belittled. The man is amazing.
Perhaps it’s us. Unused as we are to public speaking, no single man or woman has entered the ring with nothing to lose bearding Donald. While we bemoan the lack of a Democratic leader, or even a moderate Republican leader, who is willing to do battle for what so many millions feel is the soul of our nation, Trump continues his blitzkrieg, shoving appointees at Congress and the nation with total confidence that they will all be confirmed.
This, folks, is the difference between the Donald and the rest of us. With his sights set only on his own shadow, there is no room in his mind even to imagine defeat.
On the other side of the street, it appears that any victories against Trumpism will come in little tiny well-disguised packages. A few Congressmen and women are beginning to clear their throats at confirmation hearings. That’s a beginning. Some of Trump’s cabinet choices are making noises that would indicate – without disloyalty to their new boss – a few significant differences in points of view. This isn’t a movement, but it’s hopeful.
One of the bigger questions facing us all is whether we have to swallow Trump’s no-longer-new pledge to blow up Washington’s known world. How long will it be before Trump’s approach to American problems changes from “or else” to “maybe it’s possible?”
The matter of money and deficits and taxes, a triple-barreled parlay of problems, is going to run into opposition from- we are led to believe – The Freedom Caucus (read Tea Party) and genuine Republican conservatives. It costs a lot of money to strengthen our Armed Forces; a lot of money to “build a wall”; a lot of money to even imagine a bi-partisan program of necessary infrastructure; a lot of public money to change education to chartered education, public versus private charterization; a lot of money to participate in improving the climate of the planet; a lot of money to improve housing, healthcare (healthcare!), and to save what’s valuable in our social safety nets.
We suspect Mr. Trump doesn’t care what anything costs as long as he’s not embarrassed. After all, what he’s used to is “dealing”. The idea of increasing the deficit is not something that keeps him awake at night. It may make other Republicans insomniacs, but not our Donald.
Which leads us back to our “moderate to severe” symptoms of disease, disbelief, and disgust. Although very few are willing to admit this, or even consider it as a possibility, many of us find ourselves with our noses pressed to the glass that encases the Washington bubble, hoping to spot moderate Republicans who hold the nation at higher esteem than their careers. Mr. Trump is not known for forgiveness. But whence cometh our help if not from BOTH sides of the aisle?
We can only hope that the side effects of Trumpism are somewhat less than the side effects of drugs prescribed to us for illnesses and symptoms we may or may not have. We may not achieve “clear skin” in four months, but at least we should be able to stand without shaking or quaking, hopeful once more that America is bigger, stronger, more enduring than one untutored, inexperienced, “man who would be King.”