Watching former vice-president Joe Biden on public television last night, I felt a loosening of some almost indefinable set of knots. Biden was beautifully made-up. He spoke quietly. He ducked questions as the need arose. And yet through it all, I had a sense of terra somewhat more firma. Dignity and decency and leadership and thoughtfulness and, who knows, maybe even honor, were woven into his words. Of course I was just an arrogant faggot elitist who had helped create the "swamp" of Washington, D.C., but, listening to Biden, I was willing to shoulder those taunts.
And who had made all of this possible? Donald Trump -- that's who.
His illiterate, illogical, bullying idiocies and cruelties -- his unwillingness to read and reflect and consider and shape policy -- left former bits of Biden-era flag-waving bombast in the shade... or, put another way, elevated them to new and newly-burnished heights. To corrupt the old saying, "There are lies, damned lies and there is Donald Trump."
I was willing last night to be suspicious of Biden: He's a politician after all. But in the midst of his politician-ness, his words struck me as having a chance to succeed, perhaps despite him if nothing else. America might not be the greatest, it might have its hypocrisies up the wazoo, but how did it happen, as it has, that I am more likely to listen to the words of an alleged enemy -- Iran -- than I am to listen to the words of my own president? Sifting Iran's words strikes me as providing pebbles of substantive meaning; sifting Trump's bombast produces few or no pebbles.
Trump has forced me, for one, back to a time when bullshit treacle is positively bracing. Decency, clarity, diplomacy, leadership, democracy, and, sure, duplicity .... but duplicity in search of an honest or more-or-less honest outcome. I am exhausted as I nod my head in agreement with those who opine -- out loud and in the public square -- that the U.S. president is a "fucking moron."
Yes, he has paid off his benefactors with a tax bill that will screw vast swaths of the American public in years to come. OK, he accomplished that. But what policy initiative has become law on his watch -- the kind that benefits the country he is said to represent?
But I do have to say an exhausted thank you to Trump. His lies and bombast have forced me to realize that decency is important to me, even when it's flawed; that country is important to me, even when it's flawed; that thoughtfulness is important to me, even when it's flawed ... that there is a role for honor, even when it's flawed.
I hate thanking Trump, but I guess I need to do it.
PS And tack on this snippet of John Oliver's thrashing of the president...