As a journalist, I have access to all sorts of cool Secret Squirrel stuff unavailable to the average person. A healthy skepticism, for one...
Sorry, cheap shot. I was actually thinking of Nexis. Nexis is a database of world media. The kid brother of Lexis, the case file database for lawyers. When you search Nexis, all the crappy aggregator web sites and fake news spoodle and insane partisan deformations never even get their foot in the door. You're looking at real articles that paid journalists produced using professional standards for publication. It makes a difference.
As the wheels and gears started spinning wildly on the "well-oiled machine" of the Trump administration this week, like a cheap tin toy about to fly apart, I noticed I was looking away, distracting myself. No, no need to watch his farce press conferences—supposedly, I didn't see them—with Benjamin Netanyahu and then his 77 minute meltdown Thursday. When you know someone is a brittle, bullying liar, you really don't need to keep logging more instances of fragility, bullying and deceit. I get it.
Although the reaction to the second press conference was such jaw-dropped shock that I found myself circling back to watch snippets, just to confirm.
The word that kept coming back to me was "unfit." I logged into Nexis, set the time parameters for one year before the election—Nov. 8, 2015 to Nov. 8, 2016—then plugged in the words "Donald Trump" and "unfit."
Because if one word of the mountains of apt criticism Trump has justly received, "unfit" seems to say it all. It kept echoing in my mind. The man shouldn't be president. He should never been allowed to be president. He should never have been allowed to run.
A big red notice that my request turned in more than 3,000 documents--the computer in essence saying, "That's a tall order...it's going to take me time."
Of course. No worries. I'm just fishing. I added "president." Still more than 3,000 hits. So I added "bully" and culled the herd down to 326--about one story every day.
The top hit, since it ran Election Day, Nov. 8, 2016, was a column by a man I'd never heard of. Philip Martin, at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Titled "Fat, Drunk and Stupid" it began, "I have a bad feeling about this," and was a last minute plea against voting for Donald Trump.
He summarizes the deficiencies of Hillary Clinton—not fabulous, just never connected with people—explains why Trump will probably win Arkansas and come "perilously close" to the presidency.
For the last time, I want to say it plain: Trump is unfit to be president. He lies. He cheats. He's a bad businessman and a bad American. He's a bully who keeps score and you shouldn't trust him around your teenage daughter, much less the nuclear football.Either you see that, or you don't. Late Friday he called the press "the enemy of the American People." And you know what happens to the Enemy of the People, don't you? He heads Saturday to a campaign rally—he needs public adulation to survive, apparently, the way a vampire needs human blood. It'll be in an airplane hangar, and I imagine the hangar will be filled with people. I imagine they'll have no trouble filling it with people.
The Martin observation was repeated in every paper in America all through 2016. But people had tuned the media out. The lying mainstream media. When the history of this sordid and humiliating period of American history is written, I hope historians note that journalists were standing on a chair, banging garbage cans over our head, shouting to the rooftops, trying to avoid this. America, to its shame, voted for Donald Trump anyway, with its eyes wide open, staring at his hideous personhood, believing what he told us and not what we saw so clearly. Some of us, anyway.
Why? They wanted a change. They were tired of the old ways, the business-as-usual politics. It wasn't that they didn't have a valid complaint, they did. It's just that their solution will make the problem, make all of our problems, so much worse. America is like a man who burns his house down to get rid of the mice. Like a person who has a genuine ailment—say cancer—and then hires a shaman to spray fragrant oils on the soles of his feet. You're sorry they're sick. You understand the fear in that. But they're embracing a quack and don't know it. I'd add "yet," but that would be wistful. If we know one thing about error is that it tends to compound. The majority of people would much rather dwell in wrongness than admit being mistaken.
Martin ends this way:
Anyway, tomorrow is coming. And no matter what happens, no one is coming to take our guns. No one is going to make us any greater than our spirits will allow. Make no mistake, we are getting what we deserve. We need to start taking this stuff seriously, we need to stop listening to those who tell us we're the best and the brightest and that nothing is our fault.From "Animal House." Perhaps an unfair reference, as Trump is a teetotaler -- kind of gives us teetotalers a bad name, huh? People often talk about drinking as an escape from the Trump monstrosity, and I'd join them if I thought it would shorten his administration by an hour, but I don't see how it would. So as bad as the Trump years will be for you, remember, I have to endure this sober.
To paraphrase Dean Wormer, fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through history, America.
"Unfit." It echoes. I noticed E.J. Dionne's column in the Washington Post a few days back: "Admit it: Trump is unfit to serve." Well duh. Though odd that people are just noticing. He's no different than when he ran. Only now he's president.
Though I might take exception with the idea that we deserve it. Even though I recall writing the exact same thing. Maybe we allowed it to happen. Not just last November. For years, decades, allowed money to overtake government, allowed the powerful too free a hand. Mocked the idea of experts, of competence.
Do we deserve this corrosive clown show of a government? A flailing, incompetent president, his Dick Tracy hall of villains staff? This groveling Congress? Maybe we got what we deserved in November. But maybe it changed us. Galvanized us. Maybe seeing what we ended up with, we are now, trying to be a people who deserve better. A little late. But better late than never.