If you believe in the U. S. Constitution, the dignity of the Presidency, the value of science, the importance of truth, civility and commitment to oaths to which one has sworn, this week has been a nightmare for you. and for me. Donald J. Trump has been acquitted in his impeachment trial, the State of the Union address was high on showmanship but low on facts, the Democrats’ 2020 campaign kickoff in Iowa was a devastating and embarrassing fiasco, and the Gallup Poll has announced a 49 percent, highest ever, approval rating for Donald John Trump.
The State of the Union speech was a campaign speech, with the President playing to his base. Trump’s red meat included attacks on “tyrannical” Socialism, immigration, and sanctuary cities. He also fed his base more on federal judges, the Wall, the Second Amendment, abortion, tuition credits for non-public schools. Many of the economic gains he cited were distortions of reality if not outright lies, largely designed to continue his long campaign to degrade his predecessor’s accomplishments.
Trump’s claim to be preserving coverage for patients’ pre-existing conditions – while his administration is in court to eliminate the Affordable Care Act protections – was especially nauseating, even more than his deceptive embrace of Social Security and Medicare protections. His claiming total credit for the USMCA trade agreement is laughable when you remember the key roles of Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Springfield Congressman and House Ways and Means Chair Richie Neal in negotiating the post-NAFTA accord.
Perhaps the most jaw-dropping was Trump’s reality-TV stagecraft highlighting the individuals whom he honored, many of them, for strategic reasons, were people of color. The emotional strings he pulled by thanking a military mom and her kids and then bringing home the dad from his posting for a tear-filled reunion in the House gallery was stirring, if contrived.
And how can we forget having Melania Trump fasten the Presidential Medal of Freedom on right-wing media uber-bully Rush Limbaugh, an honor previously bestowed on the likes of Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Norman Rockwell, Colin Powell, Martha Graham, Helen Keller, Mother Teresa, Rev. Billy Graham and Admiral Arleigh Burke? What Donald Trump rewards as heroism is tabloid celebrity and partisanship.
Most if not all of the event was highly partisan, going beyond the distinction of who claps and who gives a standing ovation. Republicans’ prolonged chants of “four more years” left many Democrats and Independents in a cold sweat. At the beginning, Pelosi, in accepting the hard copy of the President’s speech, extended her hand to shake his. He turned his back on her. At the end, she tore up his mendacious script.
If one looks to the Democrats for a way out of this national debacle, the Iowa Democrats’ handling of their (hopefully last) grossly unrepresentative, first-in-the-nation caucus didn’t augur well. Democrats seem not to realize that they need an extraordinary candidate to face an existential threat. They’re ill prepared to deal with Republicans crossing over to vote for Bernie Sanders in the New Hampshire and South Carolina Democratic primaries and the potential foreign interference still to come.
The Senate impeachment vote provided the final nail in the coffin for the party of Lincoln. Even once so-called adult Republicans distinguished themselves only by their craven fealty to Trump. The exception to this was Mitt Romney, the first Senator in U.S. history to split from his party on an impeachment vote. He stood out with Democrat Doug Jones of Alabama, who also courageously voted his conscience despite expected political fallout from finding Donald Trump guilty.
Emblematic was spineless Maine Senator Susan Collins, who voted to acquit Trump on two counts of impeachable offenses because, she said with a straight face that she thought Trump had “learned a lesson.” Not even a little. Responding later to Collins’ comment at a news anchors luncheon, the President said there were no lessons to be learned, that he’d done nothing wrong.
Add to all of this, the Boston Red Sox’ trading away Mookie Betts (in a package that includes David Price) dealt a profound blow to the major potential distraction this summer from the political woes, and you can understand why it matters little to me that the equipment trucks have already left for Fort Myers and the first workout for pitchers and catchers is a week from today. Today, I just want to go back to bed, put the electric blanket on high and assume the fetal position.
I shudder to think that the Red Sox, who may take some serious rebuilding to return to the playoffs, may rebound more quickly than the nation.