Meredith C. Carroll: It’s not the economy, stupid
Exactly 10 years ago today, John Edwards sat on a shabby chic chair in a light-filled den in his Chapel Hill, North Carolina, home and finally confessed on ABC’s “Nightline” to the extramarital affair a supermarket tabloid had already outed him for having.
It was hardly the first or last time an elected official went down in a fiery pit of poor choices and spilled ink: Between tawdry flings, corruption, untruths, bribes, racketeering, drugs, prostitutes, hypocrisy, lewd text messages and just plain stupidity, the list of those booted, shamed or voted out of office goes on ad infinitum. At one point the threshold for being removed from political consideration came down to Howard Dean’s odd shriek at the 2004 Iowa Caucus.
Yet 565 days into Donald Trump’s presidency, he’s screeched, lied, whined, bullied, insulted, menaced, taunted, ranted, blundered, screwed up, name-called, offended and unfriended the nation’s closest allies at the same time he spoons our sworn enemies. If Trump’s dishonest tweets, extramarital affairs, nefarious communications, cheating, nepotism, self-serving business dealings, sexism, racism, xenophobia and astonishingly inane quips were counted in miles, they’d literally stretch longer than the Earth’s radius.
Unlike those before him who have eventually owned up to their transgressions or were at least forced to be held accountable for them, Trump keeps swearing he didn’t steal the cookie from the cookie jar — all while carrying around the cookie jar with his hand stuck inside, crumbs on his shirt and chocolate in his teeth. Despite every other elected official, and human being, being held to a higher standard, Trump’s job appears to be safe at the moment.
And yet he (and Mike Pence) isn’t even the worst part of his presidency. You’d think that based on his despicable, treasonous and treacherous conduct he’d be in the crosshairs of the majority of those who gave him their “But her emails” vote. Yet the oxymoronic smart-Trump supporters profess to be standing by their man due to the economy — notwithstanding the plain and incontrovertible fact that it was made as strong as it is by the acumen of his predecessor — and because they say he’s kept his campaign promises (you know, except for the small matter of a 2,000-mile-long wall).
Besides, it would probably be uncomfortable for those who profess to support Trump to speak out against his deplorable behavior since he’s ended up serving as an excuse for so many of them to publicly embrace their dark souls and stop pretending to support things like equality, tolerance and a strong moral compass. If Trump’s the guy assaulting a drunk sorority girl at the keg party, his followers are the frat brothers cheering him on.
Trump’s favorite pastime (besides golf) has emerged as bashing the media, which has done an extraordinary job of covering his unprecedented reign of terror. Journalists around the world have upped their game exponentially by thoroughly and thoughtfully covering his unprecedented failure to uphold the values inherent to a democracy. He makes a sport of attacking heroes and assailing freedoms. To be sure, the personal hits are alarming, but his strikes against integrity and the truth are downright distressing.
Surely no one needs to feel bad for, say, LeBron James for being a Trump target — King James probably sleeps well at night knowing he’s doing the right thing when people are watching and even when they’re not — although everyone should be petrified about how Trump systemically and manically attempts to gaslight an entire nation about the difference between right and wrong.
Those loyal to Trump might take the time to learn about the shame of so many citizens in a post-Hitler Germany, especially those who abetted in the murder of millions, or remained mute on the sidelines while it unfolded. While the stains of their past may no longer be visible, the scars of their silence and complicity will neither fade nor be forgotten.
One way or another, Trump will leave Washington, D.C., in disgrace. In the meantime, his followers, cohorts and enablers will undoubtedly continue their gleeful looting of whatever remains of our nation’s decency. At issue is just how much damage they’ll do before law, order and humanity is restored.
Follow Meredith Carroll on Twitter @MCCarroll. More at MeredithCarroll.com.