Burke: Trump is history, but recent enough to justify study

Several new books are out or on their way, providing more understanding of how bad things really were.

By Tom Burke / For The Herald

I used to fire up my computer every morning to see if a medical acronym had ended Donald Trump’s attack on our democracy. I’d look for Second Coming headlines (that’s really big type on a newspaper’s front page) using doctor-talk — such as CVA, MI or CHF — reporting the sudden end of his presidency.

(Medical translations: CVA, cerebrovascular accident or stroke; MI, myocardial infarction or heart attack; and CHF, congestive heart failure another kind of heart attack.)

Of course I mourn any death and wish it on no one. But his Republican support through two impeachments, sycophantish-enabling of his serial disasters (covid, China, the Wall, global warming, etc.), and MAGA-crowd enthusiasm for his incompetence dismayed me and, as I saw no constitutional end to his horror until the 2020 election, I had very un-Christian thoughts regarding his health.

For the last five-plus years I’ve written about our 45th president: gently at first, contrasting his behavior against, say, George Washington’s Rules of Civility; then slyly but with more bite, like labeling him ”Der Furor;” then stridently calling him out as totally unfit, as he engineered a putsch-like grab for dictatorial powers.

Three new books: “I Alone Can Fix It” by Carol D. Leonnig and Philip Rucker, Michael Bender’s “Frankly We Did Win This Election,” and Michael Wolff’s “Landslide” are now further exposing the depths of his incompetence, his unstable mental state or mental illness, his lack of intellectual rigor except for sly cunning, and his attempt to crap-can the Constitution. (And Bob Woodward’s book, not due ‘til September, is sure to be another killer.)

Just consider Trump’s “Big Lie” to grasp the depths of his depravity as his deep dive into fictional fantasies embodied his dangerous delusions, demonstrated his undeniable yen for despotism, and showcased the disdain he held for democratic institutions. And how his lies have motivated voter suppression and worse in most red states.

I am reading Michael Bender’s book; I have “I Alone Can Fix It” on order; it’s just excerpts from Wolfe’s tome, and I’m devouring everything available from all three.

What comes through is vexing and frightening.

I am vexed that some reporters (maybe) didn’t tell us in real time what was happening, although, honestly, there was more than enough reporting for anyone with a scintilla of intelligence to ascertain what Trump was about. (Just look at how he handled covid and count the 600,000 bodies at his feet.)

And I am frightened at how close we came to disaster. If Ggod is watching over us then we should be down on our knees giving him thanks and praise for people like Gen. Mark Milley and the others who saw the danger and took precautions. (Political intersession by god is a fraught proposition, however. I have a belt buckle from a World War I German soldier that’s inscribed, “Gott Mit Uns,” (“God With Us”) which makes any claim that god’s on our side an iffy thing.)

Trump is, of course, denying everything. But ya gotta remember: Trump is a liar. A congenital, habitual liar.

“Fake News” the MAGAs scream. Then answer me, gentle reader, why did Trump give extensive interviews to these “Fake News” reporters and authors?

Plus Bender’s and Leonnig/Rucker’s books are incredibly sourced and their reputations transcend Trumps 30,500-plus White House lies.

Unfortunately for the country, the MAGAs won’t believe a single sentence. And those who do believe will only see their worst fears confirmed or be further aghast.

We are, today, more politically polarized than at any time in our history. Both “sides” views the others, “them,” with distrust and suspicion. A significant minority seems willing (or has) taken up arms to inflict their white-supremist/religious-orthodoxy/fascist vision on the rest of us. And ignorance (can you say Marjorie Taylor Green?) or lust for power (Mr. Senate Minority Leader) runs riot through Republican ranks.

Biden and the Dems may not have all the answers to all our problems, foreign and domestic; but they got most of them. And I don’t write about the current administration very often: first because they are working it out, “in regular order” as we traditionally have and the best they can around Republican stupidity (vaccines, for instance); and second, because Trump, Trumpism, MAGAs, the insurrectionists and voter suppression are much greater threats than intra-party squabbles between moderate and progressive Democrats.

We could be on our way to healing and prosperity if we all listened, and talked, and compromised, and did more than mindlessly mouth “Fake News,” “Witch Hunt” or “It’s a scam.” But the R’s won’t, because Trump won’t.

Clearly, there are far too many juicy quotes to repeat them here. Ya just gotta read. But I think Trump’s Attorney General, Bill Barr, summed it all up when he said, “It was all bull****,” referencing Donald Trump and his Big Lie. For me, however, it sums up a lot more.

Tom Burke’s email address is t.burke.column@gmail.com.

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