Injecting local anesthetics, qua surgeon, I’ve used the term “here comes a little prick” without being accused of language unfit for publication. Would that I could employ it to describe that smug, entitled, MAGA-hatted, religious-schooled, self-satisfied, overindulged white kid and his pals, recorded mocking a dignified Native American tribal elder who spends his time advocating for people in need. How I wish someone had asked those smegmatic anatomic analogies what “MAGA” means to them, and in what way they thought they were accomplishing it.
After seeing video of the encounter, I wrote the preceding paragraph, and several less-deferential ones. Later, I read other accounts, including one attributed to the central kid in the video, and began to reassess my initial reaction. The man says he stepped in to defuse a situation. The boy, in a statement crafted by RunSwitch, a PR agency with roots in the Bush administration and ties to Mitch McConnell, claims he was the defuser. There’d been prior provocations by nutty “Black Hebrew Israelites.” Right-wingers unfurled their “paid-actor” flag. Left-wingers uncovered prior transgressions at the boys’ school. Other contemporaneous videos show those same boys harassing passing girls. They were, or weren’t, chanting “Build the wall.”
Like many people on either side of America’s political chasm, I live in a sine-wave of outrage; but I should know to take a breath before wording off. Had this column included my entire jeremiad and nothing else, I’d have embarrassed myself. But I also know that no matter what or how I write, I’ll hear from people denying facts presented, asserting falsehoods, calling me a lying communist, and changing the subject. Because that’s what we’ve become: a country irreparably fissured.
Whatever else is true, those boys wore their MAGA hats proudly, and one wonders what defines the greatness they espouse. The only measures by which we’re “greater” now than when Trump took office are the stock market and unemployment, neither of which represents a change in the direction they were heading, breaking records monthly, under the stewardship of President Barack Obama. Otherwise, we’re deeper in debt, more polluted, more divided; fewer Americans have health insurance, carcinogens are deregulated, the Senate is more dysfunctional, middle class people are falling behind even as the rich get richer. Putin is rising, Kim is cheating, allies distrust us. Even Ann Coulter is discovering nothing Trump says is believable, including when he denies suborning perjury. So it’s easy to decode the secret of “MAGA.” It’s not really a “G.”
My fuse was easily lit; but if each side is capable of misconstruing the intentions of the other, it doesn’t mean blame is equally shared. Trump does lie, several times daily. Democrats do want border security. And capitalism. Climate change is real, and entering a dangerous positive-feedback loop. Putin did interfere on Trump’s behalf. Tax cuts don’t pay for themselves. Most illegal immigrants are decent people. Walls don’t stop smuggled drugs. And yes, coming here illegally is illegal.
When Trump teased his speech on the wall and the shutdown, leaking that he’d offer to support DACA and TPS in return for receiving ransom for his wall, I thought, OK, that’s what compromise is, and I hope Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi will accept it. Maybe it can be the beginning of the end of perilous impasse. Good for Trump.
Then we learned the plan was concocted with McConnell, Miller, Pence and Kushner, without input from Democrats; at which point we knew it’d be more of their usual cynical politics, crafted for rejection, purposed to shift blame to where it isn’t. Which it was.
Of all his unfulfilled, preposterous-yet-believed campaign promises, Trump went to the mat for a wall. (The temporary reprieve on the shutdown hasn’t changed his demands, even as it demonstrates what a pig-headed waste it’s been.) Not something that would help millions of Americans, like replacing the Affordable Care Act with something “cheaper, with better coverage for everyone.” Not raising taxes on the wealthy to fix infrastructure. That beautiful wall, Trump’s favorite lie and base-distractor.
Post-confrontation dudgeon remains high. The right is up-armed about liberals being mean; liberals, as expected, are falling upon themselves. But, under settling dust, I’ve circled back. Even if having an exemplar in the Offal Office explains their behavior, it doesn’t excuse it. Those leering boys, now heroes of the right, wore the hats of a liar, and, fair or not, it affects their believability. Which shows why, if they’re to restore lost credibility, adult Republicans must spurn their pathologically dishonest “president.”
And tell their kids.
Email Sid Schwab at email@example.com.