Remember the line from a song in Mary Poppins (the original movie with Julie Andrews) where she sang “Just a spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down?”
I remember when Trump was elected saying that once he got into office, he might discover being President was a good gig. He could settle down. Maybe do some good. That didn’t happen. Instead of settling down, instead of “doing good,” he continued to lie and create chaos. He refused to follow even the basic “rules of the game” and other than his insane “base” supporters, he lost the rest of us.
He didn’t always have bad ideas. He had once upon a time been a Democrat and politically, he was much more middle of the road than you might have guessed from his four horrendous years as President. I think it was because he couldn’t seem to “get” that being a decent, nice, polite, maybe even charming human being was far more likely to win over those who were not died in the wool mindless, violent racists. Why he thought — if he thought at all — that courting the worst people was going to “win” the U.S., I have no idea.
A lot of Republicans felt “we never gave him a chance.”
They were wrong about that. I, for one, and many others tried to do exactly that. We wanted him to become a president who at least showed a modicum of respect for the position. If in private he was a racist, shut up about it in public. Make us feel safe. Fighting off the unfair tariffs against American-made goods has been a thorn in the flesh of every administration of both parties. If instead of starting a tariff war Trump had fought the same battle without the bellowing, he might have won some more “normal” and independent people to his side. Had he not caged children, he would not have enraged virtually everyone who was not a died-in-the-wool Trumpist. Had he made a case for not blocking DACA while coming up with a reasonable way to deal with immigration, he would have had a lot more people ready to listen.
If he had presented his “ideas” AS ideas — without the chaos, fireworks, outright lies, hatred, and cruelty to the press — many more people would have listened. Someone in the mix of madness he presented as his version of the presidency, there were some ideas which might have been worth listening to, but by the time he was through bellowing his rage, lies and incoherence, anyone with an understanding of simple civility had already left the building. He destroyed any hope of unity that might have existed and tore us into furious fragments.
Which brings me to the buried lead of this article. I was watching the news last night. All of the media, from CNN to The New York Times and The Washington Post were saying the same thing: that Trump finally signed the “COVID Relief” bill at the last minute, having said nothing about it before and only throwing a wrench into the works at the last minute to do what we’ve come to expect of him: create madness and chaos.
Except for one small item.
He emphatically HAD indicated weeks ago that he felt the money being given to people was too little to make a significant difference personally or nationally. He said it often, loudly, and publicly . He was talked out of it by his “advisors,” most of whom are toadies with nothing to offer. Many a presidency has been saved not by the president, but by a staff of people working with him.
It bothers me that the song the press is singing is a lie. It bothers me because after all these months of complaining about Trump’s lies, they turn around and do the same thing. It’s as if their lies don’t count because after all, Trump’s been lying nonstop since 2015.
How hard would it have been for this administration to calm down, be polite, avoid the racism, and talk intelligently to everyone? Are good manners so far outside his purview? Surely not. So here he is, at the last possible hour with (gasp) a good idea. There have been a few others along the way, but all presented so badly, so evilly, so ominously that all most of us could do was bury our heads and pray he would go away sooner rather than later. Where he got the idea that we were ready for a coup in favor of King Trump leads me to doubt his sanity.
It wouldn’t have taken much to turn these terrible four years into something we could have lived with. Trump didn’t need to make everyone feel like targets of his unending wrath, A spoonful of sugar and the medicine might indeed have gone down. Maybe we’d all have felt less frightened. It wouldn’t have hurt him to make some small concession towards understanding how this government should work. If he can’t read well (dyslexia hits even the brightest among us), he could have engaged readers who would have narrated his required reading and offered explanations. It wouldn’t have cost him anything to turn this thing around. Instead, Trump did everything wrong, like a child acting out for whom punishment only makes the behavior worse.
Thus when America needed comfort, we got threats. When we needed a leader, we got wrath. Where we urgently needed honesty, we got outrageous lies. Where we needed calmness and clarity, we got bloated narcissism. Was he able to behave differently?
Right now and for weeks passed, he has had a point with which most of us would have happily engaged. A good — even rational — point, had he been able to present it to us coherently and publicly. Maybe announced by him on every network so no one could miss it. It might have made Americans cheer. Together. The way we have in the past.
Civility. And a spoonful of sugar.