Walt Amses: Enough is enough

Editor’s note: This commentary is by Walt Amses, a writer and former educator who lives in Calais.

There was a time when Americans horrified at the Trump presidency took some solace in the fact that Donald Trump was an object of almost daily ridicule. Much of what he said and did immediately translated to humor, often by simply repeating it and sitting back, waiting for the guffaws to begin. Late night hosts and stand-up comedians feasted on the mindless Twitter storms beamed out of the White House or wherever the president was ensconced for one of his numerous golfing weekends.

But that time (was it really only a week ago?) may be over, or at minim temporarily suspended. While the planet tried to make sense of his alarming effort to out-stupid North Korea’s Kim Jong Un with threats of “Fire and fury the likes of which the world has never seen,” the clarity of Trump was thrown into alarming focus by the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, as the president apparently struggled for two days to avoid condemnation of the Ku Klux Klan, Nazis and white supremacists. When Jeff Sessions sounds like the voice of reason, we’re in deep trouble.

Only after enormous bipartisan public pressure did Trump respond with a half-hearted recitation from the White House teleprompter: far too little, far too late. The message had already been delivered in a silence that screamed loudly and clearly this administration’s stance on race in America, the constituency to which it consistently genuflects, and, perhaps unwittingly, the continuing indignity of having this miserable excuse of a man (self) serving as president.

But Trump’s narcissism could not be contained for very long. In an astonishing, impromptu New York press conference on Tuesday afternoon he reversed himself again, blaming “both sides” for the terror in Charlottesville, drawing almost universal, bipartisan condemnation. By equating counter protesters with white supremacists and referring to those standing up to hatred as the “alt left,” a term siphoned directly from his Fox News puppeteers, POTUS unequivocally breathed new life into a movement that should have died with Strom Thurmond.

The very idea that a hate-filled movement in KKK robes brandishing Nazi flags would be emboldened by a presidential endorsement to confidently step out of the shadows and descend upon American cities like a malignancy is shocking even by this administration’s standards. We have in Trump someone who either cannot comprehend what he is doing or simply doesn’t care, continuing to elevate ego above all, eagerly misrepresenting indisputable facts in service of creating a chilling new reality.

It is no longer a question of whether or not Trump is a liar. He lies on a daily basis. The only viable speculation is what he will lie about next and how quickly and easily it will be disproven. He couples his indisputable ignorance with an arrogance born of inherited wealth and privilege wherein he’s never needed to be accountable to anyone for anything and is incapable of beginning at the age of 70. Ideally, in the most powerful person in the world, accountability would be a given, along with introspection, responsibility and a modicum of empathy — an ability to understand the struggles of other people. Trump comes up empty on all counts.

He has no concept of democracy, readily undermining its foundations if they fail to aggrandize him sufficiently: questioning the validity of our electoral process; depicting the free press and journalism as “fake news”; and attempting to sabotage the judicial system as “unfair” (mostly to him). Unfortunately, many Trump supporters still believe this knee-jerk superficiality masquerading as substance, flocking to “campaign” rallies and providing the mindless adulation Trump so desperately craves like a vampire craves blood.

If all this makes you nostalgic for the good old days (last week) when “The Mooch” was — however fleetingly — expected to plug the leaks in Trump’s floundering ship of state and Chris Christie might be named to replace Jeff Sessions as attorney general, you’re not alone. Those of us who appreciate humor as panacea were salivating in anticipation: imagining “The West Wing” as a summer stock collaboration between Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola … Hyadoin? … Hyadoin? … Fuggedaboudit!

But alas, comic nirvana was not to be. In the space of several days Sessions was brought to heel, Christie went back to picking fights at baseball games, and The Mooch spectacularly flamed out via an expletive-laced diatribe against White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and presidential adviser Steve Bannon. Priebus did not survive the onslaught but at this moment, Bannon — former Breitbart troll and alt right champion — maintains a tenuous grip.

When he escalated the North Korea rhetoric, suggesting his initial rant was insufficiently bellicose: “maybe it wasn’t tough enough,” the stark reality of Trump’s utter incompetence began to sink in. But his failure to comprehend the nation’s outrage at the racist, anti-Semitic, Nazi-sympathizing white nationalists in Virginia was a bridge too far for anyone with a shred of decency. After KKK stalwart David Duke vowed to “take America back,” fulfilling “Donald Trump’s campaign promises” the president’s pandering spoke volumes.

The damage this pathetic soulless man has done to America in a mere six months is almost unfathomable. His mere presence in the Oval Office provides license to abysmal creatures like Duke and his cohort spewing their filth in hate-filled demonstrations across the country. What’s worse, the rest of the far right is opportunistically moving to curtail minority voting; jeopardize women’s health; discriminate against African-Americans, Latinos, Muslims and the LBGTQ community; and destroy the Affordable Care Act, leaving tens of millions without health care. All because of the fellow traveler in the Oval Office.

Before the country we know and love is no longer recognizable, this man has got to go. Three and a half more years of this is unthinkable.

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  • David Bell

    Sadly, our so-called President calls the alt-right and whit supremacist groups his core constituency; as such they can literally murder people in the street and still expect his unwavering support.

    • Matt Young

      Did President Trump actually say that? I guess I didn’t ever hear him say those words. I guess alternative facts do exist.

  • steveames

    Thanks for writing Walter. I agree completely.

  • GabrielBrunelle

    Thanks for writing this. For myself, there’s very little about what Trump has said or done since taking office which I have found funny. A lot of it has threatened my safety and the safety of many who I love and adore. Of course I totally agree with the seriousness of what happened in VA and the sheer audacity and terrible implications of Trump’s public response. I agree that Trump is incompetent. Not only is he functionally incompetent to run the country; he’s morally incompetent to do so. When it comes to validating and emboldening extremists, however, I think his seeming flagrancy is intentional and that he cares very much about fomenting unrest and chaos. I think that’s his purposeful agenda. He’s been very competent in that arena. I agree wholeheartedly that the grim specter of over three more years under Trump is terrible to contemplate. Is it unthinkable? No. I am compelled by stark reality to think about terrible things all the time. Must he go? No. He was elected and now he’s ensconced and I don’t think he “has” to go anywhere else, unfortunately.

  • Pete Novick

    Talk is cheap.

    Citizens have three tools:

    – vote
    – boycott
    – strike

    The radical right is clearly prevailing in their quest to eviscerate the vote, particularly among groups traditionally aligned with the Democrats.

    The Supreme Court will decide Gill v. Whitford next term. Better get up to speed:

    That leaves boycott and strike.

    Last thought:

    Be careful what you ask for. Forty-one more months of Trump may be infinitely preferable to any months of Pence. In the end, Trump is all hot air – and rather harmless. Incendiary but harmless. Pence, along with his fellow travelers, Ryan, McConnell and Roberts, are out to destroy democracy.

    Gill v. Whitford. Better hope Justice Kennedy has it in him.

    • walter carpenter

      “Pence, along with his fellow travelers, Ryan, McConnell and Roberts, are out to destroy democracy.”

      This is certainly the truth and they are being well-financed to do it.

  • Jim Sawhill

    While Ferguson was burning, it only took B.O. four days to make a statement supporting the domestic terrorists, BLM, and vilifying the police. He was busy playing golf on Martha’s Vineyard.

    It took 2 weeks for the glass ceiling banger to admit that Benghazi was a terrorist act and not a dummy YouTube.

    Both the Antifa, BLM … and White Supremacists are vile. Isn’t that what our President said?

    Why was National Guard videotaping the mess from a nearby roof?

    • Jon Glascoe

      Ever wonder why Ferguson was burning? Which it wasn’t. Maybe cops should stop shooting unarmed black guys. Trump supporters always try to link this president’s latest idiocy with some conspiracy theory about Obama or Hillary. Trump’s only president because his birtherism lie (that he knew was a lie, like most of his daily lies) let the nazis and racists out of the bag. Thankfully, for the good of this country and the world, your president will not be president long, and the “base” (code for white supremacists) will be silenced, this time, for good.

  • John Zuppa

    The fascists in 1930s Germany never got more than 1/3 of the legislature…(and didn’t get full control until they burned down the Reichstag)…Trump is not “rather harmless”, as Pete Novick said earlier…

    Hitler came through promising Jobs, Jobs, Jobs…By cutting the Government and Regulations and accomplished mostly by Military expansion (Building the largest military in Europe) and an infrastructure project that could facilitate the deployment of forces…(This is what Steve Bannon calls, “Economic Nationalism”)…

    The Nazis got heir funding by forcing the wealthy businessmen, (was not hard to “force” Porsche, Benz and the giant arms manufacturers, and anyone they could confiscate wealth from) to fund them…Trump has American, Russian and Other “Uber” Billionaires funding his support groups with glee…(He’s great for Hedgefunders, Money Launderers and Artificial Intelligence purveyors…Look up Robert Mercer and which Russians he “hangs” with…)

    Because of the International Scope of Trump’s money support…I believe he is even more dangerous than the Fascists of the 1900s…Trump said “we can learn from our history”…(When he showed his ignorance of the histories of Washington and Lee)…

    We had better learn before it is too late…

  • Eric Rosenbloom

    This entire piece is based what is called “loaded question” in the catalog of logical fallacy: Mr Trump, when are you going to stop being a Nazi/KKK white supremacist?! The assumption is built in, so that there is no way it can be answered without damning oneself. Another term for it is McCarthyism.

  • patricia jedlicka

    I have still seen nothing showing ‘who threw the first punch.’ While the Nazi/KKK/white supremacist group’s chanting was extremely offensive, and their very existence abhorrent to more enlightened peoples, even the ACLU agrees that all speech is protected, no matter how offensive it is to YOU (the collective YOU). Over the last few days, it seems the majority opinion is that violence by the counter protesters is justified in the name of fighting the hateful speech. And from that jump off point, it seems any violence against a group who does not think/believe the way you do is justified. Is there an end point here?