“Memento Mori”, “Remember that you must die’ (Latin translation)
Like many coronavirus hostages I have the TV News on too much these days. From earshot distance (I, too “view from another room”) comes a psycho-speak about the departure of our Chief Thief: ‘he is acknowledging but not conceding,’ ‘he is acting like a petulant child,’ ‘close friends are reaching out guiding him to accept the outcome’ and on and on. Appraisals that together sound like another after school teacher conference to suffer through.
Time to shake the fur.
‘Shredding as he is leaving’ writes Jill Lepore, November 23 in The New Yorker, is not so damaging to America’s governance as the nightmare arousal that Trump’s departure is not a departure at all. From a vantage beyond Bob Woodward, lawyers and redacted documents Trump never departs. “Memento Trumpi”: the ghost legacy written in NDA’s (non-disclosure agreements), “pre-emptive” court filings and other “near-death” gaggings. Example: While Trump accuses John Bolton of disclosing classified information, son-in-law Jared is playing host to back channels from the White House to a gaggle of global criminals. Bolton’s notebook becomes past fiction, hence “fake.”
The “Big Lie” is not that democracy is dying but that while democracy gasps for air, something “else” is being hatched in real time over the air waves. Our Chief Thief is morphing into our “former” Chief Thief: his acts reliably too obscene to “be believed,” too hateful to “be reconciled.”
Watchers take heed: under the guise of party loyalty and cherry picked promises lies the attempt to abet domestic and global criminality. If Republicans and other enablers can turn “the other cheek” to bigotry and racism, economic and social neglect, who’s to say Putin is a bad actor?
America’s vaporizing “exceptionalism” has. left the global stage. Post-Trump, Washington resembles the intellectual version of a bombed out Dresden and Naples in 1945. President-elect Biden picks the few former deputy cabinet officers who know where to pick through the rubble for survivors.
Language, it has been said, comprises the wheels of our social contract. ‘Own’ the language and ‘own’ the levers of power. Thank you, George Orwell. (1) Among the “shredding” Trump and company are targeting is the language of regulation. Their strategy is three-fold: remove target affirming phrases like “climate change,” “greenhouse gas effect,” “clean air and water” from institutional purview so that potential accountability can be thwarted through litigation.
Next: install judges, scientists and “experts” who subscribe to ruling against oversight measures and regulations at any cost.
Finally, repress and punish the disenfranchised. NDA’s replace whistleblower protection. Threats replace department reviews, collective suggestion boxes.
Message: Screw the common good be it our public safety or our shared environment.
This is not “big government” versus “little government”; this is toying with the future to score mind candy points and harbor criminality.
A fortnight ago Trump pardoned Roger Stone, a long time ally and like Trump a follower of Roy Cohn, disbarred and shamed lawyer, celebrity gad-fly and Joe McCarthy sycophant-counselor. This week Trump pardoned Mike Flynn, convicted felon and treasonous messenger boy between Washington and Moscow.
In the days remaining Trump’s Presidency is taking on the appearance of a hood meeting: who’s next to be pardoned.
Or executed as Trump and Barr allow federal executions to take place. Think Texas on the Potomac. The only “mind” in this latest muddle is that once again Trump can violate norms because “he’s Trump.” So Trump the President will exit 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue come January 20, but Trump the sociopathic creep is NOT leaving the memories of a hefty slice of America and Americans.
The perversity of Trump watching during his final days in office is that Trump’s victims are still “at large,” which means in the land of free expression, there are death threats yet to be launched. A wink here, a nod there from Trump to his twitter tribe and another whistleblower’s life and community are inextricably placed in harm’s way.
A question for the media is why when public safety is at risk do we continue to be exposed to these threats and dystopian overtures? Don’t we have enough work ahead to restore our collective psyche?
During the run up to the 2016 election a journalistic conceit started trending: equal weight (also equal time) given to opposing points of view. “Conceit” is an apt term to describe this latest folly in the service of “objectivity”: what if the premise of the argument is faulty? What if the “opposing sides” are fabricated, that in reality there are NO opposing sides? What if we are quarreling over outcomes thereby not reckoning with the dynamics that got us here?
Such was the media ascendancy of Donald Trump in 2016: he had successfully exhausted New York media, time to go national. We are beginning to witness the reverse of Trump the media darling. Except returning to the New York media scene is off the table temporarily for Trump. Hardly will he fill the voids left at Fox News once he is no longer play-acting “leader of the free world.” And he has to share the news cycle with the Seventh District. So why not remain “national”? The glamor of Mar-a- Lago, the fairways of Bedminster are repurposed as the new backdrops. And then there is the toxicity fueled by Twitter which goes anywhere including where you don’t want it to.
Who needs to attend an inauguration? Hold your own for your 2024 campaign.
We are desperately in need of a takeaway, a moral summation of Trump’s four years. Well, almost four years. That we haven’t received one means that post November 3, we are still collectively rubbing our eyes — it’s three weeks later. Did this really happen? Is Trump really leaving?
Time to shake the fur.
1- “Those who control the present, control the past, and those who control the past, control the future.” Excerpted from the novel, “1984.”