100 days in the hole: Trump’s vulgar America, so far

May 2, 2017 Originally published on SFGate

Did you survive? It would appear you have survived.

Albeit, barely. Albeit sour, sickened, every day for 100 straight waking up merely to endure that first horrorstruck clench of the heart, that moment when you – and really, the entire world – snap out of your calm, liminal dreamhaze and suddenly remember, with a plaintive groan, who the president is, and just how lost, cruel and hopeless everything appears to be.

And then, you resist.

It’s only been 100 days, but that’s a lifetime in Trump years. If disillusion is your measure, Trump is a runaway success. If moral heartache is the yardstick, we are miles high, and screaming doom. If this had all been a reality TV-show contest to see how quickly a single human could disembowel the national spirit, poison international goodwill and bring a pox upon all our houses, Trump has indeed proven to be the biggest loser.

Right now, there is, across the media spectrum, analysis, commentary, a number of outlets sort of half-heartedly attempting to take the “100 days” benchmark semi-seriously. As in, “Trump promised these 30 things in the first 100 days. How did he do?” and the like, as though he were an actual, functioning politician with actual, functioning ideas designed to improve the well-being of the nation.

He has nothing of the sort. He is just an ogre, the hell-mouth incarnate, a shockingly incompetent, weak-kneed, kindness-abhorring con man incapable of a single complex thought, a charlatan merely using the most powerful office in the land to rape the U.S. Treasury and launder mountains of cash through his own businesses. But wait, our president does “tell more untruths than any president in American history,” says Texas A&M political scientist George Edwards, editor of the scholarly journal Presidential Studies Quarterly. Does that count as an accomplishment?

Everything feels broken, nothing feels healthy. Only 100 days in, and every major government agency remains brutally understaffed, and will remain so. Democracy is crying out for opioids, and getting more addicted by the day.

Obama is gone and with him, every iota of respect the United States once enjoyed on the national stage. No one trusts us, no one can truly rely on us for help, no one, save the world’s most brutish dictators and murderers, admires our president. There is no discernible foreign policy. We are less secure than ever.

The First Lady? Non-existent. A walking, non-talking ice cream cake, a Botox-heavy trophy doll padding around her New York penthouse in diamond-crusted heels that cost taxpayers millions per month to protect. Translation: you will not be seeing Melania anytime soon riding along with James Corden, discussing girls’ education and joyfully belting out Missy Elliot.

But while Trump has accomplished nothing and passed not a single major piece of legislation, he has indeed inflicted tremendous damage.

Please note: These are not the same thing. There is a vast difference between helping someone get well, and making them violently ill. The former requires skill, kindness, patience, shared humanity, a deep appreciation for the motives and energies that bring us life. The latter is merely a chainsaw made of razor blades and cyanide.

Trump did not appoint a Supreme Court justice. The blood-soaked GOP did that, and only by forcibly blocking Obama’s far more legitimate nomination, and then nuking fundamental congressional rules that have been in place for 100 years, rules originally designed to prevent exactly the kind of thuggish strong-arming the GOP has taken to.

No wall around Mexico, no immigration ban, no NAFTA withdrawal, no ACA rollback, no tax reform unless you call a dumb-guy scribble on a cake napkin from a tacky golf resort actual reform. Withdrawing from TPP? Not an accomplishment. Gutting the EPA, rolling back rules protecting women, allowing the mentally ill to get guns? The acts of a heartless coward, not an action hero.

There has been, of course, plenty of hate directed at women, gays, immigrants, minorities, the climate, science and education, the rule of law, the sum total of democracy itself. There has been a stubby orange middle finger aimed at just about everyone.

But these are not accomplishments. These is merely walking into a historic, thoughtfully constructed house no intelligent human wants to see annihilated, and blindly swinging a sledgehammer. The calculated engorgement of hate, even when it manages to con its way into the White House, is no achievement.

It is possible, however, to see Trump’s titanic failures on every level so far, as a hopeful sign. The fact that the GOP has a stranglehold on congress and Trump has nothing but the most vicious intentions for America, and yet no major pillar of democracy has so far yet fallen, feels rather amazing. Blocking Trump’s most odious attempts to defenestrate human progress? Now that’s an accomplishment.

And it’s all thanks, of course, to numerous heroes, institutions and fearless resistance fighters, from the ACLU to community-hall protesters, Women’s March activists to a re-galvanized, newly focused mainstream media. Resistance is strong, and getting stronger. There is much to admire on the good side of the fight.

But it would be a mistake to think we are impervious to real damage. It’s taken a Herculean effort to keep Trump’s army of flying monkeys at bay so far, and until the CIA and FBI get their s–t together and reveal what everyone already knows about the massive Russia scandal, we might have to hold on quite a bit longer.

It will not be easy. As heart-clenchingly painful as the first 100 days have been so far, we have yet to face truly serious threat, a major domestic or international crisis – a riot, a terrorist attack, an act of God, the needful plea of one of our allies – and every indication is that Trump is fully capable of the worst decisions imaginable, from launching inconceivable wars to invoking a police state to using some hidden presidential power to shut down the media, choke off the Internet, block international travel, and so on.

Don’t think he’d try it? The hell he won’t. The man watches Fox News in the middle of the night, listens to InfoWars, keeps neo-Nazis and snaggletoothed Yes-men as top advisers, is wildly gullible and riddled with childish conspiracy theories. He is rich, bitter old man with more than a few hints of dementia, tweeting his hate into the Void at 3AM, with the nuclear codes at his bedside.

We survived a 100 days of this so far. Here’s praying we don’t have to survive 100 more.

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Mark Morford

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