“Mad dogs and Englishmen
Go out in the midday sun” Noël Coward
Trump’s Fourth of July parade has come and gone with more of a whimper than a hurrah as the ceremony suffered from intermittent rain showers that put a damper on the hoped for militaristic hoopla that never really materialized. Still, Trump made the ceremonies, such as the were, about – who else? – himself. In fact the real curiosity about the ceremonies is just how universally panned they were across the board.
Yet, Trump managed to set off warning bells with his ceremonial speech that had revolutionaries soldiers securing the airports, while in reality, air flight, especially commercial air flight, wouldn’t come to being until over a century later. His outlandish statement plus several other faux pas’ like attributing battles of the War of 1812 to the revolutionary uprising drew unwanted parallels to Mad King George III and the Orange One whether appropriate or not. Trump stated,
In June of 1775, the Continental Congress created a unified army out of the revolutionary forces encamped around Boston and New York, and named after the great George Washington, Commander-in-Chief. The Continental Army suffered the bitter winter of Valley Forge, found glory across the waters of the Delaware, and seized victory from Cornwallis of Yorktown. Our Army manned the air [Inaudible] — it rammed the ramparts. It took over the airports. It did everything it had to do. And at Fort McHenry, under the rockets’ red glare, it had nothing but victory. Fourth of July Speech 7/4/19
The president’s penchant for spouting unintelligible or outlandish statements is not unprecedented. Three days before the snafu on the Lincoln Memorial site, Trump stated this pearl of wisdom about homelessness in America in an interview with Fox News,
“It’s a phenomenon that started two years ago,” Trump told Carlson. “It’s disgraceful. I’m going to maybe—I am looking at it very seriously, we’re doing some other things as you probably notice like some of the very important things that we’re doing now, but we’re looking at it very seriously because you can’t do that.” Fox News interview with Tucker Carlson 7/1/2019
The initial announcement that Trump was hijacking the traditional Fourth of July celebration in Washington, DC to replace it with a crotch-grabbing, day-long celebration of the president and his minions angered many progressives and liberals across the country, and rightfully so. Historically, the Fourth of July celebration has always been about the nation, it’s history, and a day of honor for those who came before to create a great and powerful country despite our political differences. The nation has eschewed military displays in favor of what unites us, not the lethal prowess of our armed forces. The build up and blow back was fearsome with detractors from both sides of the aisle. In the end the pathetic sterile presentation was more pitiable than awe inspiring and not just a little sad to behold.
Trump’s ability to separate and divide Americans on a plethora of topics is impressive if it were not so dire and threatening to American Democracy. Yesterday, while contemplating what to write for this blog, I thought back to the 2004 speech by Barack Obama delivered at the Democratic National Convention to nominate John Kerry for president (watching is better). His keynote speech that evening was nothing less than electrifying. He was a younger version of the Obama America knows today; one with fresh ideas, an articulate delivery, and something Trump can’t comprehend – the ability to inspire hope in his audience.
When the former president stated in his speech,
“I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that, in no other country on earth, is my story even possible.” 2004 speech
all Americans, except the most deplorable, know in their hearts that Trump can never understand the American experience viewed through his privileged upbringing. His actions speak for themselves. The ability to connect to all of America is not based on money, pretty women, ego driven elitism, or the desire to tear down the pillars of American Democracy. It is about who America has been for 243 years; something he knows little about or wants to know.
Obama’s speech was not an “us or them” scenario in the sense that he sought to bring down the opposing side at all costs. It was a call for unity, not disharmony. Recognizing the fact that the opposition wanted to defeat Kerry was not evil or threatening. It was support for the system, the continuity of a belief, to allow the rules of democracy to find the equilibrium it has always done in the past to achieve greatness. Compared to Trump’s calls of “fake news”, the Press is the enemy of the people, and his own self-aggrandizement, Obama seemed like a voice in the wilderness crying out with longing for the process to work through mutual respect and involvement in the democratic system.
It is hard to believe that things have disintegrated in just 15 years from that night in 2004 to the hard scrabble, bare-knuckled brawl that has become politics as usual. One has to wonder has America lost its way in the 21st century? Given the state of the world since Trump took office, the answer is muddled at best and a resounding yes at the worst. Who would believe normally sane lifetime politicians like Lindsay Graham would grovel before this supercilious president without a fight or explanation. It’s weird. Who would believe that the headlines of today, which swirl around child sexual predator, Jefferey Epstein, would threaten to draw in some of the most wealthy and elite movers and shakers of government and business including Trump. Stranger Things is not just the title of a popular television series.
What is so utterly fascinating is Obama’s view of America as it contrasts with the president’s view. When Trump is about to go to bed or when he wakes up, his first inclination is to Tweet ideas and beliefs that separate and divide us. His political enemies, heads of state, old friends, current governmental officials and just about anyone who he feels doesn’t pay proper supplication to his whims and fancy are targets. All of America knows this, but it is evident that of those who are not in Trump’s deplorable camp time and association with the president are wearing Americans down. His countless lies, corrupt and egotistical acts are evidence of his lack of faith or love of the nation.
Obama’s speech has proven a prescient warning of what has transpired and what is to come. When Obama said this,
That is the true genius of America – a faith in simple dreams, an insistence on small miracles. That we can tuck in our children at night and know that they are fed and clothed and safe from harm. That we can say what we think, write what we think, without hearing a sudden knock on the door. That we can have an idea and start our own business without paying a bribe. That we can participate in the political process without fear of retribution, and that our votes will be counted at least, most of the time. 2004 speech
he said it from the heart in an effort to unite his party to further the American Dream, not to denigrate or tear down those who disagreed with him on politics or the color of his skin.
Another president, although a fictional one, Andrew Shepard, played by Michael Douglas in The American President, unloads on Bob Rumson, a Trump wanna’ be if there ever was one. Shepard makes the distinction between people like himself and Rumson in a pitch perfect take down that would be worthy of a Trump smack in the face. Shepard said,
We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things, and two things only: making you afraid of it, and telling you who’s to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections. TAP
Serious problem solvers for serious problems, what a concept. With all that is going on right now with the Trump administration, who knows the path forward he will stumble onto. One thing for certain, however, America cannot stand another four years of “whack a mole” diplomacy and governance. It’s crunch time.