Dumpster Fire On The Lower Level
Like most Americans, I am still reeling from Tuesday night’s debate. It’s impossible to watch such a heinous display of vitriol, and not walk around in a perpetual state of alarm.
Perhaps it’s worth it to the president. Perhaps it must be exactly this bad. The dumpster fire Tuesday night is effective.
We aren’t talking about his tax returns anymore.
His area of expertise is cornered animal. He is a shapeshifter, evading our grasp every time we think we’ve caught him. His instinct for sniffing out his next move is extraordinary. He’s a master of evasion.
He is utterly devoid of shame. I can’t help imagining what he’d be like with a little shame; how good he’d be at foreign policy. If he were not a racist, misogynist, narcissist, and criminal, he’d be the dealmaker of his imagination.
What a waste of talent.
Trump’s aptitude for evading consequences reminds me of muscle memory. That’s what kicked in for him Tuesday, when he plowed over both Biden and Chris Matthews; and sustained that attack for 90 straight minutes.
What he does isn’t conscious. Since 1973, when he and his father were sued by the Justice Department for discrimination, he’s escaped from the law. That’s close to fifty years of evading consequences.
What he did Tuesday is what you and I do when we drive a car.
I have been driving for forty years. As I drive, I don’t think about braking, or pushing down the pedal to go faster. My body responds to its environment. I drive automatically, and let muscle memory do its work.
Recently, I found myself crossing the upper level of the George Washington Bridge. I go across that bridge several times a month; but I always take the lower level, as it is less congested.
The upper level is hair raising. It’s nighttime, and I have to pay attention. My body is panicked. I am crossing the same bridge, but a different way. My muscle memory tells me everything I do is wrong. I realize how I rely on my body’s memory to drive.
Trump evades capture like I drive my car across the lower level. It’s automatic.
At the debate, that finely-honed criminal instinct wipes out any chance of his taxes remaining the focus of discussion. He refuses to take the upper level; he knows he’s doomed, up there.
He is incapable of going high.
The lower level may be closed to traffic. There might be a dumpster truck on fire. All cars must take the upper level. Trump gets to the toll plaza, crashes through the cones and barriers, and takes the lower level in front of our very eyes.
Look what he just did!
We do not, however, issue him a ticket. We watch him barrel up the Henry Hudson Parkway in an eighteen-wheeler, going 110 miles per hour.
Then we howl about that.
We are in a four-year habit of allowing Trump to dictate the terms of his presidency. We let our country down every time we do this. Each increment of degradation counts. Each time we let him change the subject, we lose something dear.
It’s called integrity. Make no mistake; his losses are ours.
We are busy adapting to him right now, hustling to make changes to the debate format. We discuss what we can do differently, instead of demanding acceptable behavior from the president.
I don’t have to say that it’s outrageous; it’s also humiliating.
The question is, can we turn ourselves around, with only a month before the election? We are near to the closing bell. Wouldn’t it be something, though, if we put our foot down?
One time, folks. Just one time; just the tax returns. We can’t let this one go.