Keeping Trump in office makes me suspicious.

I am a card player. My particular skill set rests in tournament poker.

Poker is a game of incomplete information. I have to observe my fellow players, watching their behavior for clues about what they are holding. There’s a lot to watch — how much they bet, or don’t bet, and when; patterns or habits throughout the game; physical tells.

Trying to figure out if the odds are in my favor.

Ultimately, I have to use my best judgment on whether it’s worth the risk of staying in the hand, when another player is betting. I have to decide whether I can trust my skills at divining information, against the pot size and its potential reward.

There’s always someone who will outsmart me in a hand. That’s a given of the game. Hopefully I haven’t risked all of my chips when it happens; hopefully I have enough to build on.

Having Donald Trump as president is a lot like being in the grueling, multi-day main event of the World Series of Poker. I am seated at a table with the luckiest fish in a field of thousands of players. He sucks out on the river, every hand he plays.

Except I am playing against him without the benefit of prize money at the end.

That’s what it’s like for me.

I am also hard pressed to imagine anyone genuinely defending how he’s handled the Covid-19 pandemic. Of course there are those that will. I imagine they haven’t lost anyone, or aren’t part of the 26,000,000 Americans who are now unemployed.

However, there are Republican members of the House and Senate who seem to be involved in a side bet. They are keeping their eyes on the prize, which I assume is the Supreme Court. I don’t know that, though. Like a poker game, having Trump as president involves a lot of incomplete information.

There doesn’t have to be a grand conspiracy for Republicans to use Trump. They can take advantage of the situation, much like I do, when I notice someone on tilt at the poker table. Sometimes, there is just a perfect storm of meltdown going on, and I can scoop a huge pot and knock a couple of guys out of the game at the same time.

It’s hard to imagine a worse scenario than the one Trump has mismanaged. Doctors, nurses, governors, mayors, and all manner of folk have suffered because of his insane, erratic response.

It begs many questions, all starting with why. Why would he do that? Why would his team let him? Why does the GOP always have his back?

Ultimately, this is what I want to ask, as a poker player, and a citizen of the United States:

What kind of prize could possibly be worth keeping Trump on as President?

When an adult suggests cleaning lungs with disinfectant, and swallowing ultraviolet light as an antidote to a deadly virus, we are firmly in Crazytown. Today, he insists he was being sarcastic. That, of course, poses another problem. Why would a president be sarcastic in a briefing about a virus that is killing tens of thousands, and crippling our economy?

Of course, that is if he were being sarcastic. He wasn’t being sarcastic.

This is the thing. I try and put the shoe on the other foot. I try and pretend Donald Trump is a Democrat, and there’s going to be a Supreme Court Justice space to fill in the nearby future.

Would I want a Democrat, like Trump, to remain in office in that situation?

No. No, of course not. Not only that — if he were a Democrat, the Democrats would have kicked his sorry ass out of office long ago.

If the prize is the Supreme Court, Americans lose, no matter what. The Court was designed to be impartial and non-partisan. What does it mean about our system of checks and balances, when so much is riding on who is president when?

Even with that sad footnote, it doesn’t merit keeping Trump in office. Pence isn’t going to nominate the next Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

What is worth letting Trump remain in office?

One theory is that Trump’s behavior isn’t an act. It’s manipulative, not pathological. This makes a kind of sense. He does or says something outrageous. We shriek with outrage. Then he does the next outrageous thing. We forget about the last outrage, which becomes policy. See children at the border for examples that will keep you up at night.

Watching this presidency unfold, it occurs to me that both things about Trump are true. He is a master at media and media manipulation. He says things for effect; he is paid off for his efforts. He is an opportunist.

He is also insane. Both things can exist at once. I personally do not care what it is. I don’t care if he’s a calculating, cold, master of distraction; or just a lucky idiot; or both.

The harm he is causing, and has caused, is not worth the reward. It never has been.

He endangers us all.

Dignity is a word I do not hear often, anymore. I suppose that’s because since he has become president, we are bereft of any.

There is something very odd about this situation: the complicit silence of other Republicans. The lack of any dignity, or pretense of goodness, that emanates from this administration, and the Republican party, causes me to wonder what, exactly is going on here.

I am not big on conspiracy theories, but I can’t help wondering just what Republicans have to gain by keeping him on as president.

We have to start asking ourselves this question. We need to stay a step ahead, not behind. My instincts tell me there is something cold and dark in the wings; a dreadful miasma, much like the novel coronavirus; something intrinsically unAmerican, descending on our nation.

Just like a poker game, I am wondering how long I can last.

Writer, card sharp, former actor. An Injustice!, DDI, GEN. Tweet @MyPalHalTheHack, Quora SAG-Aftra, AEA

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