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Rodney Dangerfield

“I Don’t Get No Respect”

Back in 2017, when we were still getting used to the wrecking ball that is Donald Trump, I suggested that he is Archie Bunker’s revenge. His was a character designed to parody the foibles of the white ethnic working class, but that crowd heard what he said and realized such racist, reactionary ranting was actually what they thought—and what they told each other at the neighborhood bar.

Trump became Archie Bunker in the White House. He was crude, he defied convention and common decency, he mercilessly attacked anyone who opposed him and demanded absolute personal loyalty even from civil servants. Everything was about him and his reelection.

In 2017, he presided over Washington like Archie in his living room.

Trump hasn’t changed in three years, but many things have. In particular, of course, there is the coronavirus and the unprecedented economic disruption that was entailed in trying to keep a handle on the virus. Most productive activity came to a screeching halt. Unemployment soared to levels not seen since the Great Depression. Ten years of unbroken economic growth and declining unemployment (seven of those years under the hated Obama, of course), was replaced by an economy in the ditch and without the traction to get out. For three years economic policy was impulsive and scattershot at best: enriching the rich, disrupting trade, and blocking immigration even when American industries, from high tech to commercial agriculture. His golden economy turned out to be fool’s gold.

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His disruptive, inconsistent and strikingly foolish management of the pandemic will go down as the most stunning, consequential failure of his administration. 

His disruptive, inconsistent and strikingly foolish management of the pandemic will go down as the most stunning, consequential failure of his administration. From failing to acknowledge the threat in January when it might have been effectively controlled, to failing to take control of the national response to what obviously was taking shape as a national threat. He allowed critical shortages to develop in essential supplies like personal protective equipment. Then he demanded that state governors bid against each other for those supplies, rather than having the Feds take over the supply chain.

Most egregious and destructive was his repeated refusal to do what a normal leader would do in these circumstances: listen to, believe and follow the recommendations of his scientific advisers. Instead, he would posture and self-promote at his daily briefings, listen as the experts like Dr. Fauci explain why we should follow their suggestions, then Trump would get back up to say he didn’t really agree, that the didn’t trust the science. Thus, mask-wearing is recommended (but I won’t be wearing one because it makes me look weak). Or, social distancing and staying home are essential to controlling the spread (but they’re also killing the economy. People should resist rules like that. Liberate Michigan!). Or, more testing is essential for us to know how many cases we really have (but if you test you’ll find cases: the numbers will go up and that will make me look bad. So cut back on testing). These are just a few examples of the head-scratching perversity of the president’s defiance of science.

He neither respects nor believes science: it’s all so much bullshit to him. He makes up facts all the time, why not make up scientific facts? As long as playing scientist made him look good, he reveled in his daily briefings, but when his absurd musing were repeatedly pointed out, he looked bad and lost interest. COVID19 was never really part of his agenda: it was his first crisis that he hadn’t personally created so that he could personally solve it. He couldn’t control it, so he lost interest.

He couldn’t find a way to self-promote while dealing with the death of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, so he quickly moved from perfunctory expressions of sympathy to Law and Order: “When the looting starts, the shooting starts”

His first love was reopening the economy, and whatever the risks might be, he would do that. But in fact he had nothing new to say on either the economy, or the coronavirus, or systemic racism. Instead, at every public appearance, we heard his Rodney Dangerfield litany. The virus threat is overrated. Testing makes us look bad. Get out and spend! We have to respect our great police. Look at all these great things we’re doing and nobody appreciates it.

I don’t get no respect—except from you, my devoted Base. You make me feel validated.

impeachment unavoidable

John Peeler