Opinion: The most bizarre era in U.S. history

(AP)

In covering the most bizarre era in American history, dominated by the most bizarre personality in American history, it is important not to be seduced into experiencing the world as Donald Trump experiences it, as a haphazard series of momentary distractions. Because once you enter his world, you lose the sense of perspective and rationality needed to understand just how absurd this has become.

Events of the last weekend illustrate the danger perfectly.

We can begin our foray with the following tweet from the president of the United States, ostensibly the most important person on the planet, yet a man who parades his deep and crippling insecurities as if they were missiles in a North Korean military parade:

In ordinary times, such a childish whine for attention would be considered extraordinary evidence of a leader’s incapacity and weakness, and cause for global concern. It is literally inconceivable coming from any other major political figure, perhaps in history, and in fact is inconceivable from anyone else beyond the age of 10.

In the era of Trump, it’s just a Sunday.

Then there’s the cheap little publicity stunt that Trump cooked up with his vice president, Mike Pence. And by cheap, I mean cheap as in tawdry, not cheap as in inexpensive for the taxpayers. On Sunday, Pence and his extensive entourage flew from Las Vegas to Indianapolis on Air Force Two, supposedly to attend a football game. At that football game, some NFL players took a knee during the playing of the national anthem, as everyone knew they would. A supposedly angry Pence then left the game in protest, as he and his staff already knew he would.

The kickoff was a few minutes after 1 p.m. By 1:08, Pence’s staff had already tweeted the prepared protest note:

Trump then confirmed the scripted nature of the stunt, while adroitly elbowing Pence aside to take credit:

In a subsequent tweet, Pence went on to explain that “While everyone is entitled to their own opinions, I don’t think it’s too much to ask NFL players to respect the Flag and our National Anthem.”

I have several problems with that line of thought, beginning with the claim that “everyone is entitled to their own opinions.” Clearly, they are not so entitled. That’s kind of what the whole thing is about.

I’m also troubled by the phrase “too much to ask.” “Ask” implies a request, a request that the other party is free to deny. And again, that is not what is going on here. What’s going on here is an effort to force Americans to take a stand — literally — that goes against their will and against their personal conscience. Because, you know, freedom and liberty and all that stuff.

Thomas Jefferson, who knew a thing or two about freedom, warned us that “It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others.” I’ve said repeatedly that I could never envision myself “taking a knee,” because it runs against how I was raised and the values that I was taught to honor. But I’m beginning to question that. I’m beginning to think that under these circumstances, those values may require me to take a knee.

But again — and this is the frustrating part — by even having this discussion, we allow Trump to lower the discourse and distract our attention. We become no better than he is, chasing the shiny object of this cheap political stunt. Because while Trump and Pence were acting out this little morality play, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was laying out an indictment against Trump just as damaging as any that Robert Mueller might bring.

Trump is leading us down a path that could lead us to World War III, Corker said of his fellow Republican. “He concerns me. He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation.”

“I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it’s a situation of trying to contain him,” Corker said, citing the presence of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and White House chief of staff John Kelly as essential in avoiding catastrophe.

“As long as there are people like that around him who are able to talk him down when he gets spun up, you know, calm him down and continue to work with him before a decision gets made, I think we’ll be fine,” according to Corker, who was trying to be reassuring but in fact was anything but.

“Look, except for a few people, the vast majority of our caucus understands what we’re dealing with here,” he said. “Of course they understand the volatility that we’re dealing with and the tremendous amount of work that it takes by people around him to keep him in the middle of the road.”

That’s just extraordinary, not least because it is of course true. And confronted by such candor by a member of his own party, a senator of standing who had previously attempted to work with Trump, the president once again reverts to form, attempting to turn it into a petty personal dispute with Corker.

None of that is true. There is substantial evidence that Trump backed Corker, that he wanted Corker to run again and that he called Corker to ask him to reconsider his decision not to seek re-election. The entire narrative is a fabrication, because as Corker also noted, “I don’t know why the president tweets out things that are not true. You know he does it, everyone knows he does it, but he does.”

Pence’s little stunt, the tweets about Puerto Rico and the personal attacks on Corker would, in any other time under any other president, be the stuff of scandal. Under this president, they are distractions from the most important point of all, which is that we have a commander in chief with a tenuous grip on reality, kept within the bounds of sanity only by the presence of better, wiser men who could be swept out of their positions by a simple act of presidential petulance.

Other than that, how’s YOUR Monday going?

Reader Comments 0

2521 comments
Mary Anne Carpenter
Mary Anne Carpenter

This goes for the AJC and CNN AS WELL ! Some of the Lies that NBC NEWS and their affiliates have made up are beyond the pale. Yes I could only dream they would be kicked off the air. They have NO SHAME ! RUTHLESS #SCUMBAGS ! WOW

Pat Way
Pat Way

Allow me to introduce to you, Donald of House Trump, the First of His Name, The King of Uneducated, President of He, Himself and the First Family, The Builder of the Great Imaginary Wall, Protector of the Rednecks, Champion of the Inbreds, The Orange, The Tweeter of Tweets, Grabber of Genitals, Fantasizer of Sleeping With His Daughter, Mocker of the Disabled, Breaker of Promises and Laws, and Father of Fake News

Wanda Brown Westmoreland
Wanda Brown Westmoreland

YES it is really strange BECAUSE IT IS NORMAL AND WE HAVE NOT SEEN NORMAL IN A LONG LONG TIME.

Ingrid Domingo
Ingrid Domingo

VOTE THEM ALL OUT THEY HAVE NOT DONE ANYTHING FOR THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WE NEED A NEW GOVERNMENT

John Gilbert Colgan
John Gilbert Colgan

I really think anyone who thinks that we are living in the craziest times in America just doesn't know history. They know what the tv and social media tells them

Larry Rosenberger
Larry Rosenberger

Mr President, stop with those ridiculous tweets. Crocker, Kroger, or whatever that Senator's name is, is simply not worth your time.

Lorie Curtiss
Lorie Curtiss

Jay tells this sordid truth with a calm, understated narrative that doesn't scream at you or scare you, and yet gets the point across with absolute clarity and just the right amount of urgency that, as a nation with him (who shall not be named) as tweeter in chief, we are totally F#€&ed !!

Thomas Kyser
Thomas Kyser

WHEN CONGRESSMEN DO NOT DO THEIR JOB THEY SHOULD BE RECALLED AND fIRED.

Sandye McCleskey
Sandye McCleskey

Trump 666 \U0001f479 \U0001f479 \U0001f479 is one sick puppy!

Hobie Jones
Hobie Jones

Bookman's therapist thriving since November 8, 2016.

Patti Thomas
Patti Thomas

I wouldn't call it an "era" quite yet! More like 8 1/2 months of madness.

Krista Williams
Krista Williams

HaHa!! Yes,yes....you corrupt politicians are running around scrambling to coverup your dirty deeds and moving tainted money around . The plan was to tie up the media with Trump /Russia collusion and away from your own wrongdoing . Well , hell yes this is bizarre, a President fighting against a corrupt Congress and Corrupt world leaders ,who seek to weaken this country .Obama set us up for that.

Lonnie Dwight Harper
Lonnie Dwight Harper

I'm glad this is quitting. Need to man up and resign now. Put Republican in there to help President Trump !!!

Bill Shelley
Bill Shelley

He wants to compare his IQ to that of Tillerson-only a real child would say something like that.

Jared Thiele
Jared Thiele

Seriously, the man is not well. He has lost his marbles, that is, if he ever had marbles to begin with.

Mary Anne Carpenter
Mary Anne Carpenter

Put down you crack pipe and quit smoking so much weed . You Deranged fool

Ebony AllGood
Ebony AllGood

The good thing is that Trump and those that support his agenda of hatred and pettiness will die out and become extinct so the rest of us who just want to live in peace and equality can really be great.

JERALDWATTS
JERALDWATTS

Senator Corker should announce he is running for president to save the country... There are many who support another republican president... GA also needs a governor candidate in tune with the state and nation’s middle of the road needs to get the country moving in a positive direction.,, Is there an honest man or woman out there? The current GA candidates don’ show us much to be proud of!

Chris Policronis
Chris Policronis

Senator Corker is part of a group of establishment republicans attempting to nullify the 2016 election. They are nothing more than traitors to this country.

David Widby
David Widby

Senator Corker is a democRAT wearing a republican neck tie. He's the nastiest scum in the pond. Check his senate record. He's with the liberal democRATS on everything. Corker was been Muboma's best democRAT ally. Especially with the Iranian nuclear deal! TENNESSEE CANT WAIT FOR THIS SORRY SCUMBAG TO BE GONE! HOPES HE TAKES LAMAR ALEXANDER WITH HIM!!

Andrew Childs
Andrew Childs

Let's set the record straight on what treason is under the Constitution of the US: "Under Article III, Section 3, of the Constitution, any person who levies war against the United States or adheres to its enemies by giving them Aid and Comfort has committed treason within the meaning of the Constitution. The term aid and comfort refers to any act that manifests a betrayal of allegiance to the United States, such as furnishing enemies with arms, troops, transportation, shelter, or classified information." Also: "The Treason Clause applies only to disloyal acts committed during times of war. Acts of dis-loyalty during peacetime are not considered treasonous under the Constitution." However facts don't seem to matter to Trump or Trump supporters. He will always say or do what he perceives as making him look good, and Trump supporters seem to be so enamored by him that they're blind to anything else, even to their own detriment. Trump doesn't care about you. He cares only about himself. Policy-wise, I haven't heard of a worse flip-flopper than Trump.

BuzzBelle
BuzzBelle

“As long as there are people like that around him who are able to talk him down when he gets spun up, you know, calm him down and continue to work with him before a decision gets made, I think we’ll be fine,”


He HAS HIS HANDS ON THE NUCLEAR CODE!!!  We don't have time to calm him down!!!

HDB0329
HDB0329

^^^ - not intended to be a factual statement.....

LilRichie
LilRichie

In the words of Tillerson, we have a moron that is president

Malcolm Berry
Malcolm Berry

Don't forget trumpet the puppet master is on another vacation golfing while you fools are being distracted look at what they are doing it's a distraction away from the truth

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@YouLibs

I so wanted to engage Kammy on his Banana Splits post down below. Oh well, some other time.

gotalife
gotalife

I think ditka has the cte problem from concussions.



Paul42
Paul42

Wow. Donald just said we are the highest-taxed country in the world. Think about that. All the countries whose citizens enjoy universal health care, strong support of higher education, a modern, well maintained, diversified transportation system, new and maintained infrastructure and more.

All the countries that have all that and more while paying lower taxes than we do. You're screwing things up big-time, Republicans.

gotalife
gotalife

One con typed Jay is the puppet.


Too funny.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

Don't get downtown too often, thank goodness.

But this morning when heading back South noticed the electronic sign on the Corey smoke stack....

Stand up for America.

Way to go Corey. 

honested
honested

@JohnnyReb 

You must have missed the other side where it said "Impeach Chump".

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

@JohnnyReb Stand up for what?  Too protect Trump's racist attack on black NFL players or his attack against the NFL because he has a decades old vendetta against it?  You cons love to be used by CONald Trump.  Fools I tell you.