Vestiges of our naive cultivation from infancy to later childhood prepare us for disappointment. We are taught to believe in things that we very quickly must cease believing in — Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny come to mind for many of us. These disappointments make us unconsciously cynical, and I sometimes wonder if there isn’t a kind of evolutionary method to that madness, a certain advantage in it that makes us better suited for later psychological survival. We start early to learn that life really is just a series of dispiriting climb downs.
One nascent myth for me, inculcated both at school and as part of the background radiation of American life in the 1960s, was the idea that the president of the United States was someone exceptional. The president was a demigod of a kind. We had a sense that some presidents were better than others, of course, but these comparisons came with their own Olympian standards. The worst of them was generally better than the best of us.
John F. Kennedy put this idea into orbit for many of us, and Richard Nixon (and later, paradoxically, John F. Kennedy) shot the idea down again. My generation lost faith in the inherent righteousness of the president, so much so that we even pretended, with considerable self-conscious embarrassment, that we were never fooled in the first place, even though we most certainly were.
But one thing I never expected was that the president of the United States could be, not just a criminal, but worse than any criminal I had ever met or even read about. That is an idea that I still cannot entirely get my head around. There isn’t a single crime among the most horrible recorded in humanity’s most disgraceful catalog of shameful crimes that Donald Trump hasn’t committed, from sexual assault and rape, to child rape, to treason, to murder, to theft and fraud. Trump has done it all, and he’s done it on a scale that leaves the Ted Bundys and the Charles Mansons and the Al Capones of the world in the dust. Trump is a thug of the lowest kind: a monster, an aberration, a psycho, a horror. And he is, god help us, President of the United States. I still can’t believe it.
And we are not equipped for him. With nearly three and a half years of experience behind them, the world press still doesn’t understand how to handle Donald Trump. Those childhood vestiges that still speak in our ears also whisper in theirs. He is, after all, President. We simply must treat him that way, mustn’t we? We must give him his due, must we not? Even while he murders us? Even while he’s possibly carrying without symptoms a deadly virus and is spreading that virus to nonagenarian and centenarian survivors of VE Day by not wearing a mask? Even while he stands at the podium day after day and tells lie after lie after lie? Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?
No. We don’t have to do it anymore, and shame on us for thinking that we do. This is the moment when the press needs to walk out. This is the moment when we as a nation and as a world need to turn our backs on him, stop listening to him, stop reporting his lies as anything other than lies and stop calling him “Mister President.” We have a worldwide pandemic on our hands, and not only is Trump not helping, he’s killing people. If we, as members of the press and the community of journalists, continue to report on him with anything short of the disdain and contempt and horror and disparagement that he deserves, then we are nothing more than accessories to murder. And it needs to stop right now.
Trump has lost the presidency. I do not discount the possibility that he could win a second term in November, but I now see it as an eventuality so remote that nothing shy of a supernatural turn of events could change it. One necessary (though far from sufficient) prerequisite for Trump to win a second term is if the press continues to treat him as legitimate. If a politician is going to stand at a podium and tell vicious and harmful lies day after day, the press needs to stop saying things like “today the president reported …” and start saying things like “Trump told more proveable lies today. Here they are, and here is why we know they are lies.” The “office of the presidency” is no longer a legitimate cover for this child raping, murdering psychopath, and it never should have been from the first.
If you still think “Biden is just as bad as Trump” then you are every bit as deluded as Trump is and I have nothing but pity and contempt for you. You are on the provably wrong side of history and you will one day be in the embarrassing position of either having to lie about your past or own up to your outrageous folly. But Trump must be stopped and we must stop him. Vote him out in November and, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.