Trump’s eclipse of logic sets America adrift
You may have missed it in the Philippines or wherever you may be in the diaspora, but the best images of the solar eclipse in the US was online, of course. And my favorite shot was that of the moon over the sun, leaving a distinct orange lining.
It oddly resembled the profile of the man I call Herr Orange, aka the Donald, the president of the United States.
It was a reminder that the president in his first nine months has been on an orbit of his own. Trump is his own megalomaniacal moon getting in the way of the sun and those of us earthlings who are subjected to his lapses in governance.
It’s blocked all sense of logic, ethics and American values.
It leaves the country in a darkness like we’ve never seen before, as the president would say.
If the eclipse was a short three-minute bit of awesomeness that commanded our unity, by Monday night the US was divided again over what Trump really means about white supremacy, neo-Nazis and the KKK.
In the so-called Land of the Free, people are still demanding clarity after Trump bumbled his way on the Charlottesville matter.
You’ll recall Trump half-heartedly denounced the white supremacists a week ago Saturday, then fully denounced them by sticking to the prompter on Monday, then went back off-the-cuff and reclaimed his support for those “fine” neo-Nazis and white supremacists on Tuesday.
If you’re wondering why this is a sticking point, then you don’t know freedom or American history.
The US sent troops to battle in WWII to fight Nazism. We fought a civil war to end slavery. And then as a society we spent 100 more years to assure that civil rights for all (including Filipinos) was codified into law.
It’s no small thing. Trump needs to clarify what he really means after Charlottesville.
As a public service, here’s some talking points to help him out of his darkness.
He needs to say the white protestors and counter-protestors at Charlottesville are not the same. I’ve already heard people dismiss counter-protestors as “politically correct.” No, they’re just morally correct.
The white protestors are for exclusion based on their own sense of superiority.
The counter-protestors are for inclusion and equality in general. This is the point of diversity, and the point of America. “In many one,” right? It’s not E Pluribus, Just Us.
Nazis, neo or old school, are bad. We don’t need a neo-Hitler.
White supremacists, who look at people of color as inferior and barely human, are the worst. Terrified of competition in a diverse America, they see exclusion as their only answer. They are wrong.
The KKK, hoodless or hooded, have a right to free speech. But the organization’s philosophy and ideals are indefensible and anti-American. That’s what a leader of the free world needs to say if he wants to stay in office.
He shouldn’t try to change the subject and talk about Afghanistan, or to start campaigning like he’s done something these last eight months.
We must never let Trump forget Charlottesville. Or force us to live a second longer under a Trumpian eclipse of American values.
But what did he do on Monday? He simply tried to change the subject from Charlottesville to the Afghanistan War.
Speaking before an assembly of uniformed military members, the president used them as props to address the race divisions he burst open over Charlottesville.
“The men and women of our military operate as one team, with one shared mission and one shared sense of purpose,” Trump said. “They transcend every line of race, ethnicity, creed and color to serve together and sacrifice together in absolutely perfect cohesion. That is because all service members are brothers and sisters. They are all part of the same family. It’s called the American family. They take the same oath, fight for the same flag and live according to the same law.”
Of course, that apparently doesn’t mean transgender Americans, based on a recent Trump military policy ban.
Trump continued: “The soldier understands what we as a nation too often forget, that a wound inflicted upon on a single member of our community is a wound inflicted upon us all. When one part of America hurts, we all hurt. And when one citizen suffers an injustice, we all suffer together. Loyalty to our nation demands loyalty to one another. Love for America requires love for all of its people.”
Love? For even blacks? Filipinos? Latinos? That’s not what white supremacists and neo-Nazis believe in.
“When we open our hearts to patriotism,” Trump said. “There is no room for prejudice, no place for bigotry and no tolerance for hate. The young men and women we send to fight our wars abroad deserve to return to a country that is not at war with itself at home. We cannot remain a force for peace in the world if we are not at peace with each other.”
Sounds good. But he was reading off a prompter. We’ve been through this before. Why can’t the president be as direct and authentic when it really matters?
As for the rest of the speech on Afghanistan, it was vague and lacked details. How many troops will be deployed? He didn’t say.
Yes, he said his strategy would be conditions-based and not time-table-based. So he’s not going to telegraph strategy to the enemy. But in a democracy, you still must be open about what your real intentions are in the longest war in US history.
Trump didn’t mention the Philippines, but we know what happens when the US gets involved in a war. Multitudes die. Mostly not Americans. And then a nation is built in the US’ image. But not this time. That’s not in the cards for Afghanistan, according Trump.
So when will we know to declare victory? Can you say quagmire?
Trump also over-relies on others’ help. Pakistan and India, two nuclear-armed countries with a history of conflict will somehow come to America’s aid? Yes, and Mexico will pay for the wall.
It may have seemed like a good idea to avoid Charlottesville by name by bringing the country together after the eclipse with some war talk. It just didn’t work. Not for this president.
It even compounded his problem. Joining Democrats and people of color upset over Charlottesville, were right-wing nationalists on the Republican side upset over Afghanistan.
Led by ousted Trump aide Steve Bannon, these critics hammered Trump on his about-face on Afghanistan. During the campaign, Trump was loudly and clearly against any prolonged effort in the region. Not now.
That’s what you call a Flip flop.
The planets seem to be lining up against Trump. His term was supposed to last another three years.
But with no major legislation to speak of, and ineptness at every move, the Trump presidency has America barely aligned with itself, and most certainly adrift.
Emil Guillermo is an award-winning journalist and commentator based in the U.S. bureau. http://www.twitter.com/emilamok