(Dis)Organized Crime

Now that we can anxiously glimpse possible exits from these nine circles of Trump we’ve been treading for an eternity of three years, I realize that I have PPTSD: Political Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Probably we all do; if you don’t yet, I bet you will.

In my case, all this has left me so disoriented that at different times I found myself feeling glad Mitt Romney said, well, anything—and that Ivanka went skiing instead of adopting feminism like a foster child. I was actually relieved that generals were running the White House, thankful that Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts was a closet liberal when he’s SO not, and even felt a wave of warmth for the hawk with the handlebar mustache, John Bolton, on retroactively learning that one reason he quit Trump World was his opposition to ensuring safety for Trump Towers in Istanbul by abandoning the Kurds.

Then there’s the trauma that news is never not breaking any more. News breaks relentlessly, in continual crashes, shattering any fleeting pretense of normalcy I can construct–which is also almost never. Not to speak of the sole consistency emanating from the United States government: the reliably shifting insistences that whatever was just said wasn’t, that we’ve gloriously won what we’ve shamefully lost, and that NASA is wrong: the moon is after all made of cheese—but white or yellow cheese because green reminds people of the green new deal and we certainly don’t want to think about anything as sensible as that. By the end of each day, my disorientation has intensified to vertigo.

Now that more than half the citizenry want Trump impeached and removed from office and that number grows every day, his chronic frantic insecurity is driving him to make more mistakes than his usual everyday life-long record. As always, his courtiers and followers imitate their boss–Look what beautiful clothes the emperor is wearing, they sing reverently, averting their gaze from his naked flab and pompadour comb-over.

Meanwhile, his minions fight among themselves and then leak to the world. His chief of staff throws a press conference to admit the boss committed crimes and then snaps Get over it, but within hours has to deny he said that, which he does just before his boss readmits it while simultaneously denying he’s done any such thing—right before our eyes. Otherwise intelligent journalists try to work out whether this is an admission of the denial or a denial of the admission. Every hour brings a new blizzard of miscalculations, errors, mistakes, gaffes, and loot-and-mouth disease. “Doubling down” and “Walking it back” have replaced stretches and crunches as daily exercises.

This tragedy of errors is itself a problem for me–and that it is a problem is a problem.

You see, I’m conflicted regarding excellence with this gang. Excellence? I hear you gasp. What excellence? Where is any excellence in all this? Precisely. What I mean is that I value at least the striving for excellence in anything. Writing a sonnet. Mopping a floor. Strategizing politically. I’m a sucker for the well-wrought urn (a half-second pause here for English majors to smile), so think how frustrated I am that we are forced to witness not only venality but also banality, not just crime but insultingly disorganized crime.

I mean, you don’t catch professionals screwing up everything from misspelling tweets, hiring and firing staff, and openly deploying threats and bribery as diplomacy, to killing people by enabling ethnic cleansing. That is epic, Olympic-medal-level incompetence. You think Lev or Igor would ever get to be made men? Fuhgeddaboudid. No self-respecting mafioso would be caught, um, dead, posing for pictures with their capo (while carrying out a hush-hush job for him!), and then posting those photos online. Such ineptitude would give Michael Corleone a migraine he would never let them forget. Not to mention a foreign non-policy that turns us into an Axis Power out of World War II. Speaking of which, you’ve got to say this for the original Nazis: not only did they have smart looking officers’ uniforms but they were efficient–hideously, horrifyingly efficient.

And then I think WHAT did I just think? Do I want these contemporary adversaries to improve in destructiveness? No, of course not! Then am I now so disoriented that I can feel anything but pure celebration about the champion inefficiency of this sociopathic crew, these Trumpists who can manage to put children in cages and parents in jail but when that turns out to be bad PR can’t for the life of themselves figure out which child belongs with which parents and try to unite them? Many Trumpeteers are educated people–but educated in what? Even if they could muster a real intellect, the highest intellect doesn’t guarantee a capacity for empathy or a clear, penetrating vision. And a lack of empathy combined with arrogant stupidity and willful ignorance—now that is an awesomely malevolent thing to behold.

This will pass. The passing has finally begun, though it will take years, even decades, and in some cases generations to repair the damage these three years have inflicted on this nation and this planet. But it will pass. Entire libraries will be written about this era, with the benefit of perspective that we lack, parsing who in the regime was really a fool pretending to be smart, and who was doing the reverse. It matters, that knowing. But it’s also true that whether perishing from the plans of Machiavellian plotters or the mess-ups of bumbling asses, the perishing is real.

We who are living through these times, or trying to, and those unable to through no fault of their own, have needed more than simply to survive and endure. We have needed to keep believing in a future. We know it’s a future that’s gravely wounded, but not mortally; a future threatened and frail, but not yet doomed—if we keep fighting for it. So we do, despite there being little in this our own time to give us confidence.

That’s how I realize I’d rather feel disoriented in such a time than adjusted to it.