Getting older is not, as they say, for sissies. Well, technically, what they really mean is BEING OLD is not for sissies. See, I still remember playing marbles out in the middle of 71st street, a little bit up from Second Avenue in Manhattan. And playing stickball on that same street. Yeah, we had a grand time, stickball, marbles, cops and robbers, all out in the street, before parents prevented kids from playing in the streets.
And then we listened to The RADIO. Yeah, remember that thing? Well, I guess we still have radios, and some people still listen, but that was before TV. And FDR, the first president of whom I have a memory, used to talk to us on the radio. Well, so did our mayor, Fiorella LaGuardia. He had regular broadcasts on the radio, as of course did our president, FDR. LaGuardia also read the comics to the kids during a newspaper strike. But the radio, during that wartime period, was a big deal for me. I listened regularly, sitting by our fourth floor front window, to shows like The Shadow—“who knows what evil lurks in the minds of man? The Shadow knows.”
And because we had a war on, we had blackouts, and wardens enforcing the blackouts. And we had rationing, and ration stamps. I still remember a dog we had, Cleo by name. And one time, my mom had brought food home for dinner, using those ration stamps, and our dog, managed to get the food (meat??) and ate it. That was our dinner, and the last time I remember Cleo.
And then we moved out of that city, up into “the country” of Rockland County, across the river, on “the Jersey side” of the river. That move was designed by my mom to keep us from getting killed on the streets of Manhattan (my brother had already been hit by a truck in those streets). But moving didn’t stop the parade of Presidents. See folks kept voting and so we had presidents replacing presidents. First FDR, who would probably still be president today had he not up and died. But then the parade began – Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John F Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan (aka St. Ronald of Reagan), George HW (Poppy) Bush, Bill Clinton, George W (Shrub) Bush, Barack Obama, and then, OMG, Donald J Trump, arguably the dumbest man in the universe.
See, they all had their flaws. Most humans do. And, depending on which political persuasion floated your boat, you might focus on one or more of those flaws. But, still, having at least been around to observe this cast of characters, I have formed some opinions also, simply by virtue of having been alive in America and at least vaguely mentally alert, throughout that very long period. Several of them stand out in my increasingly dim memory:
FDR and Truman, for having managed the nation
through the successful conclusion of World War II;
Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson for having begun
that other war in Vietnam;
Kennedy of course, for having been assassinated
in November 1963, marking perhaps the single largest traumatic event in my
still young mind;
· Nixon, for his decision to continue that indecent war by lying to us (well the whole war was one big lie after another) and then, for the first time in my history, of thoroughly corrupting the Office of the Presidency;
· St. Ronald of Reagan, for being, at that stage, arguably the dumbest man ever to be so elevated, from a B-Movie actor (and retrograde California Governor) to the presidency and then acting out the part of our dumbest president (remember the Laffer Curve that he endorsed, that produced the largest deficits in the history of the country?);
· Bill Clinton for demonstrating the unusual talent of multitasking, by getting a blow job while speaking on the phone to one of his aides, and then getting impeached for that unusual skill set;
· Shrub for continuing now a pattern by republican presidents of corrupting the office by, in his case, going to war in Iraq by constructing an entire set of lies as justification, and thereby releasing every force for evil in the Middle East, and there are so many such forces there;
· Barack Obama, for returning decency, and some actual intelligence to that exalted office, and for being just a good person, as well as being our first Black president.
· And then DISASTER. Donald J. Trump, a man so woefully unprepared that we all have difficulty characterizing him. He twitters for a living apparently, because he is unequal to the task of actual human communication. See, I think of Twitter as that pseudo-communications system for people who cannot otherwise speak or write in any language, but especially English.
And see, given my rather long history of watching presidents waltz through my life, Trump is hard for me to grasp. And every day, this weird phenomenon becomes worse. Let’s see:
· He is a narcissist. And what does that really mean? Well, a narcissist is a human who really only thinks about himself. Everything is all about him, so he will interpret everything thing that happens as in some way being related to him. Narcissism is a personality disorder that most apparently manifests itself in an individual's inability to listen. Narcissism is defined as "excessive interest in oneself," and this trait can make it difficult for individuals to acknowledge or pay attention to others. Instead, the role of other people in the life of a person with narcissism is to provide praise, encouragement, support, and admiration. Extreme narcissism can cross over into a mental illness called narcissistic personality disorder, where a person is driven by a need for approval, and neither understands nor cares about the feelings of others (Trump anyone??).
· He seems to be a sociopath. Sociopaths are people with personality disorders who cause harm to others without remorse.
· He seems to possess a limited IQ, or perhaps he has some other personality disorder that prevented him from learning. He has blocked all access to his actual education, so we do not know what grades he actually completed. But because he also is a pathological liar, he continues to lie about his educational prowess. He acts continuously like a person who appears not to know anything about almost everything. And his constant lying, coupled with his narcissism continue, even though everyone knows when he is lying. He seems not to care.
· Happily for him, he was given a huge amount of money by his father, and so he continues to have a huge amount of money. But it also seems to be the case that he would have even more money had he simply invested all that money in an annuity. Instead, he played with it in the form of various real estate investments, many of which went bankrupt—he may be unique in being someone who failed to make money by opening a gambling casino. Indeed, it seems likely that his various personality disorders, coupled with his limited IQ/education has contributed to his inability to successful manage his many business enterprises. He has experienced six different bankruptcies, more than almost anyone on record.
· He has books to his credit, but he seems not to have written them, or even actively participated in writing them. He simply hires someone to write his books.
· He seems to be now in his third marriage disaster. The first two, of course, ended in divorces, but the third, which continues, seems to be a “marriage of convenience”, since he is currently incapable of divorcing, or of being divorced. His third wife, Melania seems to be a poor thing who came to this country under questionable circumstances (she was an “escort” who was able to stay because she “hooked up” with The Donald). But under even remotely normal circumstances, it seems fairly obvious that they would not remain married.
I guess we could go on and on, listing his faults, but they are all known so well that it seems a bit over the top. It amazes me that he continues to act out in full public view, as though no one is watching. The observers have now been counting his lies, since being in office, and the count now exceeds 10,000. Think of that. He lies so often, and so obviously that people are now counting them. And again, he seems not to care, so he continues to Tweet at odd hours of the day, with his tweets representing his childish outbursts.
And he spends so much time on vacation, golfing, that one wonders whether there is really any work to be done at the White House. Is anyone actually doing his work? Or perhaps the various staff people around him arrange for work to get done without actually consulting him, or maybe by simply working around him. To say he “gets in the way” seems to be a gentle way of saying that folks try to work by purposefully ignoring him, and hoping that he goes golfing again, somewhere . . . anywhere.
And then we have the investigations. Why were the investigations started? Well, because it seemed obvious to intelligent observers that the Russian government purposefully interfered in the American election process, with the objective of electing Donald Trump. And so, our investigative forces were chartered to investigate, so that we might be able to prevent another corrupt election. And he continues denying the legitimacy of the investigations, despite the fact that many of his colleagues are now awaiting or in prison for the wrongdoing.
And why does any of this matter? Well, it matters to me precisely because I am old. Were I young, I would likely now be seriously investigating where on this poor benighted planet I might move, with my family to someplace that values normality, and maybe even honesty. I know, I know, public honesty by politicians may be an oxymoron, but still many if not most of the presidents I have known during my many years/decades on this planet told the truth at least some of the time. Trump seems never to tell the truth. Yeah, I know, I exaggerate. But with Trump, not so much.
And it matters to me because I may see him as the last president in my ever so brief time on this planet. See, I am now at an age that is beyond all/most of my forebears. I really hate the idea of ending during a Trump presidency, because of what it says about this nation in which I have lived for lo these many years. Even St. Ronald of Reagan, or for heaven’s sake, Shrub seem, waaaayyyy preferable to the clown currently in the exalted Office of the Presidency (apologies to all real clowns). There was at least a shred of decency in them, and they occasionally told us truths.
But something weird has happened to our Nation that we would even consider electing someone as fatally flawed a human being as The Donald. What does it say about our people, that anyone currently alive might still approve of him . . . and there are some millions who do.
Who is to blame, I wonder? I desperately want to blame someone (God, are you listening??? Oh you’re not real, are you, sorry). Maybe social media??? It’s all the fault of Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, and others of that ilk. Folks out there, real Americans, still plan to vote for him in 2020? And some folks, also apparently American, threaten Civil War (i.e., killing other Americans) if Trump is impeached or defeated at the polls. See, now that’s just downright weird. I keep thinking of the people who participated in the defeat of Nazi Germany. Some of those folks, or their descendants will vote for Donald Trump? How is that possible? I know, I know, we have often disagreed over issues of national policy, including all those war things, but generally we used to come together when it seemed both real and important.
Now? I no longer know. Are we actually coming apart internally? I keep thinking, well, let the voting polling places decide. But what if they don’t? What happens then? Do we simply come unraveled as a nation, and then what are we leaving to our children and our grandchildren? An ugly and thoroughly soiled thing that was once borderline holy? A nation destroyed? Is that what we wish to leave our kids and our grandkids? Is Trump worth destroying our country??
I hope that I am grossly exaggerating the risks here, but I do actually perceive him as that kind of risk. I hope I am wrong, but I await some evidence.