If one were to have some fun with this presidency, let us use the dictionary format and use the alphabet to unravel what’s happening in the US
~By Kenneth Tiven in Washington
Understanding American political behaviour is not easy this year, so to help you, let’s deploy the style of the television programme Sesame Street. Today’s letter is “D”. Words that sum up the past weeks in America all seem to start with the fourth letter of the Roman alphabet.
Donald: The president’s first name so perhaps that explains his penchant for the letter.
Defeat: When in a match, contest or a conflict, you come out second best.
- Donald hates defeat, is quick to label people “losers” whom he believes he has defeated.
- His Republican choice for reelection in a Senate race in Alabama loses to an ultra-right-wing opponent.
- Republican efforts to destroy existing medical care in America fail again, maybe finally for now, leaving massive egg on GOP faces but relief for a majority of Americans.
- Trump tax cut plan, mislabeled as reform, likely to fail without the windfall money the medical plan change was going to deliver.
- Cabinet officers, in defiance of rules and procedures, have been renting private planes for travel rather than flying commercial, costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.
- Donald is involved in a name-calling match with the Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, and not winning. Kim called him a:
Dotard: An old person, especially one who has become weak or senile.
Destruction: Three dreadful hurricanes in a three-week period have destroyed large sections of:
- Puerto Rico
- American Virgin Islands.
Denial: Trump was initially derisive in his comments on the Puerto Rican situation, noting the poor economic condition of the island and its infrastructure and debt burden.
- Reminded apparently that these are US citizens, he searched for empathy and promised a trip there soon.
- Complaining about debt is precious from a man who has avoided creditors six times with bankruptcy filings and has thousands of lawsuits from contractors whose bills he refused to pay.
- Rebuilding estimates exceed hundreds of billions of dollars.
- Obviously Trump’s desire to fund a wall on the US-Mexican border is imperiled.
Distraction: A child throws a tantrum to distract a parent, but for the president picking a fight with someone or something is a key to distracting people from the reality he doesn’t believe exists. Although debris, destruction, death counts, lack of drinking water all attest to the calamity caused by the storms, the Donald went for the big distraction in a meandering speech that pandered to his audience in deep Red, southern state of Alabama.
Trump attacked players in the National Football League (70 percent of whom are non-white) who are protesting racism by ignoring the national anthem played at the start of most American sports events. Trump was unfettered, saying: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say ‘get that son of a bitch off the field?’” Roaring applause from a base-heavy audience brought this: “If owners fired a player for protesting the anthem, they would become the most popular person in the country. Because that is a total disrespect of our heritage.”
Trump’s SOB remark ignited outrage as dozens of players from teams across the league protested this past weekend, often joined by team owners in the on-field demonstration. Owners, many of whom are rich, really rich, and white, and who admittedly gave millions to the Trump election campaign, were not subtle in their rejection of Trump’s position.
Dreaming: Trump’s problem is that if he believes it in his mind, it must be true: see above.
Data: See above.
Demonstration: When quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the anthem, he was highlighting the dubious justice associated with the shooting of African-Americans by police officers. Fan response then was mixed, except at the NFL where all the owners found reasons not to employ this first-rate player, causing him to sit out the season.
Democracy: The American constitution enshrines the right of peaceful protest. Nowhere does it mention an anthem or reverence for the flag as a symbol of devotion to the constitution.
Donald gets an A for uniting labour and management in the football league, unthinkable until this issue.
For leadership, empathy, and any sense that he is president of the entire country, not just an angry minority, we grade Donald a D.
—The writer has worked in senior positions at The Washington Post, NBC, ABC and CNN and also consults for several Indian channels