Tomorrow's newspaper column, today:
Now isn’t the time to talk about it, the White House said, and Sean Hannity agreed. They were right, of course, because only hours after the horror in Las Vegas there was a multiple murder in Massachusetts. Then Kansas. Best to wait till there aren’t any.
Shortly after signing a bill making it easier for the mentally ill to buy guns (the problem isn’t guns, said Paul Ryan, it’s mental illness), readying to sign one allowing wider use of silencers, Trump tweeted “warmest condolences” and “God bless you” to the victims. It was, he said, “In many ways a miracle,” because cops got to the murderer after only fifty-nine dead and five hundred wounded. (Had he used a silencer, would they have?)
After speech writers composed a less prosaic response, our pretend-religious president teleprompted prayers for peace, healing, and banishing evil. Momentarily suspending his peddling of hatred and fear, he also suggested praying for an end to hatred and fear. Which left no time for addressing guns.
If evil is to be banished, it’d have happened by now. If preemptive prayers don’t keep killers from filling hotel rooms with automatic weapons, perfectly legal in Nevada, after-action ones will likely go unanswered, too. Still, since it wasn’t the time to mention America’s tolerance for gun violence as the price we willingly pay to have protected ourselves from Obama’s terrorist army and from the next time a Democrat becomes president, there wasn’t much else to talk about. So prayers it is. Just not the other thing.
Like how, after Australia outlawed assault-type weapons and tightened gun laws following a massacre, murder rates dropped by over half and mass murder disappeared; citizens relinquished hundreds of thousands of guns and they’ve yet to be enslaved. But legislating is hard. During the shooting, Congress had its hands full ending healthcare funding for nine million children.
Chiding reporters who brought up gun laws, Press Secretary Sanders brought up Chicago’s gun laws. Following NRA guidelines, she didn’t mention their giant geographic loophole. Would gun laws have prevented Las Vegas? Maybe not. Like climate change, no single event is due to it, they say. But it’s getting worse. On day 274 of 2017, this was mass shooting 272.
But, no, not the time. Then let’s talk about lying, which Trump does more often than the heavily-armed shoot at us.
We had the votes, he said after his latest Obamacare failure, but a Senator was hospitalized. This he repeated, semi-automatic, even after the Senator noted he wasn’t in the hospital and, had it been crucial, he’d have returned to vote. Trump’s hospital excuse was fabrication; his insistence they had the votes was dishonesty, squared.
Why does he lie so bizarrely? Why don’t his apologists care? That’s just Trump being Trump, they say. Recently I conversed with someone who said since all politicians lie, he’s glad Trump does it better. He wasn’t kidding. But good lying is hard to disprove. Trump lies about crime statistics, American business taxes, estate taxes, clean coal. He lies about what he said yesterday. He stands in cloudless sunshine waving the weather report, insisting it’s raining. His tax plan won’t help him or fellow top one-percenters at all, he declares. Every credible analysis says otherwise, but who ya gonna believe: Trump, or your lying arithmetic? His believers say, well, heck. Emails.
The number and weight of Trump’s lies threaten democracy, annihilate trust. They portend a new and dangerous American exceptionalism. How frightening to have as president a demonstrable, recidivist, outlandish liar; having the nuclear codes, currently in a schoolyard name-calling brawl with another unstable person. Trumpists don’t care. Incredibly, when he claims his tax plan will hurt him personally while balancing the budget, they believe him. When he tells us North Korea, or Iran, or Democrats did something horrible, something war-worthy, there’s no precedent of any sort for assuming he’s being truthful. The danger is obvious.
Then, for four hours, he visited Puerto Rico, whose citizens he’d called lazy moochers, lamented the expense of helping them, said not enough people died to make it a real catastrophe and other equally stupefying things, importuned praise while praising himself, overstated the relief effort, and tossed paper towel rolls at people like a t-shirt gun at a basketball game.
It's obvious. Oh, say: can you see?[Image source]