Thank You, Mr. President

Alan Zendell, December 14, 2020

Yesterday, on CNN’s State of the Union, journalist Jake Tapper thanked President Trump for his service. He noted some real accomplishments, notably, forcing Americans to examine our place in the world and the way our armed forces are deployed in foreign war zones. He also gave him credit for pushing Operation Warp Speed, while noting that he seemed to have little interest in its implementation.

Now that at least one vaccine is approved, Trump’s entire focus is on claiming credit, warning the media not to let President-Elect Biden share it with him. Not surprising, since as usual, everything is all about Donald Trump’s ego gratification. In his pre-approval tweet rant last Friday he attacked FDA Director, Stephen Hahn, telling him to stop playing games and start saving lives. Start saving lives? Really?

Our president has shown no empathy for the 300,000 Americans who have already died from COVID, a number that NIH and the CDC both believe is seriously undercounted. He consistently undermined health professionals who have done their damnedest to help Americans survive the pandemic and continued to set exactly the wrong example of behavior. In the forty-one days since the election, Trump ignored the COVID death rate that skyrocketed to almost 3,000 per day. He has shown little interest in saving lives, other than his own.

As generous as Tapper was in complimenting him, the truth is that all Trump did was urge Congress to authorize funding for vaccine research, something even Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi would have done on their own. The Pfizer vaccine for which Trump demands full credit was largely an impressive accomplishment by BioNTech, the German biotech research firm that partnered with Pfizer. No American tax dollars were used in developing the Pfizer vaccine. If anyone deserves credit for assuring adequate funding, they are Bill and Melinda Gates, whose foundation invested over a billion dollars in it.

The most important part of Tapper’s thank you message to Trump concerned his behavior since he lost the election. Tapper hailed the outrageous, baseless lawsuits that have been angrily rejected by every court that saw them. He especially praised Trump for signing on to the absurd lawsuit penned by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and for intimidating more than half of the Republicans in Congress to sign their names to it. They included the two highest ranking Republicans in the House of Representative, Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise.

Tapper noted that without Trump’s total commitment to undermining the election and disenfrachising millions of Americans, without his sociopathic indifference to the fundamental values of American democracy, we would not now have a list of 126 House Republicans who let their fear of President Trump’s base cause them to support a clownish (Tapper’s word) lawsuit over the Constitution. David Knowles of Yahoo News posed the question of whether signing on to Paxton’s suit would be a scarlet letter or a badge of honor in the future. My money is on the former. It had better be if we expect our republic to survive intact.

In the same vein, Tapper might have, but chose not to thank Trump for raising the horrifying specter of Civil War. Trump never asked far right fascist militias to march, fully armed, on state houses and American cities. He didn’t explicitly encourage those traitorous lunatics to threaten Civil War, either. That’s not his way. As his disgraced attorney, Michael Cohen told Congress, Trump never issues criminal orders overtly, but he understands the cues and winks his audience responds to.

I’ll say it for all of us. Thank you, Mr. Trump for demonstrating how far you are willing to go to gratify your ego. Thank you for showing the country that the rumors and stories about armed whackos waiting to rise up in sedition, like the Confederacy did in 1860, aren’t just conspiracy theories. Those people are real, and there are a lot of them. Not enough for a full-fledged civil war, and surely not enough to overcome the law enforcement entities sworn to defend the Constitution, but easily enough to disrupt normal business and cause Americans great distress on top of what they’ve already suffered.

So far, overt acts of violence have been limited, but these people are like a powder keg. If Trump doesn’t desist from stoking the flames of division, there may yet be blood flowing in American streets. We owe Donald Trump a profound debt of thanks for opening our eyes to a threat most of us didn’t realize existed. This morning, conservative Representative Paul Mitchell (R, MI) announced that he is leaving the Republican Party in protest, saying, “If we can’t conduct an election without threats of violence, we become a third world country. Who are we, Venezuela?”

And lest we forget, the winners when things like this happen can be counted on one hand: Putin, Xi, Kim, Rouhani, none of them friends of America.

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