September 6th 2020
In a month that has been an utter catastrophe for Donald Trump, what with the convention and the Atlantic’s report on his attitudes toward the military, and all it needed was one more mishap that would not only put the GOP in a negative light, but be ridiculous and hilarious. Despising Trump and all that he stands for is wearisome. We needed a good laugh.
So the Texas Republicans decided that what was needed was a boat parade for Donald. So they had an excursion on Lake Travis, which for some reason isn’t named for a country and western singer. This has been a thing with GOP’ers, who think that having a bunch of RWCs poncing about on luxury boats is just what the GOP needs to do to reach out to the working class. But some weather cropped up. Nothing real dramatic—no twisters or hurricanes. Just rain and gusts of wind, but as we’ve had ample opportunity to learn over the past few years, money doesn’t buy knowledge or competence. Several of the boats—at least four, probably more—foundered. I would say that no souls were lost, but this was a GOP parade—you would have to find some souls first. Let’s just say there were no injuries. Which is a good thing, I guess.
As a result, I couldn’t help but think of Stephen Leacock’s The Sinking of the Mariposa Belle. Stephen Leacock was Garrison Keillor or Stuart McLean long before either was born, and doubtlessly inspired both. Mariposa Belle is a 1911 story known to every Canadian schoolchild, about a steamboat which sets out on the waters of Lake Wissanotti with 150 revelers on board to celebrate Excursion Day, which was probably Dominion Day, which is now Canada Day, but is still held July 1st (April 11th in the metric calendar). Fate strikes about mid afternoon when the ship sinks. Frantic villagers send a rescue boat out to rescue the revelers, but it, too, sinks. However, tragedy is averted when the would-be rescuers hop out of the boat and wade over to the Belle, which is sitting on the lake bed in several feet of water, and they all end up wading to shore. The ship’s engineer had been busy below decks, using pitch to patch over the hole and a bilge pump to get rid of the four feet of water, and once everyone is off, the Belle pops right back up and floats back to the home dock, and one hundred and fifty people have lurid and spectacular tales to tell about how they survived the Sinking of the Mariposa Belle.
What a metaphor for Trump’s reelection effort that is! People were already invoking the Titanic in a variety of ways, many of which were time-honored, and now we can combine that image with one of ducks in a shooting gallery. Or if you happen to be one of the many working-class Americans who own a yacht, shooting skeet.
OK. Let’s take Skeet as an example.
Pull! “Let’s force schools to reopen and reassure the public that it’s GOOD of many of them die in the name of herd immunity!”
Pull! “Let’s turn the convention into a weird promotion of cult-of-personality and conspiracy-mongering!”
Pull! “Let’s fuck with the Post Office and side with a crazed murderous vigilante on a law-and-order platform.”
Pull! “Let’s assure the veterans that they’re OK by us but they really are losers and suckers!”
The rest of us can just visualize a line of Titanics, each in turn hitting the iceberg and sinking.
This sort of buffoonery merely underscores the undisciplined and essentially vacant mind of Donald J. Trump. He fits the stereotype of “the idle rich,” complete with high levels of corruption and depravity.
But what is going to kill him politically is another trait of a social class willfully alienated from a society at large—contempt for the military. The items in the Atlantic piece aren’t all that revelatory, except for the memorable “losers and suckers” quote. Trump’s willingness to disparage the military in general, his open contempt for POWs, Gold Star Parents and Generals was already well-known. The Atlantic simply put it all together in one damning package.
Now, the Trump cult are trained like circus seals to automatically reject any reporting that is detrimental or disparaging toward Beloved Leader, so nobody expected them to accept the Atlantic reporting. And Trump, cunning enough to realize he was taking monstrous damage from pissing on the troops, vehemently denied the story, going so far as to demand Fox News fire one reporter who corroborated the story. (Fox, to their faint credit, didn’t fire the reporter). But nobody expected Trump’s followers to suddenly start thinking, and to nobody’s surprise, they didn’t.
But it was amazing how many people outside of the cult looked at the Atlantic piece and went, “Oh, my goodness! I had no idea!”
The fact is that Trump’s contempt and loathing for the military have been staring us in the face right along. He openly mocked the Gold Star family that appeared at the Democratic Convention in 2016. He refused to appear at a cemetery in France to lay a wreath to the fallen American dead because he didn’t want to get his hair wet. Hundreds of retired line officers have spoken out against him, describing him as unfit to be commander-in-chief because he has no respect for those who serve.
If you are in the military or have relatives and friends in the military, hearing that Trump thinks of them as suckers and losers because they are in the military, would you trust Trump to have the safety or welfare of the troops in mind when and if he faces a military crisis? Or would he just throw them away like used condoms?
Finally, Trump has nothing but contempt for just about any value Americans have. Environment, human rights, civil rights, basic decency, rule of law—Trump pisses on all of those. He comes from a long line of draft dodgers. Granddaddy got kicked out of Germany as a draft dodger and wound up running whorehouses in the Yukon. Daddy threated to cut anyone from the will if they joined the military or the peace corps. Donnie himself got a completely bogus medical deferment so he didn’t have to go to Vietnam. His entire class of society regards the military as a tiresome and expensive way of maintaining their wealth, and as a general rule, see military service as something little people with no future do. Not for their pampered and dissolute spawn. Donald is much too good to hobnob with the likes of Tammy Duckworth or Colonel Vindeman.
Maybe this will be what finally destroys Trump. Something must, because his moral and ethical vacancy will eventually destroy us.