"The Fake News hates me saying that they are the Enemy of the People only because they know it's TRUE. I am providing a great service by explaining this to the American People. They purposely cause great division & distrust. They can also cause War! They are very dangerous & sick." — President Donald J. Trump
I've purposely avoided writing about Donald Trump in recent weeks, choosing instead to focus on local issues. But enough is enough. The president of the United States is melting down, becoming increasingly unhinged. None of us can afford to ignore this stuff.
In the past week, via tweet, Trump has declared war on the free press; compared his former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, to Al Capone; told his attorney general to stop the Mueller investigation; claimed the California wildfires are being caused by letting rivers run to the sea; launched a personal attack on LeBron James(!); and threw his own son under the bus by proclaiming that Junior — and other members of the president's campaign team — knowingly met to get dirt on Hillary Clinton from Russian operatives but that it was "totally legal." This, even though Trump's own lawyers have admitted the president dictated a cover letter claiming the meeting was to discuss Russian adoption issues. And the undeniable fact that the meeting was anything but "totally legal," even though in the right-wing-o-sphere, "collusion is fine" is the new "no collusion!"
It's hard to keep up, I know. It's lie upon lie upon lie. It's day after day. It's mind-numbing. But the collusion — or conspiracy or treason or whatever name you give it — is right out in the open now, easy to see for anyone who's paying attention.
And how do we pay attention? We watch the news. We read newspapers and magazines and news websites. And with the notable exception of America's Pravda — Fox News — those media outlets are reporting things that make it clear the president's campaign — and likely, the president himself — was thoroughly and completely entangled in the Russian meddling in our 2016 electoral process. And probably in money laundering before that.
This is why Trump's last, best shot is to convince as many Americans as possible that they shouldn't believe what they're reading and seeing in the news and should instead just believe Fearless Leader. Trump knows the truth will not set him free. The truth will destroy him.
The scariest part of all this is not the president's behavior, though his mendacity, crassness, and xenophobia are certainly beyond the historical pale. No, the scariest part is that so many Republicans who know the truth — who know this is wrong — are remaining silent. The best-case scenario you can make for them is that they fear alienating Trump's base. The worst-case scenario is that they — like the NRA — have dirtied their hands with Russian money. The coming months will test the republic.
Meanwhile, Trump's impulsive and reflexive tariffs are backfiring on manufacturers and farmers in the heartland (including Tennessee). Gas prices are rising. And Trump's foreign policy skills make Sasha Baron Cohen look like Kissinger: Little Rocket Man got concessions then went back to building nuclear weapons; Iran's leaders are basically calling him an empty suit; and Putin works him like a Dollar Store yo-yo.
All Trump has left is to hold increasingly smaller and more desperate rallies, where he can weave tales of his greatness and demonize the bearers of all this fake bad news. But the bad news isn't fake, and he knows it. And the angry know-nothings in his audience (and your clueless friends on Facebook) can't save him from the long arm of the law. Or the upcoming mid-terms.
Finally, even though Trump has labeled people like me an "enemy of the people," I'd like to help him out. There are a couple of errors in the president's tweet above. Using my skills as a professional editor, I've written a more accurate one:
"I call the press the Enemy of the People only because I hate the truth. I am providing a great disservice to the American People by creating division & distrust. I can also cause War! I am very dangerous & sick."
There. That's better.