This Cannot Become “Normal”

I came across this OpEd in the New York Times by one of my favourite opinion writers, Nicholas Kristof, earlier today.  It is a prescient warning that I think is worth sharing.

Don’t Let Trump Make You Numb to What’s Unacceptable

Our species has an ability to adapt. Now’s not the time.

nicholas-kristof-thumblargeBy Nicholas Kristof

Opinion Columnist

  • Nov. 6, 2019

The problem with being a frog in a beaker is that you may not notice the water temperature rising to a boil.

Humans, too. In New Delhi, people get used to air that is filthy. In Syria, to checkpoints. In Angola, to corruption. In China, to propaganda. And in America, we risk becoming numbed to a political, social and moral breakdown.

Scandal and dysfunction dribble out from Washington day by day, numbing us so that we may forget just how unprecedented and outrageous the trends are. It was only five years ago that Fox News was deploring a “shocking” and “desperate” presidential scandal that Republican Representative Peter King described as inexcusable: Barack Obama wore a tan suit! Now we can’t even keep track of how many countries President Trump has asked to do him political favors.

I’ve been traveling abroad, so I’ve been asking journalists and officials how they see America, and from a distance they offer blunt assessments. “If your president isn’t a Manchurian candidate,” one senior European official said, “he’s doing a pretty good imitation of one.”

In 2016, Obama’s passivity and Republican intransigence may have allowed Russian cyberattacks to swing the presidency to Trump (there’s no way to be sure, but that’s what the forensic work of Kathleen Hall Jamieson suggests). Yet despite improvement, the United States still doesn’t have an adequate strategy to foil Russian or Chinese interference in the 2020 election.

Trump is a hero of many evangelical Christians who previously emphasized the importance of personal values and restoring “honor and dignity” to the White House. Meanwhile, he is on his third wife, has cheated on all three and has been accused of sexual misconduct by 25 women. And Trump tweeted a supporter’s praise likening him to “the second coming of God.”

Since taking office, Trump has made more than 13,400 false or misleading statements, according to a Washington Post database. The Post found that he has recently accelerated his falsehoods to a rate of 22 per day, more than one per waking hour. (I’ve covered many world leaders, and the only two whom I consider pathological liars are Trump and former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.)

Trump has declared “I am the chosen one.” His press secretary last month spoke of “the genius of our great President.”

Trump, who according to a Times investigation is wealthy partly because of fraud, pledged to fight corruption and “drain the swamp.” Since then, he has lost more first-term cabinet members to scandal than any president in history.

 “I’m not going to have time to go play golf,” Trump said before his election. In fact, he has visited golf clubs approximately 224 times since taking office, including more than three months in total at Mar-a-Lago. These vacation trips have cost taxpayers more than $100 million.

Trump’s mother was an immigrant, as are two of the women he married (his current wife may have been undocumented). Yet he has ripped children from parents at the border, and his administration has argued that detained immigrant children do not need soap or toothbrushes.

We haven’t even gotten to Trump trying to buy Greenland, marching into women’s changing rooms to admire undressed teenagers, borrowing Stalinist language to denounce the press as the “enemy of the people,” claiming that climate change is a Chinese conspiracy, banning Muslims or diverting money to build the wall that Mexico supposedly would pay for.

Oh, and that multibillion-dollar wall is now being cut open by smugglers with $100 saws.

Yet America’s dysfunction goes beyond Trump, and it will outlast Trump, even as it is aggravated by him.

American kids ages 1 through 19 are 57 percent more likely to die than those in other advanced nations, according to a study in the journal Health Affairs. That’s partly because the United States is virtually alone in failing to provide universal health coverage: Trump didn’t create that problem, but he did magnify it so that the number of uninsured children is now increasing.

Longstanding economic inequality in the United States, exacerbated by Trump’s tax cuts and other policies, is staggering. A single hedge fund tycoon, James Simons, made $1.6 billion last year, or more than $4 million each day — yet the United States has 100,000 children who on any given night are homeless. Since 2000, 61,000 foster kids have simply gone missing. Girls and boys are sold by pimps for sex in every American city.

America is not, as President Trump once called it, a “hellhole.” It is a nation of enormous strengths and resources, but we need to muster them now. A merit of our species is that we are adaptable and resilient and can get used to almost anything.

But we should never get accustomed to all this. Let’s not let ourselves be numbed by the daily drip into accepting a level of Trumpian dysfunction that should always be unacceptable.

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24 thoughts on “This Cannot Become “Normal”

  1. Jill, Nicholas Kristof has won two Pulitzers (I believe) and is a well-respected journalist and author. His words have gravitas. As I shared on a message with Senator Lindsey Graham, we have a credibly accused president of abuse of power, obstruction of justice, extortion for personal gain, violation of campaign finance laws and violation of the emoluments, and you cannot bring yourself to read thr transcripts of people who risked everything to testify? This is a disservice to Americans and shameful.

    Finally, we have the most untruthful president in my lifetime, which includes Richard Nixon, saying he did nothing wrong. The president’s word has little currency.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, he has won two and been nominated for five others through the years. He is well-respected, not only as a journalist, but as a humanitarian, which is something that the likes of Lindsey Graham would know nothing about. I agree on Trump’s lack of honesty … though Nixon lied and cheated, he was not the abomination that Trump is. And … to his credit, Nixon had the good sense to resign … Trump, on the other hand, fully intends to make us send the military to drag him out of the White House.


  2. 60,000,000 opted for the ‘anyone but a Democrat, particularly a woman’ solution. That’s why Trump is there, they chose him because he annoys the hell out of Democrats. They will come up with other tragic little statements but deep down, that’s the one.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Kristoff, as usual, speaks the truth. There are millions though Jill, who don’t think what he’s doing is so bad. They’re ok with him. They’re ok with his policies. It’s a disconnect so wide, so bizarre, we can’t explain it. But normal is how many in the media have covered him. Not all media of course. But certainly, how they question him…how they allow him to spout out stuff with no follow up questions. It’s all part of the desire to I guess, ‘respect’ the office of the presidency. I call B.S.! He deserves no such thing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I know … I don’t understand how they can rationalize that what he’s done so far is A-okay, but they do. I just fired off an angry shot at Warren Davidson for mocking the impeachment … I think mass stupidity has invaded our country. You’re right about the media … they give him far more breaks than he deserves, and still he slings insults at them every chance he gets. I think they are trying to maintain an air of professionalism, despite the fact that he doesn’t even know the meaning of that word. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yep, I suppose their access is more important. I’d tell him to go you know where! Those stupid ‘chopper’ press get togethers? Enough already! Let him Tweet and go on Fox News. That way we could ignore him. Sounds awesome to me!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Frankly, I think the mainstream media, the credible press, would do a far better service to this country if they ignored his tweets, his rants, left his picture out altogether, and focused only on facts, who he is nominating, what executive orders he has passed, the 1,001 ways in which he is wasting our hard-earned money, and left off the rhetoric, for it is that which galvanizes his base, and is desensitizing the rest of us. But, “if it bleeds, it leads” is still the motto in the news world.

          Liked by 1 person

          • You’re preaching to the choir Jill. I feel the same way. Unfortunately, pointing out the other stuff he’s doing is up to people like you and me. Of course, people like Maddow do a great job at pointing out what he’s actually doing to wreck this country. It’s the other folks who keep trying to ‘figure’ out the Trump voters that drive me crazy. Frankly I’m tired of hearing about them. What about the rest of America?

            Liked by 1 person

            • I know. Sigh. I’m guilty, as well, of trying to figure out what makes trumpites tick, for it seems to me so obvious that he is corrupt, greedy, arrogant, and out to turn our country into a dictatorship that I cannot understand, no matter how much I ponder it, no matter how much I try to listen to the Bozos, why they love him. Every time he opens his mouth, I want an airsick bag by my side! Sigh. We shall keep on keeping on, though … right?

              Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes, Trump is a disaster but is he the cause or symptom of America’s fall from grace? No civilization lasts forever (historical average for all civilizations since the dawn of time is 400 years) Despite political propaganda and hand over heart patriotism, America is not a great nation The U.S. blew it, squandered every chance to rise above hatred, racism, corporate influence, colour-blind justice, NRA bullying and healthcare absurdities.
    Trump prevails because average Americans mourn the loss of self imposed greatness. Not unlike death of a loved one, America wrestles with the five stages of grief. The first stage (denial and isolation) gave way to second stage (anger). Enter Trump, pathological puppet master plucking strings of collective outrage shrewdly disguised as third stage bargaining. No wonder fundamentalist wing-nuts, religious and conspiracy whackos, racist patriots and blue collar workers are losing their minds.
    Great nations don’t elect Trumps, only nations on the verge of collapse angrily deny their folly with Trumpish desperation. Wake up America! Sigh.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I agree with your assessment … to a point. Thing is, that just as with any country, you cannot lump everybody into one pot. We actually did not elect Trump, for Hillary won by nearly 3 million votes. He was carried into office by an anomaly known as the Electoral College, and the majority of people in this country see him as naught but a corrupt, arrogant and greedy wanna-be-dictator. But, the other 40% are loud, and we have too many of them making decisions that disenfranchise many of us who actually have a bit of sense. Sigh.


  5. He is just reiterating point that have been made by yourself and others on your blog and probably many others. OK, it bears repeating that no-one should allow themselves to become complacent to the filthy atmosphere Trump has created in his massive swamp but the best way to clear this pervasive poisoned air is to make sure Trump doesn’t get another 4 years to grow his swamp ir prove just what aa Manchurian Candidate he us.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Most certainly chilling and outrageous facts pointed out by Mr. Kristof. Like David said, all of Trump’s transgressions come as no surprise to us who follow your blog regularly. You and Gronda expose the rot that is US gov’t and it’s corrupt “leader” on a daily basis. Trump might not be a Russian operative but he certainly acts like one, for he’s no asset to the US. He’s behaving like a Gorbachev or Yeltsin of old, overseeing the destruction of the USSA. Perhaps something new will emerge out of the ashes, like a President Putin who lifted Russia back to prominence.
      Are you aware that Russia is effectively bypassing US sanctions by making deals with China, Europe, Africa, most of Asia by using currency (FX swaps), bypassing the dollar altogether. Russia is also creating a new international monetary exchange system to challenge the hegemonic US dollar as world’s reserve currency.
      Idiot Trump should be working closely with other nations and esp our allies to fight for US interests, but of course he doesn’t have the brains, connections or resources to do so, too busy playing golf at Mar a Lago. *Sigh*

      Liked by 3 people

    • True, he is. But, he has a much louder voice than I and my fellow-bloggers do, plus he is a professional, states things much better than I ever could. Yep, the goal now is to get him out of office one way or another. The sooner the better. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

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