Perhaps you might have a cure for my case of Chronic Befuddlement. The first symptoms appeared after hearing Nixon’s V.P., Spiro Agnew, launch his 1970 “nattering nabobs of negativism” attack on the press. Had the unpleasantness I encountered in Vietnam caused permanent brain damage? I looked up nabob, but the definition -- “nabob: a provincial governor of the Mogul empire in India”-- only exacerbated my Befuddlement. But at least Agnew and Nixon soon vanished in disgrace.
Shockingly, decades later a more befuddling force appeared. Apparently the bone spurs that prevented Donald Trump from joining me in Vietnam had sufficiently healed. He was physically fit to run for President and play many rounds of golf. His contempt for science, manners and women were immediately revealed. But evidently a bombastic blowhard was what America wanted. An epidemic of Befuddlement ensued.
Salvador Dali himself would be befuddled by the ever-expanding surrealism of our time. Evangelicals defend an accused pedophile on the grounds that Mary was under age when she gave birth to Jesus. A twice-divorced, philandering New York billionaire is the darling of the moral majority. Armed Nazis march in our streets.
Candidate Trump slammed big finance. President Trump surrounds himself with alumni of Goldman Sachs. His cabinet appointees show contempt for the departments they head. I’m sure Rick Perry was befuddled to learn that as Secretary of Energy he has oversight of our nuclear arsenal (assuming he’s figured that out).
It’s befuddling when a tax cut for the wealthiest is called “a benefit for the middle class.” Befuddling when the President trusts the head of the KGB more than the CIA or the FBI. And what’s with the Air Force’s war on the Gila Wilderness?
It is as if historian James Michener began telling the story of our era; then it turned into the absurdity of Catch-22; segued to Confederacy of Dunces; and is heading toward 1984.
But what do I know? I’m befuddled.
December: Thanks Pres
We live in a strange and wondrous age. Recently I witnessed a sign of these strange times, literally. While driving on U.S. 180 between Deming and Silver City, I observed a hand-written billboard-sized sign in an open field. It read “Thanks Pres. Trump.” Or perhaps it was “Thank You Pres. Trump"? A long day in planes, trains and automobiles had my feeble brain functioning at 63% capacity.
This sign forced me to think of things the Pres has done for which we might be thankful. Let’s begin with how his actions have brought attention to the plight of women being groped and abused by entitled males. Plus, we can be grateful to the Pres for spotlighting the one man with a solution to this degradation. Eventually, Vice President Pence may be the only man in America not charged with sexual harassment. Soon millions of men will adopt the Pence Protocol of never being in a room alone with any woman other than their wives. This could create awkward situations for dates, business meetings and teeth cleanings. But since it’s become obvious that men cannot be trusted to keep their hands to themselves and their privates in their pants, I see no viable alternative.
Next up, “massive tax cuts” for the rich. I will sleep better knowing that American oligarchs will be able to afford even more luxuries than oligarchs in other countries. It is a burden we of the lower classes should willingly bear to keep America first.
And in the spirit of America First, thanks Pres for making our country the leader of climate change deniers. Since we are the only nation not to agree with the Paris Agreement, America is certainly number one. Anyway, I’m old enough that by the time N.Y., L.A. and Miami are under water, I’ll probably be dead. I can only hope. Perhaps the slogan on Trump’s hat in the next election will read, “Make Earth Flat Again” ?
There are so many other reasons to thank The Donald -- such as befriending dictators in order to learn how to avoid the limitations of governing within a democracy; standing up for misunderstood Nazis; taunting those pesky Palestinian refugees; providing endless material for comedians; pointing out what sissies pro football players are; and promoting golf. It would take this entire paper, and more, to completely list Donald’s accomplishments. So let me just say, Merry Christmas Mr. President -- and thanks a lot.
January: Women and A World Gone Silly
While contemplating the #metoo phenomenon, the women’s march and the question of which woman the Democrats will nominate for the top of the ticket in 2020, I realized what I like best about Melania Trump -- she’ll never run for President. I’m sure anyone with so much exposure to a very stable genius would be uniquely qualified to serve. But she can’t. Melania was born in Novo Mesto, Slovenia, which, at the time of this writing, is not part of the U.S.A. And imagine the stir if the leader of the Obama birth certificate absurdity, her current husband, endorsed someone not of native birth!
But Republicans are not as rock solidly consistent as they might lead us to believe. The GOP looks down on Hollywood with as much disdain as Hollywood looks down on the GOP. And yet, Republicans once elected song-and-dance-man George Murphy to the United States Senate; and seemed ready to waive the “natural-born citizen” requirement after The Terminator became Governor of California. And don’t forget, they elected a President who gave forgettable performances in “Bedtime for Bonzo” and “Hellcats of the Navy” (RR was also the first divorced President). They even provided us with the Reality-Star-In-Chief who continues to entertain us daily.
With the election of Al Franken, the Democrats closed the celebrity gap a bit -- or did he last long enough to count? That leads us to Oprah. The Dems could check a lot of boxes if they nominated and elected the formidable Ms. Winfrey. She would not be the first African-American President, but she would be the first African-American woman President. The first woman President. The first unmarried woman President (James Buchanan and Grover Cleveland were unmarried when elected). And most importantly, the first female TV and film star President.
Meryl Streep suggests a ticket of Oprah and Tom Hanks (too soft). Oprah and The Rock would be more likely to draw a few Republican voters. Devious Donald might be required to drop Pence and go with Chuck Norris. Or how about Draft Dodger Don and Steven Seagal. Seagal brings macho appeal, celebrity status and the bonus of Russian citizenship. The Dems would have to counter with The West Wing’s Martin Sheen and Bryan Cranston, who gave such a convincing performance as LBJ in “All the Way.”
Meanwhile, back to Oprah. My greatest concern is what nickname Dotard Don (the first twice-divorced President) would give Winfrey. You know, like Crooked Hilary. Or what names would he use for any female opponent? He already has a ridiculous label for Elizabeth Warren. Finding out how they would be referred to is probably of greater interest to me than to Kamala Harris or Kirsten Gillibrand. As much as I’d like to play around with a few suggestions, I hesitate to encourage Doddering Don to be even ruder. Whatever name of belittlement the stable genius selects, rest assured, it will reflect more on him than on whichever woman is subjected to his sexual harassment. But alas, ultimately it reflects on all of us.
James BigBoy Medlin © 2018
James BigBoy Medlin was the sports writer for the original Austin Sun. His column was called "Why Not?"
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