As the Trumpian weeks of absurdity and amateurism unfold, a single incident continues to haunt me more than all the rest—that day in June when the president prompted each member of his cabinet to tell the camera how thankful he was to come to work every morning for Donald J. Trump. But I was not haunted because of the eerie similitude in MO to dictators, despots and tyrants, past and present. I was haunted because I never got the opportunity to express my own thanks. That is, until now.
First, Mr. President, I want to thank you for making me appreciate a time when the commander-in-chief wasn’t a lunatic. Just about everyone else looks pretty good now. Nixon appears self-disciplined. Bush 43 seems literate. Warren Harding was not you. On a related note, thank you, Mr. President, for allowing us to look forward optimistically to your successor, who also probably won’t be a lunatic. Even the Russians are looking to do better next time.
Thank you, Mr. President, for not opening internment camps for journalists, future conscientious objectors, and liberals, so far. We’re not blind. We see you champing at the authoritarian bit. The will to crush the free flow of information is oozing from your hair, your tweets, and every walking dead lackey you put forth to talk to the press. In fact, there was one day not so long ago when you were literally on the verge of giving the executive order to start building a dedicated media enemies prison in the Arizona desert when you suddenly thought better of it . . . and fired James Comey.
Thank you, Mr. President, for giving me plenty of ammo to bang out a satirical essay every week without fail. My backlog of op-ed ideas is now so long if you had a coronary for Christmas I could keep going at least until Barron was elected to the White House by Vladimir Putin’s heirs.
Thank you, Mr. President, for making the comedians I watch sharper, wittier, funnier. Though this is the dark age of American politics, culture, and civility, it is also the golden age of comedy. For every Kathy Griffin effigy decapitation there are six killer Alec Baldwin lines delivered with near perfect smarminess. And truth be told, I didn’t mind the Kathy Griffin thing all that much.
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to experience interesting times, even if the price is being the world’s laughing stock. As with a turbulent marriage surely headed for divorce, these days there is hardly a dull moment. So what if we are the butt of Polish jokes instead of the other way around? So what if in Slovakia they’re saying How many Trumps does it take to screw in a light bulb? None—it’s fake news. The average red state voter doesn’t know there are other countries, much less care what they tweet. Outside of Americans, there are only Mexicans and Muslims, and they are no longer welcome here.
Thank you, Mr. President, for making this great nation take a more serious and sober look at mental illness. Gone are the days when we write off noxious behavior as the doings of a vapid, self-indulgent curmudgeon. Your presidency serves as a cautionary tale for any family or circle of friends in denial of a mentally ill loved one. If left untreated, this condition could lead to vast landholdings, consorting with supermodels, and world domination. And by then it’s too late.
Thank you for subjecting our democracy to a stress test the likes of which have not been seen since the McCarthy era or perhaps since the Civil War. Just as some dude who hits everything in the batting cage doesn’t know where he really stands until he faces live pitching, we didn’t know where we stood until we confronted daily trial balloons of despotism. It turns out as resilient free societies go, we’re hitting below the Mendoza Line
Thank you, Mr. President, for making such a travesty of the highest office in the land that I no longer feel so inadequate about my own shortcomings. The insomnia, irritability and occasional erectile dysfunction don’t seem all that bad when I look at the likes of you stumbling, bumbling and hurtling us to the final seconds of the Doomsday Clock.
On that note, hats off for so far not launching a bunch of nuclear weapons. Thanks to you I no longer take living for granted. Though your fuse seems rather short these days, my own fuse has gotten longer. Even on days when the IRS leverages my bank account and the neighbor’s dog goes berserk at 5 AM, I tend to merrily roll along, glance at my reflection from time to time, and gleefully note the absence of fourth degree burns on my head, neck and torso.
Thank you, Mr. President, for making such a complete mockery of ethical standards in government that a thorough and long overdue review and recalibration will surely follow your abbreviated term. Or not.
Finally, thank you, Mr. President, for homing in on spineless Republican lawmakers like T cells zero in on tumor markers. There are about 40 Senators and 200 members of the House who have crawled to within a foot of the cliff with you not because they believe, as you do, that your image should be carved into Mount Rushmore or that perfectly capable transgender soldiers should be purged from the U.S. military, but because your core group of Kool-Aid drinkers still hovers around 36 percent and these brave politicians fear being primaried more than death itself. Well, guys, go ahead. Right now we’re just taking names. But one day soon we’ll be kicking ass. Because there is no longer such a thing as water under the bridge. There are only video archives.