It’s Mother Nature, Folks
(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)
In their magnificent song ‘Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise’ the Avett Brothers sing ‘your life doesn’t change by the man that’s elected.’ That line always gets the loudest cheers during their concerts, and although it was written well before 2016 it’s clear that the audiences think it refers to Trump. Fed by Bob Woodward’s ‘Fear’ and by the anonymous New York Times Op-Ed it appears that Americans have finally reached a threshold. Trump’s base was stable as long as the president was only a crook, a liar and potentially a traitor, but now that he’s been exposed by White House insiders as a madman who is endangering the country the numbers are moving. The president’s approval rating is down to 36%, 50% of Americans support the Mueller investigation while only 30% oppose it, 61% believe Russian collusion is a serious matter, 70% believe Trump should testify and 50% already believe that he should be impeached. Those numbers are extra significant because the president constantly trumpets his criticism of the Department of Justice, the FBI and the Russia investigation, while Mueller doesn’t defend himself and operates in absolute silence, with no leaks.
The 9/11 remembrance in Shanksville, PA gave Trump a chance to regain some goodwill, but he missed it by arriving with balled up fists in the air as if it concerned a campaign rally and giving a passionless speech in the whiny, moaning voice that he believes expresses empathy. The anniversary of the attack on the Twin Towers also brought back memories of all the times Trump had abused it, like his bizarre statement that he now owned the tallest building in New York City, his false claims that he had lost many friends and had been searching for corpses in the rubble, and his blatant lie that he had seen thousands of Muslims across the river cheer when the towers fell. And Trump’s assessment of the approaching hurricane Florence only made things worse. He called it ‘tremendously large and wet,’ and announced that things could go wrong, in spite of the government’s preparedness, because ‘it’s mother nature.’ That preparedness became somewhat doubtful when news broke that $10 million had been moved out of FEMA’s budget to ICE, to build prisons for the 12,800 immigrant children who have now been detained by the US Government, up from 2,400 in May.
NBC’s Chuck Todd observed that Trump ‘sells a hurricane like a condo,’ but the embarrassment didn’t stop there. Just before the threat of Florence became clear the EPA lifted restrictions on methane gas emissions, which will considerably contribute to the global warming of which ever stronger hurricanes are a symptom. And the president inflicted the most damage on himself when he defended the government’s complete failure to help Puerto Rico after hurricane Maria, and called the effort an ‘unappreciated great job,’ in spite of between 2,975 and 5,000 deaths.
While the Carolinas were preparing for Florence’s landfall, Trump challenged these ‘excess mortality’ numbers of respectively George Washington University and Harvard University studies via Twitter, claiming that they resulted from a Democratic plot and that every elderly person that died in the wake of Maria had been added to the list. Rather than acknowledging the inadequacy of his administration’s response he chose to blame the victims, for living on an island with a failing infrastructure and power grid.
In the meantime even Trump’s closest associates are beginning to recognize his flaws. In a speech that leaked out of a closed meeting Mick Mulvaney called Trump ‘divisive,’ and expressed fear that he would have a negative impact on the elections. And in Virginia Paul Manafort finally decided to throw in the towel and struck a deal with Robert Mueller to start cooperating with his investigation. In the White House Trump must be fuming.
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