Long ago, when I was an 18-year-old kid working on a dude ranch, a cowboy taught me how bad things always will find and test your weaknesses.
We were moving horses from one corral to another. I was a cook from Chicago, not a cowboy from Lubbock, and horses frightened me. Yet, the cowboy told me to stand directly in front of horses to keep them from going to where they were not supposed to go.
“If you appear strong, they won’t run you over,” he barked. But, he added, if they sense that you don’t know what the hell you are doing, they just might leave hoofprints on “that pretty face of yours.”
I’ve been thinking about the cowboy’s advice as we stumble through this historic fourth year of ineffectual leadership, mixed messages, and outright ghosting from President Donald Trump and his surrounding cast of dutiful drones and nepotistic nutters.
Before coronavirus galloped across the world, followed by nation-wide protests sparked by the murder-by-police of George Floyd, Trump rode the good fortune of a roaring economy, in no small part because of the previous administration. Misfortunes seemed to slide off him the way a snake sheds its skin.
Mueller Report? Shredded into the dustbin of history by a compliant attorney general who misrepresented the findings.
Impeachment and an obvious quid pro quo with the president of Ukraine? Initiated by a “perfect call” that, according to Trump and the state TV network known as FOX News, was a “witch hunt” concocted by Democrats to undermine the president’s “landslide” victory in 2016.
Character assassinations of war heroes like Sen. John McCain, Lt Col. Alexander Vindman, and now Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth? They were anti-Trump all along, he bellowed – military experience, for example, loss of limbs in combat, and imprisonment by the enemy be damned.
End of Trump’s Lucky Strike
For three years it was smooth sailing for Trump. Oh, there were a handful of foreign flareups that he solved with a few cruise missiles lobbed overseas or, in the case of North Korea, by penning valentines to its murderous leader-for-life.
But coronavirus and racial strife have ended the president’s lucky streak, and the twin crises have laid bare Trump’s many weaknesses that were so evident to many of us all along.
When so many Americans are dying and hurting, empathy is called for, but President Trump does not possess even a trace.
Coronavirus deaths are way down. Mortality rate is one of the lowest in the World. Our Economy is roaring back and will NOT be shut down. “Embers” or flare ups will be put out, as necessary!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 26, 2020
To protect our citizens, who are so confused about how to protect themselves, clear-headed information is essential, but the president is a confused thinker, a reflexive liar, and a flip-flopper.
When calm is needed, he tosses verbal grenades from the safety of a bunker or a golf cart.
At this pivotal time, we need a confident, energetic commander in chief. Instead, we have someone who frankly lacks vigor. He reads prepared remarks with all the passion of a hostage reciting a prepared statement from his captors. He mangles words. He stumbles down ramps. One could label him “Sleepy Don.”
In my lifetime, Trump is not the first weak president to succumb to an emergency. Jimmy Carter had the Iranian hostage crisis (as well as oil shortages and double-digit inflation) that led to his one unremarkable term.
George W. Bush had 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. In the scary times after 9/11, we witnessed an average guy so far over his head that his presidency was coopted by Vice President Dick Cheney and his merry band of post-Vietnam neocons. Hellava job.
I do not recall President Barack Obama stumbling miserably when faced with the worst recession since the Great Depression, the Ebola outbreak, and the swine flu. Then again, he had appointed some of the best minds in the nation to aid his presidency, unlike the toadies and relatives that currently shame 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
I watch with alarm, but hardly surprise, as a visibly deficient Trump hesitates, denies, and berates instead of calmly, intelligently, and resolutely leading us through these historical inflection points.
For the pandemic, Trump blames the Obama administration for leaving the country’s stockpiles of ventilators and other much-needed medical supplies high and dry without stating the obvious: that he himself has been president for more than three years.
The inspirational gatherings protesting police brutality against people of color are a “set up,” inflamed by antifas like the 75-year-old man still hospitalized from a head wound courtesy of the Buffalo Police Department. Trump’s source for this baseless accusation? Some flat-earth conspiracy mongering “news” site called One America News Network.
Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur. 75 year old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment. @OANN I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 9, 2020
Like the wannabe autocrat that he is, Trump tosses nationalistic red meat at his base. He threatens 10 years of prison for those who dare to take down monuments, including those of past domestic terrorists (aka the Confederacy), slave masters, and conquistadors.
When I observe the president masking his deficiencies with bluster and rage, I can sense his weakness just like those Texas horses sensed mine. Fortunately, on that day in the corral, I did not inflict any lasting damage.
Sadly, for all of us, the same cannot be said for President Trump.Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of The Globe Post.