The Other Shoe

Published: February 8, 2019

By Jim Lichtman
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“Together, we can break decades of political stalemate, we can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions and unlock the extraordinary promise of America’s future.” – President Trump, State of the Union speech, Feb. 5, 2019

Despite all his bluster, I thought President Trump’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday left open the possibility of reconciliation and unity… that is, until I read about the luncheon that was held earlier the same day.

Hours before he was preparing to tell the country and Democrats that “…we must reject the politics of revenge, resistance, and retribution — and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise, and the common good,” the other shoe dropped in a private lunch for television anchors.

As reported (Feb. 6), by The New York Times, Trump “said he hoped he would get to run against Mr. Biden. … ‘Biden was never very smart. He was a terrible student. His gaffes are unbelievable. When I say something that you might think is a gaffe, it’s on purpose; it’s not a gaffe. When Biden says something dumb, it’s because he’s dumb.’ ”

Regarding Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, Trump said, “I hope I haven’t wounded Pocahontas too badly. I’d like to run against her.”

On Democratic Virginia Governor Ralph Northam who continues fighting to keep his job despite appearing in blackface in a medical school yearbook, Trump said, “Did you see that news conference? Could you believe it? He choked like a dog.”

This from a man with a veritable laundry list of personal and business scandals.

“As for the Democratic congressional leaders who have vexed him so much lately,” The Times continues, “he had kinder words for Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California than for Mr. Schumer. Ms. Pelosi, he said, is nice to him in private but then says terrible things about him on camera. ‘Schumer,’ he added, ‘can be a nasty son of a bitch.’ ”

Another shoe! Trump’s grousing about Pelosi because she uses the same tactic as Trump!?

Even the distinguished dead remain a target for Trump.

During the luncheon, Trump “…recounted again the story of what he considered Senator John McCain’s betrayal in voting against advancing a measure to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care program.”

“By the way,” Mr. Trump said, “he wrote a book and the book bombed.”

McCain’s last book, The Restless Wave, spoke out against the nationalism and narcissism of the current president.

“McCain has always believed, to his core,” journalist Frank Bruni writes, “in sacrifice, honor and allegiance to something larger than oneself…Such grace is unimaginable from Trump.”

In a not so subtle dig at some of his own colleagues and the current president, Senator Lindsey Graham, McCain’s closest friend in Congress, said of McCain’s book, “It should be required reading for anyone who wants to lead in a democracy.”

(By the way, Donald, The Restless Wave, hit a number of bestsellers lists on its release.)

Despite overwhelming evidence that the country remains divided with approximately 40 percent lost in a fever of Trumpism and no viable vaccine on the horizon, Trump continues to spin his own reality: “The state of our union is strong.”

With 17 investigations pending, five of six former Trump advisers having pleaded guilty in the Mueller probe, no clear agreement in Congress on U.S.M.C.A., Trump’s replacement for NAFTA, negotiations on border security up in the air, and the president’s threat to invoke yet another government shutdown or declare a “national emergency” where there is no national emergency, the only questions remaining: when will the next shoe drop and what will it be?


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