Trump The Entertainer was on his game imitating a U.S. president before a joint session of the Congress Tuesday night.
A remarkably gullible share of the U.S. public, including many in the media, was apparently down for a willful suspension of disbelief to suddenly find in this performance the man of their dreams.
We expect this will be, like Trump’s attention span, brief and short-lived. The euphoria will wear off as the unpleasantries of Trump as President For Real will still be sleeping on the couch as the sun rises.
The easiest thing to say about the address is that it failed to say how all the initiatives would be paid for. Also, the New York Times did a good job spelling out all the lies and misrepresentations that were contained therein, pertaining to Obamacare, unemployment, poverty rates, deportations, crime and trade: all the usual exaggerations, exceptions and credits where they’re not due.
So, in sum, it was a feel-good fantasy at best. Trump finally did something that did not insult the office of the presidency, and he’s being cheered for doing what all previous U.S. presidents considered routine.
But come the morning after, nothing has changed. Nothing in what Trump said Tuesday night represented any real changes. On the contrary, aside from some sugary additives, he did not veer from his core policy agenda one iota.
It means that his call for a huge increase in defense spending, at the expense of vital domestic programs, only stands an even better chance of being adopted because of all the airy highs in Congress. Congress, for some on both sides of the aisle, now has the excuse to go along with the Trump program without serious diligence.
For Republicans in Congress, votes to block revelations about Trump’s ties to Moscow or to release his tax returns are the shortest of gains, at best. When these matters are compelled to come out through the investigations that are well underway and hearings that will be held, everyone who voted to block their contents at this stage will become laughing stocks before their own electorates.
You don’t mess with issues that call core national security matters into question. It’s one thing to vote against a Democratic agenda, it’s altogether another to block the public’s right to know about matters of security and potential treason.
All this only helps to ensure that the entire pack of GOP lawmakers involved in these coverups will be rounded up with Trump himself and his cronies, when the time comes. They’ve chosen to align their destinies with that of a crook, and they’re going to pay a very dear price for that.
Meanwhile, the impact of the Trump programmatic agenda is doubly chilling to contemplate. The cuts to health and safety regulations (they’re always referred to merely as regulations, not what most of them really are: “public health and safety regulations”) will, along with deep budget cuts in domestic programs, including in health insurance, increase the risk for an escalation in the currently-alarming rise in the mortality rate of middle-aged white Americans.
The kind of stories that always get falsely compartmentalized apart from budgetary and national political matters this week included the warning from the World Health Organization that humanity is failing to keep up with the inevitable emergence of new “super bug” pathogen killers of massive percentages of the world’s population.
Funding for the necessary research is simply not there. A 2013 report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warned that two dozen identified antibiotic resistant microbes could cause “catastrophic consequences.” Marie-Paule Kieny of the WHO is now adding, “The burden for society is now alarming.”
In addition to new and emerging deadly pathogens, Kieny cited the growing danger of more common diseases like gonorrhea, salmonella and bacteria that cause sepsis and severe urinary tract inflections for their growing and “dramatic health and economic impacts.”
It is doubly alarming that no new classes of antibiotics have come to the market since 1984, according to the Pew Charitable Trust.
We are threatened by not only a pathogen of presidential proportions, but new deadly ones at the microscopic level, too.
Nicholas Benton may be emailed at [email protected].