Taking to the Senate floor Tuesday under a veil of earnest hyperbole common among those who fall under the “geriatric” label, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York uttered a plea to his Senate colleagues.
“The country is being tested in unprecedented ways,” Senator Schumer said. “I say to all of my colleagues in the Senate: History is watching.”
The occasion for Schumer’s invocation of Father History was the latest press coverage from the two papers with the most obnoxious slogans in the country. Under the banner “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” The Washington Post reported that President Donald Trump had shared classified intelligence secrets with the red Soviet — excuse me — Russian ambassador and foreign minister. The following day, under their motto “All the News That’s Fit to Print,” The New York Times reported that ousted FBI Director James Comey had crafted memos regarding his conversations with President Trump, in particular, one conversation in February of this year wherein Trump hoped Comey could “let this go” — ”this” being the ongoing investigation of the short-lived National Security Advisor, Lt. Gen Michael Flynn.
However, despite Schumer’s worry and woe and appeals to history, I doubt history is all that intrigued by this breathless reportage on the latest palace intrigue at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
In fact, I doubt Father History is watching at all, as he’s probably seen it all before.
But do not suggest this to Democrats in their fits of paroxysms or to Republicans who react to these Democratic convulsions with furious eruptions of their own. Just like dogs, it is best to treat those who are foaming at the mouth with caution (though it is best to spare them the Old Yeller treatment for the time being.) Maybe it’s just heat exhaustion; or maybe, it really is a deadly case of rabies. Who knows? I, however, tend to think it’s an affliction we have seen before in the United States of America — Presidential Derangement Syndrome.
Though the term “Trump Derangement Syndrome” has been bandied about a great deal in the past few months, this diagnosis misses the mark. The issue here is not that “History is watching,” but rather that people haven’t perused history beyond a few convenient excerpts. We must remember such knowledge is slippery and selective to the partisan mind, as the purpose of partisan politics is not to seek and speak the truth but to win political power.
That said, the left wing of American politics has indeed become unhinged and unstable. President Trump truly has turned these people absolutely mad. Prone to exaggeration and outright lies, the left has now become what they claim to hate. If Donald Trump’s use of “truthful hyperbole” won him the presidential election, why can’t the left use the same to bring down his presidency? Fair question, but a dangerous one to answer in the affirmative.
You see, Presidential Derangement Syndrome affects more than just a given president’s opposition. There is always a reaction to the reaction enough to make the left and the right switch their political roles. After years of damning the presidency of Barack Obama in hysterical terms — from accusing him of being a secret Muslim born in Kenya to being a Marxist agent trying to destroy and “fundamentally change” the United States from within to a man asleep at the wheel who callously left military men to die in Benghazi — the right wing has dropped their oppositional posture, now opting to play the role (at times reluctantly) of court historians and palace apologists for President Trump. On the other side, after years of forgiving Barack Obama’s domestic half-measures, covert intrusions into American life, and more wars abroad, the left wing has dropped their love of executive power, now deciding to play the role of democracy’s great defenders against the idiotically ineffective yet somehow still dangerous presidency of Donald Trump.
These are the signs of Presidential Derangement Syndrome. Boiled down, such an illness creates dishonest and hypocritical partisan hackery. And, despite wonderful claims and aspirations that Donald Trump’s ineptitude will lead to the demystifying of the great American presidency or the destruction of its credibility, I am not so hopeful this will occur.
Why? Because presidential derangement is based on an envious sort of lust for power, and this affliction has a way of surviving into the future by latching onto a new host — the next president.
Democrats are not upset at Donald Trump and were not unhappy with George W Bush just because of their presidential power. Republicans were not angry at Barack Obama and Bill Clinton just because those presidents once had power. No, the partisans of America were, are, and will continue to be struck mad because presidential power is their greatest desire. Partisans suffering from Presidential Derangement Syndrome are more akin to scorned, jealous lovers than they are to wild-eyed levelers seeking to dig up executive power root and branch.
Whether they know it or not, the partisans of the United States love to be whipped into a frenzy of righteous indignation, and the demagogues on the American political scene are more than happy to oblige the public’s thirst for spectacle, outrage, and quests to slay the big bad. What could be a better spectacle than a mano-a-mano democratic, interactive, systematic, zero-sum, never-ending slugfest for or against the “leader of the free world” and “commander-in-chief?”
Can you think of a process more ingenious for aggrandizing political power in one place at the expense of human freedom?
But again, this is what some of “the people” want. This is the process they have chosen either actively or passively. No matter the issue, if there is a wrong to be righted, an ill to be cured, an injustice to be reconciled, a mouth to be fed, a foot to be shoed, a hangnail to be clipped, a butt to be wiped (gently with moist baby wipes, please), or a salty tear to be patted dry; you can bet on the American public, time and time again, to say, “Let us have another election! Let us have a new president!”
So, good luck keeping your wits about you in the midst of the this latest crucible, America. Do not let news that isn’t all that new or palace intrigue that isn’t all that intriguing get you down or distract you from the beautiful and awe-inspiring things the modern world has to offer. History probably isn’t watching the lunacies of American politics as Senator Chuck Schumer suggests, but if Father History could speak, I bet he would say of American politics:
What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there anything of which one can say,
“Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.
Written by Joey Clark