The Man Behind the Curtain
President Trump delivered a State of the Union address that did what he is best at: saying one thing while doing another.If I could shut my eyes and forget about the lies, calumny, greed, boasting, fear, meanness, small-mindedness, vengefulness, and dishonesty of an entire year of unscripted remarks, I might be able to pretend that I heard sincerity.He said what most of us believe, that “together, we can achieve absolutely anything.”
But what does he actually mean?
When he talks about achieving energy independence, does he mean creating hundreds of thousands of jobs through a rapid transition to renewable energy while enabling us to fight the “fire, floods, and storms” of climate change and compete in the global economy?
No – he means fossil fuels at all costs and to the exclusion of all else, even if it means destroying other vital resources through coastal drilling, toxic strip-mining and choking emissions – and finally our planet itself.When he talks about building infrastructure, does he mean transforming our systems of transportation, water, education and utilities that are the bedrock on which we build economic prosperity, physical well-being and a better quality of life for all our residents?
No - he means that he wants to construct special financing deals that will allow insatiable corporations to transfer public goods into private hands.When he talks about immigration reform, does he mean respecting the people who have taken on the toughest tasks our society can offer and have improved our shared economy and national fabric because they work so hard to improve themselves? Is he talking generously about our history as a nation – our parents, our grandparents, our neighbors and ourselves?
No – he wants to build a boondoggle wall that Americans oppose, cut families off from their relatives, and tie the Dreamers in knots for twelve long years.
When he talks about trade, does he mean going back to the days of Yankee clipper ships when Americans learned that trade can be mutually enriching and mutually beneficial, and that economic strength and opportunity are enhanced by interdependence?
When he talks about health care, does he mean fighting for the principle that health care is a right for all Americans?
No. He chortles that he has succeeded in wounding the ACA while having no idea – whatsoever – of what to do as people start losing their health insurance
He wants us to think that he is great and powerful and magnanimous, committed to a shared vision of justice and prosperity. He tells us to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain who is actually wrecking our nation. With his thoughtful public tone and his damaging private record he is adopting a style we have also seen from another leader – Charlie Baker.
There is no halfway point between Massachusetts ideals and Donald Trump. Even a carefully read teleprompter speech cannot cover up the vile words and deeds of his first year.
We must fight for our real values. We must push for real achievements. To do anything else at this critical moment in our country would be to follow Trump down his rabbit hole of illusion, a path that would be dangerous, destructive, and unbearably – let’s just say it – sad.