The Unlamented Man

A picture of Donald Trump waving, with the words "Good riddance" to the side.
John Scalzi

First and always, a liar.

Then a con man, a thief, and a grifter. A man who never saw a venture he couldn’t make fail, which is why he was always starting new ones: It was easier to jump to a new ship than stay with the sinking one. A cad, a harasser, allegedly a rapist. He treated women like they were disposable vessels for anxious manhood and was loved by the “family values” contingent for it, because they see women the same way he does. A racist, a bigot, a white supremacist. He saw neo-nazis march in Charlottesville and some part of his brain knew then that he had found his shock troops for an insurrection. A bully, a boaster, a braggart. He looked up to the worst leaders in the world because he wanted what they had: To be unquestioned, feared, and obeyed.

A bad man, a bad human, a bad person. And a bad president.

Not just bad, of course: In fact, the worst. A recitation of his moral failures and actual probable crimes would have us here all day, so let’s pick just one: 400,000 dead, so far, from COVID during his presidency. He is not responsible for the virus. He is responsible for denying its seriousness; for choosing to downplay it because he thought it would make him look bad; for making something as simple and useful as wearing a mask a political issue; for bungling a national response to it and then the distribution of medical supplies and, later, vaccines; for spreading misinformation and lies about it; for, fundamentally, not caring about his fellow Americans, and viewing the pandemic through the lens of him, not us. Hundreds of thousands of Americans who are now dead would be alive under a better president. Their deaths are on his hands, and he simply doesn’t care. He never will.

If there is a silver lining to any of this, it is that he was never popular, never the choice of the majority of Americans. He lost the popular vote in 2016; his electoral win came from razor-thin margins in a few states. This was enough to legitimately make him president, thanks to an electoral system rooted in having to accommodate slaveholders, which still disadvantages the descendants of the slaves. But he was never the people’s choice. He knew it and it rankled him. He was reminded of this fact every day of his administration, because never once did the average of his popularity polls crack fifty percent: indeed, according to FiveThirtyEight, which tracked it for his entire presidency, it never even cracked forty-six percent approval. There has been no president in the history of modern polling who was as unpopular in their first term for as long as he was.

This was how he, in turn, lost the House, the presidency and the Senate for the Republicans, even in a system that had been engineered over the years to value that party’s voters more. It takes effort for an incumbent to lose the White House, not to mention the legislature. He is the first in 80 years to lose it all.

But this silver lining is indeed just a lining to a very dark cloud. Americans are dead, the worst of us are emboldened, and our country’s standing in the world is at a historic low. One of the major political parties of our country simply abandoned what principles it had remaining to serve his will to power, choosing to abet his lie that a legal election had been tainted rather than to acknowledge he had, bluntly and widely, lost. We are nowhere good right now, save for the simple fact that very soon, someone else will be president. We did not so much lose our way as we were driven to a terrible place and abandoned there. We have to wait for someone else to come bring us home.

He will be gone after today; indeed as I write this he is already gone, winging toward Florida to an uncertain future. It is alleged he plans a new political party; I imagine the impending lawsuits and criminal investigations will keep him busy enough. Most importantly, he will no longer be president. He will no longer have the levers of power to injure the nation as he has done for four very long years. He is gone, and his administration is gone, and all that is left of him is an enduring stain on the presidency and the judgment of history. The judgment of history, I assure you, will not be kind. Its unkindness has already begun.

Here is my hope for the man: That no one ever has to think about him again. That his capacity for injury is limited only to those who choose to put themselves in his path. There will always be some; some people can’t, or choose not to, learn. I leave them to their own fate.

But for everyone else, a blessed silence — not an expungement of memory but the knowledgement that this man, this sad, defeated man, this piteous though not pitied man, this liar, this bigot, this churl, this failure, never has to be thought on in the future. After all he has put this country through because of his own ego, it would be a perfect goodness to never again have to say his name.

We’re not there yet. But soon. Let it be very soon indeed.

— JS

99 Comments on “The Unlamented Man”

  1. 400,000 dead blamed on Trump is an exaggeration. While I have seen an estimate that a competent and caring president may have cut the death rate in half, I don’t believe it looking at behavior of Americans. Certainly the death rate could be considerably reduced, but it would still be very large.

  2. Forty-six percent is still a worryingly, disgusting, horrifyingly high percentage for this particular POTUS, though.

    (Also, in before lizzielou2014 gets rightfully hit with the mallet.)

  3. Well, he’ll be in the thoughts of those who have to try him, and not, at least in most cases, in a good way. I hope he gets prison.

  4. That’s quite an accurate description of him.

    One minor point: “This was enough to legitimately make him president, thanks to an electoral system rooted in having to accommodate slaveholders, which still disadvantages their descendants.” I read this as those disadvantaged are the descendants of slaveholders – is that what you meant to say, is my English reading comprehension on a slow mode, or was that a typo?

  5. Let him fade away, right after his conviction in the senate impeachment trial. Then maybe a brief note in the news when he loses in civil or criminal court.

  6. Like anyone who’s been subjected to abuse for any length of time, I worry that he’ll come back. I pray, though, that at worst his cult followers’ organization will be like a chicken with its head cut off: flapping around for a while but eventually collapsing for lack of what passes for a brain.

  7. True, howardbrazee, blaming all 400K covid deaths on Trump is likely an exaggeration, but the thing is, we’ll never know because Trump bungled the response to the pandemic (or, more accurately, just didn’t care). Perhaps an intelligent response from the prez and administration could have kept the numbers below 100K or even 50K. But Trump’s (and his enablers) lack of leadership (and empathy) essentially guaranteed a high death rate.

  8. He won’t fade. In six months he’ll be a regular commentator in Fox criticizing the Biden presidency.

  9. “He saw neo-nazis march in Charlottesville and some part of his brain knew then that he had found his “shock troops for an insurrection.

    I just finished It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis (I actually obtained a copy shortly after Trump was elected, and found I couldn’t face reading it until I was certain he was on the way out), and one (of many) things that struck me was that probably the only reason the US is not a facist state now is that he did not have his “Minute Men” ready on election day.

  10. @lizzielou2014 and anyone else who wants to invoke the specter of “socialism” here: define it first, so we know what the hell you’re talking about.

  11. @Scott A Martin
    Yes! My domestic partner thinks the socialism of the Democrats is ruining the nation. But Medicare is paying for most of his chemo, and gods forbid you mess with his Social Security.

  12. I don’t think Trump has the concentration to follow through on any of his ideas. Building a new political party or cable channel is hard work. I suspect he’ll wander around, doing rallies and calling into Fox (or OAN or Newsmax).

  13. A lightness has lifted upon my being, knowing that I will only have to hear about this grifter is iff I chose to, that is not going to happen. As aways JS, you write well the feelings that many share.

  14. My hope, other than that Trump be subject to damnatio memoriae, is that his children speed his fade into total obscurity by finally acknowledging the old man belongs in a memory care unit. Florida has lots of nursing homes. Surely the Trump spawn can find an empty bed for Daddy in one of them.

  15. I am a descendant of slave owners. The system created to accommodate the slaveholders also disadvantages me. I have been privileged compared to the decedents of slaves and other people who were targeted by the American apartheid. That privilege is only relative, though. Most Americans are poorer, less free, and less able to pursue their happiness because of the system we live with. The first hurt is to those targeted to be treated unfairly, but one of the lessons of economics is that life is not a zero sum game. If that black person did not have to struggle their whole life against racism their greater wealth would benefit everyone. If America did not spend money endlessly on locking up more of its population than any other country on earth we could be spending that money on all sorts of good things like schools, parks, and research.

    The lie that far too many white Americans believe is that oppressing other groups makes them better off. Our host was right to make it clear that the system is hurting the descendants of the enslaved most of all, but I think it better to serve as a janitor in heaven than to rule a slightly larger pile of dung in hell.

  16. As [whatever entity or entities you believe in, if any] is my witness, I never actually thought that I’d say “worse than Nixon”–at least prior to 2016–but here we are.

  17. With regards to how many COVID deaths Trump is responsible for, one has to remember that while the official death count is 410,000+, the real numbers are probably well above 500,000; unless reporting has improved over recent months they could well be in the region of 600,000.

    On the one hand the course of the epidemic in Europe doesn’t bode well for a non-Trump response in USA. On the other hand Europe’s later response may have been poisoned by Trump-fueled denialism seeping out of the USA. And at the extreme, Trump’s dismantling of pandemic preparedness may have been the margin between the outbreak being contained in China, and becoming a pandemic. In which case that could be 3 million deaths to his account. (Depending on how badly deaths are undercounted worldwide – there are what seem to me credible reports that Russia and South Africa have undercounted by a factor of 3, and there are other countries where I’d suspect large undercounts.) The counter-argument would be that there were too many under the radar cases, and it was always going to escape containment.

  18. I hope he does start his own political party because this might be the one way for the republicans to reform their party back into a conservative party if all the crazies follow Trump. I three party system never lasts long in this country and the republicans would be smart to take advantage of this if they get the chance.

  19. One thing that I will take issue with: I do not believe that Trump is a white supremacist. He is certainly racist as all hell, but a white supremacist views “the white race” as the most important thing in the world, and Trump is incapable of conceiving that anything might be more important than himself.

  20. The problem is the successors who do have the concentration…out-going Secretary of State Pompeo is already stepping up to the plate. How the hell this guy graduated first in his class from West Point is beyond me.

  21. The great weight that lifted from my shoulders as our new president was sworn in swelled my heart with joy such that I knew not ever possible. “Defend the truth. Defeat the lies.”

  22. @Allandrel; I hear you. You can’t be a narcissist and be any other kind of “-ist”. He has no true “beliefs” or idealogy, it’s all about what stance he can take to give the best result for Donald J.

    @David. I wasn’t worried about Trump, before he got elected either…

  23. Well put. I was thinking this morning, when the news started talking about Trump’s farewell speech, was this: who cares? We no longer have to give the slightest thought about what he thinks (assuming he ever does) or says or does.

    He’s gone, it’s over, he went out with the same class he’s shown his entire life. F#ck him.

  24. Most importantly, he will no longer be president. He will no longer have the levers of power to injure the nation as he has done for four very long years.

    I just hope someone, somehow shores up those powers because no one should be able to do that much damage.

  25. @Allandrel – you are playing semantic games here. Trump is 100% a white supremacist; his actions and words indicate that. “Shithole countries”, blocking entry from Muslim countries, “China virus”, “Mexicans are rapists and murderers”, his past comments about Black people and Jews, and “very fine people”.

    You can’t look at any of that and deny that Trump is a white supremacist

  26. Two thoughts:

    “He saw neo-nazis march in Charlottesville and some part of his brain knew then that he had found his shock troops for an insurrection.”

    Here’s hoping the now adage “Everything Trump touches, dies,” applies also to American fascist groups.

    “We did not so much lose our way as we were driven to a terrible place and abandoned there. We have to wait for someone else to come bring us home.”

    I would strongly recommend not waiting around in a terrible place for someone to save you, but get to work protecting yourself and as many people around you as possible. Someone may drive up, but in case they don’t, gotta do the best you can yourself.

    All of that’s wishy washy abstraction, but the fundamental message of it is I recommend people still be highly involved in the bottom-up change of American politics by keeping involved at a grassroots level. Especially now that many non-Republicans may be relaxing their focus.

  27. @Kara: The argument would be that Trump is not an ideologist; just a mess of prejudice and narcissism. For example he claims that he’s done more for African-Americans than any President since Lincoln. An ideologically committed white supremacist is unlikely to say things like that.

  28. “After all he has put this country through because of his own ego, it would be a perfect goodness to never again have to say his name.”

    And I noticed you’ve already begun the trend with this piece itself. Well done.

  29. I wasn’t worried about Trump, before he got elected either…

    That formulation applies to people we should be worrying about and people we shouldn’t, so it’s essentially meaningless. (“I’m not worried about Major the First Dog getting elected President!” “I wasn’t worried about Trump, before he got elected either…”)

    There’s nothing in Pompeo that resembles Trump’s political cunning or media savvy.

  30. Well said, John.

    @howardbrazee – well, except that this ‘behavior’ was modeled and encouraged by Trump, who turned taking basic health precautions into another culture-war football; sabotaged education efforts; and either blocked or, in some cases, actually seized PPE that could have been used to protect against careless behavior by others. There will always be people doing stupid things; there would have been far less stupidity except for the President modeling and encouraging others to do those stupid things.

    @stewart – You’re devils-advocating, yes? Antebellum slaveowners justified what they did by bragging about how much good they (in their minds) did to care for their slaves. There’s one very famous essay by a slaveowner arguing that slaves were better off than Northern factory workers, because slaves as property had value and therefore there was an incentive to take care of them (you know, like farm animals), unlike in the North where if you worked a man to death you could just hire another one tomorrow. Is it your position that we therefore can’t call those slaveowners white supremacists?

  31. The impeachment is going to keep him in public view for a while yet, so there’s that.

    The Electoral College and Senate overweight regions of the country disproportionate to their population. But the people living there are Americans too, and the government should take their interests into account so that we are not always pitting them against the more populous states. The razor-thin margins in so many of our recent elections are a bug, not a feature. Somehow, and maybe Biden can do it, we need a government that does more for more people, and so makes it less hated by those who have not had the pin tip over to their side.

  32. Getting Trump out is definitely an achievement, but we have a long road ahead. The Democratic Party is still a party of billionaires; just last week, Nancy Pelosi’s Steering Committee used a procedural trick to kick Katie Porter off the House Banking Committee. Biden’s cabinet is full of folks who will work for the wealthy. This “$2000 – $600 = $1400, shut up and be thankful” silliness, too, like keeping people alive is a fixed-value one-time payment. So we’ve still got to press the politicians to work for the rest of us, too.

    As for “how many dead from COVID if we had a sane President,” I can only offer the counterexample of only 12,000 dead from SARS, a similar virus, on Obama’s watch. I don’t have the modeling chops to map that to whatever it would have been if it were COVID.

    I hope Trump doesn’t become like John McCain and constantly be invited on (or allowed to invite himself on) news shows to complain about Biden and the other Republican boogeymen.

    As for the worst President, I have to disagree a little. We’ve lost around half a million to COVID so far, but Iraq lost millions as a result of W’s war of choice. Andrew Jackson and several other Presidents decimated Native Americans. Just to name a couple.

    Personally, I’m rejoicing we got Trump out in one term instead of two. That said, I am finding it very difficult to grapple with the fact that Trump was allowed to commit all these crimes with impunity, and that the next Republican will take full advantage of this. (Hell, even Biden might (though I doubt it) like Obama took advantage of and expanded W’s police and surveillance state.)

    Partly this was due to the Republicans making a mockery of impeachment in 1998 as well as 2020, so that it’s now considered merely a partisan tool. We’ve got to figure out other checks and balances that can be brought to bear. Other countries have a “vote of no confidence” mechanism, for example.

  33. it’s horrifying to consider this, but there will be a worse Republican candidate than Trump in our future. It’s an asymptotic curve. Our job is make sure that person never achieves office.

  34. A good article which I pretty much agree with. (I tend to agree with most of your post about politics.) Thank you for saying it.

    I will nitpick one statement you made: “thanks to an electoral system rooted in having to accommodate slaveholders.” This isn’t the reason for the Electoral College, or the fact that all States have equal representation in the Senate. The rationale was that the small colonies realized early that the large colonies would call all the shots unless something was done. The smaller states in the North were as concerned about this as th ones in the South.

  35. “It is alleged he plans a new political party”

    GOOD. I hope he takes every last peckerwood with him. Maybe then the GOP can arise from the ashes and become what it should be – a voice for moderation and a necessary counter to the excesses of unbridled Democrats. I probably won’t live long enough to see it, but I can hope for the future.

  36. I hadn’t realized that I was holding my breath for four years, until a few moments ago.

    I would love to see the original dumpster fire be shunned, but it won’t happen. He has too much power with those who haven’t made to the new millennium (or even the old millennium) yet. I hope the Senate agrees that he can’t hold public office again, but that will give the ass another bone to pick.

    Here’s to an upgraded Union

  37. The Electoral College and Senate overweight regions of the country disproportionate to their population. But the people living there are Americans too, and the government should take their interests into account so that we are not always pitting them against the more populous states.

    Putting a thumb on the scales to give advantage to lower-population states doesn’t change that they’re pitted against the more populous states. It just says that we consider population-dense areas (e.g. where people rent their residence more often than own it) to be less important.

    Nobody’s saying Wyoming shouldn’t have a voice. In my personal case, I’d just ask why Austin TX, where I live, has twice Wyoming’s population, yet not only doesn’t get two Senators of its own, it gets gerrymandered so hard it doesn’t even really have Representative(s) of its own. I’m in District 10, for example, and my mixed-race neighborhood is the western tip of a district that is majority suburbs north of Houston, and we get Mike McCaul, a Republican rubber stamp known for consuming 1.4 million gallons of water per year at his home during a drought. I drive a couple miles to the grocery store and I’m in a district that’s mostly Waco and College Station.

    So pardon me if I’m tired of all the advantages given to Republicans. And the current system definitely pits our states against each other.

  38. @kaellin – I hadn’t noticed that, thanks again for point out out host does write well. Maybe it should be his day job ;)

    Even in my cynical, jaded soul I am feeling profound relief and a degree of hope today. Things have to get better (after the next 3-4 weeks of Covid getting worse). Just having basic competence rather than malignant ill-will in charge is a huge huge step forward.

    I’m just hoping for the city council where Mar-a-lardo is gets an injunction to boot his bloated ass out for breaking the 3 week maximum residency stipulation. There are some real rich people who live there, not pretend-rich like the con man.

    He’s too lazy, incompetent and disorganized to start a new political party, Jared is just too incompetent, and the kids have never done a days work in their lives, so unless Putin finds it worthwhile to organize something for him (via the just-pardoned Bannon) he’ll just be an sad old man shouting at clouds. Ignoring him is the best revenge.

  39. Hyman:”But the people living there are Americans too, and the government should take their interests into account”

    If you think the three-fifths compromise is bad, keep in mind the electoral college makes California accept a “one-third” compromise compared to wyoming.

    Oh, sure slaves were still counted by the constitution, but ya know, at a terrible discount.

  40. As I understand the conversation above, re: whether or not Trump is actually a white supremacist or simply someone who plays one on tv, so to speak–the question seems to be between those who think that Trump believes in what he’s saying and doing and those who aren’t willing to grant him the ability to believe in anything except his own wonderfulness. For me, the bottom line is, I don’t care. He talks like a white supremacist, he acts like a white supremacist, so . . . quack, quack. I find myself absolutely uninterested in the workings of Trump’s psyche; does he believe in what he says? does he believe in anything except his own Absolute Superiority over the rest of the human race and his God-Given Right to do whatever he wants? Seriously, I don’t care. What I want is for him to sit down, shut up, and stop doing things–stop having the power to do things–that the rest of us have to live with.

    There are likely white supremacists who qualify for that designation because of what they believe. Okay, that’s a definition of “white supremacist” I can live with. But if they sit down and shut up and have no power to act on their beliefs–well, I won’t say I won’t try to convince them that they are wrong, or that I don’t care that they exist (if nothing else, I want to know who they are so I can make sure that they never get the power to act on their beliefs), but I don’t care as much as I do about those white supremacists who have power to change the world around them according to their appalling beliefs. So . . . I don’t care if Trump really believes in the trash he has been spouting. I don’t care if saying he really believes in anything is giving this narcissistic demagogue and fraud too much credit. If he isn’t a white supremacist in terms of “true belief,” he’ll do as a demonstration of what a white supremacist says and does when he has the chance, and I want him to stop having the power to act like a white supremacist in public. In my country.

  41. My husband and I were watching the inauguration and he asked me if Trump had actually gotten any of the things he asked for, like a 21 gun salute, in his sendoff. And I stared at him for a minute before saying, “I don’t know? I don’t think anyone covered it?” because we both pay a lot of attention to the news, but all the coverage has been of Biden’s Inauguration. As you said, good riddance. I just hope nobody gives him a platform, and everyone side-eyes the hell out of all the sketchy freshmen representative would-be Trumpers, until they realize politics is actual work and get bored and go home. That might be optimism, but I’m running with optimism for today.

  42. The Democrats might need a legitimate counterweight, but I don’t know where it comes from. An awful lot of people like the GOP’s lack of principle and their desire for unquestioned white supremacy (Coates’s conception of Trump as “the first white president” – the desire for white people and (for at least some of them) their culture to have unquestionable power), and they tilled that ground and planted it themselves. They decided long before that the law was bad when it attempted to ensure the rights of black people, and instead settled on ignoring racism so their unacknowledged coconspirators could negate the laws they didn’t like. When Limbaugh and others decided that instead of making better media that they’d simply lie their way to popularity, the GOP watered the tree and harvested the fruit.

    These misbehaviors have been temptations to others, but they seem to have been characteristic of our conservatism for a long time. The people who might have supported conservative policies instead followed the GOP to insurrection. I don’t know that those temptations don’t exist for liberals, but for conservatives, they know the weapons are lying there, just waiting to be picked up. Anyone with an insufficient conscience (which would be a lot of the GOP, at this point) is going to be tempted to pick them up. They made a cult of people that won’t listen to anything except what they want to hear and want things that can only exist transiently and end with their (and our) deaths (I guess Venezuela is still here, barely, and Nazi Germany made it 12 years) and were rewarded for it. Until insanity (in the traditional sense of being unable to deal with objective facts and the reality they delineate) stops paying them, they won’t stop feeding it.

  43. Please, let humanity and the species adjacent to us all be finally done with that man, and with all others who think as he does across the rest of the planet. They are obstacles to our self-improvement, to our preservation of everything that makes this world fit to live on, to everything that matters in life.


    Let that be soon.

  44. I’m sorry, who?

    Seriously though, more oxygen for hiiiiiiiiiim! Is just enough. I hope I never have to hear that voice one more time. Ugh.

    Halloween Jack, I thought Reagan and Bush Jr were both worse than Nixon, so what’s-his-name was just the worst of a sorry lot. Though the GOP keeps presenting ever more odious lotuses, so gird your loins for ’24!

  45. lazysubculturalgirl: I heard on the radio that he got the 21-gun salute and they played “Hail to the Chief” (he was still prez at that point). But that’s it.

  46. He isn’t just responsible (some of) for the 400,000 American COVID deaths. He is also responsible for many more to come, until the crisis is over, which will take many more months, and many thousands deaths more.

    And he is also in part responsible for Europe’s struggle with similar conspiracy theorists and covidiots: Without a figure as important as the POTUS on their side, they would never have reached the wide spread appeal they did.

  47. I just caught myself humming The Wicked Witch is Dead song from Wizard of Oz for the third time today…I wonder why….

  48. I think you may be slightly mistaken on how the Orange Shitgibbon disregarded the seriousness of COVID. He saw it, comprehended it, and considered how it could benefit HIM, the Orange Shitgibbon. He saw the opportunity to further separate American factions, and saw that the simple politicization of mask-wearing would be a huge wedge between already radicalized groups. The mixed messages from the CDC did not help, but while not caring about anyone dying, the OS took full advantage of every opportunity for discord and further straining the fabric of reality that the virus afforded.

  49. After having read all the above comments, I also note that in addition to the half a million deaths, there is an accompanying weight of related suffering. My beloved sister-in-law entered the hospital back in June, for non-COVID causes. She suffered alone for 5 weeks, and died alone. The permission for her sons to visit came too late. We talked to her a few times on the phone, but never said goodbye. No one expected her to die. Families everywhere have similar tales of pain and suffering. I will always be angry about it.

  50. Trump birthed the baby that Newt fertilized. The most irreligious POTUS in history was able to unite the old Religious Right with working class and rural populations who feel culturally displaced and don’t know who to blame, but are looking for someone to fix it. Replace the Second Commandment with a tortured reading of the Second Amendment and you have a highly motivated voting bloc which sees themselves as carrying out god’s will.

    Mitch and McCarthy already have the knives out. Mitch just for the hell of it, and McCarthy hoping to ride the discontent in Trump’s absence. There is no end in sight, and hoping the GOP will somehow reclaim its traditional secular, internationalist, business-oriented roots is just a naive notion. It started with Gingrich, but doubt it ends with Trump.

  51. All good and true. While I look forward to History’s judgement, I also am hoping for some actual justice, from judges, in a courtroom even.

    Really happy and relieved that we didn’t get four more years of this guy.

  52. “Trump birthed the baby that Newt fertilized”
    I think it’s even older than that. The political powers that were incensed with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which led to the redefinition of the GOP (and the assignation of JFK) made the GOP not only the party of hate but set the stage for Atwater and (later Newt) to redefine what ‘conservatism’ is: 3+1 pillars; anti-abortion (‘family values’/religion), low taxes/deregulation, and guns (the +1 is white supremacy- unspoken but there if you scratch the surface). Everything else is window dressing- Newt created the atmosphere that my collogue on the other side of the aisle is my enemy…Mitch McConnel harnessed it for his own nihilistic purposes (does he even have principles other that wanting power?) 45 exploited what was already there

  53. Very well said. Thank you.

    For lazysubculturalgirl and Lind:

    He did get the 21-gun salute and the Hail to the Chief. I watched it simultaneously on the live feeds of the WashPost and the NYTimes (I’m a journalist, it’s my job). By the published estimate of one of the NYTimes reporters at Andrews, the pen set up for people to hear him was approximately one-third full.

    He was played onto the tarmac at Andrews to “Gloria” and off the stage to “YMCA.” I guess no one in his entourage ever listened to the lyrics??

  54. What “procedural trick” was used by Pelosi on Porter? As WaPo and The Hill both tell it, she prioritized requests for two non-exclusive committees. She requested, but did not get, a waiver to exceed the limit of two committees to try to keep her FSC seat as well … and that FSC seat had already required its own waiver because that’s an exclusive committee, if I’m reading The Hill’s writeup accurately.

    I think she did great work on the FSC, but I’d also like to see more players get a chance to play, especially with a slimmer majority apparently meaning fewer committee seats being available at all. She apparently most wanted Oversight, and she got that.

  55. @michelel72 The committee could have granted the waiver, as has been done before.


    I agree that I’d like to see more players like Porter on the committee, but we’ll see. The odds are they’ll be more billionaire-fans with their softballs.

    The powerful and wealthy need to be put on the spot by people who understand what it’s like to be poor and powerless, not people who think the poor will just put the $2000 in the bank and not spend it.

  56. One thing he was successful at which no one can deny: marketing himself as a brand, for quite a long time.

  57. I have been imitating what Colbert started doing in the last few months: he stopped saying the name. All his on-screen quotes referred to T—-, and what he always said aloud was “the President.”
    It will be even more satisfying to say “the ex-president.”

  58. If you wanted to get a general sense of where the COVID-19 numbers in the US should probably be at, have a look at Canada.

    We have roughly 11% of the US’s population (37 mil). Our COVID deaths to date are approx. 18,462, with reasonable (not fabulous) success in implementing social distancing, lockdowns and mask wearing. While Canada has done alright in limiting COVID, we are fairly average among nations implementing proper plans.

    By that guestimate, the US, if it had implemented similar approaches and plans consistently over the last year, would probably be at about 180,000 deaths, a little more than half of the current official counts.

    Trump’s venal incompetence and narcissism probably killed at least 200,000 to 250,000 Americans. And those numbers will rise, as anything the Biden administration puts in place will probably take a couple of months to start pushing the curve back down significantly. You are probably looking at another 120,000 – 150,000 dead – at a minimum – of which the vast majority would have been preventable.

    Most of that is on Trump but a large chunk of it rests on the people who elected his ignorance, incompetence and stupidity into office. Don’t forget them. They own this.

  59. I despise Trump, he is a loathsome creature and his removal from America’s most powerful position was welcome news and I danced in a field (with my dog) with joy, but even with this good news I worry for our friends to the South.

    Fox News has already started in on Biden with one bad faith talking head stating (paraphrasing) “Trump didn’t need the military and fences during his inauguration”. The blatant dishonesty is infuriating and frightening.
    Now Fox News has suddenly discovered Americans are dying of Covid-19 and are excoriating Amazon for not helping.

    I expect the mainstream media to go back to “why won’t both sides work together” and “both sides are to blame and the same” while normalizing the rights insanity and comparing it equally to Democrats. I don’t see a solution to the rights information bubble. Worse, the right is getting more extreme every year. While the left has kooks the Democratic party tries to keep them out of office. The right elects their kooks and extremists to high office.

    My own country Canada is seeing an rise in right wing extremists and the “me, me, me, I got mine screw you and everyone else” attitude preached by so many on the right. They watch the same right wing shows, blogs, news and online forums the right watch in America.

    The battle has been won but the war continues. I hope people understand this and start showing up for elections, not just for the president but for school boards, dog catcher, sheriff and all the rest.
    The right certainly will be.

  60. @booklinker — I’m glad you broke out the math; however, I’d argue that while you chose an excellent example by geographic proximity and perhaps to some extent by “identity”, the United States was purportedly the #1 country in the world in pandemic preparedness when #45 came into office.

    So we shouldn’t have had a middle-of-the-road outcome managing a pandemic, but a Top 10 outcome.

    Instead 1 out of every 1000 American’s has already died of COVID-19. The vast, vast majority needlessly.

    We should have been New Zealand (25 deaths, 5 deaths per million population), South Korea, (1,316 deaths, 26 deaths per million) Taiwan (7 deaths, .3 deaths per million), or Vietnam (35 deaths, .4 deaths per million).

    Not 1,254 deaths per million. That is 48x worse than South Korea, 250x worse than New Zealand, 3000x worse than Vietnam, and 4000x worse than Taiwan.

    If we’d matched Vietnam, we’d have expected 328.2 x .4 = 131 deaths! Not 131k, 131!

    If we’d matched South Korea, we’d have expected 328.2 x 26 = 8,533.

    We are at 416k official deaths today.

    So I’m quite comfortable in saying that a competent government with an actual plan that modeled the correct behaviors instead of politicizing them would have saved over 400k (and counting) American lives.

    And, to me, most of those deaths were directly due to the decision that “hoping for the best” was the best path to re-election, so each of these excess deaths is due to the depraved indifference for human life of the former president. So at the very least he should be facing 400k charges of man slaughter.

  61. Trump was a tragedy of a human being. No question.

    I didn’t vote for him. In fact I went WAY out of my way to vote against him. I loathe him that much.

    That said, some of the comments here by JS (who I often agree with wholeheartedly but not always) aren’t quite right. For one, while Trump was indeed unpopular, he also netted 70 odd million votes. Biden won to be sure, but the difference percentage wise isn’t vast. Ignoring the people who voted Trump and their reasons FOR voting Trump continues to add to the partisanship of America.

    If we’re ever going to get back to something sensible, those wounds need to be healed, not ripped open wider.

    As to the comments about the Electoral College, the whole ‘it’s all about slavery’ is bollux. It was partly about slavery, yes – but that was far from the only reason it was created. It was a messy compromise at the time and it’s never really worked well – also many of the reasons behind its creation in the 1700s don’t apply now. Technology and culture have changed dramatically. There weren’t even political parties yet and the original intent was actually that each state would get one vote and that would actually decide the president – but that hasn’t happened in forever.

    Does the electoral college need to go? Of course it does. It was always a crap solution and the Founders knew it – but it was what they could come up with then. But making it all about the slavery ignores all the other realities of 18th Century culture, history and technology.

    You cannot come up with an accurate solution to a problem unless you correctly identify and define the problem and making the Electoral college ‘about slavery’ is not anything like a proper (or in fact relevant to the modern day) analysis. The modern Electoral college certainly doesn’t need to worry about counting how many slaves there are, after all.

    Regardless, as much as everyone loathes Trump (or at least most of the people likely reading JS’s Whatever column) it’s important that we realize that those 70 odd million voters who wanted him to have a second term didn’t just vanish into the mist at the end of the election. They’re still out there and the truth is – some of their concerns are actually valid.

    A middle road needs to be found. I don’t know of Biden can do that (so far his track record is iffy but his presidency is brand shiny new) but if he really wants to be a president for all Americans, he cannot ignore or dismiss those Americans. He needs to engage them honestly and find compromise solutions. Good ones.

    He’s got his work cut out for him.

  62. Michael Major: Which concerns? I’d seriously like a list of what concerns the people who voted for 45, beyond legalizing and perpetuating various kinds of bigotry, from transphobia to racism. I keep hearing about these concerns but what I see implemented are various kinds of cruelty from jettisoning people from military service, to caging migrants, to supporting the police in abusing Black and Brown people.

  63. @Michael Major Yes, it’s always up to the abused spouse to do the healing and making up. The GOP abused and slandered us for the past 5 years, but NOW it’s suddenly on US to make nice. Because you can bet your ass it won’t be them.

  64. @ Michael Major:

    “He needs to engage them honestly and find compromise solutions.”

    Let’s indulge in a thought experiment.

    I believe you’re a Satan-worshipping pedofile in league with the lizardmen. Who magically “stole” the election without leaving a trace of evidence, using voting machines donated by the Venezuelan government, all with the aim of introducing socialism to America. I don’t have a grasp of what “socialism” is IRL, but I’m sure it’s a very, very bad thing.

    Please engage me in honest, rational dialogue and find a compromise solution.

  65. @Michael Major

    Even when the GOP might have a valid point, it’s hard to find an example in recent memory when they were raising that point for the purpose of arriving at a solution instead of embedding it in lies to demonize Democrats. The GOP needs to start stepping up and making a few sincere demonstrations of good faith before they get to start making demands on Democrats.

  66. Michael Major:”I didn’t vote for him. In fact I went WAY out of my way to vote against him”

    If you had voted for biden, you would have just said that. So that means… Oh god. You’re a third-party special snowflake. You rise above politics. You are here to educate us sheeple.

    “Ignoring the people who voted Trump and their reasons FOR voting Trump continues to add to the partisanship”

    No. SEDITION adds to partisanship. RACISM adds to partisanship. BIGOTRY adds to partisanship. When one side has the position that you arent human, that you dont deserve a voice in government, and that killing you would be q good thing, “ignoring” them is the best we can do. Charging them with sedition is the more resonable thing to do. And calling them out on their anti democrqtic bullshit is what needs to be done. If you spread bigotry, you need to be deplatformed. If you voted for trump because youre a bigot, you should be scorned. If you stormed the capitol, you should be thrown in jail.

    “those wounds need to be healed,”

    Lets be abundantly clear about some bullshit right here: BEING A BIGOT IS NOT BEING A WOUND.

    the reason there is so much partisanship right now is bigots found their guy in Trump and did everything to keep him in office including sedition. Thats not a fucking “wound”. Its bigotry. And the mother fucking bigots get to own that. Nobody “wounded” them. There is no ‘wound’ to heal.

    A fucking nazi apologist for fucks sake.


    Ya know whats bullocks? Your link to history dot com points to an article written by a guy who mostly writes for a tech channel “how stuff works”. He has a bachelors degree in religion. Not history. You are linking to the equialvalent of an op-ed piece by a non-expert. And acting like it proves anything.

    Most historians will tell you the electoral college was created because of slavery.

    “They’re still out there and the truth is – some of their concerns are actually valid.”

    There is not one concern that is so overwhelming important that it justifies the damage done by 4 more years of a traitorous president.

    And lets be clear here: white people voted for trump for bigotry.

  67. Mike D. : “As for “how many dead from COVID if we had a sane President,” I can only offer the counterexample of only 12,000 dead from SARS, a similar virus, on Obama’s watch. I don’t have the modeling chops to map that to whatever it would have been if it were COVID.”

    I live in Toronto and we were one of the epicentres of SARS. A total of under 1000 people are known to have died from SARS worldwide.

    What are you talking about?

  68. My wife and I were discussing life this morning, and I realized that it was almost exactly 9 months to the day since there were two separate anti-mask protests in neighboring Michigan, which featured loads of people kvetching about shutdown and mask requirements, and verbal abuse by gun-carrying militia types. In between those two protests, the ex-prez tweeted “Liberate Michigan”, in apparent support of the first protest. Of course, some of those same militia types were arrested in October and charged with plotting to kidnap Michigan’s governor.

    Seems to me that this series of episodes encapsulates the entire Tr+++ era. COVID denial, verbal abuse, guns and threats, and lastly planned violence by people who probably supported Tr+++. It’s also worth noting that at the time of the first protest, about 2,000 in Michigan had died of COVID. Right now, almost 15,000 have died, and according to the Biden folks, the Tr+++ people left behind no plan whatsoever addressing the complex problem of distributing the new vaccines. Evidently, they didn’t give enough of a shit to actually think about how to accomplish it.

    If anyone ever asks me what it was like to be alive during these times, that’s what I’ll remember.

  69. Ed: I suspect Mike D. meant the 2009 Swine Flu outbreak; the numbers are about right, at least. That wasn’t SARS, it was an H1N1 variant, but he wouldn’t be the only person who misremember that one.

  70. People, people, people…

    Does it really matter exactly how many of the COVID-19 deaths should be laid directly on Trump’s shoulders? Would any of you feel differently if the number were 600,000? Or “only” 100,000?

    I could trot out enough solid medical and epidemiological data to produce a pretty good estimate… and put everyone to sleep.

    But really — why bother???

    pax / Ctein

  71. US numbers:
    4% of world population
    20% of world covid deaths.

    If everyone were locking down equally across the globe, then we should have had 4% of the total covid deaths.

    So 16% of world covid deaths (2 mill) are on trump.

    About 340k.

  72. Trump did screw up the COVID-19 response catastrophically, particularly by actively encouraging covidiot behavior, but isn’t the only one to blame. Some of it should be laid on the shoulders of state governors, many of them Democrats, who had the authority to enact appropriate strict lockdown measures but refused to do so. Most of it should be blamed on Joe Average, who was told what to do, but didn’t.

    Ultimately, the 400,000+ deaths are the fault of our fellow Americans – stupid, selfish trash, behaving stupidly and selfishly.

  73. As per the new Press Secretary, who is awesome:

    What few valid concerns the Trump supporters had are being addressed by the legislation currently in front of Congress and the Executive Orders Biden just signed, or will sign.

    I’ll compromise slash unify by trying to make sure everyone gets health care and workers’ rights. Is there another concern these people have that you think is valid? And if so, why?

  74. Dear Fatman,

    What an impressive bit of BS.

    We had an administration which, by it’s own admission, lied about the pandemic and the science and which directly discouraged people from behaving in the most medically responsible way.

    You do not get to blame that on “our fellow Americans.” They were actively misled.

    pax / Ctein

  75. Jim Gillogly, 12:58pm: Don’t you mean “arm in arm with the Bear” in light of his admiration for Putin?

    As far as COVID death numbers go, this argument over exactly how many needless deaths are Our Dear Former Leader’s responsibility slightly resembles medieval and Renaissance arguments over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, with one truly horrifying distinction — there’s no question (not even on QAnon) that the dead people are real. And dead. It’s clearly a large-enough number that if Our Dear Former Leader had a conscience, a sense of shame, an iota of ethics, he’d admit that he had made mistakes that had deadly consequences, and ask forgiveness or absolution (indirectly, from the man currently in that office who’s got a track record of doing so). He wouldn’t follow the idol of modern GOPers and claim that “mistakes were made,” and then further deflect attention from by whom. But — not so much.

  76. @Fatman & Ctein
    The orange shitgibbon deliberately dismantled Obama’s pandemic response dept./agency–the people who raised the alarm EARLY for SARS and MERS and prevented a worldwide pandemic TWICE. So as far as I’m concerned, the orange shitgibbon is entirely to blame for ALL of the American deaths. He blew up the early warning system, actively disenfranchised experts who tried to relay real (and helpful) information and turned mask-wearing into a political statement (the statement is admittedly “I’m dumber than dirt b/c I refuse to wear a mask”). This is the equivalent of blowing up a hospital immediately after a massive train crash, then stating that the people who didn’t die immediately in the wreck but died later are not your fault. The argument “I didn’t kill them, lack of medical care/access killed them” is not going to hold water.

    That said…
    If you google “president” the top response is “Joe Biden”.
    Dr. Fauci essentially stated today in the news media that it will be a relief to give unvarnished medical news/information/reports to the president without having to tailor the news to the dimwit’s prejudices and short attention span.
    Trump Plaza & casino, which are failed bankrupt businesses, are scheduled to be demolished/blown up to make way for new businesses.

    In the immortal words of Nina Simone, “it’s a new day, a new dawn… and I’m feeling good.”

  77. He also ignored his own national security people who sounded the alarm in early January, pulled the CDC scientists out of China, and left the US seat on the WHO exec board unfilled for a couple of years. And then he whined about China lying about covid and exerting too much influence at the WHO. The one thing he sort of did right, suspending travel from China, was a half-assed measure done too late, and he did absolutely nothing with the time it bought us.

  78. Dear Audrey,

    Oh, fer shure, politically speaking, which is what really counts, you are absolutely 100% right.

    The President is like the captain of a ship. Whatever happens on his watch, he gets (or takes) the blame (or credit) for. Disease, economy, war, you name it.

    So, yup, Trump gets the full hit for this, whether it’s medically accurate or not.

    I am sooooooo saddened by that. Oh, so saddened.


    pax Ctein

  79. @ Ctein:

    “You do not get to blame that on “our fellow Americans.””

    I suppose we can agree to disagree.

    My behavior during the pandemic was influenced by the same information available to everyone else. Others actively chose to ignore that information, or to buy into conspiracy theories, or – worst of all – to trust the guidance provided by experts, but do whatever suited them anyway.

    So I think I’ll stand by “stupid, selfish trash”.

    @ just different:

    “He also ignored his own national security people…”

    Most of this is 100% correct (I may quibble over the China travel ban, which AFAIK did nothing). Trump’s administration is to blame both for the uncontrolled spread of the pandemic and the tragic loss of lives. We did worse than any other country, barring maybe the UK – the numbers are clear.

    But Trump didn’t force people to travel en masse over Thanksgiving and Christmas, flout lockdowns, or congregate at house parties and in restaurants. That’s on the people who made the conscious choice to do so. They don’t get a pass.

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