What's Tony Thinking

The Zombie President


What many of us had fervently hoped is that when Donald Trump lost the election he would somehow go up in smoke, like the witch in the Wizard of Oz. Poof — gone! Just some smoldering shoes left behind.

Many of the headlines and memes that appeared last weekend were along this line, including the headline on veteran political reporter Joel Connelly’s piece at Post Alley, “Bully Begone!”

It we are learning one thing a week after the election it is that Donald Trump isn’t going anywhere. It’s the zombie presidency! A dictionary of popular culture definition of “zombie” — just to be accurate — is as follows:

“Zombie: A person or reanimated corpse that has been turned into a creature capable of movement but not of rational thought, which feeds on human flesh.” I don’t know, what d’ya think? I’d say it fits.

It is as if Trump has climbed up out of the political grave to menace us all. But really we shouldn’t be surprised. The hope that he would “poof — be gone” or go quietly into the night — which was certainly my hope — was naive.

That said, and finding myself exasperated as hell, my own rational thought process about all this leads me to an unexpected, even scandalous, conclusion.

Namely, I think Mitch McConnell is right. There I said it. I can’t believe it. Why? How? It seems to me that what McConnell is doing is saying President Trump has every right to exhaust all his legal options (however foolish and unmerited such actions may be). I think he’s right.

Moreover, I think my geezer hero, Joe Biden, was unwise to yesterday call Trump an “embarrassment,” even though he’s right. He will do best to not mention Donald Trump, unless he has absolutely no choice but to do so.

How have I come to this? As David Brooks pointed out in his post-election column last Friday, neither side in the present culture wars is going away. There will be no total, take-no-prisoners victory — nor should there be. Here’s Brooks:

“The voters reminded us yet again that the other side is not going away. We have to dispense with the fantasy that after the next miracle election our side will suddenly get everything it wants. We have to live with one another.”

Somehow, some way, we have to figure out how to live with one another, or at least with some significant percentage of the 71 million who cast their votes for Donald Trump. Letting him exhaust his legal options, as opposed to pressuring him not to do so, is one way, at least potentially, to erode his support.

Early in my ministry I was faced, literally, by a group of two dozen people who were hopping mad about the denomination’s Synod pronouncement in support of the civil rights of gay and lesbian persons (that was 1977). As I met with them I began to divide them into two categories in my mind. There were the “educables,” with whom one could conduct a conversation. Then there were “the true believers.” The latter had this tell-tale characteristic — they looked at you but didn’t actually see you. They looked straight through you, or in this case, me. We weren’t going to win over any of the “true believers.” But we could, and did, peel off and win over some of the “educables.” And that was enough.

At this point, it seems to me that letting Trump “exercise his legal options,” may lay the groundwork for future reconciliation or at least cooperation with some. If and when he turns to extra-legal or illegal options (I do worry about that) it’s another story.

There, I’ve said it . . . on this one, I agree, though it causes me pain, with Mitch.




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