We're in a surreal time warp where it is clear Donald Trump by sheer, dogged, unhinged, vengeful contempt for tradition and truth is doing all he can to try to remind us why we miss the movies.
We really, really need a new cast of characters, a new plot and new scenery. Is it possible to move the nation's capital to Montana?
Trump may or may not succeed in ruining Joe Biden's presidency before it even begins Jan. 20 by denying the former vice president access to office space, personnel and national secrets and muddying foreign policy. But Trump has been amazing in reminding us why we are so tired of him and Jared and Ivanka and Eric and Don Jr. and what's her name, Melania, (remember Be Best?) and Mitch and Ted and Lindsey and Mike. All the COVID-denying, mask-hating, spineless Mikes.
If Trump doesn't run again for president in 2024, he cheerfully assures us, one of his kids might. Stow those MAGA hats and Trump yard signs in the attic, all ye 73.5 million people who thought it was a good idea to rehire the most bizarre figure ever to live in the White House. A man seeking to make Americans okay with disenfranchising millions of citizens.
As Trump makes us squirm in embarrassment with his denial that he lost the election and pathetic attempt to stay relevant, he may or may not succeed in turning the country into a permanently right-wing state. But he has shown us that having a daughter who gets personal favors from the Chinese government for selling expensive baubles and now tells us all to be grateful to her father that our savings accounts are bulging (what?!) says a lot about what we don't want our fathers to be.
The real question is why Trump even wants to hang on to the job. It is now five months since he bothered to attend a coronavirus briefing. What on earth is he doing every day? Watching TV? Golfing? Planning military strikes? Firing anyone in government trying to make democracy work, including cybersecurity experts?
One quarter of a million Americans are dead from coronavirus. Thousands more may die before vaccines are available. Astonishingly, most Republican leaders now think they won't lose their jobs if more people die but they might lose their jobs if they say anything against the damage Trump is doing.
Some Trump supporters are dying while breathlessly — literally — denying they have COVID-19 because they "know" the pandemic is a hoax.
Even when Trump is forced out of office kicking and sputtering and defiling the world with tweets, cable TV likely will continue hanging on his every idiocy, either because he threatens to run for president again or because they want to "balance" Democrats, even with lies.
Trump ordered White House staff to print out his tweets so he could reread and gloat over his word pearls. Creepy.
Historians will puzzle for decades (assuming Earth survives the "hoax" of climate change) how a real estate charlatan failed America repeatedly and perhaps fatally while an entire political party cowered in fear of a tweet.
Being escorted out the door while clinging to the jambs, Trump keeps doing his best to leave a mess. After four years, he suddenly decided to defy the military and abruptly withdraw half the troops in Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan, leaving Americans and allies still there vulnerable to attack. He promised never to signal drawdowns to enemies unless the Taliban reduced violence. That has not happened. The lessons? The U.S. can't be trusted. America can be played. We spend lives and treasure and then abruptly walk away.
Trump's refusal to let the Biden team see plans for vaccine distribution will cost us weeks in trying to conquer this most fearsome of enemies.
Trump is speeding up unnecessary sales of oil and gas leases in Alaskan wildlife refuges. With Main Street dying, Trump refuses to help flailing businesses but is subsidizing big oil. Maybe for an investment in his dream of a 24/7 Trump TV channel.
Trump's newest assaults on the environment are incalculably damaging; scientists are nervous.
And after Trump pulled us away from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Asian nations just formed their own trade alliance without us. Another blow to Main Street and Middle America.
Speaking of the street, Trump spent $2 trillion on tax cuts for the rich and Wall Street but refuses to help small businesses and the unemployed survive COVID-19.
If they made a movie of the last four years, "The Art of the Tweet: The Unraveling of America," who would go? Too gloomy. Too preposterous.
Ann McFeatters is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service.