Donald Trump and the cult of betrayal

CNN’s Dana Bash asked Dr. Stephen Hahn of the FDA about Donald Trump’s statement that 99% of coronavirus cases are “totally harmless.” She said of Trump’s statement, “No health expert that we have found can back that up. Can you?”

That’s a straightforward question. I hope by now that those of you who have been paying attention could write a convincing facsimile of a glassy-eyed Trump cultist response. The first thing you might do is mention that coronavirus cases are increasing, and it’s vitally important to wear a mask, practice social distancing and wash your hands. If you filibuster long enough you might be able to make the speech sound impassioned. (If you’re Kellyanne Conway you might even be able to find a way to blame Obama.)

Whatever the tack, by the time you’ve finished, half the zombies watching you on TV will have forgotten the original question. With any luck so has the interviewer. That’s how you know you have a Trump zealot who’s a practicing acolyte of the Donald Trump Cult of Betrayal. They will never say nor acknowledge an injury or slur of their Lord and Savior Donald Trump.

So what did Donald Trump’s faithful servant at the FDA say in response? “So we know that cases are surging in the country, [She didn’t ask about cases surging, she asked are 99% of cases ‘harmless’] we’ve all seen the graphs associated with that, and it’s just too early and I’m not going to speculate on what the causation is there [She didn’t ask you to speculate about causation, she asked about the 99% harmless cases]. What I can tell you is the way out of this, [We already know the way out, clearly your Lord and Savior doesn’t] Dana [That was a nice touch, though, using her first name, inclining your eyebrows and looking sincere], the way out of this for all Americans, is to follow the CDC and White House task force guidelines, social distance, wear a mask … good hand hygiene, all the things that I would tell my patients,” yadda yadda yadda.

In other words, clearly all the experts that appear on TV have received the same indoctrinating catechism. They are carefully trained to never once venture into an implied criticism of their Lord and Savior.

Welcome to the Cult of Betrayal, where reality itself is warped in such a fashion as to never do harm to the cultist’s central figure, the personage of Donald Trump. Because Trump is perfect and he can do no wrong, the cultist’s only choice is to betray everyone else, including themselves. Because Trump so often commits flagrant wrongs and tells palpable, provable lies in public, the Dance of Betrayal is the acolyte’s only recourse. But because the cultists have all been schooled by the same people in the intricacies of this dance before they are permitted to go on the air, the dance always looks exactly the same.

Of course, with all the will in the world Donald Trump makes it impossible for the True Believer not to stray into sin. After asking the 99% question several times and getting the same vanilla nonanswer, Dana Bash tried another tack. Since Dr. Hahn mentioned social distancing and mask-wearing, and since Dr. Hahn’s Lord and Savior gave his Sermon on the Mount (Rushmore) where none of that was being practiced, how did he (Dr Hahn) square his advice with Trump’s errant disregard of it?

As my college math books so often and infuriatingly used to say, I leave the proof as an exercise for the student. You shouldn’t have any difficulty by now concocting another nonaswer that is similar to Dr. Hahn’s actual answer, however.

While these political limbo dances get increasingly absurd as the bar is placed ever and ever absurdly lower, the act of public betrayal becomes more and more evident. There is no public position too self-immolating or too disingenuously tawdry that a Trump cultist won’t assume it. But the ultimate loser is the public. We are left with the empty feeling that something obvious is deliberately being left out by the very people who should be helping us.

It’s the sinking feeling every good citizen gets when he or she knows that the policeman, the fireman and the mayor have abandoned their pledge to protect them. There is no recourse when a republic becomes a tyranny. Abrogation of duty under color of authority is the ultimate betrayal. The worst part of all comes when you realise that all those people who were charged with your safety and your protection are cowards, cowards who would publicly sell you out for the sake of one very evil man.

This is how Donald Trump has compromised the character of a nation. The protection of Donald Trump’s ego has become a matter of inflexible national policy, and not even the simple truth can divert the course or defy the will of that policy. That is why we must unite in November and remove this monster from office, end the disgrace of the cult of betrayal and restore the humanity, dignity and goodness of the nation. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.

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