“‘There’s no use trying,’ [Alice] said: ’one can’t believe impossible things.’ ”’I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ’When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.’” — Lewis Carroll, “Through the Looking Glass.”
Had Lewis Carroll lived today he might not have considered believing six impossible things before breakfast quite so remarkable a feat, and might have looked for other means to astonish us with the White Queen. Yet the day to day world of Donald Trump has us believing things that we would not have thought possible a paltry few years ago. Seeing is believing, after all.
Eight years ago the president of the United States shocked the world by wearing a tan suit. Why, a mere seven years ago a presidential candidate created a political firestorm with the words, “binders full of women.” How young we were back then! How inconsequential such things appear to us now!
Today the career criminal president actually has signs made up implying that the Mueller Report proves “No Collusion” and “No Obstruction,” in direct contradiction to the Mueller Report itself, a report which proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the president of the United States engaged in collusion with the Russian government against the interests of the United States and its people, and then obstructed justice. And that same president has those signs affixed to a lectern in the Rose Garden from which he bellows incoherently. Any day now he may actually carry those signs around on a stick. Who knows?
Yes, these days the president, who daily broadcasts deeply personal insults via Twitter to his political opponents, becomes incensed and obstreperous when those same opponents insult him back by suggesting he’s engaged in a coverup. He gathers up his toys, storms off in a huff and refuses to play until everybody is nice to him. Not before enlisting his crowd of astonished listeners in agreeing with him (without actually asking them if they do agree, of course) that he is the most “transparent” president ever, and would never cover up anything. Just ask Stormy Daniels.
You all know the endless catalog of stories about the man who promised us his tax returns if elected, then, once elected, regrets he can’t give them to us because he’s under audit. Except the IRS says otherwise. So he fights tooth and nail in the courts to prevent our seeing them. While still insisting he can’t show them to us because he’s under audit. And so on. Then there’s that thing about Mexico paying for the wall. And the thing about how if elected, he will be so busy he won’t have time to play golf.
I have a million such examples and you know them all. A few years ago, by themselves, they would have constituted career-ending scandals for any politician. Now Donald Trump has come along at a time when such outrages seem perfectly acceptable to certain people, when compared to the outrage of their losing their lifelong dream of transforming America into a theocracy of hatred and bigotry, putting up with the criminal excesses of Donald Trump seems just fine. For them, no price is too high to pay. That’s a scary thought.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.