For those of you who are interested and are uninformed of the distinction, England, Scotland and Wales comprise the island of Britain, or Great Britain. If you add to that Northern Ireland you get “The United Kingdom.” Simple enough, yes? After two and a half years as “President,” Donald Trump still doesn’t get it, despite owning quite a lot of property in Scotland and having a Scottish-born mother.
Recently, Trump said of a conversation he had with Boris Johnson at the G7 conference, “I asked Boris: Where’s England? What’s happening with England? They don’t use it too much any more. We talked about it, it was very interesting.” One could almost imagine him adding, “Soitenly! Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk!” Trump is clearly still unaware of the distinction between “England” and “Britain” or “England” and the “United Kingdom.” In his most recent trip to Britain Trump also expressed confusion about this, just as he did in his first official visit to Britain.
England, as a distinct entity, is still used. It’s not used any longer as a synonym for Britain (or the United Kingdom) because the name is heavily freighted with elitist imperialism, and to use it is justly considered a slight to Scotland and Wales, not to mention Northern Ireland. The long, shameful history of atrocities committed against those sister nations by England is also best left in the past.
The “stable genius” in the White House with “one of the great memories of all time” still doesn’t know what just took you about forty-five seconds to learn, if you had to learn it. And he has at his disposal one of the greatest traveling resource juggernauts, the White House staff and its ancillary supporting entities, in human history.
But wait, there’s more. On September 14, 2017, Trump said, “I never even knew a category 5 [hurricane] existed.” On September 26, 2017, Trump said, “It actually touched down as a category 5 [hurricane]. People have never seen anything like that.” On October 19, 2017, he said, “Nobody has ever heard of a [category] 5 hitting land.” On May 8, 2019, Trump said, “I’ve just come from a stop at Tyndall Air Force Base, where I saw the devastating effects of that Category 5 hurricane, Category 5. Never heard about Category 5s before, a Category 5 is big stuff.” Then on Monday of this week Trump said, “I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of a Category 5. I knew it existed. And I’ve seen some Category 4s. You don’t even see them that much.”
Now, I’m not making a case that Trump is stupid. That bus left years ago. But even someone as stupid as Trump could easily recall that he’s encountered a category 5 hurricane before. The problem is that, not only does he not care, he never does the job of president of the United States when the cameras are turned off. He spends his free time screwing off, watching TV, tweeting and playing golf, then he “wings it” when he comes out and the cameras are on him again. He gets away with this because the people in his base don’t see what we do, someone without the slightest idea of what he’s doing, without the slightest interest in doing his job and utterly bereft of the minimum requisite competence with which to do it.
Now, this might actually be a good thing. If Donald Trump is going to sleep in the White House it’s probably a good idea that he doesn’t touch anything while he’s there. Like the government. Unfortunately, he still makes decisions that affect us all. Particularly when those decisions require very little or no actual work.
Nevertheless, as redolent of the absurd as this all is, I cannot find it funny. Everything I cherish, every sacred memory, every creature, every friend, every loved one, is in mortal peril at the hands of this buffoon, who has decided against the wisdom of all the scientists of the earth – scientists who proclaim that we are now in the throes of an extinction level event that we can stop if we hurry – that everything those scientists say is false because he knows better. Yet he cannot even keep simple facts, like the distinction between England and Great Britain, or what a category 5 hurricane is, in his disgustingly-undernourished McDonald’s-fed under-exercised noggin. Because in the final analysis Donald Trump doesn’t give a crap about anything but himself, and you and I and the earth and all that’s in it can go straight to hell. Donald Trump and the unbearable heaviness of his presidency must go in 2020, not so democracy can survive – that is really the least of our worries right now – but so we as a species can survive. This is no partisan fight. This is a struggle for our very existence.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.