A Man Without Qualities

Well, I’ve had the virus, been hospitalized and am now very, very happy to be back home, seeing sunshine again.

In a hospital bed, you have a lot of free time. Hanging around; waiting for your next meal (Saint Barnabas’s simple offering of a plain, almost juiceless cheeseburger, a side of macaroni and cheese, steamed broccoli and a brownie was almost sublime); being visited every so often by hospital staff, well-guarded and unrecognizable deep inside their personal protective gear; them giving you “just a little pinch”, checking your vital signs or asking about your current state of affairs; being given that anti-malaria drug for a while apparently for no good reason; “wearing” that silly “gown” that won’t stay on; dozing off; occasionally losing an electrode; wondering when the hell you will get out of there.

I didn’t turn on the TV in the eight days I was there. (Nor, after they moved me to a double room, did my roommate, who was in worse shape than I was.)

I did look at news on my phone. It wasn’t good.

Aside from the obvious, the thing that got me the most was how people who have power or cultural significance are being so nice and respectful to the monster child.

Of course, they do point out his deficiencies. Larry David quoted in The New York Times:

You know, it’s an amazing thing. The man has not one redeeming quality. You could take some of the worst dictators in history and I’m sure that all of them, you could find one decent quality. Stalin could have had one decent quality, we don’t know!

Fran Lebowitz in The New Yorker:

Every single thing that could be wrong with a human being is wrong with him.

Tom Nichols in The Atlantic:

[He] is a spiritual black hole.

But have you ever seen a quote in which someone demanded that he resign? The acting Secretary of the Navy said something very bad and was quickly hit with demands to go. He left. Why not call on the worst president in our history to go too? If someone is so totally and dangerously unfit for a job, shouldn’t our political and cultural leaders have demanded his resignation, over and over again?

I know, the Electoral College put him there and (of course) odds are he wouldn’t go. Nevertheless, it’s remarkable how his resignation never comes up in our national conversation.

Another aspect of his benign treatment that especially bothered me (from my prone position) was (and still is) the daily “briefings” he’s been doing. I don’t know which organizations are part of it, but he’s allowed to spew and blather, unfiltered, to America whenever he chooses. It is truly outrageous. They broadcast his rallies from beginning to end during the 2016 campaign. Now they’re repeating the offense with these mini-rallies. He promotes himself, attacks and attacks, lies, spreads nonsense and they’re allowing him to do it. He is the president, but that makes it worse, since he speaks to some of us with authority. It is amazingly reckless that they’re letting him do it.

It’s a beautiful spring day here in New Jersey from an aesthetic perspective. Governor Murphy reports we’re at 58,000 cases, with 7,600 hospitalized, 1,700 in critical condition and 2,200 dead.

Please be safe and be kind.

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