The Trümperdämmerung Is Finally Upon Us

It’s The New Yorker, so you get articles with titles like “The Trümperdämmerung Is a Fitting End to 2020”. Susan Glasser has recollections and a piece of advice:

As the awful year of 2020 and the awful tenure of Dxxxx Txxxx both come to an end, the President has partied with the unmasked in Palm Beach and taken credit for a vaccine against a virus that he once counselled could be beaten with bleach. He has pardoned mercenary child-killers and Paul Manafort. He has golfed. He has raged. He has vetoed the annual defense bill and threatened to shut down the government over the holidays. He has turned against even some of his most loyal henchmen, and some, in turn, have finally flipped on him. “Mr. President . . . STOP THE INSANITY,” the New York Post blared on Monday, after four years of relentless cheerleading.

But, of course, the President did not, and he will not. He continues to refuse to accept his defeat in the election, and just the other day he retweeted a claim that “treason” kept him from winning. Injecting still more political drama into the most ministerial of constitutional processes, Txxxx and his most fanatical supporters now want Congress to refuse to confirm Joe Biden’s Electoral College win on January 6th—which is both pointless, in that it will not happen, and incredibly destructive. Meanwhile, more than a hundred thousand Americans have died of the coronavirus just since the election, and only two million Americans—not the hundred million he once promised—have so far received the vaccine.

The Trümperdämmerung is finally here, and it is every bit the raging dumpster fire that we, the unlucky audience for this drama, have come to expect. Is there anyone left who is surprised that the President is careening through the last days of his Administration with a reckless disdain that simply has no precedent in American public life? Still, the hardest thing to accept is that 2020 is not merely the year that Dxxxx Txxxx’s luck ran out but that with it the country’s did, too. Sadly and yet inevitably, this terrible, wretchedly toxic year of pandemic death and economic distress, of [hatred and protest], is the culmination of all that Txxxx has wrought and all that he is.

Now that 2020 is finally almost over, I find that I don’t want to remember it at all. . . .

. . . I can barely summon the concerns and controversies of a year ago, when the most pressing political question in Washington was whether Txxxx’s former national-security adviser John Bolton would have to testify in the impeachment trial of the President. . . . This was back when Txxxxian outrages seemed less threatening to the literal health of the nation.

How much worse was 2020? Well, NBC’s list of the President’s ten biggest lies in 2019 included Txxxx perennials like the idea that windmills, because of their noise, “cause cancer,” and “people are flushing toilets ten times, fifteen times,” and the U.S. will “be going to Mars very soon.” All are bad, absurd, and embarrassing coming from a President, but would not even rate in this year’s far deadlier, more consequential tally. Txxxx was not just a circus this year; he was an actual catastrophe. . . .

. . . On February 24th, . . . Txxxx tweeted, “The coronavirus is very much under control in the USA.” We already knew that this wasn’t true. I had spent the previous weekend haranguing my visiting parents about the virus . . . But somehow I did not fully recognize until that moment that Txxxx was going to approach the biggest public-health emergency of our lifetimes with a strategy of outright denial. The Big Lie of 2020 had begun. So many more followed that it’s hard to remember the breathtaking simplicity of this first untruth, the foundational lie from which so many deadly consequences would flow.

“Just stay calm. It will go away,” Txxxx said on March 10th, when thirty-one Americans were dead. “It’s going to go away,” he said on August 31st, by which point nearly two hundred thousand had died. “It’s going to disappear,” he said on October 10th. “It is disappearing.” He said that the coronavirus was a Chinese plot and that concern over it was a Democratic hoax, that he knew how to treat it better than the doctors did, that it was just like the flu, and that, if you got it, you would get better, as he eventually did in October. “That’s all I hear about now. . . . covid, covid, covid, covid,” he said before the election. “By the way, on November 4th, you won’t hear about it anymore.” But that wasn’t true, either, and, since then, millions of Americans have been infected with the disease, and December has been by far our deadliest month yet.

To be sure, there are many, many other Txxxx-isms from 2020 that would have been mind-blowing in another context, in any other year. That’s the thing about historic, world-changing times; so much happens that you can’t remember it all. . . . It’s just all too insane.

When I Googled “craziest shit Txxxx did in 2020,” a column I wrote in September, on “Twenty Other Disturbing, Awful Things That Txxxx Has Said This Month” popped up. Although it was published just a few months ago, I realized that I did not remember many of the examples cited in it—the “super-duper” new “hydrosonic” missile that does not actually exist; Txxxx’s accusation that Biden got a “big fat shot in the ass” of some unknown drug; Txxxx’s admission that he was getting his information about the uselessness of mask-wearing from “waiters.” This, as George W. Bush was reported to have said about Txxxx’s ominous Inaugural Address, was some weird shit indeed.

Remembering all of this is already both hard and painful. There is still much more to learn about the disastrous events of the past four years in Txxxx’s Washington and on his watch. But I recognize that there are powerful forces—in human nature, in the politics of both the right and the left—that will push us toward forgetting. The urge to move on from Txxxx is understandable, and potentially very, very dangerous. As of noon on January 20th, no matter what other madness comes between now and then, America will start to move on anyway.

[Of the books] I read this year . . . the one that resonated perhaps the most was Those Who Forget: My Family’s Story in Nazi Europe — A Memoir, A History, A Warning, an account by the French-German author Géraldine Schwarz of postwar Europe’s, and her own family’s, not entirely successful effort to reckon with the crimes of the Second World War. It made the very convincing case that, until and unless there is a full accounting for what happened with Dxxxx Txxxx, 2020 is not over and never will be. I still don’t want to remember, but I know that forgetting is not an option, either.