Patience is a virtue, they say, and I have been therefore virtuous when it comes to adjusting to changes in lifestyle during the pandemic and in my personal wait (ongoing at this writing) for vaccination. I think I have been patient with the dog we adopted a year ago, a sweet animal who, to my disappointment, is yet to show much affection. (People keep telling me that Annie “will come around.”)
I make no claim to being the world’s most patient man — indeed, there’s plenty of evidence to the contrary — but I have found that, as I get older, I am more willing to wait things out.
But not when it comes to the Trump cultist.
At this point in American history — the first month after the end of the Trump tragedy — when I hear someone claim that Trump was a great president, the best in modern times, the man who tried to pull America out of its tailspin and make the nation “great again,” the last ounces of patience produced daily by the glands evaporate.
I heard this the other day during a regrettable panel discussion. A question was asked about Trump’s continued claims of an election victory snatched away by fraud. One of the panelists resisted all temptation to acknowledge the reality of Trump’s lies and general awfulness and, instead, reached back to the Obama presidency to claim it was a “disaster.”
Imagine, if you can, someone skipping over the last four years — a mishandled pandemic that has killed nearly 500,000 Americans, a recession that will eliminate millions of jobs (many of them for good), democracy-damaging claims of election fraud, the provocation of a deadly insurrection in the nation’s Capitol and two well-deserved impeachments — to attack the Obama presidency and attach the word “disaster” to it. I have heard this before, Republicans and other conservatives referring to the Obama presidency as a “disaster,” though they are never clear on why such an extreme term is used to describe it.
Obama entered the Oval Office facing the worst economic downtown since the Great Depression; he left office on 75 consecutive months of job growth. His stock market was better overall than Trump’s. The Obama administration was proactive on the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa and kept it from spreading to the United States. The Obama years gave us the Affordable Care Act that, by now, has provided 20 million Americans with health insurance; it has undoubtedly lengthened, enhanced and saved thousands of lives.
So, when I heard this Trump cultist go off on Obama, skipping over the Trump travesty, I felt the last corpuscles of patience leave my body. I lost my temper a bit and almost pulled out of the online panel. At that moment, I realized something: There is no hope of a fact-based, objective and fair discussion with a member of the Trump cult. They attack Obama because they can’t defend Trump. Also, those who bash Obama at this point probably always hated that he was president and suffer from racism they will never acknowledge.
Someday this might change, though I have no idea what — besides a successful Biden presidency — will change it any time soon. The polls suggest significant approval for Biden’s big plans to get the country through the pandemic and to rescue the economy. That is promising. It suggests a realization by some Trump supporters that he left the country in deep mud and almost destroyed the democracy. There are people warming up in Texas today who probably see how a generation of Republican leadership, austerity and greed — along with climate denial — form a recipe for ruin.
So there’s hope that the nation’s reality divide might close, that more people might start embracing truth again. I will continue to do my thing as a journalist — with fact-based stories, informed opinion and a passion for progressive ideas and good government — but I will no longer personally engage anyone who trades in the lie that Obama was a disaster and Trump was great.