To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Friday, October 7, 2022


The Mad Man Of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue



“He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind.”

So said the sage of the Book of Proverbs. The Hebrew helps us understand the use of the word “wind.” In this instance, it may have meant a cyclonic force that could destroy a family and its life through endless fractiousness. Or that the slightest zephyr could carry away a household’s integrity, so flimsy as it might be.

Ask any priest or local clergyperson about troubled homes and how often in their ministries they are asked to intervene in them. It is not that many of us are credentialed as counselors or therapists. It’s that we do not send bills for services rendered, that we are assumed to be bound by the oath of confidentiality and that we have some kind superior knowledge or even magic that will calm a troubled house.

What is true about the matter is that we do not send invoices and while we do honor the confidentiality of the seal, we generally know no more than the family dog about how to bring peace to a house in which the adults are unstable.

Unfaithfulness in marriage, badly managed finances, failure to tend to regular domestic issues and needs all the while pursuing other interests will trouble a house. Untended to, one or all of those failures can destroy a home as surely as can a tornado. Or, as observed, there may be such limited affection and care that the slightest breeze will scatter the pieces that remain in all directions.

One such broken home is quite enough in any community. A town full is social chaos. But what happens when the most significant house of all is troubled, perhaps beyond repair?

It is just such a state to which the White House has come. The adult constitutionally in charge of the house and, by extension, shares such charge with Congress and the courts, is unfaithful to his oath of office and, moreover, utterly unpredictable. It is not so much the decisions that he takes as the manner in which he takes them. Almost foaming at the mouth in certain moments, he trashes people he has decided he does not like or who fail to do obeisance to his persona.

Nothing that I can find in my voluminous collection of American political history comes close to the first six months of the Trump administration. One cannot help asking where it will all end.

We on the outside are not to know how decisions are taken in today’s White House and on what rational basis, if any. It is manifestly true that some of the highest placed members of the administration who should know in advance about important decisions and have had at least a small say in whatever the matter is find themselves flummoxed when they hear about it first on CNN. That is, indeed, a troubled house, and, as such, invites the gale force winds of destruction.

Beyond sounding the sirens warning people to find shelter is paying attention to the 2018 election. The former is a way of giving up and giving in. The latter is finding a way to calm the house, or at least render its unpredictable antics harmless. One way is to elect a sufficient number of sane persons to Congress who are willing to say No to the mad man of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

It took until the middle of the night recently to find out that three senatorial votes can make a difference when needs must. The issue then was whether or not millions of Americans would be set out to sea on a rudderless raft where health care is concerned. Another kind of matter yet to come may be some cockamamie idea the 45th president has of bombing Lichtenstein.

That’s when the intervention must come. In such a situation, he would have to be told that he may remain in the house only if he concentrates on his golf course business and the like. However, on no account must he be removed. Mike Pence is another kind of crazy. Jesus crazy. We don’t need that, either.

It’s a hell of a choice between a woman groper who believes in nothing but himself and a man who would strip women of their constitutional rights and believes he has been sent by God to settle nonbelievers’ hash.

Harry T. Cook is a Michigan-based Episcopal priest, journalist and author whose essays appear occasionally in The Oklahoma Observer