BY SUSAN ESTRICH
Trumpitis. A disease. A syndrome.
I tried to avoid it – to immunize myself. Listen to a lot of music. Smile at people in the market, but try not to engage. “Yes, indeed,” I say, no matter what. It’s not as though I am going to convince someone between the checker and the bagger. And it’s certainly not as if I have some secret answer. Be sure to vote.
But last week, it was just unavoidable. An American president who tells off NATO and embraces the Russian dictator. An American president who disregards every intelligence agency in the United States in favor of the pat murmurs of his new best friend the dictator.
The first stage of Trumpitis is shock. Can he really be doing this? Is this for real? This time, we are all talking. Have you seen it? Could you believe it? What one earth is going on? This cannot be the American president.
The talking heads, paid to talk, were almost speechless. You might have expected the worst, but no one expected this.
I knew we would miss Barack Obama. But this much? As our current president was making a fool of himself and us in his most expensive suit, our former president was showing class and dignity, tieless, in Africa.
The second stage of Trumpitis is anger.
Imagine if Barack Obama had gone off to have a love fest with Vladimir Putin: How many Republicans would have already signed impeachment papers, called for a special prosecutor to charge him with treason? “This is not,” they would say, “a matter of partisan politics. It is not a question of policy.” So where are they now?
The Russians tried to undermine our democracy. No one should be angrier than the man whose help [at least theoretically] he did not want or need. Hillary Clinton was not the only victim. Donald Trump’s legitimacy has been put at risk. An innocent man would be angry.
And what are we to make of the fact that instead of anger, he treats the Russian leader like a Playboy model. Who conquers whom?
Putin was only the first embarrassment of the week. Then there was the news that the president’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, had secretly taped his own client discussing the payout to a Playboy model before the 2016 election. What kind of client is so distrusted by his own lawyer that the lawyer secretly tapes him? And what kind of a lawyer continues to represent a client for whom he has so little trust?
Just writing about it makes me furious. How dare he. But anger, as we all know, eats you up. I try to put it aside. I remind myself who won the election.
The third stage of Trumpitis is sadness.
That is where I’ve gotten stuck. That’s why I was late. I know he won, though I am sad about that. But it’s what he has done since he won that breaks my heart. It’s not just that he is undermining so much of what he found, what we all have agreed on.
It’s that he doesn’t even have respect for the office he holds. This is about the duty of a president to the country, to the institutions of a democracy, to the fundamental ideals that we all hold dear.
Does he not see that? Does he not care? What hope do we have? The Democrats do not have a Bill Clinton or Barack Obama in the wings. Will one emerge between now and then? Trump will not be easy to beat. The Congress is not on the verge of switching sides.
The fourth stage of Trumpitis is determination.
In a democracy, we do not wallow in our sadness, and we certainly don’t give us. We organize. We speak out. We participate. That’s what I’m hoping anyway. It’s really the only cure. I’m hoping to get there soon. Maybe this week.
– Susan Estrich’s columns appear regularly in The Oklahoma Observer