Too many ‘last straws’ with Trump
Most people know Popeye as the cartoon sailor who ate spinach when he needed super strength to fight a bad guy. But I’ll always remember Popeye for the phrase he uttered just before consuming those leafy greens. Frustrated with the situation at hand, Popeye would say “that’s all I can stands, I can’t stands no more.” It meant that he had reached his breaking point, something we all do from time to time, and when that happens, we say “this is the last straw.” It’s a phrase which, in its complete form, references an Old World observation for what happens when you break a camel’s back by loading too much straw on it. According to the American Heritage dictionary, however, the modern connotation means “the last of a series of annoyances that leads one to a final loss of patience, temper, trust, or hope.” Regardless, no matter how you say it, the last straw is what I’ve reached with Donald Trump.
Truth is, there have been a lot of last straws with Trump, beginning with his childish behavior during the 2016 Republican debates, in which he assigned nicknames to other candidates such as “Little Marco,” “Lying Ted” and “Low Energy Jeb,” and while doing so, made outlandish and false claims about his opponents, such as accusing Cruz’s father of having been involved in the Kennedy assassination.
Then there was the Access Hollywood tape on which he could be heard bragging to Billy Bush that he could do anything he wanted to with women. Trump’s defense was that his words were just locker room talk, but I’ve been in a lot of locker rooms, and I’ve never heard anyone brag about sexual assault. Speaking of which, during the campaign and throughout his first term in office, nearly two dozen women have come forward with credible claims of sexual harassment and assault against the Donald.
For most Americans, Trump’s misogyny and various offenses against women should have been the last straw. In the run-up to the 2016 election, Trump and his fixer, Michael Cohen, arranged for the National Enquirer to kill a story about his sexual encounter with Stormy Daniels, a hotel romp that occurred while Melania was pregnant with their son, Barron. He also authorized hush money to be paid to Daniels. Taken in tandem, the catch and kill of the story and payment smacked of an illegal campaign donation. That should have been the last straw.
After taking office, Trump surrounded himself with a bunch of misfits, a half dozen of which have since been convicted of federal crimes. Meanwhile, he has fired or run off the handful of competent advisors who tried to keep his erratic behavior in check, while retaining folks like Steven Miller, whose radical views on immigration and acceptance of white supremacist groups have shaped Trump’s racist rhetoric, which has included referring to the Charlottesville Nazis as “very fine people.” That should have been another last straw.
Trump has used his bully pulpit to demean, defame or embarrass American citizens. At one rally, he pointed to the lone African American in the crowd and said, “Where’s my black? Where is he? There he is.” At another rally, Trump mocked a disabled reporter by flailing his arms around as if to simulate spasms. And then there’s his recent bizarre dramatization of how he imagined a romantic encounter transpired between two FBI investigators, complete with orgasmic inflections. He insulted a gold star family, made fun of John McCain’s military service and berated one of our nation’s most capable and distinguished ambassadors. Any of those things should have been the last straw.
Donald Trump is functionally illiterate and hands down the most uninformed president in history. He can’t string two coherent sentences together, refuses to read briefing books, thinks Colorado borders Mexico, and has shown time and time again that he has no working knowledge of our Constitution, a document which he swore to uphold. In addition, according to several fact-checking organizations, Trump has told over 12,000 lies since taking office, and those lies sometimes affect or are the basis for setting public policy. Serial lying is not presidential, and it should be the very last straw.
According to 27 noted mental health experts who studied Trump’s actual words and behavior (see “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump”), our president suffers from clinically documented narcissism. They cite his “displays of instability” and his disregard for the consequences of his actions. They observed his willingness to “say or do anything at any time for purposes of self-aggrandizement,” as well as his propensity to “dehumanize others.” They wrote of his lack of “foresight and compassion,” his bullying and paranoia, his misogyny, and his inability “to recognize other people’s emotions and feelings.” And they referred to his behavior as immature and incompetent. Any of those findings should have been the last straw.
Finally, there’s Trump’s demand for the Ukranian president to announce an investigation of the Bidens in return for Congressionally-approved military aid that he needs to defend against Russian aggression. That, combined with multiple counts of obstruction, should be the last straw.
Not to diminish the other straws, but I came to my Popeye moment last week when I witnessed the President of France scolding Trump for making an uninformed remark about ISIS, then watched as four European leaders were overheard making fun of Trump. That was my president who those men were scolding and scoffing at, and it was as if they were laughing at our entire nation and me. In a way, their lack of respect and contempt for Trump was derivative of all the other straws and flaws. And so, too, was it for me. Trump needs to go, whether by impeachment or election, but he’s got to go. He has broken the camel’s back.
Jim Longworth is the host of Triad Today, airing on Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. on ABC45 (cable channel 7) and Sundays at 11 a.m. on WMYV (cable channel 15).