The Book Of Donald (3/4)
Hoping for the best
Chapter One: A Kremlin miracle
Chapter Two: The louche messiah
Members of America’s Religious Right prayed strenuously for guidance, insight, and understanding, but God remained silent. He spoke to no one. He explained nothing. “Lord, we beseech you in the name of the United States, your most holy and most beloved nation. Will you abandon your children in our time of need?” they cried, but in reply they heard only the echoes of their own words.
American religious leaders believed that God had positioned Donald Trump to launch a spectacular federal response against the plague — a challenge of the sort that makes heroes of presidents. George Washington triumphed in the War of Independence; Abraham Lincoln in the U.S. Civil War; and Franklin Roosevelt in the Great Depression and the Second World War. Now it fell to our Donald to rise up and organize the vast powers and resources of the United States government, and direct it against an insidious, deadly enemy during a crucial time when aggressive action would do the most good.
The signs were discouraging. On 26 February 2020, during a White House press conference, after having done nothing more than restrict travel from the Chinese mainland, he could not resist congratulating himself. Neither could he resist lying about the danger: he claimed that banning Chinese tourists had been sufficient to prevent the disease from affecting Americans, even though hundreds of European carriers had been landing in East Coast cities throughout this period. He suggested that the plague had already been defeated, saying, “When you have fifteen people, and the fifteen, within a couple of days, is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.”
The next day, during White House roundtable celebrating Black History Month, he recalled his performance from the day before: “Basically, it was a calming press conference,” he explained. “It was a conference to say we’re doing well. It was a conference where I took out the statistics, which were recently done from Johns Hopkins, which is one of the great places in the country, where it says the United States is the most prepared nation — think of that.”
When he had finished, his guests rose and huddled around, laying hands on him, praying and beseeching Almighty God to strengthen and ennoble him. They were led by the president’s spiritual advisor, Paula White, a “prosperity gospel” televangelist and pseudo-Christian heretic from Tupelo, Mississippi — a town so backward, even the Episcopalians handle snakes. In 2002, Trump had spotted her on television (where else?) and found her impressive, becoming another of the gullible rubes she’s spent her adult life fleecing in the name of Jesus.
While America’s Religious Right celebrated their spray-tanned champion publicly — citing the miracle of Donald’s election and spiritual elevation — leaders began to worry in private that the president had misunderstood his role. He seemed convinced that, instead of conquering the pandemic, he had been called to soft-pedal the facts and put people at ease.
Not everyone agreed that he was in error. One popular theory held that the Lord planned to pass over the United States, as He had done for the Children of Israel during the Exodus from Egypt, sparing them the Tenth Plague, and that Donald was enacting God’s will by numbing the American people with endless narcotic speech that would permit the Covid plague to pass over them painlessly and silently. If America had been a colicky baby on a plane, Donald would be the parent with codeine and a medicine dropper.
A common cause
May of 2020 brought with it a grotesque milestone: over 100,000 dead from Covid in the USA alone. Donald’s fifteen cases had not gone down to zero as he’d promised. The federal government was in disarray and denial. If empty talk could defeat the plague, Donald would have been a true champion. Indeed, if the Lord had chosen him to facilitate the disease’s spread and multiply the harm, nothing would have looked any different.
May also brought with it the death of another black man at the hands of police. George Floyd, aged 46, was suspected of a petty crime that might well have been accidental, if it occurred at all. Nevertheless, his skin color vouchsafed him the roughest treatment imaginable. He died publicly and slowly with a white cop’s knee on his neck.
To many, George Floyd’s killing seemed a perfect metaphor for America — for the eternal injustice and inequality at the nation’s core. People rose up, black and white together, insisting that black lives do in fact matter, and marched. They risked exposing themselves to police batons, and Covid.
Donald quickly became more agitated by this than the pandemic. He denominated the phrase, black lives matter “a symbol of hate.” He signed an executive order increasing the penalty for vandalizing federal property or a monument to a maximum of ten years in prison. He ordered the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to create a task force to “protect American monuments, memorials and statues,” thus waving to white supremacists concerned about the public emblems of their loathsome heritage. He was balancing his rhetoric with echoes of “fine people on both sides,” Trump’s own version of, “Yes, but I didn’t inhale,” and “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”
These and similar conflicts would consume Donald. He would surrender the nation he swore to serve to its enemy, Covid, and leave Americans to their fate. When he wasn’t playing golf, he was crying about fake news, Antifa, the Radical Left, Black Lives Matter, his “ratings,” the China Virus, and what a fine president he really was.
Almighty God had chosen this self-serving buffoon to lead the government of the United States at a crucial time. It was inexplicable. Scholars and theologians were stumped. Everyone had a theory, but no one had a clue.
To be continued
Chapter Four: Son of Billy