It has become the perfect thrill ride for our times. But what to call it?
Call it the Trump whiplash, but not yet backlash. Call it the donut ride.
The whispery, scripted water ride serenely floating on a lake for hours for people who are looking for signs of presidential ticks.
Call it the not-good-people-evil-press ride in which riders are covered in fake news as they work their way to the bottom feeders, where they are greeted in a sloppy hug by Steve Bannon, then arrested by former sheriff Joe Arpaio.
As the late Gilda Radner titled her autobiography, with President Donald Trump, “it’s always something.”
In the onrush of headlines, the president has created a world of almost daily turmoil, interrupted by scripted presidential speeches — on foreign policy, or love, peace and togetherness, or even opposition to neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan and white supremacists — delivered in whispery, hushed tones.
And then he goes to a 2020 fund-raising reelection fundraising rally and, like Jekyll to Hyde, to what more and more people — maybe even a huge number of people — are beginning to see to be his authentic self, ripping the “fake news” press, attacking fellow Republicans, giving his own account of what happened in his three days tackling the Charlottesville crisis the week before.
With Trump, every day you have to live over every other day that preceded it.
One way is to look at a choice — and we do mean choice — number of headlines from various places and times, including CNN, the Washington Post and the New York Times, who are not, by Trump’s admission, “very good people.” But nevertheless: “Commander, divider/uniter: 3 roles of Trump” from today’s Washington Post, which suggests that the president is sometimes is quite capable of playing all three at once.
Meantime: “Trump-Congress conflict escalates.”
“Trump and McConnell reportedly giving each other silent treatment.”
“UNLILMITED WAR: Breitbart and the far right start to turn on Trump over his Afghanistan decision.”
“President Trump Lashes Out at Media for Condemning His Comments on Virginia.” The lashing took place at a rally in Phoenix Tuesday, another rip-roaring, off-script blowout attending by loud friends and foes alike.
“Sen. Susan Collins Discusses if Trump Will be 2020 Nominee” (MSNBC).
“Will Trump Have Anybody Left to Defend him?”(Chicago Tribune).
“President Trump strikes a softer tone in Reno after bombastic Phoenix rally” (ABC News).
“Donald Trump has been president for 30 weeks. This is the worst one” (CNN). “The worst week of Trump’s presidency keeps happening” (MSNBC). “Saturday was Donald Trump’s worst day as president. And Monday didn’t help” (CNN).
Last, but perhaps not least, “What if Donald Trump is just winging it?”
Admittedly, most of these headlines come in one form or another from venues the president continually calls “fake news” purveyors.
But respected GOP senators have said similar things, including Senator Corker from Tennessee.
And that’s leaving out that whole disastrous triple-play of reactions in Charlottesville. He did manage to deflect attention to his comments by swinging it to the Confederate statue takedown controversy, which, predictably, has reached depths of silliness, to the point where a sportscaster named Lee was moved from covering a University of Virginia football game.
The rush of headlines and u-turns can go from the ridiculous to the sublime and somewhere in between.
It seems already forgotten, that during that period, the president decided to bow out of this year’s Kennedy Center Honors ceremony, where, traditionally, the president mingles with honorees at a reception and dinner and presides over the awards ceremony at the center.
The White House announced: “The President and First Lady have decided not to participate in this year’s activities to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction.”
There had already been some: three of the honorees, Lionel Richie, Norman Lear and Carmen de Lavallade said they would not attend the pre-awards White House reception.
The Kennedy Center appeared to welcome the decision. Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter said: “in choosing not to participate in this year’s Honors activities, the administration has graciously signaled its respect for the Kennedy Center and ensures the Honors gala remains a deservingly special moment for the Honorees. We are grateful for this gesture.”
President Trump has not been noted for his interests or support for the arts in the past, but the decision still marks yet another break with presidential traditions.
Not all was serious or sublime. The president apparently retweeted a meme which showed his eclipse outshining or outsizing one of President Barack Obama.
Of course, television coverage showed that even though spectators had ad infinitum been told to wear special protective glasses, the president took his off during the middle of things and stared directly at the sun.
Take that, sun god.