Almost any situation, when endured for long enough, goes from how it is now, to just how it is. What came before becomes harder and harder to remember.
Our species adapts quickly. We have no choice. There’s hardly a square mile on the planet where a human can exist without quite a bit of alteration and protection. To varying degrees, we have always had to scramble. In more modernized countries, we first worlders are spared a lot of the day-to-day misery engendered by the elements. In a lot of ways, the conveniences we enjoy have made us inconsiderate and ignorant.
We always find a way to keep going. We’re far too high-functioning and mean to let a dying planet that’s screaming for mercy keep us from further mutilating it as we customize and innovate. No matter what, we adapt — but most important, we forget and then repeat.
George W. Bush’s use of the English language fascinated me. As his administration dragged on, it seemed to progressively devolve. When Bush was the governor of Texas, he was noticeably sharper, at times bordering on witty. By the end of his second presidential term, he seemed to marvel at getting through a sentence. During his speeches, it sounded not only like he was reading the material for the first time but that he was just saying the words, devoid of context. I wondered if it was the horror of knowing he sent so many people to their deaths needlessly, finally taking its toll. He went out crushed, like Johnson.
Over those eight years, I got used to how he faltered both domestically and abroad. It took a while but eventually, how he was as he disintegrated became normal. It was like passing through stages of grief — if you can somehow get there, you accept.
The Obama years were so different. While I felt bad for the president and his family because of the attacks that started as soon as he began his campaign, I enjoyed how most of the criticism was more about the ignorance and bigotry of the accusers than anything real. Not that there weren’t things to take President Obama to task for; there were. There always are. That being said, at least when the man spoke, you had the idea that he was truly engaged and understood what he was talking about, whether you agreed with him or not. Much of the frustration from “the other side” stemmed from the fact that they knew they were outmatched.
The inexhaustible level of anger that met President Obama is a testament to how spectacularly stupid about a third of the electorate is. When grifter Palin spewed her “How’s that hope and change workin’ out for ya?” line, I thought to myself, “Great, actually. How’s being a chew toy for Tina Fey while millions of people all over the world howl in laughter working out for you?”
The point I’m making is that after a while, the anger became normal.
It feels like a long time since the election of comrade Trump. I remember the first few days, the frustration and accompanying exhaustion I felt knowing that the country was going to go backward. Several weeks later, I was resolved to “reconfiguring my pack,” as I like to say. I had to do my best to understand this new landscape as America now lurched toward greatness. There were some familiar echoes of the Bush years: the homophobes and misogynists taking a victory lap now that they had one of theirs in the executive position, the environment with a target on its back, science getting sucker-punched in the schoolyard once again. All part of the greatness.
Comrade Trump’s scary base is one thing, but the man is quite another: a true study in psychopathy and lack of self-control. There are going to be a lot of books written about the Trump Crime Family.
The term “dumpster fire” keeps coming up when people mention the Trump administration. It fits. It’s a sad mess that’s roaring away right in front of you. That being said, that incredible ability of humans to acclimate and find the horizon comes into play.
Late last year, the first few tweets — the comrade’s seemingly preferred way of communicating to his base — struck millions of people as the actions of a rank amateur. A president wouldn’t do that, right? It took me I don’t know how many news broadcasts to become accustomed to variations of, “The president tweeted today that ....” Then the shock wore off and it became how it is.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders is like Iraq’s good-news knucklehead, Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf. Remember him? No matter how badly Baghdad was getting blown up, he was in front of a camera, informing you that the terrified American forces were running at all speed back to the safety of their mothers’ skirts. Ms. Sanders is like al-Sahhaf but without his oratory skill or comic timing. She is a grim-faced, one-woman barroom brawl. “When the president gets hit, he’s going to hit back harder.”
An administration with zero accountability. Took a while, but it registers as normal now.
I understand why the comrade uses Twitter. Unless it’s one of those psycho rallies, Trump is simply unable to speak in sentences that can be understood.
Trump spoke recently when he signed an executive order to re-establish the National Space Council:
“Our journey into space will not only make us stronger and more prosperous but will unite us behind grand ambitions and bring us all closer together. Wouldn’t that be nice? Can you believe that space is going to do that? I thought politics would do that. Well, we’ll have to rely on space instead.”
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Nope. We’ll be relying on ourselves.
More from the mind of Henry Rollins:
White America Couldn't Handle What Black America Deals With Every Day
Bowie's Blackstar Is on the Level of Low and Heroes
No Matter Who Wins, America Is Only Going to Get Angrier