At the risk of stating the obvious, Trump fatigue has not simply overtaken the country. It is now the only thing that many of us can even feel.
This unwieldy Democratic primary hasn’t seemed to help. The postpartum depression from the Robert Mueller report definitely hasn’t helped, although maybe Mueller's scheduled public testimony will. Even President Donald Trump’s refusal to allow other officials to testify before Congress hasn’t caused the outrage you might expect.
Instead, this is where we are. A headline on a Washington Post editorial reads: “America should be horrified by this.” And before I click on the link, I wonder which “this” we’re talking about. And why we’re not sufficiently horrified.
Could it be that the president of the United States, when confronted with the latest sexual assault claim lodged against him, explains that he must be innocent because, he said, the accuser, writer E. Jean Carroll, was “not my type”? Trump obviously completely misunderstands the #MeToo movement, favoring his personal #it’salwaysaboutme movement, in which, apparently, Trump assaults only those women who are his type.
Or could it be our lack of concern, since much of the media chose to ignore the accusation? These days, it’s hardly news when Trump is credibly accused of raping someone in the 1990s in a Bergdorf-Goodman dressing room. To paraphrase the president from his Access Hollywood description of how he treats women, Carroll might just as well have said, “He moved on me like a bitch. He grabbed me by the pussy. When you’re a star, they let you do anything.”
In this case, he allegedly raped her. By The New Yorker’s count, Carroll is the 22nd woman to have accused Trump of sexual misconduct.
Or, moving on, could it be the Iran situation, in which Trump, likely moved by his neocon advisers, John Bolton and Mike Pompeo, was minutes from launching a coordinated missile attack on Iran that could conceivably have led to actual war? He stopped himself — in a classic Trump v. Trump moment — because he said he was told maybe 150 Iranians would die and decided the attack, in response to the downing of an unmanned drone, wouldn’t be “proportionate.”
Trump then tried to make nice with the Iranians, talking about his many Iranian friends and how he’s ready to get back to the negotiating table — after tearing up the previous negotiated agreement for no good reason — and also to help “Make Iran Great Again.” This was his pitch as Trump was once again upping the Iranian sanctions. Iranian leaders responded by calling the new sanctions “outrageous and idiotic” and calling Trump “mentally crippled.”
In a proportionate response, Trump went, well, mental, tweeting that Iran doesn’t understand the words “nice” or “compassion.” He concluded his tweetstorm with this: “Sadly, the thing they do understand is Strength and Power. Any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force. In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration!”
But it turns out the Post editorial wasn’t about either of those horrors, but about the one from Clint, Texas, where nearly everyone concedes that immigrant children — mostly from the dangerous streets of Central America — were being held in horrifying conditions. We learned of this a few days earlier from lawyers who visited the overcrowded site, where more than 300 children — some who came to the country unaccompanied, some who were separated from relatives — were being held in a facility built to hold 104 adults.
Reporters weren’t allowed to visit the site, where lawyers said they found dirty children who didn’t have access to soap, to toothbrushes, to toothpaste. Where toddlers were being cared for by unrelated young teens. Where kids slept, in some cases, on cement floors. Where kids told the investigative teams that they were often hungry. Where some kids had the flu. The law says immigrant children need to be turned over to relatives as quickly as possible, but some of the kids said they’d been at Clint for three weeks or more.
At the same time we were learning this, we saw clips from 9th Circuit Court of Appeals hearing asking whether the Trump administration must allow a court appointee to oversee conditions for children in Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs & Border Protection custody. (You have probably read about conditions at the ICE facility in Aurora.)
In the recent clip, Department of Justice lawyer Sarah Fabian told incredulous judges that a facility could be “safe and sanitary” — as required by law — even if children don’t have soap or toothbrushes.
The clip went viral and the outrage was sufficient that the Trump administration decided to move all the potentially traumatized children to other facilities. And then came the story that 100 of the kids were taken back to Clint because they couldn’t find anywhere else to put them. As that story was breaking, John Sanders, U.S. Customs and Border
Protection director, announced his resignation.
Meanwhile, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were blaming the Democrats for not passing legislation that would provide the money to fix the problem, if, you know, there really is a problem. Trump said his administration was doing a “fantastic job.”
Are you sufficiently outraged? I’m going to guess you are. But if you’re not, in a related story, there is that photo, that heartbreaking photo, from an attempted crossing of the Rio Grande by a Salvadoran father and his 23-month-old daughter, who were found lying face down in shallow water. The little girl’s arm was wrapped around her father’s neck.
According to the Mexican newspaper, La Jornada, Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez, 25, had tried unsuccessfully to present himself to U.S. authorities in order to seek asylum. There is a crackdown on asylum seekers and there is pressure from the Trump administration on Mexico to stop the refugees. And so, Martinez Ramirez decided to try the river. Martinez Ramirez’s wife, Vanessa Ávalos, told police he took their daughter, Angie Valeria, to the other side of the river and placed her on the bank. But when he went back to help his wife, the little girl jumped back in the river to follow her father. When he went back to rescue her, they were swept away in the undercurrent.
In TrumpWorld, where the crises come daily, it’s hard to keep track of what to feel or what to be horrified by.
In a better world, the photo would help clear that up.
This article originally appeared in The Colorado Independent.