If you are here, you’re probably in some trouble
When I was a kid the coolest thing I could think of was the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the ocean. I used to say, incorrectly, that it was more than two Everests deep- Mt Everest, along with Rhode Island, being a standard unit of measurement at the time (“If you stood everyone in Rhode Island on each other’s shoulders in the Mariana Trench, most would die in terrible agony!”). Learning more, the ocean’s depths just get more amazing, and more inhuman: mud volcanos, liquid sulfur, CO2 vents, and the weirdest creatures in the world, living endless generations without knowing that humans are walking around arguing about sports.
So it is a particularly childlike and adult awe that greets the news of the first sound recordings from that crushing place. They found, much to their surprise, that it wasn’t silent, and that more than that, they heard sounds from all over the ocean. The area acts as kind of a vast echo chamber, with strange and disquieting sounds rumbling through the darkness.
At the bloody Democratic Convention of 1968, Paul Newman, Ralph Bellamy, and Dore Schary gave a tribute to Adlai Stevenson, the two-time nominee, and two-time loser to Dwight Eisenhower. Stevenson was a decent man, a true liberal who rose above the venal party bosses both north and south, and who always seemed slightly detached from politics. The tribute to him was moving, gracious, a hallmark to his decency, and went completely unlistened to. There was chaos on the convention floor as anti-war delegates were being muscled out in a boss-driven rush to nominate Hubert Humphrey, a good man driven to extreme by proximity to LBJ and the war. What’s more, there was madness on the streets, blood flowing in a police riot. 1956, the last year Stevenson ran, seemed light years away.
It’s easy to think about that when you see a relic from another time speaking today to try to save the Republican Party.
I swear to kate, this blog was not supposed to be entirely about the election, and certainly not all about Trump, but as this nightmare becomes a reality, it is hard to avoid. It’s obvious to most of the country that Donald Trump is the worst, but it is still important, I think, to point out exactly why.
I know this sounds like apocryphal Pauline Kael, but I have yet to talk to a single human who isn’t disgusted by what’s happening, and who doesn’t feel fairly sick thinking about candidate Trump, or god help us, President Trump. (They are obviously out there, of course. And there are a lot of them. They are the angry revenant of the original American character, one that predated and outlived the Revolution.) But what about it is exactly so sickening? I think it can be broken down into two main groups.
- His platform, such as it is, which combines three horrifying planks in a way that is essentially unique in both American history and in the current world.
- The fact that it is Donald goddamn Trump.