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  • Richard Farr

The Pied Piper of Pennsylvania Avenue

We received this frightening little postcard yesterday.

The contrast between the front and the back says so much. On the back there is important information from our government. I emphasize our government - "of, by, for" if you cast your mind back to 1863, though Lincoln borrowed the famous triplet from much earlier. But, to state the obvious, that first line on the front of the card is a huge, loud, stereotypically Grand Greasy Cheese-Puff lie.

The recommendations on the back - sensible, measured, important and right - were possible because of a decades-long process in which hundreds of people received a scientific education, professional training, and indoctrination (if you like) into the idea of selfless public service. It could not more spectacularly fail to count as President Trump's guidelines if it tried. Trump has no guidelines. He has, like Dr. Frankenstein's monster, nothing to offer us at all except the latest spasm, the latest inarticulate howl, the latest sudden, sweaty twitch. In fact it seems unlikely that this clever bit of cynical manipulation came from him personally, even though in a way it bears his smell. I wonder which White Hutch apparatchik is currently fielding back-slaps for it.

In these United States of Alice-in-Wonderland things can always get weirder still. Apparently this profoundly vicious man's now-lethal self-dealing has sent his approval ratings higher than ever before ... wait for it ... because people like the way he is handling the Covid-19 crisis.

How is that possible? Surveying the ruins of civilization In The Great War and Modern Memory, Paul Fussell speaks of "humankind's immense liability to error, folly, and psychosis." No surprises, then: the people who drank the chemicals intended for their fish tank, because The Donnie had said it might help with the virus, are not an anomaly; we live in a world in which the worst people, the worse they get, only seem ever more appealing.

What's left? Just the endless need to bear witness and help the tempted to resist. So: He's a charlatan, a liar, a grifter, a chancer. He cares nothing about you. He is far more dangerous to the security of the average American - never mind, and he doesn't, the rest of humanity or the rest of the Creation - than all the world's terrorists combined. The evidence lies around us, six feet deep. It's all we need to know.


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