A short attention span isn’t short enough for our news cycle anymore. Since Donald Trump began running, there’s not enough time to write a hot take before the subject goes cold and a new scandal’s warming up.
Before Trump’s address to Congress, I had written a piece about the way in which his impromptu remarks create contradictions that are impossible for a rational government to follow. Take, for example, Trump’s statements on leaks to the media. First he denied they existed, saying that the “dishonest media” was making up unnamed sources in his administration and that these anonymous sources weren’t real people with any real information. Then he announced that the White House will mount a serious investigation to stop all the leaks. After which he denied they existed again.
Which, wait, he’s going to investigate leaks that don’t exist? How can this possibly be managed without the president getting his story straight, whatever it is?
He does this a lot, which creates real problems when agencies are supposed to act on these kind of contradictions.
But after his speech there was so much more that had to be said. So I wrote a new piece pointing out that while Trump’s reason for nearly everything he does is security, in fact he has no idea what a secure country actually looks like.
His proposed cuts to the U.S. Department of State miss a key point — Americans are more secure if we can get what we want without fighting wars. Every diplomatic victory means American soldiers who don’t die. Building up our military while cutting our diplomacy is all but demanding we put our soldiers in harm’s way to solve every problem.
His rollback of clean water regulations misses the point that a country is not secure if its people don’t have access to clean water. It doesn’t matter if it’s international businesses or international terrorists who poison our water supply; a country that doesn’t have clean water for its people isn’t secure.
His focus on immigrant violence does not make us safer, because statistically illegal immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than birthright citizens. More Americans are killed by drunk driving than illegal immigrants, by domestic violence than illegal immigrants, by drug overdoses, by depression.
Perhaps most importantly — a country is not secure if its values are not supported.
America is more secure if the world believes in democracy. America is more secure if the world believes in pluralism. Trump’s statements that America will decide who to support in the world by how much they pay us, rather than how much they uphold our values, is profoundly dangerous.
But then, news broke about Attorney Gen. Jeff Sessions having lied under oath to Congress about meeting with a Russian official. And well, gosh, that can’t be ignored.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but the Republicans would have impeached Barack Obama if he’d so much as had a salad with Russian dressing. Bill Clinton was impeached for lying about an affair that had nothing to do with the affairs of state.
Do I even need to say — my God, do I even? — that a county can’t be secure if its senior government officials are lying about contacts with foreign governments?
Then we found out that House Republicans are literally hiding their health care replacement bill from everyone, even Senate Republicans, and sometimes going so far as to keep the only copy of the bill under the protection of the Capitol Police. That is not normal. In fact, it’s downright weird. I’ve started taking bets on whether the American people will see the health care bill before the Russian government does. Who wants in on this action?
Then we learned that Mike Pence used an AOL email address for official state business and that his account was hacked. Which means, of course, that we have to lock him up. Right?
Now my deadline’s here, and I’m confident that by the time you read this something new and horrible or bizarre will have happened, and this will all be old news.
That is, really, the most frightening part of all. Between a nanosecond news cycle and a presidency that combines the least buoyant parts of the Titanic with the most flammable parts of the Hindenburg, no one can keep up. Neither our news nor our country are designed to process so much falling apart all at once.