Living In Crazy Town

For me, it began during the presidential campaign when Trump mocked and imitated a disabled reporter. I thought, “How could anyone vote for him after this?” It continued during the debates, when he stalked Hillary, tromping around the stage and looming over her. Although she was a weak candidate, I was shocked when he won and depressed that so many Americans voted for him. Yet again, I deplored that the Electoral College gave the election to someone who had lost the popular vote.

Crazy Town continued during one of his early cabinet meetings, when everyone in the room, led by Mike Pence, groveled and tried to outdo each other in sycophantic praise for Trump. I had never witnessed anything like it. Despite this, seemingly endless firings and replacements followed over the next two years, with one hireling after another running afoul of an irrational power freak. As George Packer wrote in the September 24th New Yorker, “A coarse and feckless viciousness is the operating procedure of his White House, and the poison spreads to everyone. Only snakes and sycophants survive.”

My dismay has increased as it has become clear that the Republican Party, in both the House and the Senate, has followed this corrupt lead, betraying its long-held values. A balanced budget? Let the deficit sky-rocket as we give more tax breaks to the wealthiest among us. Suspicion of Russia? Let it disappear as the president meets privately with Putin and praises him to the point that many of us consider treasonous. And now, the Supreme Court. The hypocritical claim of “Let the people decide” used in an unprecedented blocking of Pres. Obama’s right to appoint a justice, has now been trashed. Attempting to rush Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation through before the November elections, the scant Republican majority in the Senate allowed less than 10% of his papers released, dismissed any objections to his evasive answers, and now seems not to have done its basic homework. Three and perhaps four women have come forward claiming he sexually harassed them. All have asked for FBI investigations of their charges, something they would be extremely unlikely to do if they were just trying to “smear” him, as he claims.

Do I believe them? You bet I do. I worked as a rape crisis counselor at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Greenwich Village for fourteen years. In all that time, we had only one false claimant — a con-woman who went from city to city and was easily caught. We even had a pamphlet titled “I Never Told Anyone,” since this was so common. Look at the harassment Christine Blasey Ford, the first accuser, has experienced: death threats to her and her family, hacking of her email, etc., etc. It remains far more difficult for women to come forward with charges than for men to deny them.

And now the eleven Republican men on the Judiciary Committee are pondering whether to question her themselves or to hire a female attorney to present a better picture. She of course is not allowed to have her attorney present, nor to bring in corroborating witnesses. The echoes of the Senate’s base treatment of Anita Hill many years ago are deafening. And the context for all this is Trump’s own boasts about “pussy grabbing,” his infidelities, and his own sexual harassment of women. If you elect a clown, expect a circus.