A Suicide Bomber Without the Suicide

On Christmas morning in America, an apparent suicide bomber blew himself up in downtown Nashville. For 15 minutes before the blast, a loudspeaker from his van warned people to leave the area. “If you can hear this message, evacuate now.” There was reference to a bomb. Miraculously, the Nashville police acted almost immediately. Three people were injured. Only the driver was blown up.

On Christmas morning in America, another bomber announced that he was prepared to blow up the Covid relief bill on which Congress had struggled for months, finally coming up with a bipartisan compromise after excruciating negotiations. The bill passed both Houses and was relayed to the president. It would at least temporarily prevent evictions of those could no longer pay their rent.  It would extend access to emergency food rations to an unprecedented number of American families going hungry in the midst of an economic meltdown.  It would provide aid to states facilitating their system for distributing the new Covid vaccines in a rational and effective way. It would help small businesses and their employees survive another day. It would keep the government from shutting down during the worst American public health disaster in over one hundred years. While far from perfect, all of these provisions would at least stave off a more sustained catastrophe for tens of thousands, perhaps millions, of Americans.

Outgoing President Trump, however, chose instead to blow it up.  Unlike Nashville, there was no warning. Unlike Nashville, Trump’s attack was on the whole country. Unlike Nashville, this was a suicide bomber without the suicide. Instead, the bomber spent his time playing golf and schmoozing with friends in Palm Beach, between sending out mendacious, self-serving, and often incoherent tweets.

Still, it was, for most, a surprise attack.  Trump’s people — especially Treasury Secretary Mnuchin — had been deeply involved in the negotiations that led to the compromise bill. So also Senate and House Republicans loyal to Trump. So also the two Republicans running in Georgia whose victory in the January run-offs would preserve Mitch McConnell’s Republican majority in the Senate. As part of their campaign, the boasted about the success they’d achieved in creating a bill that would save Americans from further disaster.

None of that mattered to the bomber in the White House. He blew it up and slipped off to the first tee.

Unlike Nashville, this bomber did not have the grace to take himself out at the same time.  Quite the opposite.  He retreated to his world of the uber rich, the palace of golden toilets.  No bread?  The people should have cake.  Too much “pork”?  Trump spoke out against it, even while scarfing down swill and slops.  Between stops at the trough, he paused to pardon murderers, traitors, felons and every variety of grotesquerie that has been part of Trumpworld well before he became president.

Trump’s now iconic boast about shooting someone on Fifth Avenue without consequence has become a chilling understatement. We are all his targets, and not only in America.

About the Author
Henry (Hank) Greenspan is a psychologist and playwright at the University of Michigan who has been interviewing, teaching, and writing about the Holocaust and its survivors since the 1970s.
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