Is There An Adult In the Room Where it Happened?

In the extraordinary American musical, “Hamilton” we are taught history and political theory in the song, “In the Room Where it Happens.” The lyrics interwoven with the hip-hop rhythm culminate with Aaron Burr’s personal plea: “I (I wanna be in the room where it happens) I wanna be in the room…(The room where it happens)….I wanna be (Where it happens)”.

I thought of that song several times during the 72 hours that POTUS was hospitalized for his COVID-19 infection.  I so wanted to be in the room where he admitted his symptoms, where and when the physicians examined him and attempted to draw out of him the truth. In the room where it was determined that he required hospitalization. The American people, probably all global leaders, should have been in that room where it happened, where the severity of his illness could not be denied and maybe for just a few minutes, he was humbled by the scientific reality of the illness. I so wanted to be in the room where there was even an instance of humanity, humility, and yes, fear as expressed by this all so human leader.

Then in the hospital, there was another room where it happened, where truth was exposed by medicine and then modified for political consumption. I think we are entitled to be told the truth that was determined in that room where he needed oxygen, ran a fever, and it was determined that he should be given therapies not offered to anyone else. In that unique room where physicians who took the Hippocratic Oath, in that room where science was molded into the politics of re-election, I want to know what happened in that room!

In that room where a human like all humans remains highly infected with a deathly virus for which there is neither a vaccine nor a cure, in that room it happened, AGAIN, he tweeted from that room: “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.” I cannot imagine being in that room, where he was so sick that his doctors decided to give him still experimental drugs, and he has the absence of any empathy for the millions who are suffering from COVID and are terrified in hospital ER’s, or nursing homes or in the homes in the world’s slums. I am disgusted that this human refuses to grasp any of the blessings of power to which he uniquely has access in that room where it continues to happen: a white man of wealth with abusive power shamelessly shows contempt for everyone not in that room! 

At no point in the lyrics that simultaneously teach the history of the past and present was there a need to add the question, ‘Was there an adult in the room where it happened?’

Yet that question was screaming inside of me for hours as the nation watched a bored infected adolescent have a tantrum and demand that he could go outside to wave! I need to know where was the adult in the room where that happened? Where was the adult among his physicians and security detail? Yes, I understand he is the POTUS, everybody’s boss, but surely there had to have been just one adult in that room where he had his tantrum and no one said, ‘NO, Mr. President you are infected and must stay inside!’

So in that room in the hospital where doctors and science all seem happen, in that room where he made a video about all he was learning, in that same room where all this happened, where was the adult who surely understood that he is still spreading this virus and that going back to the White House is a public assault on innocent people. Why was there no adult in that room when he tweeted that he is not afraid and will not let this virus dominate his life!

Now he has returned, taken off his mask, again because there is no adult in any room of the White House. But, surely someone among his Cabinet or more possibly among the Republican Senators, at least a few of these persons has what it takes to be the ADULT in whatever room this all continues to happen. American history has had many figures that have made deals, agreements, treaties and left their legacy in different rooms where it really did happen, but today regardless of the claims that some make, unless there is at least one adult in any room in which POTUS is spreading a virus and pretending to be a leader, unless someone stands up and screams, ‘No Mr. President, you must immediately leave this room now, because your presence confirms that while you are here, nothing will happen!

When they were looking for an adult in the room, Senator Barry Goldwater, went to the White House and told Mr. Nixon he had to resign from the room where far too much lying had happened. Where is there a person whose love for the history of democracy celebrated in “Hamilton” will walk into this White House with a mask and tell the current occupant, ‘Please sir, the American people require an adult in any room of this the people’s house.’ In all honesty, I do not wanna be in that room when it happens, it should just happen soon.

About the Author
Joseph has linked his congregational rabbinate and academic careers with interfaith relations, contemporary philosophy, and serving Jews who are sometimes ignored. He is retired in Rio de Janeiro where he teaches, writes and volunteers his rabbinic time in communities without rabbis. He has written "What Am I Missing? Questions About Being Human"
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