Musings from a concerned citizen

Do you remember that unforgettable opening scene in Shakespeare’s Hamlet where a couple of guards, Horatio and Marcellus, are filling in their rotation in protecting a castle in Denmark, only to view a ghost walking around. They are afraid, and soon Hamlet appears and follows the ghost to understand the significance of its appearance. The message the ghost imparts to Hamlet will begin a series of tragic consequences that will leave at least 6 of the major characters dead by the end of the play. While Hamlet disappears, Marcellus utters that famous line forever inscribed in the body politic of literature: Something is rotten in the State of Denmark. The point is that Marcellus is disturbed by many events having taken place in the country by the new king, Claudius, and is angered by the royal mismanagement of the country as it festers with moral and political corruption.

That was then, in Denmark. This is now, hundreds of years later, in the United States of America, and little has changed. Instead of a corrupt king, we have a president who treats the government of the country as a TV show – without even a pause for breaks and messages from any sponsors. No sooner has one crisis exploded onto the national psyche, there follows a never ending list of disasters that blow up in our faces with increasing decibel ferocity. So please allow for the following points that have left me utterly confused as well as totally frightened that we are facing a crisis of confidence in the (mis) management of this country that we have not experienced since Watergate. (Yes, I know: Trump is not Nixon. But Trump is Trump, and that may be worse ! )

First. Does Trump lie, and does he do this as a matter of habit to everyone ? I do realize that on the campaign trail he made a whole list off promises, many of which he has since debunked. And that has been the nature of presidential politics and campaigns. Remember George Bush: No New Taxes…only to reverse himself in office ? Alright: that was politics then. But today Donald Trump switches his mind over what he promised to do with the rapidity of a car moving beyond any of the accepted speed limits. I never know when he is speaking not THE truth, but A truth of any sort whatsoever. Is it only me ?He uses words just for the sake of hearing himself speak. And when he speaks, I have in mind the picture of a 4 year old who is only just beginning to make himself understood. Am I the only one listening to him ? He makes up words that just don’t exist. He states facts that exist only within the figment of his imagination. He tweets messages that make as much sense as a Swahili tribesman learning English. He ferociously denounces people of any standing he dislikes or disagrees with, shaming them in a manner that was only fit for his own TV series. And am I expected to hold up this character as the leader of the Free World ?

Worse than this is the entire administration who is complicit in arguing away his endless faults through the most ridiculous responses that wouldn’t even fly on Sesame Street. They defend him. they support him, they interpret him, and then they go and abuse logic to elevate him to even higher levels of plausibility. Let’s just take the argument of Jeffrey Wall, Acting Solicitor General, who claimed that Trump really could break as many promises as he wishes since none of them was made in any official capacity. And if you want more, just listen to Sean Spicer abusing logic by explaining and supporting everything his boss does and says. Guilty by association is the entire Republican Party who allow this individual to continue to govern, despite the evident inability to do anything right, his failure on all levels to pretend to even act like a president, and his total ineffectiveness in all levels of government.

Second. He loves autocrats and dictators (with few exceptions, naturally) and his position on Russia frightens the most. It seems that Putin and company have really worked him out, and realized that of all the complicit idiots they have to work with on the world scene, Trump is the easiest of them all. His embrace of this long – standing world competitor and enemy of America’s interests world wide seems to undo the need for the intelligence agencies to exist at all. And now that he has allegedly shared some of the most sensitive secrets with them (given gratis by none other than Israel), we should not be surprised if America’s intelligence agencies across the board decide they cannot deal with this leader of democracy.

Third. In barely over a period of 120 days, he has sacked, fired, and publicly condemned two of the most high-profile individuals in government: General Mike Flynn, and James B. Come. Who will be next….Sean Spicer ? Reince Priebus ? Steve Bannon ? KellyAnne Conway ? We should preparer a bowling gallery scene where people will be falling like duckpins faster than there balls can be returned to you.

You wake up in the morning and worry what’s the next scandal, crisis, disappointment, tweet, malady…and more to the point, what is this doing to the country itself and in the world’s opinion of it. If not a joke, then it’s gone beyond it, and America’s invincibility has become compromised because of the show we are watching. The infection has taken hold of the entire administration and we are left pondering: for how much longer will we be subjected to this behavior before the rot ceases ? The corruption has become so endemic and so normal, that sanity has disappeared, and the White House has become more of an NBC political comedy with enough fodder for Steve Colbert and John Oliver to compete, not to mention Saturday Night Live !

Back to Denmark. The hope must be for the retort of Horatio to Marcellus: Heaven will detect it. Stability is coming. But when….and how many more victims must fall on their sword for this to happen ?

Respectfully submitted

Chaim R. Landau

About the Author
Rabbi Chaim Landau is Emeritus Rabbi and President of the Baltimore Board of Rabbis. He served the Bnai Jacob Congregation and later Ner Tamid Congregation in Baltimore. He was born in the UK, graduated Jews College with Bachelors Degree in Jewish Studies, has Smichah from Israel.