Another ratcheting up of authoritarianism

~a column by Colleen O’Brien

Since we now have a “war” president, he’s been press conferencing from the White House press room daily. This is unfortunate. When he eschewed the normal press conference routine that former presidents held in the Press Briefing Room of the White House and became the Tweeter in Chief, I wanted him to be a real prez and do like his predecessors.

What was I thinking? As a tweeter, he couldn’t use as many words.

The latest confusing information spewing out of a tiny little mouth led me to rewrite this column for the third time. Twice I’d thought I was done, but I’d been trumped again by breaking news tidbits from the Main Unreliable Source Who Accuses Someone Else of Something He’s Done.

As I was writing this on Friday afternoon, March 20, he, the Accuser, at his press conference of the day, told NBC reporter Peter Alexander, “I say you’re a terrible reporter.”

Peter looked dumbfounded because what he’d asked is known as a softball question: “What do you say to Americans, who are watching you right now, who are scared?”

Accuser – so red-faced he surprised us watchers – leaned in from behind his mic and roared, “I think it’s a very nasty question.”

Huh?

Confusion reigns when the Accuser accuses.

Later in the press conference, the only legitimate person on the “war” team who has any credibility at all, world renowned Doctor Fauci of the National Institutes of Health, told us that a malaria drug that the Accuser continues to make false claims about will not work on COVID-19.

Even as I admired the doctor’s integrity in gainsaying the Accuser, the Accuser took over the podium from Dr. Fauci and made false claims about the malaria drug that we were just told by the expert would not work on this virus.

My mouth fell open: in front of the world, the Accuser was accusing a foremost doc of international repute, who somehow is on his team, of not knowing what he’s talking about. The whole world, I remind you, is beset with a virus for which there is no antidote.

I give Dr. Fauci a day before he’s fired or he leaves to preserve his integrity because of being judged by the company he keeps.

The Accuser is just enough of a bully and manipulator to make me not want to write about him, but I was taught, both at home and in school, that to be a citizen of a democracy, I had to be informed; and if I were a writer, then my job would sometimes be to write about what’s going on, however distasteful.

Being a daily White House correspondent like Peter Alexander must require hazardous duty pay and extra weeks off for R and R. I take my hat off to those intrepid reporters. I can barely do an opinion piece a week, even as I’m thinking that writing about it is the only way I can stand myself as a citizen. It seems to me that my alternative is to become like a GOP Senator, not speaking up and therefore by design or default going along with the many dangerous things I see this president do.

As I write this on Friday, March 20, 2020, I look at my calendar to see when exactly it was that the person who’s supposed to be leading us first declared a state of emergency: it was on Friday, March 13, 2020; a mere 10 days ago.

He’d been lying to us for more than two months, since late December when China came clean about how many COVID-19 cases it had. The Accuser told us that it would not be dangerous to us. Ever. (So, why does he brag about closing our borders so quickly to Chinese?)

In the first White House briefing on COVID-19 a few days ago, the dishonest words out of his mouth outnumbered the true words he used that day, words such as “the” and “and.”

Paying any attention to him at all is demoralizing.

But I shall try to remain informed by reading how the press asks the softball questions and the difficult questions of a difficult and unworthy leader, knowing that he’s going to call out “fake news” and “unfair.” I’ll write about it because I think his misinformation, his pretending he knows anything, is dangerous. People on Fox News believe him. Or say they do, for reasons beyond me. People who tune into that source are now full of hope for a malaria drug that won’t help them if they get COVID-19.

Since Christmas, two and a half months ago, we were told by Accuser that COVID-19 wasn’t very dangerous anyway. His 180-degree turn-around on Friday the 13th makes me think that he and all of Fox are channeling Linda Blair, child actress in the 1973 film “The Exorcist,” whose devil-possessed character’s head turned all the way around on her neck.

The Spanish language has a beautiful-sounding phrase that is actual swearing. It is sin verguenza (pronounced seen vare gwayne za). It is one of the worst things one can say to another in Spanish. It means “Without shame.”

You are Sin verguenza, Mr. President.

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