Forget barbecues. Donald Trump hacked, putted, and tweeted his way through most of the Memorial Day weekend, before finding time on Monday to lay a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery and to visit (over the mayor of Baltimore’s objections) Fort McHenry.
I’m more concerned about the tweeting than the golfing, though sometimes Trump even tweets about golfing, as was the case on Monday, when he fired back at media reports, declaring: “Some stories about the fact that in order to get outside and perhaps, even a little exercise, I played golf over the weekend. The Fake & Totally Corrupt News makes it sound like a mortal sin - I knew this would happen! What they don’t say is that it was my first golf in almost…3 months…”
Trump has a point about wanting to get outside and get a little exercise. Presidents need a break, so I’ll give him one when it comes to the golfing—even if it falls on a weekend that commemorates fallen heroes, even if it happens when the COVID-19 death toll is mounting ever closer to the 100,000 mark, even if Trump criticized President Barack Obama for playing golf during the Ebola crisis.
The real problem is the tweeting. It’s not just that this president eschews communicating a unifying, patriotic message during solemn occasions. The truly disgusting thing is that he weaponizes Twitter to launch scurrilous attacks at the most inappropriate time (not that there is an appropriate time to wrongfully accuse someone of murder).
This, of course, brings us to his tweets about Morning Joe co-host and former Florida Rep. Joe Scarborough. In case you missed it (maybe you were on the boardwalk at Ocean City, Maryland, or swimming up to a bar at the Lake of the Ozarks?), Trump suggested that Scarborough was somehow involved in the death of a young aide nearly 20 years ago.
But he didn’t stop there.
On Saturday, Trump tweeted that Scarborough was a “Nut Job (with bad ratings)” and urged his followers to “Keep digging, use forensic geniuses!” In a subsequent tweet, he added: “Did he get away with murder? Some people think so.”
“A lot of interest in this story about Psycho Joe Scarborough,” Trump continued on Sunday. “So a young marathon runner just happened to faint in his office, hit her head on his desk, & die? I would think there is a lot more to this story than that? An affair? What about the so-called investigator?”
If you’re keeping score at home, that’s the President of the United States baselessly accusing a prominent media critic of murder... over Memorial Day weekend.
This is ghastly and appalling for all the obvious reasons, not the least of which is the distress this brings to grieving family members who are trying to move on and heal. The young woman worked for Scarborough back when he was a Republican congressman from Florida. She died in a district office in July 2001. No suspicion of foul play ever arose.
(An aside: The other day, Nikki Haley tweeted that she was “struggling” over Joe Biden’s remarks that if you vote for Trump “you ain’t black.” No word yet if she’s struggling over any of Trump’s remarks.)
But if the assault on Scarborough wasn’t revealing enough of Trump’s debased character, consider the attacks on his former attorney general, Jeff Sessions, as he tries to regain his Senate seat in Alabama.
I’m no Sessions fan and must admit to deriving some degree of schadenfreude from the way Trump has turned on him. Still, it’s important to remember that Sessions was the first big Trump endorsement, and that it’s entirely plausible that Trump would never have been elected without Sessions’ help. That’s why it is so revealing to see Trump repaying Sessions by bashing him on Twitter and saying Sessions wasn’t “mentally qualified” to be attorney general.
Say what you will about the man’s politics, at least Sessions respects the rule of law. That is what led him to recuse. But Trump, who prefers loyalty to Trump over loyalty to democratic institutions, blames Sessions’ recusal for the Mueller investigation. “3 years ago, after Jeff Sessions recused himself, the Fraudulent Mueller Scam began. Alabama, do not trust Jeff Sessions. He let our Country down,” Trump tweeted on Friday night.
As Ann Coulter (!) pointed out, in one of many stinging rebukes of Trump, “Sessions HAD to recuse himself, you complete blithering idiot. YOU did not have to go on Lester Holt's show and announce you fired Comey over the Russian investigation. That's what got you a Special Prosecutor.”
To recap, Sessions didn’t cause Trump’s problems, just like Scarborough didn’t kill his staffer. But the most powerful man in the world chose to spend this solemn occasion—presumably between holes—vomiting out tweets to satisfy some twisted, deep-seated, emotional yearning for vengeance.
That, and the fact that he wants to change the subject from COVID-19 to anything else.
I’m not sure which motivation is worse, or more telling.
Unfortunately, we can’t escape him. Even over what should have been a holiday weekend, we cannot get a break from this man or his madness. The whining. The grievance. The victimhood. The lashing out. It is eternal. It. Never. Stops.
“We must picture hell as a state where everyone is perpetually concerned about his own dignity and advancement, where everyone has a grievance, and where everyone lives with the deadly serious passions of envy, self-importance, and resentment,” wrote C.S. Lewis.
In other words, hell is Trump. Or, at least, Trump’s Twitter feed. And we are all stuck here… until November.