I don’t know about you, but I feel better. For a few days now. At first, I couldn’t figure out why. I was just lighter in my step. Whistling more.
Then I figured it out. I’m thinking about him less. He’s taking up far less space in my brain than he has for these past four years, years during which his stupid voice and his pasted-on hair and his orange makeup (historians will marvel that a society ever took seriously a man who pancakes that much orange stuff on his face every morning) and his laughably long ties to “hide” his laughably Brobdingnagian girth, to say nothing of his 25,000 lies and 35,000 assaults on democracy, have pressed down on my brain like some medieval instrument of torture in the Tower of London. There were times when it honestly hurt.
He almost never left. I didn’t say never. There were moments of joy with my daughter, or laughter at a really funny comedy, or tears of nostalgia as I discovered some new-old YouTube video of some rare live performance of a song I loved when I was 20. But most of the time, most waking hours of most days, I would escape into thinking about tax policy or the Battle of Stalingrad or the chords to “Starman,” and then, every 40 seconds or so…Trump, Trump Trump, Trump.
One of the most jarring moments came with regularity early in the morning. Life is funny this way, I can’t quite explain it, but... hearing certain words in one context is somehow different from hearing those exact same words in other contexts. And so it was that hearing the words “President Trump” on the radio, on NPR during my regular little diet of 30 to 45 minutes of Morning Edition every weekday morning, really threw me.
One morning, sometime in maybe 2018, I heard Lakshmi Singh or one of them say “President Trump today…” and even though he’d been president for a while already, it just somehow floored me, and I thought: What the fuck. What Trump? President Who?
But in these last few days, it’s changed. First of all, I don’t have to pay attention anymore. That silly bullshit Facebook video he put out the other day? Feh. Didn’t watch. I heard on TV where he called it “the most important speech of my life.” My God, he’s certifiable. What a joke.
He always was a joke, of course, but for four years, he’s been a joke with enormous power. And since I’m a political journalist, I had to clock this stuff more closely than perhaps you did. I had to get up in the morning and check his Twitter feed. Watch his rallies, or some of them. Watch Sean Spicer and Sarah Huckabee and Kayleigh McEnany stand up at that podium and boast about how the Reichsbank was setting new records that day. Speaking of those three: How did each of them contrive to get successively so much more hideous than the one before them? Remember those innocent days of wine and roses when you thought Spicer was bad?
So Trump was a joke, but with this enormous power, even over life and death (which, alas, we all saw after the pandemic hit). And every time he said or did something that demonstrated yet again that he had no regard at all for democracy or the Constitution, it physically hurt. I felt a little ping strike my chest. I bet you know the feeling. And sometimes, many times, the ping wasn’t so little.
Now? I’m ping-free, man. Now I watch him and laugh. And not just him. Thursday night, I watched a few minutes of Fox News, Carlson and Hannity. I often do, or have, watched them a little bit most nights, except that in the last several weeks leading up to the election, I couldn’t watch, even for 30 seconds. Too enraging. Now I watch them natter on about their stupid fake bombshell Fulton County elections board video and laugh. You’re cooked, you fools. You lost, he lost, he’s gone, you’re pathetic.
Like all liberals, I’m bummed out about the election overall, and I see the nation’s future in pretty grim terms. This is political and cultural war, and I’m not getting any younger, and this will be going for the rest of my life. I get depressed thinking about it, sometimes really depressed. And I know Trump might come back in four years, and that worries me, but he could also be living in a dacha in Crimea, or have traded in maximum luxury for minimum security.
But for now, a huge weight has lifted. I’m like Clarice Starling after the lambs were silenced. Yeah, I know. Lecter’s still out there. But there is no longer any need to fear him.