Last night I watched most of the second U.S. presidential-campaign debate. You know, that’s the one in which Trump refers to his comments in the now-infamous video as “locker-room banter.”
Tonight, I listened again – though for the first time in quite a while – to Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings. The string quartet version is the one I like best. I always go to the Dover Quartet performance on YouTube. They really put their hearts into it. You can see that, as well as hear it. That’s flattery I’m sure they would be glad to hear.
As I was listening the thought occurred this great music is well-suited as background for the tragedy now unfolding in that great country, the world’s first liberal democracy. Yes, liberal.
I watched a Trump supporter this evening being interviewed on CNN. She described herself as a “Christian” and “Pro-life.” She said what Trump said in the video hadn’t changed her support for him. She said it didn’t matter, because it wasn’t one of the big issues Americans are concerned about, like the economy, ISIS, and abortion (“murdering babies,” she called it.) God has a use for such a man, she insisted several times.
Well, yes, that’s no doubt true in some sense. Everyone has the opportunity to be forgiven and redeem their lives. But that requires having a true conscience and taking responsibility for one’s actions. Only then can we begin to find our true selves and the road we were meant to travel. I’d say it’s pretty obvious Trump has not even begun to start that journey of self-awareness.
Someone else tried to argue with the Trump supporter that sexual assault, as described by Trump in the video, is surely an issue when it’s a presidential candidate talking about being able to take advantage of his star-status to commit sexual assault.
Anderson Cooper of CNN, one of the debate moderators, asked Trump three times if he had actually committed the sexual assault he described in the video. Twice the billionaire real estate mogul and Republican Party standard-bearer avoided the question. He finally responded to Cooper’s third try very quickly, but in passing, as he changed the subject. It was anything but a strong, heartfelt denial.
One does not speak the truth without conviction.
Clearly, the man who would be president, who threatened if elected to put Hillary Clinton in jail for her alleged mishandling of emails, did not want to answer that question. He said no, he had not actually done what he bragged about doing in the video; that is, he denied having committed the crime of sexual assault. I assume in the U.S. a conviction on such a charge would get you sent to jail.
And yet there are millions of people in the U.S., “core” supporters of Trump, who still don’t get what should by now be obvious: the man has no operating moral compass, he’s a lost soul, and that too should be an issue.
Even if he loses the election, it won’t be over. He who has no shame, who has the gall to rant about the need for law-and-order, but who encouraged violence against protesters at his own rallies, even offered to pay their legal costs if arrested and charged – he will not go quietly. Indeed, he has already said he fears the results of the Nov. 8 election will be rigged.
That is a “dog whistle” for violence. And there are plenty of crazy people who will hear it, and act upon it. This tragic moment in world history – because, make no mistake, people everywhere will be affected – did not begin with Trump, but he has appealed to the worst, not the best, in the American people, and thus brought the nation down.
Cue the Adagio for the decline and fall of America’s greatness.
5 thoughts on “Cue the Adagio for the decline and fall of American greatness”
Great article. It’s easy to see that you worked as a reporter. Your approach is methodical and thorough. Much needed in these issues, where so many seem to be operating without putting their brains in gear. I fear you are right in your conclusions. Sadly so. Quite heart-breaking for me, as an American. But as I watch from afar (Italy), I come to see more and more that it is not the same country that I left years ago. It has become a foreign place to me. 😦
Brilliant writing, Phil. Not only as a reporter, but as a philosopher/theologian re: forgiveness and redemption. Thanks for this!
Thanks a lot for your kind comment Jennifer
Thanks for introducing me to that ‘adagio’ … profoundly beautiful and so moving.
Yes, it is indeed. You’re welcome