Wednesday, June 12, 2024 | Baltimore, MD

Venetoulis: Seven Days in February

February 14, 2020

It was a Vote that Will Live in Infamy. A vote where only a single Republican Senator showed his colleagues that courage is not dead in the United States Senate.

It was a State of the Union Speech.  A speech that was less to do with the future functioning of the state of our country, then with the current malfunctioning of the state of a presidential mind. A Speech that will not be remembered for what it was about but for how it ended.  After listening to remarks packed with falsehoods and partisan rants and watching a balcony of theatrics including the First Lady fixing a Presidential Medal of Freedom around the neck of an unscrupulous hate monger who turned venom into a profitable business, that made her an accomplice to an act that will forever haunt her and her husband — after listening to the President’s Mt Everest of lies, Speaker Pelosi, our own Nancy D’Alesandro Pelosi, ripped up her copy of his speech. Criminal, according to the President – who knows a great deal about criminal behavior.  Indecorous, piled on Fox News and a few pundits who in service to the church of false equivalencies actually criticized her behavior as downright Trumpian.

And then there was the Prayer Breakfast that featured an unworldly presidential breakdown, where the divine leader delivered a rancid rage of Presidential petulance challenging the “faith” of his critics.

The Breakfast was followed by a White House celebration of vengeance before a gaggle of giggling grovelers, featuring the President spouting the language of a drunk drill sergeant including the first recorded use of the words “sleazebag” and  “bullshit’ in the East Room.  Trump knocked Purple Heart patriots, whistleblowers, congressional critics, intelligence agencies and any notion that civility was a valued commodity in a free society.

It was also the prelude to a Stalin-like purge where the President dismissed one of his handpicked ambassador, fired a Purple Heart veteran and his twin brother and bluntly warned those who would dare speak truth to power that he would instruct his Attorney General, America’s infamous legal lapdog, to launch criminal investigations into their behavior.

With all this, Trump sent to Congress a Budget that ripped apart his pledges more violently then Speaker Pelosi speech-ripping– a budget that would cut Medicare, food stamps, shrink the nations long protected and cherished safety net and still add billions to the annual deficit and national debt.

Finally, as if this was not an exhaustive display of presidential abuse, he ended the week with a brazen sentencing intrusion hammering the concept of an independent judicial system and setting the stage for election-timed investigations and the real whopper –a post-election parade of pardons—his idea of reducing prison crowding.

All of this was hailed as Trump’s “best week” in office.

Let’s get this straight:  Using a wrecking ball to crush the Constitution, throwing mud on political civility, and demonizing decades of institutional norms—this was his best week!

Do we wonder why the nation is stunned, pundits are confused, and Democrats, in the midst of a quadrennial squabble to select a leader for the Loyal Opposition, are so angry they can’t figure out who would be best to deal with this lunatic.  Is he a mob boss, a thug, a mad monarch, a creepy dictator?  Is he the Godfather, Dr. Strangelove, a Russian asset?  Is he Mel Brooks leading a chorus of Springtime for Hitler, or is he playing the title role in a Mussolini musical bellowing obscenities from a balcony while the crowd below shouts Il Duce.  Maybe it’s Catch 22 – where we are all Yossarians challenging our own sanity as we grudgingly tolerate one level of unlawful presidential behavior until he jolts us by escalating to another even worse unlawful level.  And, anticipating a wave of a digital anger, dare we suggest that the parallel might be Europe in the l930’s overrun by fascism, Nazism and communism — where thoughtful German citizens were transformed into a nation of mutes led by a hierarchy of enablers who sat silent as their new savior harangued the press as the enemy of the people and  weaponized the judicial system to rattle critics, round up Jews, prosecute opponents, rig trials and organized massive rallies  where followers  were incited to shout:  LOCK THEM UP!

What America saw these Seven Days in February was the Full Trump!  History will show it was the week when  an unleashed, unhinged, uncontrollable President declared war on his own country.  His band of merry enablers left us with the amiable admonition:  Just Get Over It!

I don’t know about you.  But I’m not getting over it.

I stand with Pelosi.

I stand with Schiff.

I stand with Romney.

I stand with fearless diplomats in the State Department.  With heroic members in the military. With  Fed-up lawyers in the Justice Department. With unyielding members of Congress.  With gutsy whistleblowers,  zealous journalists and impassioned critics. And I stand with millions of my fellow Americans who will not just rip up Trump’s speech, but who can’t wait for Election Day – and — to stoop to a Trumpian vulgarity — give our leader a farewell finger!

Ted Venetoulis

The Morning Rundown

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