15 Minutes of Trump 

Republican strategist and author Rick Wilson is not a fan of his party's president, Donald Trump. He's made a name for himself lately as a cable news analyst, and has coined the catch phrase (also the title of his new book), Everything Trump Touches Dies. That may be a bit harsh, but it's a good title if you want to sell books, and Wilson makes a good — and entertaining — case for his thesis.

I think an equally strong case could be made that Trump is actually proving the truth of Andy Warhol's 1970s prediction: "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes."

click to enlarge Rick Wilson
  • Rick Wilson

Consider the following list: Michael Flynn, Sally Yates, James Comey, Sean Spicer, Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus, Anthony Scaramucci, Sebastian Gorka, Tom Price, Omarosa Manigault, Rob Porter, Hope Hicks, Gary Cohn, Rex Tillerson, Andrew McCabe, H.R. McMaster, Scott Pruitt, Nikki Haley. This is a partial list of folks who were once household names — major newsmakers, for a minute or 15 — but who have now left the orbit of Trump administration. Though some were fired, many made the decision to leave of their own volition.

This list does not include some others who, in most administrations, would have been chased from their posts because of unethical use of taxpayer dollars or other scandalous misbehavior. This list would include Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, to name four. All remain in place, for now.

So far, eight Trump cabinet officers have resigned or were fired due to professional or personal misconduct or because they clashed with the president and jumped ship.

It's mind-numbing to try and merely recall all the dramatic and attention-grabbing incidents — national and international — that have ocurred in the 20 months Trump's been in office. Not to mention the hundreds of controversial presidential tweets, each infesting — or driving — the national news cycle for a time, until the next distraction takes root.

In some ways, Trump is the perfect president for the short-attention-span, social media-driven world we now inhabit. His impulsive moves and attention-grabbing pronouncements make for a president that's a kind of human clickbait.

As a result, we are eaten up by trivia, spurred on by a reactive media that follow each new shiny object that pops up. Trump throws biscuits to the hounds, and they follow him dutifully, awaiting their next treat. We watch, for example, as cable news pundit panels spend hours discussing the impact of Elizabeth Warren's DNA test, a total waste of everyone's time. The next day, the same panels spend hours discussing Trump's reaction to Elizabeth Warren's DNA test. Then Warren responds. And so it goes. And so it goes. And so it goes.

Meanwhile, thousands of immigrant children are living without hope in camps in the remote Texas desert. Meanwhile, thousands of people are left homeless from hurricane damage in Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas. Meanwhile, our "ally," Saudi Arabia, (you know, the country where all the 9/11 terrorists came from) openly tortures, assassinates, and dismembers a Washington Post columnist.

Meanwhile, meanwhile, meanwhile ...

... Trump takes his endless roadshow tent-revival from one state to another, replaying his greatest hits for his loyal MAGAs, who cheer his lies about building a wall and about Brett Kavanaugh being at the top of his class and countless other prevarications and exaggerations. They applaud his mocking of a sexual assault victim and chant "Lock her up!" about a sitting U.S. senator who is guilty of no crime. Today, the show might be in Mississippi. Tomorrow, it'll be in Michigan or Ohio or Pennsylvania or Nevada. Same song, same verse, same ignorance and hypocrisy and hate.

Trump has intentionally divided this country. His "enemies list" is long and expansive. It applies to literally millions of Americans, including all Democrats, the free press, Hispanic immigrants, protesters, Muslims, moderate Republicans, etc. In truth, it includes any person or entity that isn't buying what the president is selling — which is our country — down the river.

I've been saying this for weeks, but I don't care if it's repetitive. We need to fix this. We are broken. We need to vote for change in three weeks. If we don't, our 15 minutes as a country might well be up — and Rick Wilson might be right.

Bruce VanWyngarden

brucev@memphisflyer.com

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