The wisdom of Abraham Lincoln, or Paul and Art, or maybe Bob

in Voices by

By DAVID TAUB

Abraham Lincoln is alleged to have said the following about the interface between citizens of the Republic and the politicians who governed them (although probably not the first to make this judicious observation):

“You can fool all of the people some of the time.

You can fool some of the people all of the time.

But, you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”

Personally, I prefer Robert Zimmerman’s (aka Bob Dylan’s) take on that point of view:

“Half of the people can be part right all of the time;

And some of the people can be all right part of the time;

But, all of the people can’t be all right all of the time.”

I think Abraham Lincoln said that.

I’ll let you be in my dream if I can be in yours.

I said that.” (Talking World War III Blues, 1965)

The terrible reign of Emperor DJT proves the truth and wisdom of Abe’s and Bob’s insights. Sadly and inexplicably, POTUS has managed to fool some of the people all of the time.

POTUS has been, and will likely remain, first, last and always a showman; a circus barker; a sober Elmer Gantry; a skillful con artist in the guise of P. T. Barnum.

Trump plays at the cinematic role of a POTUS, approaching his presidential duties from the vantage point of entertainment and ratings. It is most certainly not based on any conventional view of politics and fundamental beliefs, for he cares only about his own self-interests.

He is a flawed person who plays the part of a hero in his own altered Wizard of Odd universe. But, his Nielsen ratings are tanking now, and the show’s metaphorical advertisers are jumping ship. He cries out claiming to be the pitiful victim of untold (and false) conspiracies aimed at his downfall.

DJT’s greatest character flaw is his fatal, in-bred refusal to take responsibility and admit error. In mid-March, when courageous proactive leadership would have prevented most of the nearly 150,000 deaths that have occurred since, POTUS proclaimed in the White House Rose Garden, “I don’t take responsibility at all,” thus making clear his leaderless approach, not only to the deadly pandemic, but also to other crises that occurred during his presidency.

His modus vivendi is to double- and triple-down and to never, ever admit he’s wrong, blaming anyone and everyone else for failures that are demonstrably his.

America is branded with the ignominious label as being the world’s No. 1 hot-spot for COVID-19, with more than four and a half million infections total and daily deaths hovering around 1,500. Experts estimate as many as 250,000 deaths will occur before judgment day, a scant 3 months away.

If professional baseball teams open to totally empty stadiums, but immediately players and coaches tested positive for coronavirus causing them to cancel games, what on this earth makes any normal human to believe opening up schools, encased in their small arenas full of folks of all ages, can do so safely?

Sheer stone-cold insanity in the first degree. Guilty, your honor. Just when you thought it could not get worse, we have 1,500 of our kinsmen dying each day.

And at his last Tuesday TV show of propaganda from the WH, he whines that Americans like Dr. Fauci more than himself, and cries “but nobody likes ME.”

You have just got to be kidding. He says it must be his personality. Really? POTUS has bequeathed us an empty basket bereft of hope. God help us.

What is most difficult for me to understand is how so many Americans have chosen to live in DJT’s alternate universe of lies and deception. So much craziness in our country simply confounds belief: a POTUS who addresses the COVID-19 deadly pandemic with ignorance and indifference; he inflames racial animus and unrest; creates violent confrontations against our citizenry with his “praetorian guard,” all while his cowardly party of Know Nothings stands mute, deaf and blind.

It is true that many a hard-core political conservative has “woke” to this ugly reality. To their credit, they have loudly and openly berated the corrupt and incompetent failure of POTUS’s leadership. Sadly, this does not include a single Know Nothing senator in Congress, even though most of them know “it is all a lie.”

I have given this conundrum much thought, trying, unsuccessfully, to understand how this social and political nightmare came to be. Perhaps the answer is that there is no answer; or perhaps this puzzle is simply not solvable? Numerous mysteries in the world have no meaningful explanation, scientific or otherwise. Perhaps this is one of them?

For me, the brilliance of Simon and Garfunkel offers the most satisfying explanation of how DJT dishonored our democracy, kidnapped the soul of the GOP and turned it into a party of sniveling Know Nothings.

“I have squandered my resistance for a pocket full of mumbles, such are promises. All lies in jest, still a man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest … Lies, lies, lies.” (1970, Simon and Garfunkel).

“Well, all I know is what I read in the newspapers.” – Will Rogers. 

David M. Taub was Mayor of Beaufort from 1990 through 1999 and served as a Beaufort County Magistrate from 2010 to 2015. You can reach him at david.m.taub42@gmail.com.