December 14 marked the five year anniversary of Sandy Hook, the day a man shot his way into a grade school in Newtown, CT and massacred 20 six and seven year olds, as well as six teachers and staff.
If this is where you stop reading because you think I’m going to launch into a lecture on gun control, you’re wrong. I simply stop to recall the horrifying deaths of these 20 babies and their six protectors, the way all of us mark losses in our lives, and to note the stunning absence of any acknowledgement from the president. No thoughts and prayers. No, “Five years ago, on this day …” Not even a tweet. All as the White House hosted a Christmas party that included, like a proverbial gun to the gut of Sandy Hook parents, Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association.
The New York Times recently reported that “before taking office, Mr. Trump told top aides to think of each presidential day as an episode in a television show in which he vanquishes rivals.” So, speaking of anniversaries, we are quickly approaching the final episode of Season One: The Trump Presidency.
Of course we do not need The New York Times to point out the obvious. This president thrives on being the center of our universe, the star, the centrifugal force around which our daily news cycle spins. Our attention is his oxygen.
In the last few episodes, the president threw all-in with Roy Moore down in Alabama, an alleged child molester and sexual assaulter; he denigrated the FBI, thousands of law enforcement officers who risk their lives, at great cost to themselves and their families, to protect American citizens; and he tweeted that Sen. Gillibrand was something of a whore who “would come to my office ‘begging’ for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them).”
Imagine if President Obama had written these words about a professional white woman, a sitting U.S. Senator. Imagine if a black man, any black man, had said or done any of these things within the span of a week.
As Trump famously said in his Access Hollywood tape, “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.” And he was right. When you’re a wealthy white man, a star, you can do anything.
You can be credibly accused of sexual misconduct by more than a dozen women and your fans will shrug.
You can ram massive tax cuts through Congress without ever releasing your own tax returns to show the millions your own family will save.
You can travel almost weekly, on taxpayer dollars, to your country club and spend a full third of your presidency playing golf.
You can buddy up to oligarchs like Russia’s Vladimir Putin who work with dogged precision to destroy the country you lead.
You can call unflattering reports #FakeNews, attack the media and the free press and our First Amendment, and be wildly cheered by your rabid Fox News fans.
You can even spend years floating a conspiracy theory that our first black president was not an American citizen and, in doing so, rally enough disciples to take his place in the Oval Office.
In the five years since Sandy Hook, there have been 1,576 mass shootings. On December 7, one week before the Sandy Hook anniversary, a man shot and killed two students and then himself at a New Mexico High School. The man was well-known on pro-Trump, white-supremacist websites who say Sandy Hook was nothing but a hoax, the ultimate #FakeNews.
Earlier this year, the Newtown school board pleaded in a letter to President Trump, ”We are asking you to intervene to try to stop [Alex] Jones and other hoaxers like him. We are asking you to acknowledge the tragedy from 12/14/12 and to denounce anyone spreading lies and conspiracy theories about the tragedy on that December morning.”
They have yet to receive a response, but the head of the NRA, who spent more than $30M to elect Donald J. Trump president, got a red-carpet invitation to the White House Christmas party on the anniversary of their children’s deaths.
That’s almost it for Season One. If you want to see wealthy white privilege at work, look no further than the reality TV show playing out at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Rumor has it the star might fire Special Counsel Bob Mueller, vanquishing his rival before Christmas. Go ahead, binge-watch. It’s a hell of a show.