Blog: La-La Land

Burt Ross

NOTE TO READER: This is the first time I have rerun one of my columns. The column below first appeared in The Malibu Times on Feb. 6, 2017, shortly after Donald Trump became president. It is, unfortunately, every bit as true now as it was then.

No, no, fellow Malibuites, this has nothing to do with “La La Land,” the acclaimed movie where people stuck in a LA traffic jump out of their vehicles and dance on their car roofs. Rather, this column refers to la-la land, the fanciful state of our country now that Trump has taken over—a land where facts are now out of fashion.

Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s version of Baghdad Bob, spins reality faster than a top. She has already helped write her own obituary by adding a new phrase to our lexicon—”alternative facts.” We now live in a world where if you repeat a lie often enough, it is supposed to somehow morph into an “alternative fact,” but a lie by any other name is still a lie.

When Trump proclaims he won the election in a landslide victory of historic proportions—even though he lost the popular vote by almost three million votes—or when he insists his inauguration crowd was the biggest yet—which it wasn’t—these are all out-and-out lies, nothing more, nothing less. No manipulation of our language will make his lies any less loathsome. And how do you trust somebody who can’t stop lying?

Conway knows full well, as do the legions of Trump’s sycophants, that his claims are outrageous, but this is not the first time in history that people who know better remain silent. Their silence is deafening. When Trump’s rule by tweet proves disastrous, those who could have spoken up but didn’t will share the blame and the shame. The emperor has no clothes, but the many who lack courage pretend not to notice.

Some of Trump’s supporters argue we need to give the new president some time. But time to do what? He has already alienated many of our allies, not by insisting that our needs should come first, but by making it clear their interests are irrelevant. Our new ambassador to the United Nations announced that if others don’t do our bidding, we will be “taking names.” The sheer arrogance of it all. If left unchecked, our new leader will destroy decades of constructive diplomacy in a matter of months.

There is a misguided belief that a new Trump will emerge once he feels the weight of the presidency, but this is wishful thinking that, if engaged in long enough, will prove disastrous. Trump is 70 years old and not about to change his ways, which have gotten him to where he is. 

He was born with a platinum spoon in his mouth. Born on third base, he thinks he hit a home run. Trump learned to bully people from his mentor, Roy Cohn, Joe McCarthy’s right hand man who, more than any other human being during the Red Scare, ruined the lives of so many innocent people, including some of Hollywood’s most talented. Why anybody would expect him to change now defies logic. 

Trump acts like a gunslinger drunk on power. His attention span is 140 characters, and he gives little thought to anything before taking action, least of all to how his words and actions will impact fellow human beings. His modus operandi reverses the traditional order of everything as he shouts, “Ready, Fire, Aim!”

His attacks on the press are never ending. No dictator likes a free press, and Trump is no different. Rather than accepting responsibility for any of his own actions, Trump would rather blame the media. He is never mistaken, never wrong and never doubts—all signs of the narcissistic man without an iota of empathy Trump has always been.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is closing down after being in business since 1871, just when a new three ring circus has put up its tent in our nation’s capital with Trump its ring master firmly in control. 

It was P.T. Barnum himself who said, “There is a sucker born every minute,” and don’t think Trump doesn’t know it. Like demagogues before him, Trump understands that fear is a strong motivator, and just like Chicken Little, he keeps telling us all the sky is falling—unemployment is over 40 percent, the world has never been in a worse state, there is carnage everywhere. And he and only he can save us. He ran to be our savior, not our president. 

Our great country, which gave us the humble, self deprecating, eloquent Abe Lincoln, now brings us the bombastic, combative, self-centered man whose vocabulary is that of somebody in elementary school. From “Four score and seven years ago…” we now hear “great, amazing, sad.” The man can’t even finish a sentence, let alone a complicated thought.         

What is happening today far transcends the Republican/Democrat or liberal/conservative divide. We have a man in the White House who would rather be king with none of the restraints that were carefully built into our Constitution. He has no regard for checks and balances, differences of opinion or all the other ingredients that have made our democracy the model of the world. He threatens all of this. Temperament cannot be overlooked or ignored. Good will not come from a mean spirited man.

Like in the movie “Network,” it is now time for all of us to stand up and shout, “I’m mad as hell and I won’t take it anymore.” If we don’t stop this would-be monarch in his tracks, our la-la land could well turn into a horror movie.