Columns

From the New York Times, Time magazine, and the complete Chicago Tribune syndicated columns

What Mark Twain killed, Donald Trump has revived

The Constitution does not allow 13-year-olds to become president and after last week we can see why. The Boy President proudly holding his latest executive order up for the cameras, to show that he knows right-side-up from upside-down. Bringing his Supreme Court nominee onstage (“So was that a surprise? Was it?”) Hanging up on the prime minister of Australia. His homage to Frederick Douglass (“someone who’s done an amazing job”) for Black History Month. Twittering about the “so-called judge” who stopped the Muslim travel ban. Pictured in full smirk at the National Prayer Breakfast, preening, bloviating (“In towns all across our land, it’s plain to see what we easily forget — so easily we forget this, that the quality of our lives is not defined by our material success, but by our spiritual success”) on a scale of bloviation equal to Warren G. Harding and the great gasbags of the 19th century. You think, let the man be president but please don’t put him in charge of the Weather Service or Amtrak or the TSA.

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Republicans, the nation looks to you

What we know so far is that the man is who he is. There is no larger, finer man inside him trying to get out. Everyone who is paying attention knows this. Flags flying at the Capitol, the U.S. Marine Band, gray eminences in black coats, and He Who Is Smarter than Those With Intelligence delivers 16 minutes of hooey and horse hockey about corrupt politicians betraying the people, and American carnage, and patriotism healing our divisions, though the division is mainly about Himself and love of country does not necessarily make people stupid.

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Trump has me searching for a new religion

And so the Boy President heads for Washington to be sworn into office, pumping his fist, mooning the media, giving the stinky finger to whomever irks him, doing his end-zone dance, promising to build the wall, cut taxes, create jobs, provide great health insurance for EVERYONE and send his son-in-law to the Middle East to solve that little problem, and the rest of us will sit in a barn and keep ourselves warm and hide our heads under our wings, poor things. Discouraging.

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Hanging out down South

I’ve been down in South Carolina and Georgia, an old Northern liberal in red states, enjoying a climate like April in January and the hospitality of gracious, soft-spoken people, many of whom voted for He Who Does Not Need Intelligence, but they didn’t bring it up, so neither did I.

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Idealists can’t win

Back when I was 16 and an idealist, I decided that our church youth group — I was president — should sit and listen to Handel’s oratorio “Messiah” and have a spiritual experience, so I brought my LP and sat everyone down in a circle and talked about how wonderful it was and set the needle down on the vinyl.

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The decline of small talk and common experiences

A man says to me, “How do you like that car?”
I’m standing by a little green Kia.
“It’s not mine, it’s a rental,” I say.
I’m in the town of Okeechobee, Fla., parked on the main drag in front of Nutmeg’s Cafe.
“Where you from?” he says.
“Minnesota.”
“I hear they just got more snow up there.”

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Christmas lives on

It is hard to believe that the Creator of our universe with its billions of galaxies could have sent Himself to this little blue blip not so long ago in the form of an infant born to a virgin, to be first worshiped by illiterate shepherds where He lay in a feed trough, livestock peering down at Him, Eastern potentates following a star to the site. But here we are again, singing those songs, so we shall see.

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What will be Trump’s legacy? Who cares.

Was Donald J. Trump a recruit in
The Russians’ quest for a route in-
To the Oval Office
By way of a novice?
Trump pooh-poohs it: pooh-Putin.

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The damage that 80,000 Trump voters in three states can do

He promised the swamp would be drained,
Was elected, said “Rain!” and it rained
And the old crocodiles
Wore flesh-eating smiles
And the turtles were well entertained.

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Making America profane again

So many Trumpists have written in since the election, and I am grateful for their interest and also impressed by the sheer variety of their profanity. I never learned to swear that well because by the time my mother died, at 97, it was too late for me to learn. I gather from the letters that their lives were devastated by the advent of gay marriage, political correctness, the threat of gun control, the arrogance of liberals, and now a champion rises from Fifth Avenue & 56th Street and God forbid that any dog should bark when he speaks or any pigeon drop white matter on his limousine.

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