Gary Horton | Silence Is Golden, and We Had It

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I so fondly remember the quiet calm of the Barack Obama presidency. Obama took office amidst the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression and calmly, reassuringly, worked to bring America back from the brink. After stabilizing the freefall he inherited from the George W. Bush presidency, each day pretty much became routine and predictable. You could pretty much go to bed each night knowing that the next day would be a little bit better than the day before and that nothing too unexpected was likely to happen. 

Eight years we had gone without a tweet. Eight years and no indictments, no rape accusations, no close operatives going to jail, no White House decimated by viruses. Eight years and about the biggest scandal was when Obama wore a tan suit, and once didn’t wear a flag lapel pin, and once when he put his feet up on the resolute desk. 

Each day, calm, steady progress, give or take the color of his suit.

Some may have gotten bored or missed the thrills and chills of George Bush’s wars and economic collapses. For those missing such train wrecks, God saved them all up over Obama’s eight years and gave them to Trump to unleash them on all America with a turbocharged train wreck gun, and always, with the carnage narrated by a steady flow of Trump tweets, stirring the American pot even harder.

In a presidency punctuated by steady destruction of social, public, political and economic normalcy, this past week Trump’s train wreck gun ran amuck and unloaded on us all at once in a never-to-ever-be-repeated presidential debacle extravaganza.

The president lost his cool (and likely the election) during his “debate” with Joe Biden — and in a preventable tragedy and self-inflicted wound of nearly cosmic karma and irony, the president got COVID-19, along with 14 other close White House and political associates, turning his entire White House and presidential campaign upside down. 

These past days have been a tsunami, a tidal wave of sludge and scandal, of presidential shock and awe implosion. Accustomed to the never-ending bullying tweets, the 20,000 lies and counting, the constant over-the top outrage – even accustomed to all this, these few past days have been unimaginably scandalous, outrageous, and for many, terrifying. And through it all spewed the never-ending tweets, denials, blaming, and bullying…

And then, if only for three days, it all (mostly) stopped. Late Thursday night, Hope Hicks was reported to have contracted COVID-19. An hour later, Trump himself reported he and Melania also had the virus. And a day later as his symptoms worsened, Trump was whisked away to Walter Reed Hospital for the world’s highest level of personal care.

And the tweets stopped. Perhaps the walls at Walter Reed are too thick for cell phone coverage. Perhaps the president was simply too weak. Perhaps he was sedated and incapacitated. Whatever the cause, the Trump tweetstorm abated.

Silence is golden. For the first days of Trump’s hospital stay, so much of the presidential noise machine was silenced as, rightfully, national attention turned to Trump’s well-being and health. 

Days later, aided by 20 doctors, experimental drugs and juiced on steroids, Trump returned to the White House for photo ops and political spin. Unmasked, Trump told the nation, “not to be afraid of the virus” which had just laid him so low. I understand Trump’s risky motivation. It’s an election cycle and Trump’s base sees him as a sort of Superman who can’t get beaten – not even by a virus. So, chances are taken, masks are again removed, and the noise machine gets cranked back up.

But for a brief three days, as Trump healed up inside Walter Reed, America also got to rest up on a short-lived tweet reprieve. Silence was golden. 

Trump is Trump and he will forever be the smash-face, carnival barker he is. It’s his brand and persona and he’s done well with it, to now 39% of Americans (and falling). 

A benefit of the tax expose, blown debate and cosmic COVID contagion is the now nearly certain impending Biden presidency. Finally and permanently gone will be the 24/7 tweets. Gone will be the noisy nation-dividing. 

We’ll again go to bed each night able to hit the pillow knowing the next day will calmly be a little bit better than the day before, as competent people simply do their jobs to return America back to a safe and sane place – without the drama, scandal, division and perpetual noise.

Silence is golden and all sane folks will appreciate it when it again returns.

q q q 

Subscript: Like others of our wide political spectrum, I wish Donald Trump and all affected a full and complete recovery. The COVID-19 illness cannot be politicized, and health is health. We wish good outcomes for all. As to Trump’s COVID-related behavior, voters will hold him accountable for the danger and damage he’s done to his associates and our country’s recovery. The two issues must remain separate.

Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006. The opinions expressed in his column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Signal or its editorial board.

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