Alden Graves | Graves Registry: Sacrificing our children to the great cause

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Maybe Trump figured commuting Roger Stone's sentence was easier than waiting for someone else to crawl out of a sewer and replace him.

On top of all the other names he so richly deserves, Mr. Trump might be called The Great Pretender. The precisely arranged hair, the carefully tailored suits that attempt to disguise the obese bulk, the creepy orange beach boy complexion, and the latest model trophy wife all suggest desperate efforts by a man halfway through his seventies to look like someone just entering his forties.

His educated, articulate niece isn't fooled. Mary Trump is in a much better position to expound on Uncle Donald's various psychosis in her book, "Too Much and Never Enough," but I still think that, like many people who have been handed everything all of their pampered lives, it is a safe conclusion that Mr. Trump has honed the practice of pretending to a near art form.

It's the closest he ever comes to being an actual Republican.

The GOP is the party, you may recall, that still pretends that the people who have to rely on public assistance to feed their kids are all moochers, that the devastating climate change we are experiencing is normal, that huge corporate tax breaks are going to "trickle down" and benefit ordinary workers, that voting by mail during a catastrophic pandemic invites fraud, and that guns aren't the problem.

No amount of data, no history, no analysis, no measurable results will dissuade them. Facts only intrude on fantasies.

It is pretending on an epic—and oftentimes tragic—scale and it is all directed towards one goal—protecting the best interests of the very rich. And if the politicians who enable it and the fat cats who benefit directly from it can avoid looking directly at the damage they are inflicting upon this country, then they can pretend it doesn't exist.

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People who can't afford the medication that would extend their lives die by the hundreds every single day in this country, but I don't imagine Ian Read, the CEO of Pfizer, visits too many sick rooms. A $27 million annual salary can insulate you from a lot of unpleasantness.

The Republicans even have a major television network to lend a sort of Romper Room credence to their fantasies and obscurations. With over 130,000 people dead of the coronavirus in the United States, you have to wonder what corporate genius at Fox came up with the phrase "pandemic porn" for their odious blonde talking head to level in one of her smug tirades.

The big problem with slapping a Great Pretender label on Mr. Trump, however, is that he is an even more accomplished liar. It is frequently difficult to differentiate the lie from the self-insulating illusion. Oftentimes, he uses lies to lay the foundation for what will eventually emerge as another great pretense. The lies fall away like the booster on a rocket and all we have left is the pretend capsule hurtling around the empty space in his mind and exiting his undisciplined mouth.

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Roger Stone was unjustly convicted because Trump is steeped in the "there was no collusion with Russia" pretense that he may, at this point, have convinced himself is true.

The beginning stage of the pandemic in the United States is another good example. For the better part of two months, the president's reassurance to the American people was centered on the pretense that it was nothing to worry about and that it was all under control. When that pretense began to crumble as thousands of people in the country succumbed to the virus and (more significantly to Mr. Trump and the GOP) the impact on the economy began to become apparent, the president went back to his trademark lies and evasions.

Don't do as much testing and the numbers won't look so bad. Encourage people not to take even the rudimentary precautions to fight spreading the virus. This was the actual position taken by a man that over thirty percent of the American people still believe is fit to sit in the Oval Office. As long as the illusion that everything is returning to normal is encouraged, the reality that we may have not even experienced the worst of the pandemic is kept at bay.

Now, Donald Trump is asking us to risk the lives of our most precious resource—our children—in the unholy cause of his reelection. My two children are far beyond their school years and (I'll admit it) I am grateful not to have grandchildren to worry about. But I wonder if Donald Trump could possibly know what the temperature in Hell might be before I sent my kids into classrooms on his assurance that it was completely safe.

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Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos threatened to withhold federal funding to states that refuse to reopen schools. Small matter that premature reopenings in Trump-friendly states have resulted in a record number of new infections.

I know as much about underwater currents in the Amazon as Betsy DeVos knows about education. She nearly destroyed the school system in her home state of Michigan and now she has been given the opportunity to do it to the entire country, waging a non-stop campaign to destroy public education, lavishing taxpayer monies on private and religious schools, and denying protection to minority students.

DeVos hails from an obscenely rich family and that is all the qualification she needed to be appointed as Trump's secretary of education. She is as big a phony as her boss is; both of them pretenders wreaking their havoc and then retreating into their money when they mess up.

"First thing, as president of the United States not a joke first thing I will do is make sure that the secretary of education is not Betsy DeVos, it is a teacher," Joe Biden said recently.

Hurry November.

Alden Graves writes a regular column for the Banner.


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