A sweet anniversary and a critical caution

Dear President Trump,

I watched it again this morning even though I knew it would make me tear up and even though I knew you would be popping in at the end ruining everything again (still). It was the last thing I looked at last night before going to bed. Well, except for a quick click on the HP article about Elizabeth Warren’s damn funny cougar clap-back Tweet in response to the whacko story that she paid some young body-builder guy to sleep with her. You all are truly desperate idiots. But this other thing was something all together different – it was (and still is) the HP’s video celebration of Barack and Michelle Obamas’ 27th wedding anniversary. It’s captioned and I kept the sound off both because I was trying to wind down and because I’ve been listening to MO’s wonderful audiobook that she narrated herself so I know her voice and could “hear” her saying the words printed at the bottom of the screen. Plus, both she and Barack are so expressive and are so present to the people they are talking with in the clips that the audio just wasn’t necessary.

And thank goodness, because it would have probably sent me over the edge last night had I been even more swept up in the feel-good memories evoked by the Obamas only to have you loudly intrude in the next clip (there is no break between clips on the HP video-feed). It was shocking and angst inducing enough to have the visual of you yelling suddenly intrude on the screen so had I been subjected to the audio too, it would have been totally awful. I bet whoever set the video-feed sequencing is challenging to be around; this is likely someone who insists that the horror reality show of you and your administration be front and center at all times, never letting family or friends take a break lest they somehow think for a nanosecond that things are different than they are.

Or at least that’s what I imagine that person to be like. Of course it’s possible that they just needed another clip of a certain length and you were a handy filler item. Or they wanted to heighten the poignancy of the minute+ people got to spend with the Obamas celebrating their anniversary by offering an in-our-faces compare-and-contrast that most of us probably couldn’t turn off fast enough. Understanding what someone else is thinking or what someone else is motivated by can be a very tricky thing.

One of the best bits in the Obama anniversary clip was when Michelle was talking about how dismayed she and Malia would be whenever Sasha asked Barack for his thoughts on something like global warming and he’d launch into a mini-lecture organized around three key points. It was a little tiny thing, but it reminded me of what it was like to have a President whose verbal output could be reasonably considered a fair proxy for what he believed and what his motivations were. We don’t have that anymore.

Lately I’ve been noticing, and cringing, every time a journalist or media anchor says something along the lines of “President Trump thinks it is….” or “President Trump believes….” It doesn’t matter what they say they think you think or believe, I want to shake them (gently of course) and remind them that we don’t know what the f*ck you think or believe – we know what you say, what you Tweet, and at least some of what you do, but we do not know what you are really thinking and we most certainly do not know what you believe. I’m not even sure you know what you are thinking or what you believe, but that’s a different issue. I want the media to stop being lazy and to start being more factual in their reporting of you (and all your damn props); they need to say things like “President Trump maintains that the phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky was ‘perfect’” or something like that – it’s more cumbersome and it’s tricky to get it right, but it’s dangerous for us to think we know what you are thinking so we need to knock it off.

May we be smart about keeping ourselves safe.
May we be willing to use language precisely and stop pretending we know what you are thinking.
May we see that the short and long-term health of our democracy depends on not taking you at your word.
May you not start a war.

Tracy Simpson

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