A record setting stretch


How’s it going getting everything wrapped up? I’m guessing you haven’t been hindered by a bunch of sappy, heartfelt goodbyes with your staff or with members of the standing White House staff – and not because you don’t go in for such things.

This will probably get me a hefty bit of karmic debt, but I’m enjoying the idea that pretty dang soon you’re going to be holed up in some dark room at Mar-a-lago eating nothing but cardiac-arrest-inducing fast food, flipping through channels, screaming at no one, and trying to hatch come-back plans that have a snowball’s chance in hell of working.

A couple of weeks ago I floated the idea of seeing whether this crazy string of daily letters to you (1,436 as of today) might make it into the Guinness Book of World Records. I told you then that I looked it up and found out that the record holder is Uichi Noda, a former Vice Minister of Treasury and Minister of Construction of Japan who wrote his wife 1307 letters. I don’t think I told you, though, that his wife was bedridden or that her name was Mitsu and that he wrote her all of these letters during his overseas trips. I’ve not read any of the letters, but I bet they’re sweet and I bet most of them are real love letters and for these reasons, I think it’s best to leave well enough alone and not challenge Uichi and Mitsu’s legacy. Far better to have “the most letters written” be comprised of love letters than whatever it is my letters to you are.

Besides, you seem to be racking up enough records on your way out that you don’t need to be associated with another one. Ticking off the highlights…. You’ve got the lowest approval rating ever (Gallup has you at 34%) for a POTUS leaving office. You’re the first president never to crack a 50% approval rating and the first to be impeached twice. You presided over one of the most disastrous responses to a national crisis ever and as of this evening the World-o-meter (I wish it had a more dignified name) is showing us that we have just under 411,500 Covid-19 deaths and nearly 25 million cases. Predictably, the vaccine rollout has been terrible under your watch too.

You’ve also told the most lies of any POTUS and frankly, likely of anyone, ever, in just four years. You’re the first president in modern history not to make his tax returns public and you’re likely the very best grifter to occupy the Oval Office. I also think you gave Nixon a run for his money in terms of being the most racist and anti-liberal POTUS ever (I’m reading about the Nixon era in Jill Lepore’s These Truths book and holy crap does it look like you used his presidency as a blueprint and then took it through the stratosphere).

There are so many other ways you set the bar lower than anyone else in history, but most fundamentally, you were absolutely relentless in trying to break US. Day in and day out you meted out dozens of escalating, over-the-top ways of pitting US against one another, of demoralizing US, of making US fear that you were actually going to manage to shred democracy.  You did such a f*cking number on US that personally, even as we’re on the brink of closing this horrible nightmare of a presidency, I don’t have the energy to be celebratory and instead feel a weird combination of numb, exhausted, anxious, angry, and deeply, deeply sad. We’ve been through so much and so many of US are so weary and want to move on, but this isn’t one of those “bounce right back” situations. Rather, we need a real, deep reckoning before we can even begin to shift into something resembling wholeness.

May we be safe as we transition out of the acute nightmare of the last four years.
May we be willing to do the work you made so painfully clear needs to be done.
May we be strong individually and collectively over the longer haul.
May we accept that this isn’t a “wipe the slate clean” situation.

Tracy Simpson

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