Absorbing Trump’s Blows

I’ve noticed a certain weariness setting in among friends, associates, myself. Gotta get on with life, maintain our joy, equanimity, hope. Can’t live in a state of permanent apoplexy and indignation. Please, can’t we enjoy just an hour’s, an evening’s, a day’s activity and conversation without alluding to HIM and all the things that he touches and disparages and tries to ruin?


So we quietly avoid the whole subject, or hold our hands in front of our face in mock horror when someone mentions his name, and we proclaim only half-jokingly, “Nooooo, I can’t take any more, please!”


And we understand, of course we do, often feeling the same sense of resignation and suffocation ourselves, denied any nearby window that might let in some precious air and light.


So we want out, desperately, no longer willing to weigh down our bruised hearts with thoughts of the awfulness that abides.


Which is when I realize yet again: He’s got us right where he wants us.



My dad was a fight fan, so when I was growing up my brother and I would settle in with regularity to watch the nationally televised Friday Night Fights from Madison Square Garden. They were often complemented by weekday fights in the Los Angeles area on local channels, so in the course of tending to such activity over years, one learns a thing or two about offense and defense, courage and fear, taking the measure of an opponent and then pressing any advantage one can discern.

(My own direct experience of such activity ended in third grade, when Bruce Gentry and I got into a playground tiff and he came at me, thick of neck and shoulders as he was, packing a roundhouse right against which I ducked. It left me merely, mercifully, with a purple bruise on the back of my forearm rather than above my eye, as a teacher, ever so fortunately for me, arrived quickly on the scene.)

Perhaps chief among the lessons of my boxing fan youth was the costs borne by those fighters forced to play defense against fighters who come at them with savage, relentless fury.

Sometimes such offensive fighters punch themselves out, the defender having waited patiently in a crouch or danced around the ring in the early rounds (think Muhammad Ali here), slipping out from most of the damaging blows. That’s when the defender can sometimes turn the tables and begin pursuing his spent prey.

But to the offensive fighter, relentlessness, endurance and will are everything. Sufficiently trained, which includes developing an iron, indomitable will, the offensive fighter usually goes after the body rather than the head of the defender in the early rounds. Continuous shots to the stomach, ribs and kidneys have a cumulative effect of softening up the defender, getting him to eventually lower his hands to protect from any further damage.

That’s when the knock-out punches to the brain can be delivered in force.

And though the replay cameras almost always focus on the knockout, it is actually all the body blows preceding it that dictate the final outcome.

Enduring punch after punch coming from every direction, the defender wearies, not only physically, but mentally, too. Pounded without ceasing on multiple fronts, he can’t keep up, can’t summon enough attention and aggressiveness of his own to counter the onslaught.

“Nooooo, I can’t take any more, please!”



Give the man this much: he is well-trained and exceedingly disciplined in the pugilistic arts. There is very little quit in him, single-minded as he is to ensure his own survival and flourishing—at least how he understands that latter term.

He’s used to having his way, hard-boiled, imperialist businessman that he is, and he has a proven track record of savaging anyone who gets in his way.

Punch punch punch, summon your henchmen to do the same, never show weakness, never admit error, never apologize, never back away, disdain humility and apology and all the other norms and niceties of civilized discourse.

Just keep beating on your opponents until they give in.


So the punches keep coming, a veritable fusillade:

Scott Pruitt trying his best to destroy the very agency he leads and the “protection” it is sworn to provide for the environment.

Ryan Zinke, linking hands with Pruitt every step of the way.

Betsy DeVos, out to destroy public education.

Wilbur Ross and Alex Acosta, hell-bent on burying what is left of the labor movement and the worker rights that are going out with it.

Steve Mnuchin and Lawrence Kudlow, committed, like their boss, to add whatever they can to the coffers of the wealthy while eviscerating every possible program that might help the poor.

John Bolton, out to decimate all international agreements that bind us to the community of nations.

Such a partial list, but we all know the score of this bout at the moment, and there’s little need to catalog all the other devastating punches hitting their targets.

Jabs and uppercuts, hooks from left and right, and whenever they can get away with it, thumbs in the eye and brass knuckles buried in the gloves.

Lies upon lies upon more lies.

Whatever it takes to overwhelm and subdue the opposition. That’s what we are faced with, and they are committed to it in the most stone-faced, ill-mannered, duplicitous, fraudulent, vicious and amoral fashion we have ever seen in the history of the American presidency.

I wish I were overstating things.

And we are…what?


Sick of it?

Needing to back off and get on with our lives?

They sure hope so.

The Civil Rights Movement and Mavis Staples: never too tired…

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12 comments to Absorbing Trump’s Blows

  • Robert Spencer  says:

    Am I sick of it? There’s a part of me that tires of this administration’s constant barrage on nearly every position that I consider essential. Trump regards my views on environment, immigration, public education, world harmony, fair taxes, health care for all, woman’s right to choose, sensible gun laws and civil rights as nothing short of Un-American. However, what also disturbs me, though not to the same degree, is how people who believe as I do have completely lost their sense of humor. Last week members of Cypress Indivisible, an anti-Trump group that Claire and I have joined, were in a heated debate about one of the more important issues of the day: where do we hold our monthly meetings! Some favored a restaurant setting while others were adamant that food would be both distracting and expensive. In fact, the co-leader of our group actually said, “Restaurant meetings are undemocratic because they’re exclusionary and ultimately hinder our fundraising efforts.” I decided to write a response delineating how restaurants would more beneficial to our group’s democratic philosophy without compromising our fundraising’s health. These were my more salient points. King John signed the Magna Carta over a Cornish hen brunch. “Let’s do Lunch” is chapter one of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. Laissez-faire translates as “let do.” Dolly Madison actually made finger sandwiches for her husband, John Jay and Alexander Hamilton as they drafted The Federalist Papers. There were several other somewhat ridiculous examples I created to support my pro- restaurant stance before concluding with a completely contrived threat my father once said at the dinner table. “If you don’t eat your vegetables, you’ll die. But, before you pass on, you’re doing the dishes.” While I admit that this might seem inappropriate for six-year old ears to hear, I guess I expected them to realize that my entire post was tongue-in-cheek, but alas they did not. In fact, Indivisible Cypress’s co-president wrote a scathing rebuttal which stunned me. I asked myself, “Is he serious?” If humor, even if it’s my mediocre attempt to satirize the restaurant rift, is counterproductive to our democratic ideals, then have we lost our way? I couldn’t help but recall Dickens’s comment on the importance of the simile. “Mind! I don’t mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country’s done for.” Perhaps, I need to heed Groucho Marx’s advice when he resigned from the Friars’ Club because of its various anti-Semitic statements–“I don’t want to belong to any club that would accept me as one of its members.”

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Robert, I think the hard humorless left has a lot in common with the hard just-as-humorless right; both tend toward equal amounts of intolerance borne from self-righteousness. Kind of dreary, in the end. And I trust you know that I don’t mean by anything I’ve written above that I don’t think we oughta be having any fun, me being a rather consistent proponent of just that in a wide guise of forms. That includes the fun sometimes being at our own expense, to be sure. But at least in the case of Trump, being righteous about his awfulness is also just plain right!

  • Moon  says:

    That has always been my mantra: “no club which would have me as a member.” The hard edge of progressives is off putting, but at least they are “bending towards justice” as opposed to simply being reactionary as the hard right seems to be. It is always easy to ridicule as “unworkable” an idea which may seem altruistic or “socialist”, and the thin-skinned left probably have had more than their share of that sort of abuse. But, in the end, a sense of humor, and the ability to be a little self-effacing, is the key to getting along in this world!

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Moon, your comment reminds me how much humor and self-deprecation go together, and how severely both are lacking in the president. He almost never laughs, and what passes for his “humor” is limited to disparaging others, har de har, with epithets like “Lyin’ Ted” and “Little Marco.” And self-deprecation, of course, is completely foreign to him. How can a person like that “get along in this world,” much less be trusted to wield power wisely?

  • Rick  says:

    We? There is an aweful lot of “We” typed in this story as if liberals are the only people allowed to read this blog. Please do not speak for me, as I realize he is doing a wonderful job. Unfortunately those against him only see negative and are unable to compliment and agree with anything good he has ever done. Many will say, “nothing good has been done”. Those are the people who are wearing the blinders seeing only what the jockey will allow.
    Think Chuck Schumer here. Didn’t he think some ideas were great and then Trump pushed the ideas, which now are horrible?
    “In the history of the American presidency”? Do you not remember 42?
    Perhaps the Samantha Bees of the world should embrace and love, or at very least not spew hate, lest this country spiral out of control. The level of hate from the left is off the charts these days. If not reigned in, it will be the country’s demise.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Thanks for speaking up, Rick. I appreciate it. I’d also ask you to please note who I was speaking for in my very first line: “friends, associates, myself” who have grown weary and shell-shocked regarding Trump and been tempted to just ignore him with hands over ears and skipping past all references to him in print. I’ve heard a lot of this the past few months and heard myself saying it occasionally as well, and I consider it dangerous. So I was speaking specifically to and “for” them, not pretending to speak for you or anyone else who hasn’t felt the same.

      Sooo…you’re equating the Clinton presidency with Trump’s, suggesting it was more “…ill-mannered, duplicitous, fraudulent,” etc? I assume your frame of reference is the Monica Lewinsky scandal and Clinton’s remarkably undisciplined, overactive libido? Lamentable as that was, he paid a heavy price, barely escaping removal from office after impeachment. Equating that transgression with Trump’s (who has his own libido issues, except he pays hush money to the women), strikes me as a remarkable stretch.

      Clinton worked with the international order, worked with Republicans to remake welfare in a way that dismayed a large swath of his own party, was a raving, conciliatory centrist compared to Trump. The latter seems dead-set on alienating our closest allies while professing tireless admiration for despots, has lied a verified 3,000+ times about matters that are easily checked for accuracy, and actively undermines the rule of law in railing against his own justice department, the judiciary, and the free press. He’s a man who thrives on chaos, disdains knowledge and expertise, doesn’t read, lashes out in bitter terms and ad hominem attacks against all who don’t kowtow to him, and governs mostly by the bile that spews from him with every tweet.

      I’m all for not spewing hate, which most certainly isn’t a strategy for reforming society. But resistance to it is!

      So perhaps you can advise the person “doing a wonderful job” to back off on his own relentless spewing of hatred and intolerance, his moral equivalence of white supremacists with those protesting them, his continual praising of dictators, etc., ad nauseam. Those of “us” who think he is leading the country to ruin would feel much better if “you”-all could convince this president to begin projecting common decency, civility, and, you know, the “manners” that our mamas taught us way back when. (And I’m including you in that last collective “us,” which I trust is a group you too can identify with…)

  • Ben Lempert  says:

    Really great analogy, Drew. Although I can’t see the man himself moving in to deliver the knockout blow – he’d be too cowardly to actually take that step. In some ways he’s more like a bullfight’s picador: he merely weakens the bull so that someone else can come in and take exponentially harder and far riskier job of staring the bull down sans protection and delivering the final blow. (Though there’s no doubt Trump would take full credit for the kill.)

    Either way, it’s a great way to think about the multiple abuses we’ve been experiencing daily. Thanks for it. Plus, there’s always room for more Mavis Staples!

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      You’re right, Ben, the “blows” he delivers are all from the imperialist upper floors of his towers, where he was born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth and managed to use his father’s money to build an empire while declaring four “strategic” bankruptcies that left millions in unpaid bills. Which he justifies by calling his unpaid creditors “total killers…not the nice, sweet little people that you think.”

      What kind of person acts that way? No one I would want as a friend or client, I know that much.

  • Jay Helman  says:

    In his recent and exceptional work, Soul of America, Jon Meacham reminds us that the blows of bigotry and all things Trump have come at us for a long, long time in many different manifestations (e.g. Andrew Johnson, George Wallace, Joe McCarthy, et al) and we have endured and been resilient enough to hold on until our “better angels” prevailed. In the boxing analogy we have, in a sense, employed Ali’s rope-a-dope until the punches were reduced to weary and harmless arm waving and new forces for good and reason prevailed, our knees ceased wobbling, and we returned to full strength and moved forward.

  • Ron  says:

    “Jabs and uppercuts, hooks from left and right, and whenever they can get away with it, thumbs in the eye and brass knuckles buried in the gloves.

    Lies upon lies upon more lies.

    Whatever it takes to overwhelm and subdue the opposition. That’s what we are faced with, and they are committed to it in the most stone-faced, ill-mannered, duplicitous, fraudulent, vicious and amoral fashion we have ever seen in the history of the American presidency.”

    It is interesting when ideology only allows you to see one perspective. Because when I read your above comments I just copied and pasted, I thought surely you were speaking of the Mainstream Media and the Liberal left (not as much from moderate left). You see in the Media, DNC, Liberal left and the minions on social media I see a relentless daily if not hourly attacks, punches, body blows over and over again most of the attacks are blatant lies upon lies. Nearly everyday lies or outrage over a Trump policy or action that all those chimming in had absolutely no complaints when Pres Obama did it.

    Example “separating children from the parents” in regards to illegal alien arrest. Absolutely no complaints during the entire Obama administration why? Two things interesting 1st selective partisan outrage and 2nd total ignorance to the law. See the law requires for the safety of the people in custody to separate people by age. Just to stir up more outrage we saw a picture in an effort to condemn the Trump administration of children in cages. Only problem the picture was taken during the Obama administration and NOT A SINGLE activist complained or condemning Obama for it. Phony attacks, phony outrage, willful ignorance and on and on.

    But as you continue to pile on yourself with selective biased perspective articles and posts I just wonder what inspires you to write this story right now? Maybe you might look inward on your comments and see you and the Liberal left are equally guilty of the “jabs, uppercuts, hooks from left and right” and I would add from the left you get multiple cheap shots and sucker punches. When you analyze Pres Trump you will find many times he starts cordially and nice, example the NK Summit and when someone punches he counters. Sometimes he does throw the first punch I’ll grant you that but go back and research ALL his comments not just those that support your theory.

    So again why this post and why now? What inspired you? Because from my perspective I see the left attacking yet again. Pres Trump could possibly pull off a NK deal that could prevent the world from experiencing war or another nuclear attack. This is absolutely historic and possibly monumental. Now that would not align with the Liberal montra that Pres Trump is going to get us into a nuclear war, he is incompetent, early onset of Alzheimer’s etc. Pres Trump already secured the release of several prisoners from countries like NK, but not a single post from you crediting him, interesting? A massive pile on by Liberals that Pres Trump should be ready to walk if NK doesn’t cooperate and when Pres Trump cancelled the Summit a massive pile on condemning Pres Trump for walking, hypocrite much?

    Body blows, punch after punch and when Pres Trump punches back you cry about it. Again maybe you might listen to the right in an effort to gain knowledge. Maybe stop punching and start listening? The Left will never figure him out if you keep punching. Pres Trump is willing to work with both sides, example DACA but keep throwing punches and pretend you want to help the Dreamers and I’ll call BS. Lastly, G7 Pres Trump stands up for American workers and you complain he is against the “Labor Movement”? Stats don’t lie, more jobs then people out of work, lowest unemployment in decades. Lowest unemployment for blacks and Hispanics in our nation’s history, not bad for what the Left calls a racist. Wages increasing which went down in Pres Obama’s eight years. Lowest female unemployment in 20+years not bad for what the left calls a sexist. Press Trump threatens tariffs and the core complaints come from the countries taking advantage of the US and the Liberal Left. But one day later China agreed to like 25 Billion in concessions to America. You want to bet Canada, France, Mexico, Germany etc will come around and Pres Trump will lift the tariffs?

    A businessman negotiating better deals for our country and the Liberal Left will continue to attack him. Never give Pres Trump the recognition but right there to reap the benefits like over 85% of Americans who got benefits from the tax cuts. Booming economy, booming stock market, more jobs, less people on welfare, increasing wages across America, and what does the Liberal Left have to offer? Punch after punch, Robert DeNero saying F-T, Bill Mahr hoping for a recession, Nancy Pelosi complaining about Crums, Sec Clinton calling half of America deplorable, the Liberal Left defending MS-13 and illegal violent criminals, risk national security for open boarders, supporting foreign trading partners over America and now rooting for the NK deal to fail. I suppose all of that just to win the next election? Wow what a strategy. What policies other then Resist does the DNC have to offer higher unemployment, more people on gov’t support?

    So why aren’t you able to inspire your readers with Hope in a possible safer world by focusing on supporting our President in an effort to gain a World Peace or at least a denuclearization of NK? Do you understand the ramifications of this deal and the affects it could have on Iran? When will you write that article? As for me I prefer a fighter as my President, one willing to Stand up for America instead of bowing to foreign leaders. But that’s just me.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Well then, talk about fusillades! Ron, I think I was pretty clear on why I chose “to write this story, right now,” so I only refer you to my first few paragraphs on that point.

      As to why I’m “not able to inspire…readers with Hope… by focusing on supporting our President,” I would only respond that Trump is such a self-evident con man, liar and fraud that I remain flabbergasted that anyone chooses to see him as a sincere advocate for anyone or anything beyond his own monunmental ego, desire to build his business empire, and his willingness to do and say anything to achieve those goals.

      I think I understand much of the frustration conservatives feel about any number of issues that are open to legitimate debate in American life, so I don’t question the sincerity of their beliefs, even if I differ with them on the source of their ills and complaints. But why any of them would think Donald Trump is the answer to those ills remains almost completely beyond my understanding.

      Fine, don’t listen to liberal Democrats, because plenty of conservative voices have been sounding the same alarms for a good long while. You don’t have to read me for perspective on these matters; just check the comments of Mitt Romney, John McCain, George Will, Jeff Flake, William Kristol, David Brooks, Bret Stephens: serious conservative voices all, who see right through Trump and have refused to deny the truth about him, whatever it may have cost them politically with the Republican “base.” And there are many others, none of them the “liberals” that you excoriate in your note.

      These were Lindsay Graham’s words about Trump, not mine: “a race-baiting, xenophobic religious bigot.”

      Ted Cruz: a “pathological liar…serial philanderer…utterly amoral…sociopathic liar.”

      Colin Powell: “has no sense of shame…a national disgrace…international pariah.”

      Romney: “A phony, a fraud..I wanted my grandkids to see that I simply couldn’t ignore what Mr. Trump was saying and doing, which revealed a character and temperament unfit for the leader of the free world.”

      Then there’s the active solicitation of a foreign power to meddle and influence our elections, the investigation of which is being conducted by a lifelong Republican with an impeccable record of public service but which the president now calls via incessant tweets a “partisan witch hunt” and “unconstitutional” besides.

      Here’s what Kellyanne Conway’s attorney husband had to say about that yesterday:

      “It isn’t very surprising to see the president tweet a meritless legal position, because, as a non-lawyer, he wouldn’t know the difference between a good one and a bad one.”

      These have all been moments of truth-telling for these staunch Republicans. Perhaps it’s more important for you to point out the errors of their ways, since your chances of bringing them back into the fold would seem to be at least slightly better than convincing me of your arguments.

      And forgive me this one, but it seems right on the edge of insane: I’m trying to envision what this president’s supporters would be saying about Barack Obama today if he’d paid multiple women, one of them a porn star, to keep quiet about various dalliances, and if Obama had been taped bragging about grabbing women by the genitals. The mind reels.

      I truly do hope something good comes from this North Korea gambit. But we are a long, long way from any of that bearing fruit, given that our president is a mercurial, impulsive, pathological liar, and his counterpart is an equally mercurial, brutal, amoral dictator. So I think I’ll hold off on bestowing a peace prize on any of the involved parties for the moment, because I don’t trust either of them any farther than I can throw a megaton boulder off an ocean cliff.

  • Robert Spencer  says:

    Jay, a few months ago I wrote a poem about the forces of good will defeat our present affliction, an idea that you put forward in your post.

    “America Pro Tem”
    Putrid odors render ethos extinct,
    Comity surrenders to hatred’s birth,
    Decency gasping midst an airy stink,
    Sick souls suppressing gaiety and mirth,
    America thirsts, dying, unable to drink.

    Drowning in the clutch of an eddy’s swirl,
    Driven down into the blackness of the deep,
    Insanity like sirens’ songs unfurled,
    Poison fangs of bias slither and creep,
    A vile oyster sculpting a deadly pearl.

    Eerie silence shrouds music’s elation,
    Atonal voices echo demonic sounds,
    Euphony wanes ‘neath moral castration,
    Ominous waves ebbing evil unbound,
    And hope succumbs to godless damnation.

    Callousness eats away at humanity
    Like Kronos devouring his young children,
    Bones litter barren leas of insanity,
    Creating a wasteland of toxic wen,
    Obscenity eulogizing depravity.

    Winds blow away pollutants in the air,
    Cascades aeroate once dying streams,
    Rain cools the orb with cyclical care,
    Nitrates from waste mold a farmer’s dream,
    Common sense can cease this present nightmare.

    Despair may now rule our nation’s milieu,
    Time drains the depth of a despot’s cesspool,
    The Reign of Terror guillotined by a coup,
    Headless revenge for its one-year misrule,
    Premature death for absolutism’s miscues.

    The Dark Ages gave way to the Renaissance,
    Knowledge and humanism saved the day,
    Idealistic thought became mankind’s response,
    Sparked the trial-by-error interplay,
    Leaving science and art truly ensconced.

    No panacea mends the current decay,
    Green emerges between cracks of cement,
    Goodness hammers out a metal overlay,
    A candle scented with gracious intent
    whelms this ill night, melting light into day.

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