Apparently many people are finding solace in reading books during the pandemic, and I certainly expected to. When Oregon locked down in March, we bought a stack of hardbacks at our local independent, Grassroots Books, and while my husband has been through a dozen, I have been embarrassed that I just recently finished my first. I felt better when a dear friend, gobbling a book a day in a small room in San Francisco, pointed out that, here at Wake Robin Farm, I have no need to escape. And she's right. Rather than seeking distraction, this beautiful time of the year here makes it easy to try for the living-in-the-moment thing.
While America's on fire with the virus and violence, and all around people are suffering, I'm feeling oddly optimistic. Surely we will be rid of Donald Trump shortly and can begin to build the better world we all want. I've read Fear, by Bob Woodward and one of the other more forgettable Trump titles, and when I heard Mary Trump was publishing her story, I was thinking I shouldn't waste another minute of my precious time letting this odious man occupy my brain space.
But then I saw the picture of Mary. Brown-haired—not blond or orange. Steely blue eyes. Serious looking. And hey, her name's Mary, the favorite name I gave my daughter. And her mother—another persona non grata with the Trumps—is Linda. And she has a PhD. in Psychology. I decided to read the book to honor her. If someone is bravely willing to speak up, I will listen. Exciting, knowing that as the book was downloading onto my Kindle in the wee hours of the July 14th publication day, it was doing the same in tens of thousands of other Kindles across the country.
Of course nobody has to read any of these books to hear the most salacious details. The press will help out with that. Everybody's heard by now, for example, that Trump paid somebody else to take his SATs. Big surprise. But what Mary's book does that none of these other accomplish is to explain why this man is the way he is, how all his worst traits are so deeply embedded in him by birth and upbringing. For over three years now we've had to hear the talking heads repeatedly pleading for Trump to express more empathy, not be so tone deaf, just be honest about the pandemic and tell people to wear masks etc. It wouldn't take that much, they'd argue, for him to rise to his position as president. For myself, I've never been able to understand how anybody could hold out the slightest hope he would change. He can't say the right thing because he doesn't think the right thing. He doesn't feel the right thing. Mary Trump explains the hopelessness of imagining he will ever be any different. She lays him bare, and calls out all the enablers who have helped make this reign of terror possible.
For people like me who are more interested in family dynamics than politics, Too Much and Never Enough makes a fascinating read. Sure, people will always be quick to say Trump's niece just wanted to make money writing a book. As if anyone can write a book. (Trump can't. Never wrote any of his own.) Donald-like, they'll call her a little ingrate who already got plenty of money from being a Trump. But it's clear to me it's not about the money. It's about being a member of a patriarchal family where women are told to sit down and shut up and finally deciding you won't. I find her act of defiance in publishing this book thrilling. And Trump is already living up to his billing as a bully, dishing out the childish taunts: "She wasn't a family favorite. She was a mess. Our parents couldn't stand her etc." In other words, get busy cowering because we will continue to shun you.
I loved Mary Trump's interview retort, that since Trump also called Nancy Pelosi a mess, she figured she's in good company. You are, Mary. So thanks for speaking up. Thanks for putting the good of the country over some sick notion of family loyalty. Thanks for doing the right thing.
Which reminds me of words of comfort I've recently encountered from an unexpected source. Like most little girls in the country, my granddaughter is smitten with all things Frozen, and I've been listening to the soundtrack in order to be up to speed when she visits soon. These lines by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez were written pre-pandemic, but seem hauntingly appropriate to one of the current prevailing moods in the country:
I won't look too far ahead
It's too much for me to take
But break it down to this next breath, this next step
This next choice is one that I can make
So I'll walk through this night
Stumbling blindly toward the light
And do the next right thing
And, with it done, what comes then?
When it's clear that everything will never be the same again
Then I'll make the choice to hear that voice
And do the next right thing
I wonder if any Republicans have little girls or granddaughters playing this music. If so, pay attention! Read Mary Trump's book. Believe her honest words. Face that you have shackled yourself to a fake sort of human being and forced us to bear the weight of his presidency. Nothing can be done to change Donald Trump, but is there any hope for you? Just stop enabling Donald Trump--maybe the biggest mistake of your life--and do the next right thing.
Of course, at this point, having passed up the chance to vote for his impeachment or ever stand up to this big baby of a tyrant in any way, all that may be left to you as the next right thing is to make a flying rat-leap off this sinking ship.