The 17th and 18th centuries in Europe are often referred to as the Age of Enlightenment or the Age of Reason. The early 20th century in the U.S. is known as the Gilded Age, a term recently dusted off and reclaimed for use in our own period of growing income inequality.
I suggest the period beginning June 16, 2015, the day Trump announced his candidacy for president, should be referred to as the Age of "What The Fuck?!"
Thirty-plus years of teaching in a high school classroom trained me to keep it clean, in public anyway. Though my private conversations are laced with profanity, I watch my language when I'm in the public square. I broke with my normal decorum when I used "bullshit" in a post last March, but I made sure to give the word academic respectability by referring to the book, On Bullshit
, by American philosopher Harry Frankfurt.
Today I'm throwing away my decades-old restraint. Nearly every night as I watch cable news, I yell, "What The Fuck?!" at the latest Trump outrage. Mornings, I growl the phrase as I pore over the paper and check the latest on the web.
Prior to the advent of Trump, I was often angered by what goes on in our political world. More than angered. Outraged. Incensed. Horrified. But I was rarely this astonished before The Donald descended the Trump Tower escalator and walked onto the political stage. I find myself doing mental double and triple takes at the unbelievable, frightening absurdity of our president's actions and utterances. Political humor on Saturday Night Live is meant to be satire. Lately it feels more like reportage.
I don't know if examples are necessary here. Everyone except for Trump supporters knows what I'm talking about, and his supporters' minds won't be changed no matter what I write. But let me pull a few instances from WTF?! Central: Trump's daily tweets. In the interest of space, I've restricted myself to yesterday and today.
Trump declared that Hillary Clinton's former aide Huma Abedin should be in "Jail!" With an exclamation point. No need to bother with the standard judicial process. The Commander in Chief has spoken. Lock her up!
What The Fuck?!
Trump wrote, accurately, that there were no deaths on U.S. commercial airlines in 2017. The tweeted reason? "I have been very strict on Commercial Aviation."
What The Fuck?!
(The Associated Press was more restrained than I and devoted 600 words to debunking Trump's assertion
, noting there hasn't been a death involving a scheduled passenger airline in 4½ years.)
Trump tweeted, "DACA activists and Hispanics will go hard against Dems, will start 'falling in love' with Republicans and their President!"
What the Fuck?!
Trump tweeted he will be joining journalists and culture critics' end-of-the-year Top Ten Lists by creating his own "MOST DISHONEST & CORRUPT MEDIA AWARDS OF THE YEAR."
What the Fuck?!
And finally, here is Trump's apocalyptic "Mine is longer and stronger than yours" tweet directed at Kim Jong-un, in full:
"What The Fuck?!
" does not begin to do justice to a tweet where the president is fucking around with the fate of the planet, but I don't know what else to say.
I could add Trump's tweets during the same two days threatening to withhold financial aid from Pakistan and the Palestinians, but I'm not knowledgeable enough about diplomacy to understand the implications of these changes to our foreign policy.
Ages rarely have a hard-and-fast starting date. This one does: June 16, 2015. The end date (We can only hope it comes before the End Times) is yet to be determined.