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The president's legacy, and other absurdities.

I read recently of a Republican expressing concern that Trump's relentless attempts to cancel the November election would harm his legacy.

Legacy? Really? What is it exactly that people will remember fondly about the Trump years?

For the cruelest and vilest among us, there will always be treasured memories of his validation of cruelty and vileness as a lifestyle. Whether he was initiating legislation to marginalize people for their sexual orientation, or stealing land from Texans to build his wall, there was a sickening predictability to the callousness. And when we learned that he was imprisoning children whom he had separated from their parents, we were outraged but hardly surprised. Preying on the weak is his style. And his supporters looked away. That's their style.

Those supporters will point to Trump's so-called accomplishments, the tax law and a packed court. But even then, all those middle-class white working men who supported him will pay a dear price in the end. The tax cut disappears next year, and taxes in years to come will rise steadily until 2027.

And the packed court that Trump designed to overturn Roe v. Wade? In the last year before that ruling took effect, there were 47 recorded deaths of women having abortions. In 2017 there were two. And who will suffer from unwanted pregnancies if abortion once again becomes illegal? It won't be the wealthy who will always find a way; it will be the very people who screamed loudest to overturn it.

But that's just chump change: Trump's place in the history books will be defined by the Coronavirus and his refusal to protect Americans from it, by declaring himself a wartime president and locating the enemy, then choosing not to fight it. He was the general who asked the enlisted men to figure things out while he played golf and tried to ensure the fact that he would remain the general.

That war he declared? It's over and we lost. We didn't even show up. We had brave "soldiers" manning the hospitals and dedicated "soldiers" maintaining the vital components of society, but we never had a strategy and never had a leader. And as we floundered about without one, the casualties mounted. We're close to 300,000 now, and Trump's legacy is assured, because here in America, for better or worse, presidents are associated with an event.

  • Lincoln held the Union together.

  • FDR guided us out of the depression.

  • JFK called Russia's bluff.

  • Ronald Reagan broke down the Berlin Wall.

  • Even George Bush, who made a mess of Katrina, will be remembered as the president who went to Ground Zero and made us feel as if it wasn't the end of the world.

Of course these are all generalities and barely skim the surface of those presidencies, but any way you parse the last nine months, no other American president has turned a crisis into a catastrophe on such a massive scale the way Trump has. He will supplant Nero in our collective conscience: Trump tweeted while America died.

If and when this plague diminishes enough so that we can actually look back and reflect—and the vaccine is putting that day within view—there may be a half million deaths directly attributable to Trump's incompetence and cowardice. His legacy? It will be written on obituary pages all over the country, from red states like Iowa to blue states like Connecticut. He'll have his legacy, but it's one that people will reflect on with shame.

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