Learn from Mencken

It seems to me that people are too depressed by Trump.  Yes, he’s far and away the most appalling individual ever to achieve high political office in the US, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get some enjoyment out of the spectacle.  Think about the amusement that Trump provides in a typical day. Just yesterday he said (regarding Kim):



He really wants to do something I think terrific for their country. . .


I do trust him, yeah.



When Bush said something similar about Putin he could be forgiven on several grounds.  First, we hadn’t seen this sort of presidential naiveté toward a Russian leader since the days of FDR. And second, Putin wasn’t yet anywhere near the brutal dictator he is today.


With Trump there’s no such extenuating circumstances to prevent us from falling on the floor laughing.


Then we wake up this morning to find Trump proclaiming that North Korea is no longer a nuclear threat, and Sean Hannity believes him.  How is that not funny?


And this tweet is just to, to, to funny to pass up:


Screen Shot 2018-06-12 at 8.00.48 PMJust to be clear, I’m not one of those grammar snobs.  I think good grammar is overrated and of course I make lots of mistakes here. But while I occasionally mix up ‘to’ and ‘too’, I’ve never done so in a tweet accusing a Hollywood actor of having a low IQ.  Come on Trumpistas, even you guys have to find that a little bit amusing.


I don’t doubt for a moment that David Brooks is a far better person that HL Mencken.  But Mencken was funnier.  You can’t go through your entire life in just one mode, even a wholesome mode.  Sometimes you just have to indulge your inner cynic and enjoy the crazy spectacle.


Yes, it’s appalling to have a bigoted, misogynistic president.  But tens of millions of women and Hispanics voted for him and if they can survive 8 years of Trump you should be able to as well.  For some reason that I cannot fathom, God has favored and protected this crazy country for more than 240 years, and I think he’ll do so for 6 more years.  Remember, as bad as Trump is, presidents just don’t have much influence over the course of events.


So relax and enjoy the spectacle.


PS.   And speaking of enjoying life, don’t get too upset about poor Anthony Bourdain.  I miss him as much as any of his other fans, but he packed more into his 61 years than you or I could do in 600 years. Tony would be appalled by all this handwringing in the media. He had a good run.


In a book on Korea, Simon Winchester made this observation:


A sixtieth birthday is a special thing in all those countries that have come under the maternal influence of old China, Korea very much included. The body is then deemed to have passed through the five twelve-year zodiacal cycles — the yukgap, as the sixty-year period is known — that constitute the proper life span of the human being.  Once someone has successfully completed the span — as old mother Hwang had done three years before — then all time beyond is regarded as a marvellous bonus: you retire from active life, take your respected ease as an elder, let your children make you as comfortable as they can, and let filial piety take over the reins of your life.


Don’t be like me, planning to do all sorts of wonderful things when you retire, and then finding out that past age 60 your body and mind are too broken down to do the things you planned to do.  Plan your life as if you will die at age 60.  That’s enough time.


PPS.  While I’m not a grammar snob, if I ever reach the point of my commenters who think that any sentence containing the word “insult” is ipso facto an insult, please tell me to just stop.

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