Donald Trump: a wretched figure at the heart of a divided America
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You can take your pick from hundreds of images, but they all have that same look - one of contempt veering towards anger, the reek of arrogance and entitlement, of being untouchable and unaccountable, and deeply, deeply dangerous.
My dictionary defines ugly as “morally repulsive or offensive, threatening or involving danger or violence, bad tempered.”
The words should be etched on Trump’s tombstone, not that he’d recognise them.
This week he became the first former American president in history to be criminally charged - in court he denied 34 counts of falsifying business records -
His angry, bitter response was a call to arms to his supporters, and it cast another dark shadow over an America more divided than ever.
Trump played the victim card as he pandered to his disturbingly loyal audience. He spoke of “election interference at a scale never seen before” in the US and laid the foundations for debate to come as he faced a “Trump-hating judge with a Trump-hating wife and family.”
The man is poison, but he holds sway with an alarming number of republicans who tap into ideology without question, and some seem willing to go to extraordinary levels to demonstrate their support for a man who has sneered and verbally abused anyone who challenges him.
His horrific mocking of a disabled reporter on the election trail should have ended his campaign overnight, let alone his vile, misogynistic comments about women which are so offensive I can’t even bring myself to type them.
Bui Trump marches on, sounding the dog whistles louder than any megaphone and believing in his own right to rule.
The case which brought him to court - of orchestrating a payment of $130,000 to porn actress Stormy Daniels 12 days before the 2016 presidential election - would be a badge of shame to any other credible politician. It shines a light on the person seeking high office and speaks to his values - or it would if Trump had any.
Instead, all he has to do is utter four magical words - make America great again - and an army of followers pledges its allegiance to a man in the belief he would make things better.
He didn’t. In Trump’s world, the only person who matters is Donald J. Trump.
It was interesting to watch him emerge from his cavalcade at court without a single family member in support. No Melania, no Donald Jnr or any close relative. The man at the centre of the room was all alone.
It gave us another defining image of a grotesque figure who was never remotely fit to hold public office - one to go with the sickening sight of him in 2020 standing outside St. John’s Church on Lafyette Square, Bible in hand, while his country veered perilously close to martial law as tear gas and rubber bullets were used to disperse peaceful protesters outside the White House Rose Garden. One leading priest described his photo-op stunt as revolting.
Three years on, Trump continues to repel.
Where he and the country go from here is anyone’s guess.
The political divisions in America are deep and dangerous, and the man responsible them remains oblivious and aloof.