I never thought I would say it but I miss Donald Trump. Not as president, certainly not that. But as a distraction.
Remember how every morning you could wake up to screaming headlines about the latest outrageous Trump tweet? By the time you could fully digest its inanity, there would be yet another one. To those of us who thought that he could go no further, he proved us wrong on Jan. 6.
What a relief from thinking about real problems. What a salve for the pain just under the surface. You could spend half a therapy appointment just railing against Trump. You couldn’t get through an entire dinner without discussing anything but Trump. Cast your other worries aside and just worry about Trump.
And then came my old friend Joe Biden, one of the most decent men in politics, someone who wakes up every day and tries to do what is right for our country and the world. Could there be anything more boring?
He doesn’t tweet. He doesn’t say outrageous things. His top aides, starting with Ron Klain, a brilliant lawyer who I remember from his student days, are focused on their work, not their brand. No Sean Spicers. No Kellyanne and George Show.
Even “Saturday Night Live” is getting dull, which explains the Elon Musk of it all.
But for the rest of us, who don’t have a Musk equivalent to distract us, real life has returned. I wake up worrying not about Trump but about my family, about money, about myself.
And I can’t really blame Trump for any of it. So I have to blame myself.
Joe Biden has ushered in a new era of responsibility. COVID-19? Get a vaccine. No appointment necessary. No cost.
I remember when Republicans — and most Democrats — laughed at the idea of giving people money to help them deal with poverty. Minimum income? Any candidate who even came close to the idea could be certain to lose.
That was then. We’ve been giving away enough money that, for some or many, it made sense not to work. Wages are actually creeping up to fill open positions. “Help Wanted” signs predominate over the “For Lease” signs.
I can’t begin to count how many speeches and white papers I did in the ‘80s about the deficit. Now we just print money. The deficit is beyond imagining, so we don’t talk about it.
As for the clown show that has become the United States Congress, thanks to the likes of Representative Marjorie Taylor Green, it doesn’t even amount to a distraction. No Jan. 6 commission because Republicans believe in blindness. No infrastructure deal because they apparently like potholes and failing transit systems. No nothing.
In California, folks were gearing up for an old-fashioned recall campaign against the governor who dined at the French Laundry. But Gavin Newsom managed to buy his way out of that crisis, and, anyway, inside dining is back.
And poor Trump. There he was, trying his best to distract us with his new website, but the Trumpers didn’t come. The biggest news generated by the website was its closure.
Of course Trump still dreams of returning to the job he supposedly hated, according to some accounts, well in advance of the next election.
But it’s not going to happen. The Trump show is over. Any day now, he’ll be hacking hair dye on late-night TV.
In the meantime, the rest of us, deprived of our daily distraction, are left to face the reality of a new world we don’t quite understand, and of the old problems we never did solve.