Ever see a swamp?
Not a cleaned up, manicured pond or a tourist attraction like the Everglades – or backwater ponds on farms or nature preserves.
I mean a real, nasty, smelly, mosquito-ridden, disease-infested, tree-rotting, creature-crawling, God-forsaken hellhole. A place you’d never want to visit or have anything to do with. An insult to Mother Nature, a festering wasteland that begs to be plowed up and covered over with enough sand and gravel and good clean dirt that maybe, just maybe, something real and fruitful and worthwhile can grow there.
What’s my point?
One of the more famous promises Donald Trump made when he was campaigning to be president of the United States was that he would “drain the swamp.” And of course, we all knew what he meant. He would resolutely wade into the entrenched jungle of regulations and restrictions and self-interest and long traditions like “play along to get along,” “you rub my back and I’ll rub yours,” the uses of government authority for personal benefit, the “establishment” of long-tenured public officials and employees who stay in place and power no matter which party wins the elections – and would close down the almost countless agencies and tax-supported bureaucracies that are just taken for granted, though hardly anyone knows what they do or how they came to be.
He’d confront the colossal governing body that is bankrupting the nation and constantly running up a multi-trillion dollar debt that can never be paid – a system that was created over many decades by politicians who promised everything to everybody to get elected but couldn’t deliver, and who mysteriously seemed to leave office richer than when they went in. And Trump would challenge a political environment that could breed so many instances of moral, spiritual and financial abuse that the halls and offices of the U.S. government seemed to call for a warning sign: “Caution: Entering here may be hazardous to your health.”
That’s an accurate description. And though there are plenty of conscientious, capable and morally upright public servants in that smelly, corrupted swamp – they don’t seem individually to be able to rise above the downward drag that has taken many decades to develop.
So what happened? Well, as he promised, Donald Trump put on his hip boots and waded recklessly into the murky, dark waters, flailing bravely at the warped, deeply rooted stumps – and sank nearly to his chin in the slimy, foul mud. Old alligators swam menacingly toward him, pure malevolence in their slitted eyes, sharp teeth bared in their gaping hungry jaws. Wily serpents dropped out of the old trees, inflicting wounds while his attention was distracted. Swarms of mosquitoes and other varmints, some disease-laden, bit and nipped and snapped in his face, inflicting sores that would take a long time to heal.
Swamps are insidious. While you think you’re making progress in one area, another breaks open and introduces unbearable stenches that repel anyone within miles. Crazed, mutated creatures may be released into the countryside, seeming to outweigh the benefits of reducing the area that contained them.
Do I seem to be exaggerating, or stretching the truth? Well, wait. Think back over the last year and a half since a brash, very forceful, Teddy Roosevelt-type business entrepreneur moved from Trump Tower to the White House and began to fulfill the promises he made to the American people, who elected him. Nobody had the misimpression that the man had lived a saintly life, but voters believed he’d bring the same force and skill and dedication to the presidency he had to his incredible business career.
And that’s the way he started, with sensational, surprising early success. A good, effective team was created, with some weedouts and replacements; lots of wasteful and restrictive regulations were uprooted and business-crippling taxes were chopped out. Seemingly audacious plans were laid, and meetings with world leaders our previous presidents disdained were held and some unexpected progress begun. Unemployment dropped to amazing levels, and business and jobs rose.
But while much of the watching world began to grudgingly warm to the unprecedented president, large numbers of his opposition here at home revealed just how vile the swamp had become. A reptilian former CIA director, originally a Communist sympathizer himself, began to yowl loudly for Trump to be ousted for what he called “treason,” for having a discussion with Putin of Russia, when the former director himself had voted Communist!
A particularly sleazy “porn star” popped up with her equally sleazy lawyer, after brazenly and illegally blackmailing the future president for an alleged experience long before he was elected – and then ignoring that blackmail and extortion are themselves criminal acts, for which she had already accepted $130,000 – conspired to make another big payoff from book sales and sordid appearances.
And while enduring a nightmarish long “investigation”by a former FBI head, looking for anything at all he could find to accuse the president of – and while the president is still making Herculean attempts to right our ship of state and its frightful tilt toward bankruptcy and socialistic moral decay, his former “Apprentice” beneficiary Omarosa seized the chance to enrich herself by turning violently and seditiously on her benefactor. She accused him of rank racism and bigotry and mental and moral weakness – all of which she hadn’t noticed while he was making her famous and wealthy.
By now, I assume that President Trump isn’t too surprised when some he’s befriended turn out to be vipers and rodents. Perhaps he’d already sensed that both Stormy and Omarosa were, after all, prostitutes selling themselves to men for money, and the shyster lawyer wasn’t really after “truth” as he protested, but looking for a way to turn blackmail and extortion into a lucrative career.
And though he hasn’t seemingly lost his enthusiasm for the job – to his incredible credit – President Trump has learned that stepping on vipers, rooting out rodents and “draining the swamp” is a messy, dangerous and formidable task.