“Oh, shut up, silly woman,” said the serpent with a grin. “You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in.”
The woman was aghast. “You promised you could be classy enough in the Oval Office to impress socialites from Palm Beach. But instead, you are surrounded by porn stars and Playboy bunnies — just a tacky leech.”
.. “It is just like when you promised a ‘bill of love’ to save the Dreamers. But you let that collapse in Congress because of Stephen Miller and the other alt-right schemers.”
.. The woman winced at the metallic taste in her mouth and rasped: “You could have gotten your crazy wall but insisted on ending chain migration, even when you took advantage of it to bring in Melania’s Slovenian parents. What an abomination!
The poem originated in the 1960s from a soul singer and social activist in Chicago, Oscar Brown Jr. Its appropriation as a tool to drum up fear about immigrants has turned heads; some of Brown’s family are asking Trump to stop using it.
.. Democrats (“They’re always fighting for the criminal”),
.. The lyrics were written in the 1960s by Brown, an outspoken black singer, songwriter, social activist and former Communist Party member from Chicago... Brown’s work has been described as a celebration of black culture and a repudiation of racism... Brown, who died at 78 in 2005, wrote “The Snake” during a time in which he was performing regularly in nightclubs and writing songs that used biblical references and animal allegories for simple stories that held deeper meanings.. Brown’s family has been harshly critical of the president’s appropriation of the song, and Maggie and Africa said they wished he would stop using it. In particular, they are upset by the fact that it has been repurposed to serve prejudice, saying that use flies in the face of their father’s work... Trump has also failed to credit Brown for the song, which the family takes as another slight. During one rally in Florida, Trump said it was written by the R&B singer, Al Wilson, who popularized the song in the “1990s.”.. I can see how telling your crowd that you were quoting a man who resigned from the Communist Party in 1956, declaring himself ‘just too black to be red,’ might be problematic.”.. “Trumps snake story is vicious, disgraceful, utterly racist and profoundly Un-American,” conservative operative Steve Schmidt wrote on Twitter after CPAC on Friday. “That this is how an American President speaks of immigration is a tragedy. This crowd of cheering extremists are the heirs of the Know-Nothing’s and nativists that have always plagued us.”.. Trump’s love affair with the poem represents a subconscious confession: The president identifies with the snake... “Historians will view it as obvious that Trump was describing himself in ‘The Snake,’ ”.. Josh Marshall, the liberal editor in chief of Talking Points Memo, called Trump’s use of the poem “some weird psycho-sexual” thing that “must appeal to Trump on like ten levels and also appeal to bible literalists.”
If there was any doubt that his presidency is an unending campaign
.. Addressing the Conservative Political Action Conference, the president read “The Snake,” a parable about a tenderhearted woman who takes in an ailing snake and gives it milk, honey and a silk blanket, only to be killed by the revived creature’s poisonous bite.
Trump explained the metaphor: “You have to think of this in terms of immigration.”
.. On the campaign trail in 2016, Trump frequently told the tale of the snake. The crowds at his rallies loved it. Other Americans were appalled and found it racist.
.. A day earlier, Vice President Pence stood on the same stage at CPAC and sounded a call for unity.
.. His boss had a different idea, however.
- Trump mocked Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), a war hero and Republican elder statesman with a terminal form of brain cancer, for his health-care vote.
- He vowed to “fight” a current Democratic foe, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.). And he
- revived his row with a previous one, former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, by encouraging chants of “lock her up” and sounding off about her alleged “atrocities.”
.. He is at his most comfortable on the campaign trail, as a political brawler feeding off the passions of his fans and speaking off the cuff.
.. “You don’t mind if I go off script a little bit?” Trump said during his Friday speech, referring to the teleprompters loaded with words his aides wanted him to read. “Because it’s sort of boring
.. “I try like hell to hide that bald spot, folks,” Trump said. “I work hard at it. Doesn’t look bad. Hey, we’re hanging in. We’re hanging in.”
.. he derides as “chain migration,” with “a merit system.” Never mind that this week, a lawyer representing Trump’s Slovenian-born wife, Melania, and her family told The Washington Post that the first lady’s parents, Viktor and Amalija Knavs
Trump used his high office to pursue divisive grudges (Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer is a “bad leader”), to attack the media (composed of “incompetent, dishonest people”) and to savage congressional Democrats (“they don’t mind drugs pouring in”). Most of all, Trump used his bully pulpit quite literally, devoting about half his speech to the dehumanization of migrants and refugees as criminals, infiltrators and terrorists. Trump gained a kind of perverse energy from the rolling waves of hatred, culminating in the reading of racist song lyrics comparing his targets to vermin. It was a speech with all the logic, elevation and public purpose of a stink bomb.
.. They must somehow believe that presidential rhetoric — capable of elevating a country — has no power to debase it.
.. The great temptation, in Havel’s view, is for people to conclude that politics can’t be better — that it “is chiefly the manipulation of power and public opinion, and that morality has no place in it.”
.. This demoralized view of politics would mean losing “the idea that the world might actually be changed by the force of truth, the power of a truthful word, the strength of a free spirit, conscience and responsibility.”
.. “Genuine politics,” argues Havel, “is simply a matter of serving those around us; serving the community, and serving those who will come after us.”
.. “I feel that the dormant goodwill in people needs to be stirred. People need to hear that it makes sense to behave decently or to help others, to place common interests above their own, to respect the elementary rules of human coexistence.”
.. It is certainly not the spirit of Trumpism, which exemplifies the moral and spiritual poverty Havel decries: the cultivation of anger, resentment, antagonism and tribal hostilities; the bragging and the brooding; the egotism and self-pity.
.. The alternative to Trumpism is the democratic faith: that people, in the long run, will choose decency and progress over the pleasures of malice. The belief that they will choose the practice of kindness and courtesy. The conviction that God blesses the poor, the hungry, the weeping and the stranger. Faith in the power of the truthful word.
.. But this can take place only if we refuse to normalize the language of hatred.