We either get this thing right, or we get it horrifically, tragically wrong | Opinion

Carl Hiaasen
·4 min read

Just when you thought the news couldn’t get more disheartening, we now learn that 545 children taken from their families at the U.S. border won’t be returned to their parents because their parents cannot be located.

The children are essentially kidnap victims of what was once the most admired and generous democracy in the world.

Separating the youngsters and teens was for a while the policy of Donald Trump’s administration — an obscenely cruel decision intended to frighten other migrants from entering the country.

According to the Justice Department’s inspector general, there was no plan for reuniting incarcerated children with their mothers and fathers. The ACLU agreed to try, but time passed and in many cases the parents couldn’t be contacted.

So we’re left to think about 545 young lives that that our government willfully shattered, and a President who personally approved the policy. This is where we are as a nation, lurching toward Election Day.

The White House is occupied by a soulless, sulking pretender, a pathological narcissist who spends his days devouring TV news about himself and tweeting breathless, illiterate tirades.

He is the laziest person to ever hold the office, too lazy even to study the daily security briefings prepared by the nation’s intelligence agencies.

He’s also the weakest person ever to be president, a crybaby and whiner who masquerades as tough while sucking up to brutal strongmen such as Russia’s Vladimir Putin, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

They know Trump’s a wimp. He runs from anyone who stands up to him, even Lesley Stahl on “60 Minutes.”

His boggling incompetence was on global display as he played down the pandemic while discouraging people from doing the few simple things that could have suppressed the virus early.

His own vain aversion to covering his face finally put him in the hospital, while the disease swept through the top White House staff and Secret Service. By then the rest of the nation had already been slammed with two deadly surges, and now a third one is in progress.

More than 220,000 Americans are dead from COVID-related causes, but Trump still makes dumb jokes about the virus at his rallies. The laughs are subdued because there’s not much funny about shortages of ICU beds, which is happening today in Republican strongholds such as North Dakota. Trump couldn’t care less.

Every time he hugs an American flag he stains it.

He dodged serving in Vietnam because of a phantom bone spur, though it couldn’t have been too painful since he spent the war years working on his tennis backhand while other young men his age were being zipped into body bags on the Mekong Delta.

Yet he has the nauseating gall to trash John McCain, who was tortured for five years as a POW. No wonder McCain’s widow is supporting Joe Biden.

When U.S. intelligence reported that Russia paid bounties to the Taliban for killing American soldiers, President Trump’s reaction was to say nothing bad about Russia and make a peace deal with the Taliban.

Just as Trump is a fake patriot, he’s a fake billionaire. His “empire” is bleeding cash and is hundreds of millions of dollars in debt. His biggest income stream was his cheesy reality show, which is off the air.

His army of lawyers tried to keep secret his IRS returns, but they were leaked anyway. Then, true to form, he showed no embarrassment about routinely paying little or zero federal taxes (the amount was only $750 in 2016 — the same year he paid $130,000 in hush money to porn actress Stormy Daniels).

The cult of Trump remains vast and steadfast. Not all his supporters are racists, but every single racist that you and I know will vote for him. He’s their hero.

Lots of rich people are voting for him, too, because he cut their taxes; others are loyal because they buy the vaudeville swagger and bull----. They don’t care that he bragged about grabbing women’s vaginas, or that he tried to extort Ukraine to get dirt on Joe Biden, or that Mexico isn’t paying a dime for the border wall.

But many, many Americans are plainly worn out after four years of dumb drama and dysfunction — exhausted by Trump’s egomania, exhausted by his daily lies, exhausted by his bloated insensitivity and exhausted by the felony sagas of his cohorts (Manafort, Flynn, Bannon, Gates, Cohen, Stone and more to come).

At this point it, would almost be surreal — though nice — to have a steady grownup in the Oval Office instead of a self-obsessed, dangerously impulsive gasbag.

Imagine somebody in charge who understands actual leadership, true strength versus Twitter bluster; somebody who also finds no shame in showing some of the tolerance and empathy on which America was built.

Somebody who wouldn’t order children pulled from their parents’ arms and locked away — and then go play golf.

Somebody other than Donald Trump.