Man oh man, these men

We've reached the glass cliff. Bring in Lagarde

I am not a man-hater, but some of these guys are making it hard. The parade of astonishments never ends, does it?

Let’s start at the top. Trump just keeps finding new ways to sow discord. I’m trying to understand how some Americans saw his martial hijacking of DC’s July 4th celebrations as patriotic, but it just seemed dumb and wrong to me. 

Republican VIPs and big GOP donors filled the stands closest to Mr. and Mrs. Trump and their tanks. Far behind several rows of chicken wire fencing stood his base Americans, who all cheered as he reminisced about that time George Washington shut down National Airport. (This was during the Revolution, before the DC airport was named after Ronald Reagan.)

It’s hard to even protest this level of absurd. An article in The Washington Post described the whole scene in a way that would make Hunter S. Thompson proud.

Tanks for the memories

The millions of dollars subverted to finance Trump’s need to constantly show off did distract attention from the latest rape allegation against him. Have you forgotten about that already? I kinda did. I can’t wait to see what everyone does when he really does shoot someone in the middle of 5th Avenue.

As for E. Jean Caroll’s tawdry story of a Bergdorf fitting room, I’ll concede that it’s complicated. I will engage with someone who wants to argue that when you invite in a wolf, don’t be mad when it bites you. But I will not engage with anyone who wants to say the wolf didn’t bite. I believe her. 

And how about Trump’s pal Jeffrey Epstein? He’s revolting and worthless and his head is too big for his body, but why did he get off on such a light sentence years ago? And what’s up with him being excused from prison six days a week to work? I know there are countless families who don’t own a Caribbean island who’d really appreciate if their incarcerated family members could get out a few days a week to work. How do you get THAT arrangement, Alexander Acosta? And how does such shitty prosecutorial work get you a cabinet post?

I said I’m not a man-hater, so let’s not forget to give credit where it’s due. Behind every lousy jerk is a foul woman. Here are some of my current faves:

  • There’s Ghislaine Maxwell, who is Epstein’s Fagin, his Renfield, his pimp. Like a roadie at a Led Zeppelin concert, she would troll for vulnerable young women to bring to Epstein. He and his pals would then sexually abuse them. Way to support your fellow females, Ghislaine.

  • And finally my favorite world leader, Ivanka Trump. The picture of her front and center amidst the G20 leaders is so wrong it made my smartphone smell bad. I don’t know how many times I watched the video of Ivanka in her $4,500 dress, oblivious to the epic Christine Lagarde side-eye. Lagarde’s look was a balm to my soul. 

I love Lagarde. In a recent NYTimes article they mentioned a Trevor Noah appearance where he asked her opinion about the glass cliff, the concept wherein when stuff is about to go haywire, they put a woman in charge to take the blame. She agreed. 

“Whenever the situation is really, really bad,” she said, “you call in the woman.”

I think it’s time to make that call. But first, we read.

Crime, Punishment, and Hope

Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoesvsky

I don’t know who I’m trying to impress with this foolishness, but I like to make sure everyone knows I’m reading classics. I buy a real book—no free version on the Kindle for me—and never hesitate to find a way to pull it out on the subway or wedge my high-brow reading selection into chat at a dinner party or in the supermarket parking lot. Nobody cares, I realize, but is this habit really any worse than posting tedious humblebrags on Instagram about my deep thoughts on nature walks or my daughter’s new hairdo? 

This book is great, duh. The writing is so lavish, thorough, precise, and emotional. I can still vividly picture nearly every scene in the book. Dostoesvsky’s writing demands concentration, but it’s magnificently rewarding. When I was reading the book I was in St. Petersburg, suffering alongside my fellow Russians. 

But. Raskolnikov is like one of these assholes I’m having to dodge on the front page of the newspaper: selfish, entitled, amoral. When I complained about this to one of my friends she sarcastically pointed out that I’m not really supposed to like him. True, and the book is a masterpiece of the human condition. But this male-dominated perspective is wearing me out. 

Becoming by Michelle Obama

The antidote is Mrs. Obama. Her book was a powerful surprise for me. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. I listened to it, and her sweet crackly voice and southside accent warmed up and enhanced the sometimes workmanlike writing. It’s ok that she’s not a great writer, though, because she goes beyond the typical DC memoir to tell a very personal and compelling story.

For one thing, I know millions of not-African Americans will read this book and get a glimpse of an American family history they might not know much about. I know it because I’m fortunate enough to be married into the Clyburn family. With love and compassion, she explains to readers why her grandfather was such a perpetually cranky man. With humility, she discloses how hard she and her team worked to ensure she made no missteps in her appearance or her statements as First Lady. Like Jackie Robinson, she knew the pressure she was under as the first African American to be in the role, and handled it with titanic grace. 

Michelle Obama’s trajectory from a working class neighborhood of Chicago to the White House and world fame is obviously inspiring, but it’s her authenticity and intelligence that really wowed me. She reminded me why we have no choice but to hope for the best, because cynicism is pointless. Her relentless optimism even when she can’t find a decent reason to have hope looks like strength to me. 

So sure, sometimes it seems like we are living in a time when truly rotten and stupid men have all the power. I won’t lose hope. I hope we do better as a country. I hope we continue to put Christine Lagarde in charge of things. And I hope we can ship Trump, Epstein, Ghislaine, and Ivanka to a faraway penal colony where no one can tweet and rats can nibble on the bell sleeves of Ivanka’s Valentino dresses. 

More to come, and I promise it won’t be a male-bashing screed next time. Thanks for reading! Share! Subscribe! Wear sunscreen!