A prime part of American exceptionalism is how relatively new the nation is. One result is that for many Americans their sense of history goes back three centuries or less, for some just a few decades, if there is any sense of history at all.
It is ironic in one way. America, even with defections, is still a Judeo-Christian society. Both traditions look back in belief and scripture at least two millennia. That should be a clue that things have been radically different over time, that things of then are not things of now, and that things of now will not always be thus.
Much of the world knows this experientially. Not only do countries east and west have long histories. Those histories are steeped in changes, some benign, some malign, all a part of natural impermanence.
All things must pass.
America justifiably wants to keep the best of itself and its institutions. That desire has been made more pointed by two overlapping phenomena: a leader who cares nothing for the best and well-being of America and a virus that cares nothing for the best and well-being of América.
The nexus of these has America desperate for the way things were, in ways little and big. Those ways are both existentially significant or trivial. The significant and existential ones should not be lightly abandoned. But as we fight for the way things were, we must acknowledge right now what most nations know from their complex histories: whatever that was or this is, it isn’t forever.
One reason not to lie constantly, or not to ask others to constantly lie for you, is that someday you may find the truth useful.
On a Saturday afternoon last November, Trump was whisked away from the White House to Walter Reed Medical Center. No explanation was provided, at least not a plausible one. There was some excuse that it was the first half of an annual physical continued in April, but this split examination defies standard medical practice.
As for Trump’s health, he is obese, is known to have a terrible diet, and gets practically no exercise (golf with a golf cart doesn’t count). Despite that, his former White House doctor Ronny Jackson was stunned by his good health, saying that he could live to be 200 if he ate better.
Today we have revelations that Trump’s doctor rode with him to Walter Reed—an unheard of practice—and that Mike Pence was also at the hospital, leading to the conclusion that whatever was going on, some temporary transfer of power might be needed.
Trump has directed his current doctor to deny that the visit concerned a number of serious conditions (this doctor didn’t mention how long Trump might live). Above all, however, neither the doctor nor anyone else at the White House will tell Americans precisely what went on at Walter Reed.
Leaving us to speculate that it was in fact very serious. Because if it was not serious, why cover it up? You say it wasn’t serious, but why would we believe you now?