When I think of tough guys, I think of fictional private eyes, like Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe, hard-drinking stoics whose view of the world is as unmisted as the Kalahari Desert.
Donald Trump would like to think of himself as a tough guy, and he certainly talks the talk, blusters and threatens, but when it comes to walking the walk, for him it takes something more than a village – it takes a phalanx of police peppering unarmed protesters – including clergy – with rubber bullets and spraying them with some species of airborne irritant we dare not call tear gas. These citizens needed to be cleared away so the President and his coterie could swagger up in front of a church for a photo op.
Here he is, holding a Bible upside down, Charles Bronson in a platinum wig playing Cotton Mather.
What may have prompted this “show of strength” is Trump’s ire over the news that he had been ushered into the White House’s underground bunker during protests the previous Friday. The Twitter hashtags #BunkerBitch and #BunkerBoy started making the rounds as did the low-hanging analogies of Ava and Adolph’s last days in bombed out Berlin.
Alas, it would seem, at least from the lamestream news sources I rely on, the PR stunt was an Ishtar grade failure, the brutalizing of the protesters prompting Generals Mattis and Mullen to speak out against the president, which provided cover for Republic Senator Lisa Murkowski to chime in with her own tsk-tsk.
Oh, if there were only some good news, some ray of sunshine striking a shiny object to distract us from our dystopia!
And then, like an answered prayer, the blessed news: Friday’s release of economic data indicating the unemployment rate had dropped to 13.3%, a “surprising turnaround” that “suggested the economy was stabilizing.”
To cash in, Trump summoned the media for what he called a news conference and then doused that tiny spark of sunshine with this obscene and absurd observation:
“Hopefully, George is looking down right now and saying this is a great thing that’s happening for our country. This is a great day for him, it’s a great day for everybody. This is a great day for everybody. This is a great, great day in terms of equality.”
Oh, how would love to have Trump cornered in some black-and-white L.A. motel room alone with Philip Marlowe, that shamus extraordinaire, who hearing such self-serving bullshit would backhand him and snarl, “[When you are] dead, you [are] sleeping the big sleep, you [are] not bothered by things like that, oil and water [are] the same as wind and air to you. You just [sleep] the big sleep, not caring about the nastiness of how you died or where you fell.”
In other words, George Floyd has nothing on his mind, Michael Brown has nothing on his mind, Atatiana Jefferson as nothing on her mind.
As Flannery O’Connor said, “You can’t be any poorer than dead.”
Perhaps Trump should take a page out of Joe Biden’s playbook and STFU, and perhaps Biden should return to that strategy. Biden’s estimation the other day that ten to fifteen percent of Americans are not “good people” adds up to a lot of votes, smacks of Hillary’s “deplorables” snark.
We need to a stop to the carnage and rebuild our Smoldering City on the Hill before there’s nothing left to rebuild.
 Humphrey Bogart played both in film adaptations of Dashielle Hammett and Raymond Chandler novels.
 Note, budding writers, my conscious employment of passive voice.
 Alas, this morning’s Washington Post reports there “had been a ‘major’ error indicating” that “the overall unemployment rate would have been about 3 percentage points higher than reported.”
 He took no questions from reporters.