By Bill Shunas
During Donald Trump's campaign for the presidency, he played at being a populist and pledged he would clean out the corruption and influence peddling in Washington. He said he was going to drain the swamp. Now after more than a year of his being the ringmaster, that circus in Washington has gotten worse. Now the liberal talking heads at places like MSNBC are gleefully accusing him of not only failing to drain the swamp but of raising the water level.
I don't like this kind of talk. Every comparison of the Trump Washington operations to a swamp is an insult to every Spotted Lady Dung Beetle, Northern Cricket frog and Wood turtle in the Everglades. I've been to that swamp in the Everglades as well as the Okeefanokee and Great Dismal Swamps. I've also been to Washington DC. I'll take the swamps.
Unlike DC, swamps play a positive role in our lives. Way back when they used to drain swamps, it was mainly done to expand land for agriculture and sometimes to get rid of mosquitoes because you could get malaria and other diseases from swamp mosquitoes. Once this was discovered and dealt with, the dangers of the swamp largely disappeared. Eventually it was finally realized that wetlands, including swamps, played a positive role in our lives. Swamps are like sponges. They modify flooding and anchor coastal soil and sand. The flooding from Hurricane Katrina did more damage than it could have because the swamps around New Orleans were mostly gone. The sponge was gone. Swamps also act as sort of a water treatment plant that filters waste including the chemicals we like to dump. About four or five decades ago the value of swamps became accepted and efforts began to be made to protect them although the current administration is okay with those protections disappearing.
Okay. Enough with defending the swamps. I get it. You'd rather compare the current occupants of influential DC positions to swamp creatures created in Hollywood. Who can forget the Creature from the Black Lagoon? It rose out of the depths like the political career of Donald Trump. In real life with real swamp creatures, I would compare Trump more to the Golden Tortoise Beetle. This beetle changes colors, and when it's ready to mate, it turns to a color similar to Trump's hair. Maybe that's why Trump's hair stays that color. He's trying to mate. Quick! Some aide better call Stormy Daniel's successor. The Golden Tortoise Beetle happens to protect its larvae by covering it with fecal matter. Again a comparison, albeit only figurative. Trump covers his questionable actions and positions with whatever fecal matter it is that comes out of his twitter finger.
Those around Trump also resemble swamp creatures out to scare children. Hell. They scare me. Kellyanne Conway? How about a Red Belly Water Snake? Paul Manafort the American Toad. Then there's the Asian Swamp Eel, an invasive species trying to squeeze out all the other creatures. Reminds you of Steve Bannon. And then the Eastern Narrowmouth Frog. Sarah Sanders? Enough. Enough. I shouldn't stretch this out any further. The reptiles and amphibians of the swamp don't deserve it.
We may not have a swamp in DC that needs to be drained, but we do have a problem. You couldn't assemble a more sleazy bunch of people than you could find if you used you sleaze recommendation app. This is Trump world. He made his fortune by breaking deals and suing people. Doing this has got to involve a whole lot of deception, dishonesty, and disrespect for any kind of laws or norms, and it carried over into his political life, both in the campaigning and the running of the government. He and his friends are getting investigated by the FBI for the 2016 election and collusion with the Russians and maybe some business dealings. He may slither by, but many around him who have played by his business style are getting indicted or flipping. And even those who won't wear prison stripes are looking like the gang who couldn't shoot straight.
I don't know about you, but it seems weird to me that you kind of get the feeling that the FBI is on our side. These are the people that bugged your phone and mine. The FBI are the law enforcers who stood on the sidelines and watched civil rights advocates in the South get persecuted and killed. The FBI are the people who participated in COINTELPRO, the assassination of leftists. And now they're the ones who stand against the barbarians at the gate. Weird, man. Weird. My world is flipped.
Then there's the media. Generally speaking, I have a low opinion. Every once in awhile you have something good like the Watergate story or the Pentagon Papers. However much of the reportage over the years has been slanted according to the whims of publishers, advertisers, and the conventional wisdom. Now, with Trump tweeting before dawn every morning with accusations of fake news, the media is constantly under scrutiny and attack. The Mainstream Media is what stands between us and fake news. We have to stand up for slanted news as opposed to fake news? It's not as bad as rooting for the FBI, but my world is still flipped.
Next thing you know we'll find out that W is appalled by Trump. W and I are buds? What's going on in Washington is a giant clusterfuck. The District of Columbia was created shortly after the Revolutionary War. It was built on a swamp. Too bad we can't let some of that swamp water seep back to filter out the waste matter that's accumulated.
Bill Shunas is a Vietnam veteran, author and VVAW member in the Chicago chapter.