Guest Columnist

When 'The Office' itself disrespects

President Donald Trump, with members of the president's coronavirus task force, speaks during a news conference in the B
President Donald Trump, with members of the president's coronavirus task force, speaks during a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

After 39 jolting months of Trump, his supporters still tell detractors, “If you can’t respect the man, you should still respect the office.”

But what about when the president so disrespects The Office that the revered institution disrespects him right back?

It happens. Most recently, one foggy night when The Office, an ectoplasm that hovers eternally in the White House, floated through the walls, off the grounds and to the banks of the Potomac to ponder the sad state of the union.

It was spotted by a male jogger, a reporter for an area newspaper.

An interview ensued:

Omigosh! Who, or rather what, are you? Are you for real?

“I am ethereal. I am The Office, having drifted this night over from Pennsylvania Avenue.”

But the office is oval-shaped. You look a bit like Uncle Sam.

“The cartoon Sam. I reckon so. But the Oval Office is merely an ornate room. As THE Office, I am the presidency itself.”

You seem haggard.

“I ought to. Though only 233 years old, I am the product of the Founders, who, in my formation, took reason and knocked it into a cocked hat. They made the powers of the presidency as indistinct as the apparition you see before you. That cleared the path for some power-ravening chief executives to rage, oppress, cheat and lie — among other lawless offenses.

“The culmination is the current occupant’s insistence he can do anything he wants. It’s as if the hounds of hell were loosed. The framers didn’t intend such audacity.”

So has all that chaotic history chased you out here very often to ... what — meditate?

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“Hundreds of times, but never so much as during the ordeal now upon us. A massive epidemic ignored for two months! My despond over Donald Trump’s ascent was immediate. Not a month before the election, word came that he had bragged about seizing and pawing unwelcoming women — violating their very dignity. Yet his popularity somehow endures. Such salacious behavior should have left him satyr but wiser.”

His lying has become legend. Might that be his Achilles heel?

“Where Watergate put Nixon atop the lying elite, the current scandals — call them “Prevaricate-gate” — have placed Trump on Olympus, somehow impervious to critics’ arrows.”

Mightn’t he come down to earth? After all, his reelection showdown is just seven months off.

“I see no such reclamation. Unlike all predecessors, this president lacks empathy — the ability to understand and share the feelings of his fellow man. He nonetheless prevails because so many of his admirers are similarly lacking. I call the condition Trumpathy — feelings supporting the vindictiveness of this president. Trumpathy over empathy. It mocks the framers’ ‘all men created equal’ tenet.’”

But there’s a bulwark against chaos: respect for you, The Office. Violations against you should prove telling.

“Advantage Trump! Where he can be solidly vicious, I am merely viscous, without stable content. But farewell, my curious friend, I must depart.”

Wait! There must be some similarity between you and Trump.

“Indeed, one can see right through both of us.”

Writer-editor Jerry Elsea retired in 2002 after 40 years with The Gazette.

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