Why do I even follow the news anymore?
Politicians always bicker, but this past few years has been so, so much worse. Instead of arguing about ideology and policy, they make it personal. And while Canada is no stranger to political disaster, I’m referring mostly to our frenemies south of the border.
Once upon a time, during the 2016 U.S. election, Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts senator, claimed to be Native American. She referred to herself as a minority during one debate, listed herself as such on the Web site of the university where she taught, and frequently brought up her ancestry in public speaking engagements. Rival politicians questioned the validity of her claims, saying she certainly didn’t look like a minority, and began to demand proof of her Cherokee ancestry, which she never did produce.
Donald Trump (who will hopefully turn his talents to something more suitable once he retires, such as serving as the ringmaster in a three-ring circus), has been goading Warren with the nickname of “Pocahontas” for years, and just last week she was silly enough to take the bait.
In a move that defies both logic and common sense, she released a video that is supposed to… well, I’m not sure exactly what it’s supposed to do, or what we’re expected to do with her genealogical information. But let me spare you the research: she is between 1/64th and 1/1024th Native American, which means she had an indigenous ancestor about six to 10 generations ago. To shore up this DNA claim, she even got a Stanford University genetics professor to say these results “strongly” support her claim.
As expected, Donald Trump and other political opponents of Warren’s have scoffed at her assertions, calling her a fraud and accusing her of using minority status to gain academic advantage and further her career.
Native Americans aren’t amused. Debbie White Dove Porreco, an actual Pocahontas descendant, said she felt “betrayed” and “disappointed” by the silly revelation and demanded an apology. And Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said co-opting this long-ago heritage was “undermining tribal interests.”
I could see the blowback coming a mile away. We live in strange, strange times, when people who should know better, don’t.
Who among us won’t have a diverse bloodline if we go back 10 generations? But when running for public office, glomming onto that distant lineage and using it as a talking point to separate you from the rest of the lineup isn’t the best way to represent yourself. Elizabeth Warren has had to learn that lesson this week.
Unfortunately, the Warren DNA is a mere subplot in this implausible chapter of this presidency. The main act is reserved for Trump and a porn star, a performance that has played out on Twitter.
When a federal judge threw out a defamation lawsuit against the president by Stormy Daniels, Trump stooped to his weapon of choice — an insult. He used a word that pimply middle-schoolers throw at girls they don’t like, which goes to show the level of public discourse we’ve come to accept from elected officials.
“Great, now I can go after Horseface and her 3rd rate lawyer in the Great State of Texas,” Trump tweeted.
Not to be outdone, Daniels, who says she had an affair with Trump, replied by mocking his “shortcomings” and penchant for unsavory bedroom behaviours that I won’t even repeat. She apparently loved the attention so much that she tweeted her own challenge: “Game on, Tiny.”
Embarrassed yet? Or have we lost our collective sense of shame?
All this would be entertaining if it were purely fiction, and even then it would be pretty bad. But it’s about real people, in a real country, in real time. The person who holds the most prestigious office in the world is acting like the high school nerd who got rejected by the head cheerleader. And our children are watching, listening, and learning that this is how adults behave when they’re in power.
Little wonder ratings for reality TV shows are floundering; there’s no need for that kind of entertainment when it’s playing out in our daily news feed. In fact, I would say we appear to be inured to stupidity, pettiness, lying, and boorishness. Behaviour that used to send students to the principal’s office for a tongue lashing, has infiltrated every segment of society, from Hollywood, to Wall Street, to Washington, to our living rooms.
It’s a shame, isn’t it?