Trump's felony conviction is the straw that didn't break the camel's back

What’s 34 felony convictions for paying hush money to a porn star compared with Trump’s previous transgressions?

SHARE Trump's felony conviction is the straw that didn't break the camel's back
Ex-President Donald Trump and attorney Todd Blanche, both wearing dark suits and white shirts with ties, stand behind a metal barrier as they address media after Trump's guilty verdict on 34 felony counts.

Donald Trump and his attorney Todd Blanche exit the courthouse after the former and perhaps future president was found guilty on all 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first of his criminal cases to go to trial. Three more remain.


When news broke Thursday that Donald Trump had been found guilty of 34 felonies in his payoff of porn star Stormy Daniels, I felt surprise — I assumed at least one juror would refuse to convict — then emptiness. Not the elation ululating over social media. Not a desire to plunge into the reams of reportage and analysis boiling out the press. Nothing.

When my editor at the paper called a few minutes later, I was glad to be walking up Western Avenue, on my way to interview a 5-year-old about cicadas — we’ll get to that Wednesday. No, I wasn’t in a position to opine on the conviction for tomorrow’s paper. No, I really didn’t have anything to add, other than what I’ve been saying about this for years:

Once you get in the habit of ignoring reality, the specifics of the reality being ignored hardly matter.

Opinion bug


Has anything changed? Not really, making it a truth that bears regular repeating.

A kind of mantra to distance myself from the rest of the media, which display a startling inability to grasp the situation here, the dynamic that has settled over half our country. For followers of this man, there is no truth, no moment of revelation, no bottom to bounce up from. If trying to corrupt an election, then leading an insurrection didn’t sour his acolytes, what is the dry legalism of 34 felony convictions supposed to do? His fans immediately cried persecution, flying flags upside down and off-gassing grievance.

In their world, anything goes. Literally. Trump isn’t trying to steal the election, the Democrats are. By holding Trump accountable for the crimes he commits. And allowing mail-in ballots.

Once you get in the habit of ignoring reality, the specifics of the reality being ignored hardly matter.

Of course, that isn’t true in real-life situations. If your house is on fire and you sit on the living room sofa popping malted milk balls into your mouth and grinning as the curtains ignite, the reality you are ignoring definitely will matter, and soon. The reality being ignored matters if your pregnancy goes wrong in Texas and you need emergency surgery. You can ignore facts, as I also like to say, but that doesn’t mean facts will ignore you.

Friday morning I did my due diligence, re-reading W. B. Yeats’ “The Second Coming.”

“Turning and turning in the widening gyre,” it begins — a gyre is a vortex. “Things fall apart/the centre cannot hold/Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.”

Testify, brother. Yeats wrote that in 1919, after the First World War killed the Western notion of order and progress. The idea that leaders don’t know what they’re doing wasn’t born in the gore-washed trenches of the Somme. Rather, it was confirmed there, subject to periodic reminders.

“The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere,” Yeats writes. “The ceremony of innocence is drowned.”

If only. Innocence is all around us, still. In those wondering if Trump Excess No. 3,423 will change things. They just don’t get the message, which Yeats spelled out over a century ago.

“The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity.”

Gosh Neil, isn’t that a judgment? Are you looking at Americans who believe in abstract reality, fair elections and free media, and calling them “the best”? While “the worst” blindly follow a liar, bully, fraud, traitor and, now, convicted felon?

Why yes, I am. Why aren’t you?

Yeats echoes the typical hopeful lefty reaction to Trump’s conviction.

“Surely some revelation is at hand,” he muses.

Or not. Because the people who have kept their eyes clamped shut are never going to wake up, slap their foreheads and look around. Yes, there is rumored to be some unfathomable sliver of people, tuned out so far, who might in theory snap to attention now.

That such people exist is scarcely believable, and the thought our fate depends on the slow dawning of reality upon this small band of sluggards, blinking in the light of day and speculating on that fiery object in the sky, well, let’s all bend over now and kiss our ... umm, let’s welcome, “A shape with lion body and the head of a man/A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun.”

The poem ends:

“And what rough beast, its hour come round at last/Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”

Washington, D.C., actually. No metaphor is perfect. Besides: Once you get in the habit of ignoring reality, the specifics of the reality being ignored hardly matter.

The Latest
“Although we don’t yet know exactly what happened, we should all be relieved that former President Trump wasn’t seriously hurt, and use this moment to recommit ourselves to civility and respect in our politics,” said former President Barack Obama.
One of the many parties celebrating 40 years of the genre, the Chosen Few Picnic & House Music Festival drew thousands to Jackson Park on Saturday.
More than 30 groups organize Downtown Day, offering free admission to several attractions — such as the Shedd Aquarium and the Art Institute — for young people who don’t often leave their neighborhoods to explore the city’s richness.
Simmons used TV shows, videos and books to get his message out, even as he eventually became the butt of jokes for his outfits and flamboyant flair.
“You can’t hide what everybody can see,” center fielder Luis Robert Jr. said. “It’s been what it has been. We have to keep working hard to try to get a better second half.”