Last week I chided President Donald Trump for a tone-deaf, 15-question “survey” and out-of-touch letter the Republican National Committee recently mass-mailed as a fundraising gimmick. That arrived at my house May 9.
Not one question mentioned the COVID-19 pandemic, its devastating effects on the U.S. economy or the tens of millions of workers now unemployed. In the letter, Trump wrote: “I believe the state of the nation is great.” No kidding, that sentence was underlined .
The fast and furious response from readers perfectly illustrates the current American political divide. So let’s jump into the May reader mailbag.
First up is Arlean Lambert of Blacksburg.
“I also received the fake letter from Trump [May 9],” Lambert wrote in an email. “My response resembled yours completely.”
When Lambert got to survey question No. 15, which asked participants to rank the president’s priorities, she took advantage of a fill-in-the-blank option: “I wrote: ‘Someone should try to get Trump to keep his lying mouth shut!’ ”
Bless her, she also clipped my column from the newspaper, highlighted some juicy parts, and stuffed that in the return envelope “along with the other pieces of garbage. Too bad I had to waste a perfectly good postage stamp,” Lambert wrote.
Berkeley Riley of Roanoke County also received the fundraising pitch.
“I sent my survey back yesterday with the flag stamp put upside down to represent the emergency we have with Trump as president,” he told me in a voicemail.
When we talked Wednesday, Riley informed me he’d received yet another Trump survey in the mail this week, from the “Make America Great Again Committee.” He said it’s littered with terms such as “impeachment sham,” “highly qualified conservative judges” and “Planned Parenthood.”
Like the last one, “there is absolutely nothing in here about unemployment or the pandemic,” Riley noted. Go figure.
Kevin Lorton of Pulaski described the column in a single word: “AWESOME.”
“Keep it up,” he added in his email. “Too many people in the Valley can’t accept the truth that our president is an abject failure on so many levels. Thanks for the TRUTH and may it open some eyes.”
Robert Beightol of Roanoke County warned yours truly that this newspaper would probably get a bunch of letters demanding I be fired or silenced.
“Please know that there are at least a few of us in the Roanoke area who share your views but don’t have the same public platform. Stay safe, stay strong and in November we can hopefully put an end to this nightmare we have been suffering from,” he wrote in an email.
“I wish I had gotten a survey!” wrote Denise Revercomb of Roanoke. She said she would have responded with two letters of the alphabet. The first is an F. I bet you can guess what the second was.
Now let’s flip that coin and consider responses from the other side. We’ll begin with one from Steve Alley of Christiansburg. I delightedly transcribed that voicemail.
“Mr. Casey, you’ve got to be one of the most ignorant pieces of worthless human waste on the face of the Earth. You’re just like that piece of [expletive], Barack Obama, and MSNBC and CNN. The unemployment was lowest in 50 years under Trump,” the message began.
“This coronavirus that China laid out for population control is what’s caused all this. … Ignorant people like you, you bunch of worthless pieces of human waste, voting for that piece of [expletive] Governor Northam — that friggin’ moron. Obama, Biden, I hope you all rot in hell.”
Alley later called back and apologized.
Next up was Robert Walker of Bedford.
“Your article is despicable,” he said in a voicemail. “Barack Obama went around the world apologizing. He would let anybody do anything to the United States of America. He was a black Muslim, I don’t care what anybody says. He was the biggest piece of crap we ever had. And now it’s coming out that he was out to get Trump.”
Walker added: “I know Donald Trump’s no angel. I don’t personally like Trump. I would hope somebody else would have gotten it. But we’re stuck with him.”
(Wrong, sir. There’s an election in November.)
And then there was Kenny Friend of Christiansburg. In a not-so-friendly tone, he replied to my suggestion that America’s losing under Trump’s leadership.
“Actually, America is winning under Trump,” Friend said in the voicemail. “Where do you even get your facts from? Do you research this [expletive] before you write it? I mean, where do you get this garbage? You have to be about the dumbest son-of-a-[expletive]. I hope you have another job. I mean, I hope this is not all that you do for a living, really. This is ridiculous. Do a little research and try to write the truth once in a while. Dumb[expletive]!”
(Friend was friendlier when I called him back and we spoke directly, however.)
Even a petrified porcupine could recognize the stark division, eh?
I suspect the latter three readers are ardent viewers of Fox News, the remarkable propaganda machine that can spin a huge and fire-breathing paper dragon out of the sheerest factual thread.
If you disagree, consider what happened on Fox on Monday afternoon, after Trump revealed he’s taking the malaria medication hydroxychloroquine to prevent being infected with COVID-19. (There’s no evidence it prevents the virus and some evidence it could do harm.)
That afternoon, one Fox anchor warned his viewers they could die from taking the medicine, which the network had previously promoted as a cure for a virus that it earlier claimed was a hoax.
It’s emblematic of how Fox twists reality into an eight-dimensional pretzel that’s more potent and longer lasting than LSD. It’s not worth getting angry at the people who eat it, though. They’re victims who deserve pity rather than scorn.
Anyway, thanks again to you readers for all the entertaining responses. Please keep them coming — including the expletive-filled phone calls. Those keep me laughing.