Monday, January 30, 2017

Trump: Ticking Cardiac Time Bomb



Senior citizen jogging

A news report over the weekend reminded us what is generally well known even if often ignored. Exercise is good for our overall health and increases longevity. A 1995 study of Harvard alumni showed that vigorous exercise by men at least two days a week significantly increased their longevity. The life expectancy in the U.S. in 2012, rounded off, was 79 years, which I found hard to believe. In 1935, the first year of Social Security, when I was two years old, the average age for Americans was only 61, and that was back when Americans got much more exercise walking because they were in vehicles a lot less.

The exercise issue is especially relevant because the president of the United States, Donald Trump, apparently does not exercise vigorously at all unless you count, as he does,  all those speeches in which he gets apopletically exercised ranting  against his critics on the left. Don’t expect a treadmill or any other exercise equipment in the Oval Office during his tenure, unless it is there just for the sake of appearances or for photo ops. The most exercise Trump gets is with his mouth, eating and jawing. Maybe that’s why he was called  a “zaftig blowhard” in Esquire magazine.

The fact Trump is the oldest president ever elected for the first time to the highest office might mean that exercise is not quite as important as these studies suggest. After all, he reached 70 without much sweat. Why couldn’t he live into his eighties or even nineties?  Why shouldn’t he continue to chow down at his favorite eateries, McDonald’s and KFC?  Because there is another more likely explanation for his longevity and that is he is pressing his luck. He is an overweight ticking cardiac time bomb close to exploding. If his diet and eating habits, like his lack of exercise are not good—as the statistics suggest— the odds of his finishing his four-year term are not good either.

Trump and the Colonel: Finger Licking Good

According not only to himself but to the golf editor of the New Yorker, Trump does play one sport and he plays it fairly well, namely golf. That golf is the least strenuous of the major sports may be why Trump first took it up. He plays in the scads of profitable, top-rated golf courses he owns in a number of countries on both sides of the Atlantic. But he doesn’t look the part of a good golfer. The same New Yorker golf editor, who played eighteen holes with Trump on one of his golf courses, mistook him when he first saw him for an attendant, not the Donald himself. The only photo of Trump the golfer I have seen makes him look like a paunchy duffer in the rough.

Donald Trump: Paunchy duffer in the rough

While the legions of Trump haters might hope he croaks before long, the immediate effects of his death could be bad for the nation’s health. His cabinet appointments of elderly extremely wealthy rightwing often overweight businessmen  increases the chances of a rough transition to a new administration if Trump should have a fatal heart attack. For the most part, his cabinet appointees  are not philanthropic do-gooders. They did not become billionaires by helping with the greening of America. The only greening of America they have done is financially, in their own backyards. The transition to a Mike Pence administration therefore could be accompanied  by  more jockeying for position than a crowded field at the Kentucky Derby. And not just jockeying for position but backstabbing too. Steve Bannon, a leader of the alt-right, was Trump’s campaign manager. Bannon is the  former chair of Breitbart News, which the Guardian called a clearinghouse for hate groups of all kinds. Impeachment is one reason Trump might not finish his term, and a coup d’├ętat has been mentioned as another possible reason. What role Bannon might play in this night of the long knives scenario is anybody’s guess.  But the idea that such things couldn’t happen in the U.S. is being heard less and the proposition that it could happen here is heard more. Sinclair Lewis’s 1935 novel It Can’t Happen Here is relevant today because a coup d’├ętat does take place in it.

Trump’s ruddy complexion is something of a puzzle. Just as he has an over-the-top hairpiece, he also appears to have a sunlamp tan complexion. The whiteness around his eyes might be explained by the sunglasses he might wear to protect his eyes from harmful sunlamp rays. If the self-appointed psychoanalysts are right, he may suffer from pathological narcissism, in which case the hairpiece and sunlamp would be the tools not of ignorance but of vanity. The famous pronouncement, sometimes mistakenly attributed to Shakespeare, “Vanity, thy name is woman,” perhaps should be brought up to date:  “Vanity, thy name is Trump.” Trump’s wife Melania, the allegedly former high-priced call girl,  may be the Marie Antoinette in this nightmarish scenario. Marie's apocryphal  injunction about the poor was, “Let them eat cake.” Melania's injunction could be, "Let them eat jewels" because she appeared on the cover of the Mexican edition of Vanity Fair pretending to eat not cake but a bowl of jewels. Her husband, now president has begun to keep his campaign pledge of building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Some pundits predict the wall won't make much difference. It will be a Mexican standoff. Meanwhile the cardiac time bomb keeps ticking.

Melania Pretending to Eat Bowl of Jewels