I’m not inclined to depression – nor do I think I have anything but a great life, no matter what its challenges – but I find myself facing each Friday as if I’d just run a marathon with rocks tied to my ankles.
This is a recent phenomenon. OK, it began when Donald J. Trump became president. For certain, not everything that has happened can be blamed on him – certainly not the three hurricanes (Harvey, Irma, Maria) with Nate waiting in the wings to strike the Gulf Coast this weekend. Or the mass shooting in Las Vegas. But I know I am not alone in saying that we arrive at the finish line each workweek, crawling, panting – drained and depleted.
Much of the reason for this is that real problems are compounded by self-inflicted ones. Take, for instance, the media deathwatch for Secretary of State “Sexy Rexy” Tillerson – not a literal deathwatch, of course, but one for his career as secretary of state. There’s a reason NBC chief White House correspondent Hallie Jackson calls it “Farewell Fridays.” That’s the day when Trumpet dismisses all the staffers or cabinet members he’s displeased with, or when they discover an overwhelming urge to spend more time with family. (When I was with Gannett, we used to refer to Fridays cynically as the day politicians tried to sneak something by you, knowing it was the end of the workweek news cycle. Today, in a 24/7 world, no can do. Still, we have Farewell Fridays.)
The thinking goes that we are down to the wire in Tillerson’s departure as he did not exactly deny the NBC report that he called Trump “a moron.” Sexy Rexy seems to be fed up with being one of the few adults in the room. Plus, you can bet your bottom dollar that this is not how business was conducted at Exxon Mobil, where I bet he wishes he were still CEO.
The latest staff dustup leaves State an even more demoralized department, as staffers, already stretched thin by unfilled posts and hiring freezes, struggle to deal with crises in which America is used to playing the lead, such as the humanitarian nightmare of the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh – to say nothing of what will happen to the nuclear arms deal with Iran or negotiations with North Korea if Tillerson exits.
But it’s just one of the many disheartening aspects of the week, which began with the Las Vegas shooting and continued with Trump’s cavalier performance in Puerto Rico, then ended with revelations of alleged sexual harassment by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein; the resignation of pro-life Congressman Tim Murphy, who turned out to be pro-choice when he thought his mistress was pregnant; and news that Trump is gutting access to free birth control, which would disproportionately affect poor and young women. (Ah, the attempts to control women and their sexuality seem never to end.)
TGIF, or maybe, farewell, Friday.