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The Elbert Files: Trump’s ‘memory hole’


I was standing on the Grand Avenue bridge surveying the site of the future federal courthouse when my friend K.C. joined me. 

“It’s quite a hole,” he said.

“Not yet,” I replied. “But it will be once they start digging a foundation. I wonder how much water will seep under the steel flood wall they drove into the ground a few years ago.”

“It depends on how deep they dig,” K.C. said. “But that’s not the hole I’m talking about,” he added.

“What hole is that?” I asked. 

“The memory hole that President Trump is building,” K.C. said. “It’s already much bigger and more successful than his wall.”

“What in tarnation are you talking about?” I asked. 

“Surely, you know what a memory hole is,” K.C. said.

“Help me out,” I said.

“You remember George Orwell’s novel ‘1984,’ don’t you?”

“Not really,” I said. “It’s been a while since I read it.”

“Well,” K.C. explained, “it’s about a guy who works for the Ministry of Truth in a repressive regime led by Big Brother. The guy’s job is to rewrite documents to conform with propaganda, which is constantly changing. The memory hole is where they dump records that don’t conform. They go down the hole and into an incinerator.

“Orwell wrote the book in 1949,” K.C. said. “By the time the year 1984 arrived, his premise seemed so outrageous that it was easy to dismiss. But now, 35 years later in 2019, it’s starting to make sense.

“Just look at how Trump has fooled people into ignoring his history of sexual abuse to the point where many fundamentalist Christians no longer believe or care that he was capable of such outrageous actions.”

“That’s something I’ll never understand,” I said.

“Or look at his trade wars,” K.C. continued. “That’s a work that’s still in progress, but you can see where it’s headed.”

“Yup,” I said. “It didn’t take long for Trump to turn conventional wisdom on its head and have free-trade Republicans defending trade restraints on a level we’ve not seen since the 1930s. 

“If nothing else, you’d think farmers would remember what happened when Jimmy Carter slapped a grain embargo on the Soviet Union in 1980. They never did fully recover from that one.”

“They have short memories,” K.C. said. “That’s how the memory hole works.

“Trump has turned budget hawks into deficit doves,” he said. “Republicans used to abhor government deficits. Now they couldn’t care less. 

“Trump got elected on a pledge to drain the swamp in Washington. Instead, he’s populated it with his own swamp creatures, who are more toxic and deceitful than anything we’ve seen since the Grant administration.

“His positions on gun control are all over the map. 

“The same is true of most of his foreign policy positions. He’s here today and gone tomorrow. The only consistent position he’s had is that there was no collusion with the Russians.

“He can’t even keep a consistent position on immigration. He’s against chain immigration, except when it helps his wife’s family. 

“Trump can’t grasp his own inconsistencies on anything, which is everything. 

“His ability to lie and disassemble is unprecedented. Everything he does further anesthetizes us. With every new outrageous action, we forget what he did before.” 

“He’s a train wreck we can’t take our eyes off,” I said.

“And he’s done it all, or most of it anyway, in plain sight,” K.C. said.

“It really is an art the way he just keeps pushing last week’s atrocities into the old memory hole,” K.C. said as he turned and headed into the East Village.

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