Wednesday and Thursday were Tabasco days. Via one of his early morning tweets, which have come to resemble lightning bolts from a demented Zeus, Trump banned transgendered people from serving in the military. In a separate action later, the Justice Department intervened in a discrimination suit filed by a gay employee and took the side of the employer.
The transgender ban shocked most everyone, Republicans and Democrats in Congress and gay activists but most of all the military. No one had lobbied for the ban—certainly not the Pentagon—and there are no studies or reports to justify the action.
Trump said he had "consulted with my generals and military experts" but none could be identified by the White House or the media. Another day, another lie by our president.
Trump's tweet stated that "our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail."
As for the costs, someone already figured that the military already spends more on Viagra than on any transgender-related medical interventions, which amount to a gnat on the butt of the mammoth Pentagon budget.
Any more, I've developed a knack for defensive newsreading which guides my thumb and eyes to slide down my tablet, past the headlines about the cyclonic lunacy that grips Washington, and on to calmer waters such as book and movie reviews, travel stories, even the business page and daily recipes.
But the news about the transgender decision was a thumb-stopper. I first felt anger at the gratuitousness of Trump's decision—an arbitrary edict based on no facts and purporting to solve a problem that doesn't exist.
Politically it didn't win Trump many friends even among Republicans. There wasn't any cheering sweeping the country.
And pity those long-suffering gay people in the Republican Party, some of whom even support Trump, and who now find their efforts to fit in more daunting than ever.
The only logic may be that Trump once again, and not unlike authoritarian rulers, tried to distract public opinion from his crisis-prone administration's other problems, by creating a phony issue. Fake news indeed.
All that aside, what I felt most was sadness for the transgendered people in uniform who have served loyally and now face possible expulsion from the military or a tortured coexistence within it as second-class soldiers. They deserve better than this.