“Harry, you’re swimming! Look Aussie, Harry’s swimming in deep water.”
“Big deal. I was swimming as soon as I got here.”
But this was different. It’s true, from the beginning Aussie showed she could swim. If she was playing with another dog and splashed into deep water, the ground slipping from under her paws, she’d turn and flap her way back to shore. Harry, too, ended up in deep water after playing with a black lab called Mollie, but when he saw how he could stay afloat he swam and swam. Instead of waiting for the lab to get him into the water, he went in by himself and swam in nice, large, round circles, clearly enjoying this new skill.
He galloped up the slope, shook himself all over me, rolled in the dust, and looked up, obviously very proud of himself. I remembered how afraid he was of the water when he first arrived, how afraid he was of crossing the plank bridge or of entering the creek.
“I’m proud of you, Harry,” I told him.
“Big deal,” snorted Aussie.
“You know, Auss, dogs and people like you take no pleasure in others’ pleasure, feel no joy in others’ triumphs. You consider the world to be yours, and yours alone. I think you have narcissistic personality disorder.”
“What’s that, Boss?”
“The Mayo Clinic says: ‘Narcissistic personality disorder … is a mental condition in which [dogs and] people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others. ‘ That’s you in a nutshell, Aussie.”
“I hate having to share anything with Harry.”
“What’s wrong with Harry, Aussie?”
“Just one thing. He’s not me.”
I live with Aussie in my home. I live with Donald Trump in my country. Both are narcissists. I like writing about Aussie because she’s funny and a Houdini-like escape artist, also a little arrogant. Trump is just arrogant, and therefore not very interesting. Not to mention that when someone—even the US president—has a severe personality disorder (I think Trump is a 10 in the narcissistic spectrum), I tend to just shake my head and hope for the best come November.
But every once in a while the man’s lack of empathy and sensitivity, his sheer inability to fathom what it must be like to be someone other than himself, someone poor, who’s lost a job or a business, lost health and loved ones, boggles my mind. That’s how I felt today when I read that his Justice Department is once again suing to remove the Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare.
They’re bringing the case to the Supreme Court and don’t hide the fact that this includes removal of care for people with pre-existing conditions. They say that they’ll come up with something different, something better—but only after they get rid of ACA.
Donald Trump is doing this in the middle of the coronavirus epidemic. He’s doing this as cases spike in many states in the South and West. He’s doing this at a time when health officials are again warning that they’ll run out of ICU beds in July, when doctors and health care workers are close to the breaking point, when exposed people in hospitals and factories—often people of color or immigrants—come down with covid in large numbers, and when the CDC is warning that this crisis will engulf us for a long time.
What do people do without medical coverage?
If Donald Trump wants to come up with an alternative plan, please come up with it, we could compare it with the ACA and go on from there. But that’s not the game he’s playing. And if you believe that once the Supreme Court gets rid of the ACA the Republican Party will magically come up with an alternative plan overnight—something they haven’t been able to do in years—then, as they say in New York, I have a bridge to sell you.
What stuns me is the meanness of it, the indifference. Talk about more tax cuts for corporations and the rich, and Republican officials stand up and salute. Talk to them about being left without medical insurance at a time like this, when paychecks aren’t coming in and rent and mortgage payments are falling behind, and they’ll talk about cutting down on food stamps and welfare cheats.
I want to shake people up and tell them: Wake up and look in the mirror! Look behind the slogans, behind the red hats, and tell me: What country are we living in?
Then I look at the card that I kept standing on my desk right behind my computer. It accompanied a check in a relatively small amount of money–I can’t remember how much right now–for food cards for immigrants. It said:
“I figure a portion of my Pandemic Unemploymet check can go to a family in greater need than I. Thank you for all you do. Marilyn.”
Thank you, Marilyn. Thank you for restoring my spirit and faith.