Never seen a chameleon or leopard? Just look at our nation’s leaders | Opinion | Salt Lake City Weekly

Never seen a chameleon or leopard? Just look at our nation’s leaders 

Taking a Gander

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When I was a youngster, I might have been considered a bit weird to other children. Instead of reading the standard literary works for kids or being glued to the then-somewhat-limited programming on the TV networks, I spent a good part of my childhood reading the unabridged dictionary and a set of mid-‘50s World Book encyclopedias on which my parents had dearly splurged.

By the time I was a teen, I’d had a cursory exposure to virtually everything then known to mankind. But my brain was largely clogged with miscellany.

All these years later, I can still tell you about Haile Selassie, “Lion of Judah,” how an Archimedes Screw works, how unequal air velocities on the top and bottom of an airfoil literally suck airplanes into the sky, and I can draw a simple sketch of the first mechanical governor—used to control the RPMs of a steam engine—and explain how it works.

While I was particularly interested in the workings of machinery and accounts of people of prominence, I had a similar fascination for the wide variety of animal life on our planet and the unique adaptations that allow species to live and thrive.

I knew my share of dictionary definitions—some almost verbatim—and I’d like to share a couple with you.

Chameleon: a small, slow-moving Old World lizard with a prehensile tail, long extendable tongue, protruding eyes that rotate independently and a highly developed ability to change color; also, colloquially, a former, second-in-command U.S. leader, who vacillates between the role of a Christian disciple and a pathetic, mindless political sycophant, willing to sell at least part of his soul to the devil.

Leopard: a large, solitary cat that has a yellowish-brown or brown coat with black spots and usually hunts at night, widespread in the forests of Africa and southern Asia. May also be used as a comparative reference to a former U.S. attorney general, who appears to have changed his spots.

While I am the first to acknowledge positive changes in others, I also realize that there are relatively few people in this world who actually do make major changes in their lives. In a sense, mankind is mostly a recidivist of his own prisons, making an effort for change and then sliding back toward his previous demons.

That said, good leaders can make a difference, providing esprit de corps during the tough times, and giving people a vision of what they may achieve and become. Bad leaders become an excuse for the mediocrities and failures of their followers.

What kind of leader was Donald Trump? His dismal legacy says it all: twice impeached; multiple criminal indictments; and plenty of dragons, waiting in the vestibule for red meat.

DJT is, perhaps, the worst thing that has ever happened to our country, loudly advertising to both young and old that ruthless, coarse-mouthed, dishonest and amoral living is the road to the acquisition and retention of power. Is that what we believe? Is that what we want to teach our children?

It wasn’t like we didn’t have all the warning signs. Trump had shown throughout his life that a flagrant dismissal of principle—along with the assumption that all other people are expendable—had worked for him. After nearly 4,000 lawsuits and plentiful criminal accusations, is there really any parent in America who wants their own Sonny Boy to emulate him?

Since the Trump circus rolled into town, ushering in a new day for America, the 300 pound devourer of burgers and people has left only disaster and suffering in his wake.

The leopards and chameleons are useful illustrations when looking at Trump’s influence on anyone who teeters, in a tentative balance, between quality and garbage.

Take poor Mike Pence, the idiot-sycophant-choirboy who served as Trump’s VP. He knew how to look like an upstanding citizen—pressed shirt, immaculate hair and expertly tied Windsor—but his commitment to staying in Trump’s good graces led him to a number of moral failures.

To give credit where credit’s due, Pence did refuse to break the law when he certified Biden’s win, and came close to losing his life for it. Then, like the chameleon, he changed his colors to blend in with the delusional MAGA crowd—who insisted that storming the Capitol was a harmless form of recreation, and that no harm had been done. Now, consistent with his moral inconsistency, Mike is back to the color of a devout-disciple, declaring that he will be a truthful witness in the coming criminal trials of his ex-boss.

I don’t know about you, but reptiles aren’t my thing, simply because they totally fail at being cuddly and affectionate. Despite the proven value of emotional-support animals at the local rest home, the elderly—fairly—recoil at just the thought of cuddling up with any kind of a lizard.

Let’s face it: A warm-blooded creature with a nice coat of hair—one that welcomes you at the door, brings you the Sunday paper and spends time looking much like an Afghan draped over your evening-television knees—seems like a much better choice.

As for leopards, unlike the chameleons, you can always count on their honesty. The color goes clear through. They are what they are, they act on their instincts, they won’t change their spots and they will eat you.

Attorney General Bill Barr—a man who should have been a symbol of law and order—must have been eyeing a big payback. He constantly took the less-than-moral ground in giving Trump breaks that Trump shouldn’t have had, and that included lying to the American people about the findings of the Mueller Report.

Since the Jan. 6 insurrection, Barr has tried to claw his way back to the respectability he once enjoyed, showing that he is, after all, a lawman, and that the criminals must pay. He’s 100% supportive of the Trump prosecutions, and he’s on the witness list. Though he’s “changed” his spots, Barr is still a leopard. He thinks only of his own dinnertime.

Please, my fellow Americans. Get real.

Trump is great at intimidating and ruining others, and his latest words to the public—“If you go after me, I’m coming after you”—are his typical scare tactic, directed at the prosecutors, judges and jurors who will bring him to justice.

It’s time to draw the curtain on the Trump circus. His vice president and AG know that. They know who he is, and they know how dangerous he can be.

Think about it: There’s no excuse for any real American to support such an abomination.

The author is a retired novelist, columnist and former Vietnam-era Army assistant public information officer. He resides in Riverton with his wife, Carol, and the beloved ashes of their mongrel dog.

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