"I don't know what to do/ and I'm always in the dark/ we're living in a powder keg/ and getting/off sparks."-- From "Total Eclipse of the Heart," 1983 Bonnie Tyler song
THE once-in-a-lifetime total solar eclipse over the United States, which last occurred from coast to coast in 1918, drew that nation's attention Monday, Aug. 21 (Tuesday in PH). Millions of Americans watched through dark glasses, cameras and telescopes. And who were being watched while they were watching the moon block the sun for two minutes?
America's leaders and very important persons and celebrities, most notably President Trump.
Trump--with his wife, a daughter and two sons--was at Truman's Balcony of the White House.
Guess what he did that many Trump watchers were no longer surprised about, something he shouldn't have done but did anyway: he stared directly at the sun.
Astrophysicists and opthalmologists earlier cautioned people not to look at the sun with bare eyes: it could poison the eyes, cause heat damage and cancerous mutations. Trump aides shouted, "Don't look," but he did, not once but twice.
He survived, as he has hurdled major crises, so far. Typical Trump. He scoffs at conventions, even at the risk of personal or political injury. What could the sun, 149.6 million kms. away, do to him? At the time, the danger was real. North Korea's Kim Jong-un would've chuckled over a total eclipse, not his missile, blinding or maiming the US president.
Inevitably, Trump watchers made comparisons.
The various un-presidential acts where he threw caution out the window, doing and saying things he shouldn't have because they'd make people think he was mentally unhinged and thus unfit for his office.
He defended neo-Nazis and white separatists, the far-right sector that spews out hate speech and incites violence, most recently the killing of a woman when a car plowed into a crowd of counter-protesters in Virginia. And then later, in a public rally, he denied that he did. Which didn't convince many people that he is not a racist: a racist president who didn't have a grasp of US history and world politics and the American values which many other nations envy and imitate.
Stand-up comedians and late-night talk show hosts who would've been glad not to talk about Trump for a day or two didn't get the respite.
There was Trump calling attention to himself again, even during the short period when people should've been engrossed on the sun. Trump eclipsed the sun's eclipse.
But isn't that the sort he usually does? He drags public attention to himself from something else more crucial to other people's lives.
Even Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart," a 1980s hit song that reprised in the weeks leading to eclipse day, struck a Trump chord among Americans.
They've been "always in the dark" since Trump assumed office and "living in a powder keg."
They don't know what gaffe or scandal Trump would cause next or when his bluster might set off a nuclear war.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on August 24, 2017.
Latest issues of SunStar Cebu also available on your mobile phones, laptops, and tablets. Subscribe to our digital editions at epaper.sunstar.com.ph and get a free seven-day trial.